“A hypnotic tale of terror and temptation.”
Synopsis for book:
Southern Mystery: April 4, 1968. To the world, it was the day an assassin’s bullet struck down Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., To Charlie Tidewater it was the day that life as he knew it was over … the day his beautiful mother suddenly died.
Tamara Drake Tidewater was a descendant of one of Virginia’s first families, and Charlie was only nine when she passed away. The newspaper obituary said she died peacefully, but Charlie knows that the obituary was a lie.
Thirty years later, Charlie remains haunted by the mystery surrounding his mother’s untimely death. Newly divorced, he has returned to his childhood home near Richmond, down the glittering mica highways of rural Virginia. He hopes that discovering how his mother really died will finally enable him to lay the ghosts of his troubled past to rest. But the one man who can help Charlie has no intention of unveiling horrors he has spent three decades trying to hide.
The Story Behind the Book:
Mica Highways picks up where Tobacco Sticks left off twenty years later. 1968 brings Martin Luther King’s assassination and a crime that is hushed up for twenty more years. But Mica Highways is really about love triumphing over tremendous pain. When a young man decides to travel south and find out about the mysterious circumstances of his mother’s death, we are led into a “who-done-it” mystery. Charlie Tidewater stays with his grandfather during the last weeks of his life and together we see his grandfather’s life unfold during his nocturnal journeys. We follow granddaddy as he races bootleggers, starts a business and loses everything while his wife slowly goes mad. Through it all, there is a central wrong committed during the worst of the Civil Rights movement. But granddaddy perseveres and puts forth his simple ode to life…it is what we make it. So it is.
“It’s hard to say what the ghost of Ernest Hemingway would think of some of the riper writing in William Elliott Hazelgrove’s new psychological thriller; lines such as “Darkness cast shadows on the tangled sheet by his knees, turning his shirt on the chair to dirty linen” might give Hem’s shade pause. But Hemingway would probably approve of most of the work being done in his old attic in Oak Park, Illinois, which Hazelgrove has turned into a studio to produce his praised novels Ripples and Tobacco Sticks.
Mica Highways is more conventional in its plotting and ambition than its predecessors, but equally strong on Southern atmosphere and fully imagined characters. Thirty years after his mother’s mysterious death in 1968 (on the same day that Martin Luther King was killed), Charlie Tidewater makes a trip back to his boyhood home near Richmond, Virginia, leaving behind in Chicago a failed marriage and an equally unsuccessful career as a stockbroker. He stays with his only surviving relative–Granddaddy, Austin Turin, almost 90, a man who knows everything about cars and quite a lot about how people behave under pressure. Charlie is a dry stick, a standard seeker of truth, but Granddaddy has enough meat and juice and memories in him to keep the story moving to its surprisingly suspenseful conclusion.” – Dick Adler | Amazon.com Review
“Admirers of Hazelgrove’s highly regarded earlier fiction (Ripples; Tobacco Sticks) may be dismayed by his overripe prose in this dark tale of Southern racial hatred and murder spanning three generations of an aristocratic Virginia family. Haunted by the troubling enigma of his mother’s death on the day of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, Virginia-born Chicago stockbroker Charlie Tidewater leaves his job and marriage and the “mica highways” of the North to visit his granddaddy in Richmond. As the conundrum begins to unravel, Charlie is stalked by shadowy figures who try to intimidate him into going back North. He meets and becomes enamored of a young divorced mother whose father, a respected judge, seems to have some sinister connection with Charlie’s past. Told in the third person, the narrative cuts between the present and events concerning Charlie’s family as far back as 1927. Unfortunately, Hazelgrove indulges in overwrought and pretentious prose: “Charlie turned to the windows in their lightless dimension, seeing something he couldn’t place, but felt in the void he was seeing.” Despite the mildly intriguing plot, even the most forgiving readers may be put off by the author’s self-conscious straining to find literary Nirvana.” – From Publishers Weekly