Martin's River of Heaven marked my introduction to his work. Released in 2008, it's a literary mystery of sorts that really captivated me: it's one of those books that stays with you long after you've finished.
Sam Brady is a solitary bachelor who has taken great pains to ensure that his homosexuality remains a secret to those around him. After his neighbor’s wife dies, it becomes harder for Sam to keep himself closed off. He and Arthur strike up a tenuous friendship at first, bonding over the building of a custom doghouse for Sam’s basset hound, Stump. The doghouse, a small ship with a deck and cannon ports, attracts the attention of a columnist with the local paper, a writer whose great uncle, Dewey, was once Sam’s best friend. At the age of 15, Dewey committed suicide on the train tracks near his house. The reporter has some questions about the events though, and it is soon revealed that Sam has some other secrets in his past that he would rather not come to light. Enter Cal, Sam’s long lost brother. Cal has just recently survived a nationally broadcasted hostage situation and shows up on Sam’s doorstep, bringing more than a little trouble along with him.
Martin, whose book The Bright Forever earned him a Pulitzer nom, is a very good writer indeed. River of Heaven is a story of loneliness and secrets, but also ultimately one of forgiveness. At just 288 pages, it also made for a really quick read and one that I highly recommend to anyone looking for something new to try this summer. Martin's newest book, Break the Skin, is set for release next week.