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The Past Never Ends - Jackson Burnett UPDATED REVIEW
26 March 2013

When browsing through some old reviews recently, I came across this review. I started reading the review and had to stop. I didn't read too far into the review because it sounded so stilted, not my style at all. I'm much more laid back than that. Not sure why I sounded so stilted, maybe I hadn't found 'my voice.' I have no excuse but it did tell the story and was an ok review when I did read it through. But I simply wasn't happy with it, that's all.

With that said, I decided to re-read The Past Never Ends and re-write my review. But instead, I'm just going to add to the review here and leave it below as I wrote it last year.

Here Goes My Added Second Thoughts
With the re-read I found it just as enjoyable as the first time I read it. But the first thing I noticed was there are fewer courtroom scenes that I may have alluded to in my review. I would not consider it a courtroom drama/thriller so my apology if I left that impression. It's a mystery, in my opinion.

Personally, I love courtroom scenes which is one reason I breezed through Michael Connelly's Mickey Haller series. There are a lot of courtroom scenes in those books which I just devoured, so I know a courtroom drama/thriller.

But Chesterfield (Chester) Morgan, spends little time in the courtroom. Some, but very little. Love his given name, so I used it but he's called Chester by most and sometimes Attorney Morgan out of respect, I'm sure. He's well known throughout the city.

Set in a relatively large oil town of Vivia, Oklahoma, Chester is the quintessential seeker of truth who would rather maintain his small law office, living a solitary life helping those common folks, to the point where he barters his services when some clients simply cannot pay him. Such a great, kind fellow who thinks of lawyering as a service to the public rather than a way to enrich his lot in life.

Speaking of Chester:
"Being an attorney was a matter of trust---not only to your client but to yourself and to that ephemeral goddess: justice."

In his employ are two very helpful, loyal and devoted employees, Marylin and Shawn. Shawn is the more risky of the two and is a real trip who never hesitates to speak her mind. I like them both but Shawn, she's gutsy and bold, too.

Oklahoma Wheat Plains photo oklahomaplains_zps8f965f6c.jpg
Wheat Fields of Oklahoma - Flickr - April_girl4

Artistically Speaking
Another thing I missed mentioning the first time around was the common artistic thread woven throughout the book with Chester's mother being a singer of note and from time to time he listens to her lovely voice on his CD player. And being a loner, it can make him melancholy. I just wanted to put my arms around him and tell him, "it will be ok, Chester, really. I promise." I felt his aloneness.

Speaking of Chester:
"He lived by himself and sometimes even his shadow seemed solitary."

Next, the dead young woman Tanya Everly, who was from across the RR tracks, literally, was also a promising singer. Tanya was going where her voice took her when she died. No one knows how she died (murdered?) since the newly appointed police chief won't release the police report. Looking suspicious pretty damn fast here.

 photo 185970641_b86e1d006c_z_zps0ac55c94.jpg
Crossing the Railroad Tracks Can Mean the Difference Between Life and Death - Flickr Wade from Oklahoma

Lastly, Tanya's best friend, Maria, is a jewelry designer and, a big big here, a professional dancer. She and Tanya worked together and supported each other in their effort to better their lives with their talent; their talent other than professional dancing at which Tanya was the best at Vixen's. <-----The name of the establishment where they danced.

Still Musically Speaking
Further, Chester listens to Beethoven and Verdi operas, so I bet he has a Mozart, Bach and Yo-Yo Ma in his collection; Chester and I have more than just a few things in common besides our musical interests and the lack of knowledge of fushion cuisine.

Truth be known, I'm a frustrated attorney. (Along with geologist, archaeologist, et al.) Chester and I have a number of things in common, no doubt.

These characters are so well drawn and this is an indication of how Burnett has gone deep to describe their personal traits, who they are, for the reader.

Speaking of a character in the book
"She looked like a side-by-side refrigerator with both doors open." This was one of my favorite quotes being so very descriptive. She was one big girl, that one.

Speaking of Chester (and me, just another commonality)
"too young to feel old and too old to be young."

Definitely worth a second read.

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Jackson Burnett is a Goodreads author who reads and posts reviews. There are only a handful of authors participating as 'one of us' both readers and reviewers.

I receive his blog which I find so much fun to read, his last post being about using punctuation, specifically quotation marks. Writers, don't be lazy and make reading difficult for us readers. I agree.

Jackson's blog is here:
Jackson Burnett's Goodreads Blog

**************

First Review Still Standing
For a first novel, author Jackson Burnett did an exceptional job in all facets of writing a mystery. And a legal mystery at that.

Chester Morgan, the protagonist, is an attorney. An attorney who scorned the big law offices in favor of determining his own future by opening an office staffed with his two capable assistants one of which needs ‘reining in’ from time to time. His ethics and desire to help the downtrodden unfortunately doesn't always pay the bills, but he sleeps well at night.

That is until he saw a local businessman and philanthropist drowned in the ‘Y’ pool early one morning during Chester’s ritual early morning swims. Knowing the gentleman was a swimmer of note, he questioned as to whether the drowning was accidental or intentional somehow.

To muddy the waters a little more, a poor but kindly young man comes by the office asking Chester’s assistance in obtaining the police file of an old girlfriend who was recently found dead under unusual circumstances. It’s a public record, so what’s the big deal? It’s just a simple file from the local police department. So Chester thought.

Agreeing to look into obtaining the file, Chester finds obstacle after obstacle and becomes more intrigued as he’s told no, over and over. Before he knows it the lawyer is visiting the place of employment of the dead woman who was an exotic, excuse me, a professional dancer.

The storyline was quite interesting and gently unfolded while keeping my attention. At the same time I was trying to piece the puzzle together in my mind of any relationship between the dead swimmer and the dead dancer. OK, I’ve owned up to not being able to determine ‘who dunnit’ but usually I can piece together the clues before the end. Not here, although I did have some good guesses before the ending which was quickly wrapped.

Set in Oklahoma, Burnett’s description of the prairie scenery and the imaginary city where the action takes place was well done in that I could see the area easily in my mind.

And I enjoyed the courtroom scenes but I must admit that I enjoy courtroom action anyway. Burnett did a great job of explaining some of the intricacies of probate law which, not being a lawyer, I was totally unfamiliar with. I enjoy legal mysteries and courtroom scenes alot.

Chester was a great character with high moral standards which didn’t waiver. I like that he was an honorable man and an honorable lawyer true to his profession. However, I’m not sure of his choice in women. For some reason his love interest just didn’t interest me much, but that’s my take. She just seemed like a fake for some reason I really can’t put my finger on. And not liking her too much, I don’t really want to spend any time thinking about why I didn’t like her. Oh, I remember one reason is that she can’t say ‘you’, she says ‘ya’. And she had a hokey-ness to her that didn't appeal to me at all and I'm not sophisticated either. There are more reasons than those but holding back due to spoilers. Reasons enough for me anyway.

Good read though especially for a first time novelist. And a Goodreads author to boot. I would like to see more of Chester and watch his character grow and expand in future books.