The Incredible Winston Browne
reviewed by Pam Guynn
The Incredible Winston Browne by Sean Dietrich is the best book that I have read so far in 2021. I would not have thought that a book set in the small fictional Florida town of Moab during the 1950’s would end up being a five star read. But this historical fiction with some suspense and action was excellent.
It features fifty-two-year-old Sheriff Winston Browne who not only handles the normal sheriff’s duties, but is also the coroner and baseball coach. He even delivers groceries while doing patrol duty. After nine-year-old Jessie shows up needing help and protection, Winston’s life becomes more fulfilled as well as complicated.
While the town rallies to help Jessie, Winston gets some bad personal news. As he deals with that, he also reflects on his life and continues to care for the town’s inhabitants (including Jessie), and finds he still has more heroic acts ahead of him.
Winston shows tremendous character depth and growth during the course of the book. The other characters have varying degrees of depth, but it was adequate with some being complementary to the protagonist and some being oppositional.
The author brought a strong sense of time and place to the events in the book. Whether it was the attitudes towards and expectations of women, the social and gossip columns, the church social events, the thrill of baseball, the daily Scrabble games, or the townsfolk looking out for one another, I felt transported to northwest Florida in the 1950’s. The town and its citizens came alive for me. While I wish the author had explained why Jessie had to initially run, I came up with my own answer that seemed plausible to me.
The way Winston deals with his bad personal news has a huge impact on the reader, but that is just one of the dramas playing out. When you add in a teen that quits school so he can get a job to help support his mother and his alcoholic grandfather, mail that gets delivered erratically, a love triangle, and the people trying to locate and retrieve Jessie, you have a heartfelt and intriguing novel.
There was a melancholy feel to the atmosphere at times, but there was also humor, hope, protection, love, romance, and friendship to balance it. The ending is impactful, uplifting, and insightful.
Overall, this book was moving and inspiring. Winston Browne is a memorable character and I will continue to think about him for some time. This is the first book that I have read by this author but it won’t be the last. I highly recommend this novel.
Thomas Nelson—FICTION and Sean Dietrich provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. This is my honest review. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. Publication date is currently set for March 2, 2021.