The night Mark Roundtree’s mother dies, he’s told she had a lover who was murdered. Memories from 44 years ago take on new meaning: erased tracks in the snow, a hushed conversation in a church’s cloakroom, his father sitting on a bed reading old letters, and a child nobody will talk about. Returning to his childhood home in search of the truth triggers other memories and a troubling question: how did a naïve, churchgoing farm boy become such a con man?
The Low Road
“'My curse is that I cannot turn off the memories–' and the memories in this debut novel force Mark Roundtree to confront his life of mistakes, disappointments and sometimes misdemeanors with a blunt, refreshing honesty. The hint of a family secret which he learns late in life from a neighbor sets him off on a trail of discovery which keeps the reader turning the page. A really good read; un-put-downable.”
~ Ginny Swart, Heart of Africa and Under the African Sun
“The thread of intrigue will catch you up from the first page till the last.”
~ Myra King, The Journey of Velvet Brown and Cyber Rules
“In a novel riddled with flashbacks steeped in Presbyterianism, country church scenes, droughts, windstorms and other perils of wheat-ranching, Mark Roundtree travels on the low road: the dead-end poker route in the taverns of Walla Walla, fraternizing with down-and-outers, career card sharks, out-of-work loggers, ex-cons, and abused women. As a traveling salesman, he continues to con people with timed bluffs and feigned empathy—perhaps no one more than himself. It’s hard to put down McCaw’s novel because it is so beautifully written, and its mysteries aren’t revealed until the book’s conclusion, which is gracefully rendered in pages of powerful poetic prose. McCaw’s work exhibits an internal, surprising, and masterful epistolary symmetry and is replete with sharp, insightful, ironic, even sardonic dialogues. This is a novel that reminds its readers page after page that we cannot live amply without fiction.”
~ Patrick Henry, We Only Know Men: The Rescue of Jews in France during the Holocaust
“Mark Roundtree, a manipulative twentieth century man, relives the past as he struggles to fill an emotional black hole from his childhood. McCaw's prose is elegant, direct, and peppered with quirky humor. A spellbinding read."
~ S. D. Matley, Small-g City, Big-G City