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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Book Review: Hero's Tribute by Graham Garrison

About the Book

Genre: Contemporary
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Release Date: September 21, 2009

Michael Gavin was a local hero, admired for his prowess in sports, his service in the military, and his work in the community. But there is more to Michael Gavin—including a past that has long been hidden.

Wes Watkins is a local newspaper reporter whose job it is to find a story, even if it means digging through court reports, interviewing the most unlikely people, and following leads that make him unpopular.

When Wes finds himself charged with writing Gavin's eulogy—though the two had never met—he sets out to find the truth. What happens next is something the little town of Talking Creek never expected. Secrets come to light, confidences are broken, and lives are redefined. But in the end, everyone will know what truly makes a man a legend.

About the Author

Graham Garrison is a writer and editor who lives in suburban Atlanta. He has covered high school and college football games as a newspaper reporter, completed an internship with the U.S. Army at its National Training Center in the Mojave Desert and tested WaveRunners and Runabouts as the managing editor of a national boating magazine. He's written about battlefields for America's Civil War, interviewed medical innovators for Georgia Physician and even penned an editorial for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. When he's not writing, he's chasing his two-year old son Nicholas and their Beagle, Baxter around the backyard with his wife, Katie. Visit his website at


"A powerful and moving book about what truly defines a hero. Garrison perfectly captures the notion of officership and why a man is called to accept the challenge of military leadership. This is a good read."--Colonel Kevin Benson, US Army, ret., former Director, School of Advanced Military Studies, analyst, McNeil Technologies

"Hero's Tribute has enough clever twists and hidden hooks that you'll find yourself totally engrossed, and thoroughly engaged. This is one you'll be telling your friends about."--Scott Kelby, the world's #1 bestselling computer and technology author

My Review

Fellow Kregel author, Graham Garrison, cranked out a debut novel with superb writing and an unusual premise that is sure to get some readers talking. (I won't rehash the plot here; read the book description above.) I was instantly struck by the originality of his storyline and by his masterful prose. Prior to this book, Graham published a number of magazine articles and authored the book Groomed: From Proposal To Vows, Wedding Planning And An Engagement From A Groom’s Point of View. His experience as an author definitely shows in this deftly written tale that features strong characterizations and a thread of mystery that will leave readers guessing.

No, this isn't a typical whodunit but more of a "whydunit." Why did Michael Gavin ask Wes Watkins to write his eulogy? What happened to Michael's war medal? Did he give it away? Was he embarrassed to receive it? These questions lead the reader forward and fuel Wes's investigation, which initially leads him to people who say what everyone expects them to say: all the nice, flattering comments one would expect after the death of a town's prized athlete and a war hero. But as Wes probes further, he uncovers a flawed man who had secrets to hide and a strained relationship with his father, a problem that mirrors Wes's own experience. In the end, amid the revelations Wes uncovers the powerful truth that redeemed a flawed man like Michael Gavin and even offers Wes hope for his own troubled life. With a subtle but powerful message of grace, Hero's Tribute is a worthy read. My only gripes would be a smattering of locker-room-style slang and some sports lingo that was over my head; football fans should understand it, however. Beyond that, Hero's Tribute is a book you don't want to miss.

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