Seeking Grace in Beulah Land charts the progress of the cold
case of a
missing wife and mother, Grace Barlow, whose husband quietly accepted her
disappearance and continued on with his life as a sharecropper in a rural
Oklahoma community. Sixty years later, it falls upon grandson Mack Barlow to
uncover the truth when he returns home to investigate his 87-year-old
grandfather's increasingly bizarre behavior, only to discover a family
secret that will change not only his life, but a small community.
Lu Clifton's story excels in fine descriptions of this rural Oklahoma
environment, from family relationships, Mack's investigations, and community
culture: "He figured the burr-headed realtor to be a steamroller when it
came to persuading someone to her point of view. People with Cadillac
appetites were turned that way. She had probably pitched his idea to the
builder at the gated community that very day, which meant he needed to look
at that agreement fast. But time was on his side as Mama and Sister planned
to visit Pa after they left the Hometown Buffet, then stop at the filling
station to gas up."
As the characters begin keeping secrets from and vying with each other, from
siblings Sister and Ruby's growing distance to an evolving feud instigated
by Mack with the Turners, their land-hungry neighbors, it becomes apparent
the secret is tearing apart friends, family, and neighbors alike. From
mysterious watchers to missing mules and accidents waiting to happen,
tension slowly ratchets up as Mack untangles a web of complexity in a
relentless attempt to reveal a long-dead truth.
Mack believes he's doing the right thing-but, is he? From peace of mind to
legal proceedings that seem to involve the Turners, events move from slow to
fast-paced, successfully immersing readers in the psyche and simmering
secrets of a small town on the brink of discovery.
Seeking Grace in Beulah Land isn't a mystery per se; leaning toward the
literary, the storyline reaches for broader emotional and social depth. It's
a satisfyingly engrossing, close examination of a family married to the
land, and what happens when war and nightmares change everything. The truth
about Beulah Land's real legacy complicates the lives of the people,
politics, and personalities of Oklahoma in a manner that powerfully examines
rural life, concerns, relationships, and the consequences of choices past
Readers seeking an engrossing blend of rural history and family and
community intrigue will relish this saga, which centers around land
ownership, management, and the life-altering results of land lost and found:
"A man might lay claim to a piece of land, he thought, but in the end, it
was the land that claimed the man."
-- D. Donovan, Senior Editor, Midwest Book Review