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  • Mike Murphey

Kirkus Review for Section Roads

Updated: May 11, 2019

"An ambitious, evocative small-town tale located somewhere between Peyton Place and The Last Picture Show" --Kirkus Reviews




As its publication date nears, Section Roads enters one of the scariest stages of publication. Being reviewed. A writer must take this fledgling--which up to now has been carefully shaped with kind and loving hands, encouraged and edited by others who have vested themselves in its future--dress it in its finest clothes... and fling it to a pack of badgers.

Or anyway, that's what it feels like.

In an arena glutted with literally millions of new titles each year, reviews are critical to the marketing of any book. The number of voluntary reviews a book receives, whether good, bad or indifferent, elevates it in the eyes of major sellers like Amazon and Barnes & Nobel, or websites like Goodreads, making it more likely they will add their weight to a book's visibility.

And while every single effort helps, all reviews are not equal.

Kirkus Reviews is generally regarded among the most prestigious reviewers of books. Kirkus prides itself on its objectivity. If a book is not good in the reviewer,s opinion, he or she will say so.

You ship your manuscript off to this unknown entity and an anonymous person who you hope is not having a bad day, and six weeks later you receive the result in the form of a few precious paragraphs.

If the review is poor, an author has the option to kill it dead. If the review is so-so, you can't just pluck out the good parts. The review must be published in its entirety or not at all.

The Section Roads official release date is a June 8. During the next few weeks, people who have been given advance copies for review will begin offering their verdicts.

The first is from Kirkus, as follows:


A 43-year-old murder casts a long shadow over a high school reunion that brings together three friends haunted by the past.

Not much changes in the New Mexico town of Arthur unless it absolutely has to, as a character observes in this debut novel that impresses with its strong sense of place. The stage for this decades-spanning saga is compellingly set when Hezekiah Boyd’s high school reunion committee tracks down the computer software maven. He insists there has been a mistake: The man, formerly known as Buddy, left town and never returned after a prank went wrong and he killed a classmate named Christy Hammond in 1966. He would not be a welcome guest. But the heart of the story shifts to Cullen Molloy and his first love, Shelby Blaine, Buddy’s classmates, friends, and fellow outcasts. Cullen and Shelby were a passionate teenage couple back in the day, and there is still an inextricable bond between them that is not unnoticed by Cullen’s current lover, a retired cop. Murphey keeps the story hopping between events in the ’60s, the aftermath in the ’70s, and the reunion in 2009, when a murder sheds light on the 1966 killing. Cullen, a divorced former lawyer who went to work for Buddy, is called on to defend the man from new suspicions and confront his own long-simmering relationship with Shelby. The author, a New Mexico native and award-winning journalist, knows the lay of the land; not just the geography, but also high school football culture, passionate fumblings in cars, and secrets to be taken to the grave. The book is densely populated with vividly drawn characters. One, Weard Ward, a former genius fried by his years with the CIA, serves as a sort of comic relief, but he is the weakest player. The antagonists, including Christy’s uncle and a former high school nemesis, spout clichéd dialogue (“You’ve got some…nerve showing your face here”). But the relationship between the three friends rings true and deftly holds the sprawling narrative together.

An ambitious, evocative small-town tale located somewhere between Peyton Place and The Last Picture Show.

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