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Thriller Review    


The Grail Mystique
by Brewster Milton Robertson
Wyrick & Co., 2003
Hardcover, $24.95  (498 pages)
ISBN: 0-941711-64-1
  In the tradition of Judith Krantz mixed with Robert Ludlum, The Grail Mystique is a Southern saga influenced by the world economy and power barons.  The shadow characters who play with the lives of the major characters add a touch of evil and the feeling of powerlessness in a free land.

The Grahams of North Carolina own Graham International, Ltd., which is known by its stock symbol GRAIL.  The company with a rich history in tobacco, has expanded to include aviation, power, construction, and numerous interests. Much of the recent wealth is due to someone outside of the family -- Norris Wrenn.  In the course of five days, the Graham dynasty is brought to its knees, then rises with a new power.

Norris Wrenn was from a middle class background, but his mix of genius, common sense, and charm moved him to the top of most groups.  He grew up playing in golf tournaments against Trip Graham, who was his college roommate and best friend.  Norris is sought by the White House to revitalize his Phoenix project, which nurtured geniuses from all backgrounds.  He is also sought by Clayton Graham, who wishes to bypass his playboy son Trip to give the reigns of GRAIL to Norris in safe keeping for his grandson.  Norris in many respects is a "Jay Gatsby," an innocent always invited to the party, but never a member of the club.

Trip Graham is a tragic character.  He had everything that wealth brings, yet made the wrong choice at each fork in his life.  Robertson's descriptions of Trip's addictive personality, lost weekend, and disintegration are realistic and powerful. 

Former supermodel and swimsuit cover model, Marilee, completes the triangle between Trip and Norris. She is married to Trip, but Norris is everything Trip is not.  As she is honored by the state of North Carolina as "Mother of the Year," all she can think of is how to leave her husband for the man who has stepped in his shoes in her life and that of her son.

Two strong lessons come from reading The Grail Mystique: (1) hold your friends close and your enemies closer; and (2) don't travel before signing the dotted line.  This is an intense, fast-paced thriller that will have you reading the front page with a sharper eye for power plays and economic games.

Brewster Milton Robertson is the author of Rainy Days and Sundays, winner of the Golden Eye Literary Award, and is a regular contributor to national publications. He lives Beaufort, South Carolina.

Joyce Dixon
Southern Scribe Reviews


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