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By Brad Smith
Henry Holt & Company, February 7, 2005 ($24.00)
Reviewed by Susan Johnson
Dock Bass was a man lost. His father was a carpenter and had taught him the trade. Unfortunately Dock married a social climber. She felt that a carpenter was not good enough and insisted he change his career and become a real estate salesman. Dock is making a good living but is very unhappy. He soon realizes that if he is to regain his self respect he has got to make some drastic changes. So Dock does what very few people can, he packs up and walks away from it all.
Dock had recently received an inquiry from a law firm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He drives there to see what is needed and discovers that he has inherited an old pre-Civil war farmhouse.
Now Dock's problems seem to just begin. While getting himself together Dock decides to renovate the old farmhouse. In the process he uncovers a hidden room and a treasure trove of Civil War artifacts that have been untouched.
Soon Dock finds himself defending his find from historians, antique hunters, real estate buyers and more. Through it all Dock is also making new friends and discovering a lot about himself, more than he ever expected.
As a central character Dock Bass is a man's man with a heart of gold. He seems to unerringly know and do what is right regardless of the monetary gains he could reap.
The other characters in the book are both real and at times even exaggerated. I could see the frumpy, prissy ways of one, smell the rank odor of another.
The history that was included only added to the story and did not drag it down at all. A very enjoyable read.
Brad Smith lives in Dunnville, Ontario. His novel, ONE-EYED JACKS, was nominated for Canada's Dashiell Hammett Prize. His American debut, ALL HAT, is available in paperback from Picador.
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