Tim Johnston masterfully interweaves past and present to tell a story of violence, vengeance, and remorse. Poetic, compelling, nuanced, profoundly and achingly beautiful.
by Tim Johnston
Algonquin, October 2023
(via Writers House)
DISTANT SONS is set in a small Wisconsin town on the banks of the Mississippi, where, in the 1970s, three young boys vanished in a series of heart-wrenching, still unsolved disappearances. In the present day, a drifter named Sean arrives in town and gets embroiled in the lives of a waitress and her abusive ex, leading him to love—and a dangerous enemy. At his side is Dan Young, who is fleeing the unspoken specters of his past; together, Sean and Dan take up work for Marion Devereaux, an old man long suspected in the disappearances of the boys. Observing them all is Detective Viegas, a woman whose drive to seek justice is impacted by her own father’s failure to solve the 1970s mystery—and the violence once done to her sister.
In DISTANT SONS Tim Johnston masterfully interweaves past and present to tell a story of violence, vengeance, and remorse. It is a minutely observed novel about men and women living in the small towns and forgotten byways of America, of blue collar people working jobs for cash and just getting by day to day. In observing the grace—and the violence—that can result from the smallest crossings of these so often unheralded lives, Tim Johnston elevates a set of characters distinctive from those that populate most literary fiction these days. His protagonists’ concerns and secrets, joys and sorrows are rooted in a profound sense of place and personality that galvanizes the mysteries they encounter. Throughout DISTANT SONS, we are drawn into broader questions of culpability, the way what we do—or fail to do—can long outlive us. And for each, Tim Johnston tenderly interrogates the way we grow around our losses like trees around scars, bending or lifting with each passing year.
Tim Johnston’s most recent novels include Descent and The Current. Both were New York Times, USA Today and Indie bestsellers. He is also the author of short stories that have appeared in New England Review, New Letters, The Iowa Review, The Missouri Review, Double Take, Best Life Magazine, and Narrative Magazine, among others.