Miller (A Death in Our Family, 2012, etc.) tells the story of a man helping a woman find her mysterious missing husband.
Doc is a man with a checkered past. Down on his luck and despite his middle age, he takes a backbreaking job with a construction crew in Houston. After a brief, bloody conflict with one of his young co-workers, Doc strikes up an unlikely friendship with his boss, the boy’s uncle. He is invited to spend a weekend in the Texas Hill Country on the property of his boss’ sister and the boy’s mother, Maggie Marone. At this point, things begin to get a bit fantastic. Maggie lives in a magnificent compound rising right out of the landscape: “a structure, that was clear, but it appeared to be made of living flora growing in an abundant profusion out of natural rock.” Doc immediately falls for Maggie, a woman who appears to be a manifestation of this strange place: “the feeling of enchantment very real as she placed him on a granite settee under an expanse of overhanging live oak, limbs draped with Spanish moss, the air scented with a barrage of fragrance and humming with the flight song of a thousand honey bees.” Doc soon learns he has been brought to Maggie in hopes that he will help her discover the fate of her vanished husband, Arturo, a dreamer and visionary who disappeared years before. Doc agrees and begins following the clues and rumors that Arturo has left in his wake. The most tantalizing of all is the secret recipe of “The Elixir,” an otherworldly pear brandy, which seems to possess incredible properties. Though the book requires the reader to seriously suspend disbelief, Miller is an apt writer of both the realistic and the fantastic. His prose moves easily from the gruff vernacular of Texas construction workers to lyric descriptions of wondrous events and miraculous happenings. Always moving toward the unexpected, Miller lures readers with further mysteries to keep them flipping pages. The ending isn’t exactly a revelation, but the ride is certainly enjoyable.
A quirky, original mystery.