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 Fiction Review   



Plain Heathen Mischief
By Martin Clark
400 pages
Hardcover, Knopf, 2004, $24.95 ISBN: 1-4000-4096-5
Trade paper, Vintage Contemporaries, 2005, $14.00
ISBN: 1-4000-3411-6
The Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living
By Martin Clark
Vintage Contemporaries, 2001
Trade paper, $13.00 (345 pages)
ISBN: 0-375-70709-3

Martin Clark approaches big subjects -- America's legal system and the Baptist Church -- with gusto. Both The Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living and Plain Heathen Mischief have been praised for their frantic energy, charm, and humor.  

In The Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living, Clark, a circuit court judge in Stuart, Virginia, wrote "what he knew." Evers Wheeling, the book's main character, is one of the state's youngest judges to preside over a court in North Carolina. He drinks a little too much and has a few too many marital problems. When Ruth Esther English comes to ask him to help her brother, Evers is ripe for an adventure. 

Their liaison leads Evers into dangerous territory. While he reluctantly agrees to help Ruth find money, and help her dwarf-sized African-American brother who doesn't resemble her in the least, Evers knows he wouldn't take the same risks for a woman who did not look as good, as blonde, as Ruth. 

Evers' brother Pascal, a brilliant man who chooses to live in a double-wide and spend his time stoned, tries to be of service in both legal and less than legal ways.  

The resulting novel is a wild and crazy murder mystery. 

Plain Heathen Mischief has many of the same elements as The Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living, both novels feature road trips, good men taking walks on the wild side, and laugh out loud moments too funny to give away in a book review. 

In Plain Heathen Mischief, the Reverend Joel King has just completed serving a six month sentence for the statutory rape of then seventeen year old Christy Darden, who incidentally is suing him for $5 million. While no one really knows whether or not he committed the crime, his wife is unwilling to stand by her man.  

If ever a man needed a change, it's Joel. When one of his parishioners needs a ride from Roanoke, Virginia to Missoula, Montana, the Reverend decides it's his Christian duty to help a brother in distress. 

Along the way, Joel encounters con men, unsavory lawyers, and deceitful young people. He learns lessons the hard way with a wonderfully surprise of a spiritual revelation at the book's end.


Pam Kingsbury
Southern Scribe Reviews

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