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Reviewed by Rosie Malezer for Readers' Favorite
The Inherent Dangers of Digging Up the Family Tree is a novel written by Mark Howen. While sitting at his grandmother’s funeral, Mason Worthy feels regret at not having been able to pay his respects when other family members had died. Mason and his sister, Constance, are given the task of going through their grandmother’s belongings while Mason’s wife, Hope, and his daughters, Page and Kat, do what they can to help. On finding an article about a bank robbery, Mason learns that his uncle had famously robbed the Frontier State Bank in Denver in 1939. He decides to make a few detours while driving his mother’s car back to Seattle, in the hopes of discovering more about his family’s history. At the local barber shop in Denver, Mason speaks to a man named Hal, who’d witnessed the bank robbery first hand and is able to shed some light on what had happened that day. As Mason follows the trail deeper and deeper, he is astounded by where the truth leads him, and develops a whole new level of respect for both himself and his family.
Mark Howen’s incredibly imaginative tale of getting to know one’s family and past intimately, rather than being a distant bystander at everything except for occasional funerals, is breath-taking. What starts as a simple funeral (where very few faces are known) turns into a magnificent history lesson and story of self discovery. Each of the characters had so much charm and personality that it was like stepping back into an old town from the movies, where people had a lot of respect for each other and didn’t kill for the sake of killing. I felt chills run down my spine each time the main character had a vision of past and present, and the supernatural element was a real treat. The plot and delivery were imaginative and very impressive. I very much enjoyed The Inherent Dangers of Digging Up the Family Tree and recommend it to mystery lovers who enjoy adventure, laughter, drama, and an unexpected insight into one’s own soul.