“Mother Blues” by Owen Thomas

Mother Blues

Owen Thomas
OTF Literary (2021)
ISBN 9781734630336
Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Reader Views (12/2021)

“Mother Blues” is a killer mystery set against both the background and foreground of motherhood. This story links the past with the future, and a childhood omen to adulthood danger. Mothering can come in many forms. Even if you don’t have a biological mother, there can be maternal forces that shape you, from your past and present. Maybe it’s a grandmother from long ago; or a godmother, aunt, or some other mother “figure” not related by blood. The title is perfect for this story because, much like a blues tune, the tale’s pace feels like it’s infused with an almost hypnotic pulse.

Davis Payne flees Houston when Hurricane Harvey descends, and he goes to Corbin, Texas—a small town in the desert. But…what is he really fleeing from? A traumatic past drenched in death and grief. Davis lost his mother in a drowning accident after she saved his life, then lost his first love when she burned to death before he could come to her aid. Is there a supernatural link between the two deaths of the women he loved? Let us just say he drinks to drown everything out, but he’s still haunted. And readers soon discover that the Texas town of Corbin holds more than anonymity; it is a magnet for people in the same boat.

This is a sprawling, intricate drama you can get lost in quickly. The characters seem alive and real, the plot is mysterious and intriguing, and the combination of the two urges you to keep reading to find out what happens with these people and why, exactly, it’s happening. Blues’ legends are part of the story, as well, and the author deftly gives you a feel for the tone and atmosphere. The plot has subplots that take time to play out, so readers shouldn’t expect everything to be handed over all at once. The build is gradual, and the payoff is worth reading the one-thousand-plus pages, yet it doesn’t feel at all like a long book while you’re enveloped in the story.

The tale is multi-dimensional, deep with meaning, and thoroughly entertaining, especially with blues’ legends hiding just behind the curtains. If you like novels with characters that haunt you long after the final page has been read, you will absolutely love “Mother Blues.”

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