Before Another Sunset-Jason Zandri

This brief novelette (five chapters and an epilogue) describes the relationships between friends and neighbors in a rural town a good ways from the well-traveled interstate highway. With little in the way of “new blood” coming to the town, the resident folk look to each other for companionship and stability. Small town residents tend to form pacts that hold them together even through the roughest of times.

The main focus of the story is the relationship between Maria, a single mother who works at the cafe, and Henry, a shopkeeper from across the street. Zandri examines the reactions of two people when one wishes for a romantic relationship and the other party does not. And in such a small town, these types of decisions affect more than just the two involved, and are discussed by many. Beneath this is the beginning of the idea that when the people of the town come together, they can make good things happen. This sentiment is passed between characters like any good rumor, and eventually this will grow into an overwhelming idea for everyone.

Skirting this idea is one that, possibly for the desire to atone for past indiscretions, a man formerly employed in the investment industry has decided to drop everything and travel the country by hitchhiking with just a backpack and his charm and a list of contacts in high places. We only find out about this man at the end, after another character thanks him for helping alleviate a tax debt. This seemingly selfless action helps the truck driver keep his rig and his livelihood. In return, the man only asks for a ride to a next stop. The truck driver takes him back to that same small town. Thus setting up the next title Another Sunset.

4 stars – I found the writing pleasant and the plot steady. The characters suited their setting, thought they could use more development to be memorable.


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