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New Jerusalem News by John Enright

New Jerusalem News: A Novel - John Enright, J. Paul Guimont, Audible Studios

Dominick is the central character in this tragicomedy. He is a polite and self-sufficient free loader that travels from place to place staying as a house guest here and there. This story finds him up in the Cape Cod area, staying mostly with a geriatric couple, Atticus and Lydia. As things get odd, he tries again and again to leave the area, heading for sunnier climes. But the dramadie keeps pulling him back in.

Lord Witherspoon, a minor British noble, is Dominick’s alternate identity. He finds it opens doors for him and he sees no harm in the little white lies he uses to bolster up this fake persona. Dominick’s past remains mostly shrouded, though we get a little bit about his parentage and perhaps a little psychology as to why he drifts from place to place. He’s a man in the second half of his life with no attachments – no kids, no spouse, no siblings. His mother is still alive, but he doesn’t prefer to be reminded of that fact. Sometimes he uses a little ruse, making an offer on a place, in order to gain access to it and stay as a house guest. He’s a free loader when it comes to lodging but has enough means to cover food and fun.

Right away, I was interested in Dominick and where this story would take him. The life he has chosen to live is so very different that I was caught up in why he was doing it. Apparently, mostly just for the experience of it. Pretty soon, he is hanging out with Atticus on his boat, helping out as a kind of thank you for staying at Mount Sinai (the affectionate name for the house) on the Old Grofton island near New Jerusalem city. Next thing Dominick knows, there’s been a bombing and the Bay Savers group (which Atticus is part of) is the chief suspect.

What follows is part comedy and part drama as the FBI, Homeland Security, and a group called ICE swoop down upon the area to investigate. Atticus and Lydia are at the center of this. Of course, Dominick’s fictitious Lord Witherspoon gets caught up in it as well and it’s way more interest than Dominick likes. He tries again and again to leave the area, but keeps getting sucked back in by these friendships he has accidentally made.

Admittedly, the plot does kind of ramble. It started off strong, building a kind of mystery to be solved. Well, that mostly petered out and only at the very near end does it come back into play. My attention wandered in the middle because there wasn’t anything particularly significant happening that related to the bombing mystery. There were some funny scenes, mostly to do with the women who end up in Dominick’s bed.

There’s a ton of interesting characters in this book. Ms. Arnold lives in New Jerusalem proper and often folks stay over at her place if they miss the last ferry. I like her no nonsense attitude. Brenda and Charlie are present at the start of the story, but swiftly disappear, though Dominick thinks of them often. Charlie is into the bible and Fox news, so some of his views are eyebrow raising or simply amusing. Lydia and Atticus have twin grown daughters, and we meet Angie. She’s technically in charge of selling the house, and Lord Witherspoon has made an offer on it. Lydia herself is probably suffering from Alzheimer’s so sometimes she is argumentative, sometimes amusing (burnt toast nailed to the wall, anyone?), and sometimes lucid and well aware that she is losing it. Mr. Starks runs a local museum and is into photography. Queen Emma is a local native american celebrity with fiery passion. Each of these characters was well written and I quite enjoyed meeting them even if they had nothing to do with the central plot.

The ending wasn’t at all what I was expecting but it was fitting. It was poignant and a bit sad, but also satisfying. In the end, this book is just about what Dominick experienced in Cape Cod over a winter. It’s simply a little slice of his life.

I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost via iReads Book Tour company in exchange for an honest review.

Narration: J. Paul Guimont was a good choice for this book. He had a steady, easy to listen to voice, and a good character voice for Dominick. His female character voices were also very good, being believable. He also performed regional accents quite nicely.