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It was only meant to be a few hours of fun.
A lark. On a sunny Saturday morning Lola, Kyle and Maria set sail on Puget Sound to look for a vision that had come to Maria in a dream. Then disaster struck, and the three of them were plunged into a dark adventure in which they would confront good and evil, past lives, and a timeless curse born from a tragic love. What are the hidden secrets of Bridge House and Riesgado Island? Part Gothic romance, part supernatural mystery and part fantastical adventure, The Curse of Septimus Bridge is Scott R. Larson’s homage to the horror and adventure stories of his youth, notably the 1960s television series Dark Shadows. In this new book, the author of The Three Towers of Afranor takes us on an adventure that ranges from 17th-century Ireland to the Pacific Northwest of today. At the heart of it all is the mysterious figure who lives out his endless, solitary days, having been rejected by both heaven and hell.

“This is a sequel to Larson’s earlier novel, ‘Maximilian and Carlotta are Dead’, which was set mostly in Mexico as a buddy adventure and introduced the character of Dallas Green, a young man with wanderlust from a small town in the San Joaquin Valley. ‘Lautaro’s Spear’ takes us on further romantic and political adventures to France, Germany, and Chile, and deeper into Dallas’ psyche which we find to be darker and more complex than in the first novel. An engrossing read by a first class storyteller, it leaves you wanting more.”

“Totally enjoyed the characters lost souls that they are. Life is not always what we would like.”

Excerpts from Readers’ Reviews on

A legendary reclusive filmmaker. An enigmatic cook and restaurant proprietor, who is clearly more than he seems. Two mysterious deliveries to be made behind the Iron Curtain. A desperate search for a long-missing old friend. An unexpected love affair on the coast of Normandy. Dallas Green’s life has only gotten more interesting since his wild youthful adventures recounted in Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead.
“I loved this book. It is a rollicking fantasy—youth must pass increasingly difficult tests to attain wisdom and perhaps, just perhaps, win the girl! A pure joy to read. And such a great metaphor for life!”

“It was a great read for young adults as well as adults. Can’t wait for the sequel.”

“A fantasy novel with magic and heart. It’s a quick read that is set up for a sequel. A great story about growing up and learning what you are capable of and it’s clean so it can be recommended to all ages!”

Excerpts from Readers’ Reviews on

What secrets do the three towers hold? For years travelers have avoided the mysterious kingdom of Afranor, but necessity now requires three brothers—the valiant fighting princes of Alinvayl—to pass through Afranor’s dark, forbidding expanse. Not all will survive the journey, but one may succeed in finding his destiny.

“I loved this book! Once I started I couldn’t put it down… What an adventurous way to come-of-age in a place in time that no longer exists. Truly a great read!”

“Larson really captures the sense of a particular time and place. His details of clothes, music, cars, speech, etc. all ring true. Also, the first-person narrator’s voice is pitch-perfect…”

“Scott Larson does a magnificent job of taking his readers on a southern trip with the three young heroes.”

“What a wild and crazy adventure! … The characters were all very well developed; I especially loved Antonio, the star and the hero. Looking forward to the sequel.”

Excerpts from Readers’ Reviews on

It is Summer 1971. With the Vietnam War raging and the draft looming, 18-year-old Dallas and Lonnie look for an escape. Fleeing their hot and dusty farming town in Lonnie’s ’65 Chevy, they head to Mexico. In one last misguided adventure, two lifelong friends blaze a trail to Tijuana and beyond, just to see how much trouble they can get it into.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Mockingbird’s Song

By far the biggest book news to hit the world in recent times is the publication of a previously unknown novel by Harper Lee. It is the rare kind of literary event that not only gets discussed on arts programs but also on serious TV news programs. And it has been fascinating to hear all the various reactions.

On my movie web site, I like to say that a film review really tells us more about the reviewer than it does about the film. The same is almost certainly true about book reviews and book discussions. The appearance of Go Set a Watchman has been an interesting opportunity to hear many people on TV, radio and in print tell us what To Kill a Mockingbird has meant to them.

Clearly, for a lot of people over the past half-century it is a work that was huge in helping to form their literary, social and political consciousness. In hindsight, the book’s provenance and its reception seem like something magical. It was Lee’s first—and presumedly only—published work (at the age of 34), and it garnered all kinds of praise and awards. It was soon adapted into an award-winning motion picture that not only did justice to the book but further immortalized its story.

If all of that seems too fortunate to be true, what are the odds that 55 years later another novel would turn up and would overlap with the events and characters of the first? We soon learned that it was an earlier draft of Mockingbird but, because it was set years later, it turned out to be the sequel that many readers would have longed for—or thought they did. If this had been a sequel written by someone else, say, commissioned by the author’s estate like Alexandra Ripley’s Scarlett, which continued the story of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, it could be ignored or dismissed. But Watchman was written by Harper Lee herself and in her prime. On the other hand, it was a draft that was not originally accepted by her publisher.

From an academic point of view, it is great to have. We get a better picture of what was in Lee’s head in forming the story and that leads to a deeper understanding of her work. For sentimentalists, however, it disrupts the effect of Mockingbird. Just as the effect of a photograph is dramatically affected by the way it is cropped, a story such as that of Atticus Finch and his family is defined by where the storyteller begins and ends the narrative. Many people have been distressed to learn that, in the original version, Atticus aged into someone less noble and less admirable than the man so memorably portrayed by Gregory Peck. As Lee’s editor may have understood all those years ago, such a story may be more reflective of real life but it isn’t nearly as satisfying emotionally.

Strangely, my own words about Atticus, written just six months ago after having re-watched the movie, are out there now on my movie site haunting me: “No matter the effect this movie had on people’s feelings on race relations, it definitely made lots of people wish that Gregory Peck was their dad.”

Oddly, Atticus’s story may now parallel what has gone on in America over the past half-century. After all, the story of the Civil Rights movement is much more satisfying when the narrative stops with the triumphs of the 1960s.

As for me personally, the appearance of Lee’s long-delayed “sequel” has given me some food for thought as I continue to wrestle with the question of whether or when to do a sequel to Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead. The fact is that I am happy with the story as it is. Would it become richer if we learn what happens to Dallas Green in later life? Or would I regret not leaving things as they were?

Either way, the stakes are not nearly so high as with To Kill a Mockingbird. After all, I am the first to admit that Dallas Green is no Atticus Finch.