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L. J. Hippler lived, worked and played in Baltimore for several decades. He has degrees in Economics and Finance from UMBC and the University of Baltimore. Currently, he makes his home in Richland, Washington. But, Charm City will always be a huge part of who he is.
on Feb. 17, 2012 :
The New Road brings us back to the Baltimore area for the next installment of the Miller family drama.
It's ten years after the events in Cathedral Street, and young Michelle Miller (now Ibanez) has matured into a respected lawyer with a budding law practice. Michelle’s life is on the upswing; with her lovely new home, her handsome husband, and her adoring toddler son, it looks like things can only get better . . . until she’s handed the brown folder containing the innocuous-sounding House Bill 1664. Blessed with strength of character from the grandmother she never knew, Michelle’s courage and determination will be tested to the very edge of her limits as she readies for the fight of her life.
A new road should bring new beginnings, but as Michelle learns, for the residents of Canton the thoroughfare interchange proposed by House Bill 1664 spells nothing less than the total destruction of their historic neighborhood. A pork-barrel project pushed through by a self-serving politician, HB 1664 is nearly unstoppable. With few allies and little clout behind her, Michelle’s only chance of stopping the new road is to rely on herself and her unswerving moral compass.
The bill’s master architect, self-serving politician Sam Sampson, is a man with no compunction for fighting dirty. Sampson’s plans for the interchange are nothing less than a monument to his own overblown ego. Determined to ensure the success of his vision whatever the cost, Sampson institutes a scorched-earth policy against Michelle, starting with her father, Buddy.
Former “Captain of Industry” Buddy Miller is older and a little worse for wear from the last time we saw him. His position in life is finally secure and stable, thanks to his hard work and a good turn or two in the stock market. Between his strained relationship with his daughter, Michelle, and his new love interest that is scarcely older than her, Buddy’s got his hands full. His vigor is staring to fade, but what’s really bothering Buddy is those dark nights when the face that stares back at him from the mirror, dark and full of rage, belongs not to him but to his own despicable father.
Meanwhile, Father Jerry, the eldest of the original Miller brothers, has grown too accustomed to comfortable surroundings. Striking out away from the neighborhood he’s known so long, Father Jerry’s new parish provides some unexpected challenges. The run-down chapel is dirty and hopeless, much like the migrant farm workers that are his parishioners. But Father Jerry has been in hopeless places before, and although his fight might look different from the one Michelle is waging, he’s not willing to leave things as they are.
With her days and nights consumed by her fight against Sampson and his interchange, Michelle feels her once-perfect life beginning to slip away as she comes to understand the sacrifices her determination may demand of her. She’s barely able to speak to the father she once doted on. With her small law practice overwhelmed (and unpaid) due to her fight against House Bill 1664, long days spent away from her toddler son, and mounting evidence pointing toward her husband’s infidelity, Michelle comes to realize that campaigning to protect something larger than herself may cost her everything she holds dear. As Sampson’s goons prepare to take the fight to the next level, Michelle discovers that the real threat to her marriage may come from an unexpected corner . . .
Like L.J. Hippler’s enthralling debut novel, Cathedral Street, this offering is a gripping, suspenseful treat. The New Road delivers a strong, incredibly well-written narrative that’s simply addictive. Whether you’re familiar with the original novel or not, it’s thrilling to watch Michelle come into her own in this novel.
A third installment of the Miller family saga is currently underway, and I’ll be keeping my eyes out to see where Michelle goes from here.
(reviewed the day of purchase)