There’s just something very evocative about a title like The Summer Son, so, before I picked up Craig Lancaster’s new novel, I was already filled to the brim with expectations. Great expectations, even.
But before I tell you about The Summer Son, let me say a few words about Craig Lancaster:
He’s such an overachiever. First off, his grammar is awesome. Secondly, he’s got a beautiful wife and two very cute dachshunds. Also, he rides a motorcycle. Oh, and he’s an award-winning novelist for his first novel, 600 Hours of Edward. So there’s that, you know.
And now, he’s written a new novel, The Summer Son. Told in swatches of time between the present (actually 2007, which is technically the past now, but don’t be so persnickety!) and a summer in 1979, the novel shares the story of narrator Mitch Quillen and his father, Jim. There’s a hint of a mystery in the book, with Lancaster leaving some plot points unrevealed until he absolutely has to. Most of the mystery can be solved with a little thought on the reader’s behalf, but that’s not the point of the book. The point is finding out how Jim and Mitch got to this place in their lives and where they need to go from here.
For a novel that definitely has its dark bits, The Summer Son is an optimistic read, finding hope for the reader where you wouldn’t expect to find any. Lancaster never strays from Mitch Quillen’s voice, and the interludes in 1979 are especially interesting, especially when the characters get working on the drilling rig. One reviewer describes it as “a classic western,” but don’t go in expecting any gunfights. Sure, there’s fistfights a-plenty and rattlesnakes galore, but the majority of the conflict is internal. Just like in real life.