In Halverson’s debut novel, a mysterious mural appears overnight on the side of a building in an Arizona town, sparking a range of emotions and examinations of life.
How humans spend their brief time on Earth has been the subject of countless tales. Seemingly endless, time is actually limited and precious. That’s the theme of Halverson’s simple mystery story with shades of something much more profound. Tyler Anderson, a reporter for a news site in Phoenix, yearns to write about something other than the minutiae of municipal affairs. His chance comes when his editor sends him to Ketchum, a sleepy former mining town, to write about a large mural by an unknown artist that appeared overnight on the side of a warehouse. Expecting to simply identify the artist and write the story, Anderson finds more than he bargained for. Due to its unique effects on every person who sees it, the mural attracts attention from all over, and it’s now become the heart of a long-simmering rivalry between Mayor George Correa and the warehouse’s owner, Samuel Welch. As Anderson investigates his story, he realizes it’s about more than just identifying the mystery artist; it’s about people’s expectations, how to stop bemoaning fate and how to use precious time wisely. The well-written story starts as a character study of Anderson, veers into an examination of why Samuel insists on painting over the mural, and finally becomes a look at the human soul and how some people are willing to give up their dreams just to get through life. Filled with intriguing characters—fry cook Abdullah Park, waitress Audrey Betz, struggling artist Grady James—the story takes a few unnecessary back-story detours and requires a suspension of disbelief that might be too much for some readers. But Halverson is after a different audience: those who know life must be lived and felt, not just experienced.
Far more than just a paint-by-numbers story of a small town.