A Brilliant Death: Robin Yocum
Sometimes things need to be left alone and at other times you get let them go. Travis Baron never found out what really happened to his mother and why Amanda Baron died and how. His father hiding the truth and the public thinking it was a boating accident. Did his mother really run off with another man or was she a victim of a crime? Her body was never found and he never even saw a picture of her. His father, called Big Frank claims he knows nothing about her and is never there. He is abusive, mean and could care less about his son. But, Travis enlists the help of journalist and best friend Mitch Malone to fill in the gaps and find out the truth behind the accident on the Ohio River in 1953 in a town called Brilliant. Travis is determined to find out what happened to his mother and he goes up to the attic of his house when his father is not there and finds a diary, old newspaper clippings in the library and insists on reading the police reports. The articles lead him to learn that his mother might have been murdered and that the case is still opened. Even with this information he and Mitch stake out the cemetery where her memorial is hoping to find out who the mystery flower bearer is that places flowers on his mother’s grave. Big Frank’s attic is a treasure drove and the police reports are just the tip of the iceberg. Meeting the Sheriff and hoping to learn more from an ex-police detective who fudged some of the evidence, this will turn out to be more than just a hunt for the truth
While Mitch and Travis are best friends and neither are sports oriented they love as the author shares many scenes shooting carp with their bows and arrows and selling them to Turkeyman Melman. But, Travis is possessed and compelled to learn the truth about his mother and the mystery man. But, not being able to ask his abusive and violent father who is always drunk, never there and has had many failed marriages and did not even want Travis at all leads him to start on Operation Amanda and will stop at nothing to get answers. Visiting as the author relates a memorial garden for his mother he and Mitch want to know who is leaving flowers and whose footprints are there which sets them off even further. How did his father’s pleasure boat crash into a barge? Who can help them when the librarian will only give him the incident report and nothing more? With Travis’s persistence and locating a detective that botched up the case he hopes to learn what really happened to his mother as Sheriff Bonecutter relates some stories that peak his interest and help him to decide why he needs to contact this detective. Obsessed with learning what happened to Amanda, his mother it comes to a full head after his graduation from high school. Chase Tornik might be a corrupt detective and disgraced gut Travis decided he was his only link to finding out why he thought his mother’s disappearance was a murder.
When Tornik shows up with the information that might enlighten Travis he refuses to believe what he is told and is reading. Was his mother alive? Did someone kill her and have someone else pushed over the railing of the boat and jump into the water? Did his father kill her because he could not pay the loan on the boat and getting rid of it would make it easier for him? Just what really happened?
The events that follow and how Travis learns the truth will shock readers and even Travis. Having to face the harsh reality of his mother’s death left him with several avenues to explore. Learning the truth, investigating on his own Travis with the help of his best friend Mike and Tornik learns what really happened to his mother. Added in another man confides about his relationship and the entire plot to rid the world of his mother comes to light and who is behind it at first he refused to believe. Travis is impulsive, smart and yet headstrong and does not always hear what he is told or believe the truth. Reading letters sent to his mother was enlightening and exploring the attic in his house when his father was out of town or drunk helped him shed light on the situation but he became obsessed with the search for years. At his high school graduation the entire situation came to a head or boil and what he decides to do and how he does it was totally masterful on his part and that of the author. Sometimes life hands us a deck that is loaded with bad cards and at other times we sometimes have to create our own winning hands. Travis finally met his real grandparents who embraced him and were so glad he found them. But, would this save him from this father who was more than abusive when he realized what he was doing. So, after his graduation and his father is gone what he decides to do and how he does it proves that not only is this about friendships, loyalties, deceits, betrayals, greed, lies and power but about the love of a young boy for a mother he never got to know and a desire to change his life for the better but can he? Characters that are well developed, realistic and at times present situations that are heartbreaking and somber as Travis Baron searches for answers and when he finds them he comes to a serious crossroads and needs to decide which road to take. There are four roads when you come to a fork in the road and have to choose your path. What he does each time puts him closer to the truth and yet farther away from himself, choices that he needs to make and one final one when he chooses the path or road that changes it all not only for him but for everyone he cares about too. How far will you go to seek out the truth when all your life you are told lies? Travis Baron makes his choice and the ending will stun readers because it is masterfully created and an author that brings to light what happens when a young boy and his friend decide to take on a journey that so many would give up at every turn but that one would not stop until he created as the title states: A BRILLIANT DEATH!
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ Magazine