Hunter's Moon

Hunter's Moon

4.2 11
by Don Hoesel

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Every family has secrets.
Few will go as far as the Baxters to keep them.

Bestselling novelist CJ Baxter has made a career out of writing hard-hitting stories ripped from his own life. Still there's one story from his past he's never told. One secret that's remained buried for decades.

Now, seventeen years after swearing he'd never return, CJ is headed back to


Every family has secrets.
Few will go as far as the Baxters to keep them.

Bestselling novelist CJ Baxter has made a career out of writing hard-hitting stories ripped from his own life. Still there's one story from his past he's never told. One secret that's remained buried for decades.

Now, seventeen years after swearing he'd never return, CJ is headed back to Adelia, NY. His life in Tennessee has fallen to pieces, his grandfather is dying, and CJ can no longer run from the past.

With Graham Baxter, CJ's brother, running for Senate, a black sheep digging up old family secrets is the last thing the family and campaign can afford. CJ soon discovers that blood may be thicker than water, but it's no match for power and money.

There are wounds even time cannot heal.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
From the author of the archeological thriller Elisha's Bones comes a story closer to home and family. When struggling author CJ Baxter returns to his hometown for his grandfather's funeral, he faces a ruthless brother who's making a bid for the Senate, and must deal with a family bent on getting him elected. The family is not thrilled about CJ's veiled exposition of their lives in his writing, and the secret he tries to expose will either be the death of a political career, or of CJ. Hoesel weaves deep psychological insight into the characters and paints lovely scenes that meander through upstate New York's Adirondack Mountains, creating a great winter read for those who enjoy a slower paced telling of an intricate few days of life in a complex family struggle. Hoesel has substantial writing talent and writes about authentic family issues wrapped in a suspenseful plot. (Feb.)
Library Journal
C.J. Baxter is a writer who doubts his talent and has a messy personal life. Returning home to upstate New York for a funeral, he finds he must face some unpleasant family secrets while learning to navigate through life with his recently embraced faith in God. VERDICT Hoesel, the author of the acclaimed adventure thriller Elisha's Bones, switches gears with this intelligent drama, which will appeal to readers who enjoy stories about complicated familial relationships and the faith that guides one through life.\

Product Details

Baker Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

Hunter's Moon

By Don Hoesel

Bethany House Publishers

Copyright © 2010 Don Hoesel
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7642-0561-3

Chapter One

Adelia, New York

A line of venerable sugar maples stood between the Baxter home and the private road, half obscuring the residence from anyone following the winding route up the hill until the moment the cobblestone driveway appeared, as if from nowhere, on the right. Built in the Federalist style, with its Palladian windows and narrow chimneys, the large house had looked down on Adelia from its perch atop Franklin County's highest point for more than two hundred years, the frame taking shape almost a full decade before the Redcoats' 1813 jaunt up the St. Lawrence in pursuit of General Wilkinson. Three hundred mostly wooded acres, as long a part of the Baxter holdings as the house itself, stretched out from the back porch-a massive tract of undeveloped land thick with white pine, interspersed with stubborn popple, and filled with whitetail, rabbit, and fox. Eight generations of Baxters had culled game from this land, and when the British made the mistake of taking their chase through the southeastern corner of the acreage, the list of acceptable prey was righteously amended to include them. Beyond the unmarked graves of these trespassing soldiers, past the far boundary that marked the Baxter property line, the wilderness continued almost without interruption tothe feet of the Adirondacks.

The road that passed in front of the Baxter place-a one-lane thoroughfare called Lyndale that until two months ago had been gravel but now looked slick with fresh asphalt-separated the property from the ninety-foot drop-off that allowed the residents of the home to survey the town below. The road was a splinter off SR 44 that linked the interstate a hundred miles south with the 122 across the U.S.-Canada border, but when the Baxter ancestors first cut the trail up the hill, the main road was little more than a rutted wagon path, and Eisenhower and his interstate 150 years off.

As Artie Kadziolka made his way down one of Adelia's uneven sidewalks, keys in hand, arthritis sending streaks of sharp pain through his knees to supplement the perpetual throbbing, his eyes found the house on the hill, more easily spotted now that fall had shed the maples of half their leaves. He counted six cars and trucks parked in the semicircular driveway and guessed that meant the old man was on his way out. A twinge of sadness made a sudden appearance but was gone almost before Artie recognized it. Death had been lingering outside that house for a long while, and Sal Baxter had done all he could to keep him hovering around the maples, but the unwelcome visitor had finally carried his terrible scythe across the doorstep.

The keys jingled in Artie's hand as he walked, and he grimaced against the stiffness in both knees. The arthritis had gotten worse over the last few months, and his prescription medication was no longer doing the job. So last week he'd doubled up on the pills, which had helped a little. He knew the walk to the hardware store did him good-helped him to loosen things up-but it was becoming clear that no amount of pills or exercise was going to keep things from growing progressively worse. Still, it wasn't the legs that worried him; he could run his business without full use of them. What worried him was how he would keep the store going if the arthritis took to his hands with the same vengeance with which it was working on his lower appendages. It would be foolish to operate a table saw without the ability to keep a firm hand on the wood passing through the blade.

He crossed Third Avenue, the road empty except for a yellow dog that Artie saw disappear down the alley separating Maggie's Deli from Walden's Drug. In another thirty minutes a group of men would gather outside Maggie's waiting for coffee, and Maggie would tsk at them through the window while she readied to open, which she wouldn't do until seven o'clock. She hadn't opened even a minute early once in the last twenty years, and yet there wasn't a morning when the men didn't gather, peeking through the window, trying to catch Maggie's eye. Often Sal Baxter's son, George, was among them, although Artie suspected such would not be the case today with what was happening up the hill.

Artie had fond memories of hunting with George in the woods behind the Baxter home, years ago-in the late fifties, when both attended Adelia High. Artie would follow George up the gravel road to his house with a few of the other boys lucky enough to be included in George's circle. Artie carried his Winchester. Mostly they were after squirrel, although once they took an eight-point out of season; it was George's shot that had brought the deer down. This was back when the Baxters cast a longer shadow over the county-when there was talk of Sal running for governor. Back then, Artie ate at their table, teased George's sister, chopped wood for Sal, and nursed a desperate crush on George's mom, who was the local standard of beauty for years.

Then George had gone off to college.

Artie had carried on with George's sister for a while, yet that ended before George came home for Christmas break, a different person than the one who'd left. After that, the only times the two talked were those few occasions when George needed something from Artie's father's store-the store that now belonged to the son. George still came in now and then, to buy the odd tool or coil wire, and they would chat for a few minutes-always cordially, never too familiar. But not once had Artie been tempted to change his daily routine to join the men who gathered in front of Maggie's every morning, even when George was among them.

Artie almost felt bad about his involvement in the pool, although it didn't stop him from wishing that the elder statesman of the Baxter clan would hold on just one more day. Artie stood to win a cool thousand dollars if George's dad passed into the great beyond tomorrow. On the heels of this last thought he reached his destination and started sorting through the mess of keys on the ring.

Kaddy's Hardware-the name coming from Artie's grandfather's belief that people might be reluctant to enter an establishment whose name they couldn't pronounce-occupied the corner of Fifth and Main. It was the perfect location, with ample parking in the side lot, and Ronny's Bar & Grill next door. From eleven to five, a steady stream of customers came through-mostly for small-ticket items, but those added up. Artie made a good living on duct tape and caulk, and aerator rentals.

As the keys clinked against each other, a city services truck rolled around Sycamore and up Fifth, Gabe at the wheel. Artie waved as it passed by, turned and headed up Main toward the town center. In the back, a sign for the Adelia Fall Festival swayed dangerously, and Artie watched until the truck straightened, expecting the heavy wooden placard to topple to the pavement, but it remained in the bed and the pickup continued on. By midmorning several of the signs-some of them the original ones hand-painted by the founders of the Fall Festival back in 1931-would line the streets surrounding town hall, and in the weeks leading up to the event, seasonal decorations would pop up and then the big banner would be strung across Main. The Festival, whose seasonal synchronicity placed at the height of football season, was the most anticipated event in Adelia, punctuated by the arts and craft fair along Main, the town dance, a parade, a lawn fete at St. Anthony's, and officially culminating in the Adelia High home game against rival Smithson Academy, of neighboring Batesville. The two teams, historically evenly matched, had come near to splitting forty years' worth of games, although Adelia had won the last three. But Smithson was strong this year, projected to go to the state championship.

Unofficially, the Fall Festival found its end much later in the evening, when students from both schools met at the town line to pummel each other with tomatoes under the amused eyes of the adults. This tradition was like most modern incarnations of long-lived events, a neutered version of the original occasion, when men from Batesville had shown up at the first Fall Festival to throw rocks at the Adelia revelers, who responded in kind. In the seventy-eight years that followed, the only time period during which some form of the confrontation did not happen was between 1937-1942 when Batesville, with its overwhelmingly German citizenry, suspected an escalation to more deadly projectiles should they make their customary appearance.

His key found the lock and he gave it a turn, wincing against the pain that shot up the back of his hand to the wrist. He released the key still in the lock and opened and closed the hand. Then, with a shake of his head, he pushed open the door. He knew it was only a matter of time until he couldn't do this anymore, and unlike his father, he didn't have a son to whom he could turn the business over. When he retired, Kaddy's would be gone.

That brought a small laugh from his thick frame, and as he stepped into the store he winked at Cadbury. The scarecrow offered its toothless grin in response from its spot in the corner. Artie was acting as if the absence of his store would have some kind of lasting impact on Adelia. The town, though, would do just fine; it would remain long after someone else had filled this prime piece of real estate.

Before he could shut the door, he caught sight of movement on the newly paved road. A pickup was taking the steep part of the hill, heading toward the Baxter place. He watched until it hit the flat and swung into the driveway, disappearing behind one of the ancient maples to take its place in the line of vehicles belonging to the rest of the vigil keepers. He supposed that was something he had in common with the oldest family in Adelia. Long after Sal was gone, the Baxter clan would still be there.

As the door shut behind him, he found himself wondering if Sal's death would finally bring CJ back.


Excerpted from Hunter's Moon by Don Hoesel Copyright © 2010 by Don Hoesel. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Don Hoesel is the acclaimed author of Elisha's Bones. Currently he works in the communications department of a large company and holds a BA in Mass Communication from Taylor University. He has also published short fiction in Relief Journal. Don lives in Spring Hill, Tennessee, with his wife and two children.

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Hunter's Moon 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
lipto96 More than 1 year ago
While I was thinking about what I was going to write for my review of the book, Hunter's Moon, this one phrase kept coming to mind. I should have read it sooner! This was a book that I received awhile ago to review, along with a few others. I just kept shuffling it to the bottom of the pile. My favorite types of books are contemporary and mystery. And this is a good mystery book! I should have read it sooner! CJ Baxter left home 17 years ago, vowing never to return. With him, it took one of the families darkest secrets. When the death of his favorite uncle brings him back home, he comes face to face with the past that he had been running from. With CJ's brother Graham running for Senate, how far will the family go to keep CJ and his secret quiet? This is a good book, with twists and turns to keep you interested. A good mystery -- with a small twist that I didn't see coming until the last minute. Definitely a must read for anybody who loves a good mystery! This book was published by Bethany House. Click here to read more!
JDyan More than 1 year ago
The ending of this book reminded me of a little version of a modern day Cain and Abel. However, I have to say that I was disappointed with this novel, it was rather bland for my taste. It brought to mind the image of a huge plate of gorgeous food that you just can't wait to devour only to be disappointed once you taste it only to realize it is flavorless. I guess my high expectations for Hunter's Moon were to high because it definitely did disappoint. I would not recommend this book to anyone I know, its just not worth it.
Sneezybee23 More than 1 year ago
Hunter's Moon is a gripping story of family secrets that have never been told, but have haunted CJ Baxter for years. CJ Baxter is a bestselling novelist whose stories are closely related to the real life secrets he has known for so long. When his grandfather dies, he returns to is home town of Adelia, NY, where he must face the family that he left so long ago. An old flame, a pending divorce, a bitter custody battle over his dog, a suspicious business deal and a decades old secret all serve to complicate CJ's life and he soon finds that he must release the secrets he has kept for so long. at any cost. The author did a great job of pacing this story out. There was always some mystery that kept me wondering until the end. The plot was well-crafted with many intricacies that all linked together to make the story work. My favorite character in this story was Artie, an old-man who talks to scarecrow and knows more of the Baxter family secrets than he should. Definitely a book I will read again.
VicG More than 1 year ago
Don Hoesel in his new book, "Hunter's Moon", published by Bethany House takes us in a different direction than he did in his first book but he still showcases his masterful ability to capture our attention and immerse us in his story. The patriarch of the Baxter Clan, Sal Baxter, dies and the family is recalled for the wake and funeral and the phone call is made to C.J. to return home as a sign of respect. C. J. Baxter left Adelia, N.Y. after college 17 years before and vowed he would never return but because he loved his grandfather he makes the exception. C.J. is a well respected NY Times bestselling author and many feel that his novels, while fiction, are really autobiographical and that put a further estrangement between him and his already estranged family. And now, after 17 years, C.J. returns home. While Mr. Hoesel's first book was an action thriller this second book is a psychological thriller. What is the difference? In both the hero is in danger but the danger begins like food in a pressure cooker slowly and then you just wait for the steam to be let off while the hero fights for his life. The first portion of this book builds the pressure as Mr. Hoesel explores all of his characters, how they interrelate with each other and the deadly secret that a handful are aware of that threatens the future of the family. This is not a fun read as it is deeply psychological however it is a thriller and Mr. Hoesel does know how to deliver on a page turner. If you missed the interview for "Elisha's Bones" and would like to listen to it please go to where it is available On Demand. To listen to 24 Christian music please visit our internet radio station Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Yiya More than 1 year ago
A book that should come with popcorn!! The Baxters are a family of power and tradition who settled in Adelia, NY. At present, the older brother, Graham, is running for the Senate, position for which he will fight - and make the family fight - at all costs, despite who gets in the way. CJ Baxter, the youngest brother, is a writer who left his hometown for college, never come back, and has used his books as a refuge from his past; the secret he's carried for years has crippled him to enjoy his present and has permeated in his writing, to the outmost displeasure of his relatives. He goes back to Adelia when his grandfather passes away; little did he know that his life would change drastically in about a month by going back. CJ was expected at the funeral, but to everyone's surprise, he stays in Adelia without an apparent purpose; however, CJ is fleeing a nasty divorce and his uncertainty of himself as a writer, making him unwilling to leave. Facing truths and confronting himself, CJ learns that he has fed his anger and that he must decide to let it go. In the process, he finds out that his brother's campaign is tainted with personal interests and support from whom CJ least expects; if this information goes public, Graham will never make it to Senator and might face prision, along with the others involved. Before arriving to Adelia, CJ had been asked to write an article about his brother; with everything he's found out, his life is now imperiled. The beginning of the book is a little slow. The author describes family members thoroughly; even the homestate, which I consider to be one of the main characters and loyal portrait of the Baxter character, gets a fine picture done throughout the pages. But this proves its importance as the plot develops. All those aspects help to shape the main characters, and make the ending more thrilling, as the reader has enough information now to venture a guess into CJ's fate, and is no longer able to put the book down!! I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers for review, but this does not bias my opinion on the book nor the author.
sdslangford More than 1 year ago
With his grandfather dying, author C.J. Baxter heads back to a place he hasn't been in over 17 years - home. The power hungry Baxter family and their home have been sitting atop Franklin County's highest point for over 200 years. Their goal to become as powerful as the renowned Irish-American Kennedy clan only succeeds as far as the town of Adelia. Even though he has become something of a hometown celebrity, C.J. isn't welcomed by his own family. However, once he is there, Adelia, N.Y. seems like a good place to escape from a failing marriage, bad book reviews, a probable lawsuit and possible arrest. After being attacked by his older brother Graham, C.J. decides he can be as ruthless as his family and determines to reveal the deep, dark family secrets. Risking much, he begins to write an expose'. Graham Baxter is running for Senate and in his grab for power the last thing he wants is for C.J. to write about his transgressions. Graham, his father, and his campaign manager struggle to keep C.J. quiet in order to save the run for election. Hunter's Moon is the second novel of Don Hoesel. I completely enjoyed reading this captivating mystery! The suspense in the novel kept me reading late into the night, and the outcome was completely unexpected. The Library Journal is quoted on the cover saying, "This intelligent drama will appeal to readers who enjoy stories about...the faith that guides one through life." With that, I disagree. There was very little faith mentioned in the book - C.J. is a new Christian struggling to forgive but you really don't see his character seeking God to direct his many decisions. However, the book is a great read and I look forward to reading more from Don Hoesel. Thank you to Bethany House for providing this book in exchange for an honest review.
tiffanibelle More than 1 year ago
Hunter's Moon by Dan Hoesel is not your normal "Christian Fiction." First, aside from Frank Peretti, most of the Christian fiction I see around is romance-novel-ish. I love mysteries, and action stories, though, so I thought this book would be right up my alley. And indeed, it did have a good mystery, a lot of tension, and a fairly exciting ending. But I'm getting ahead of myself. C.J. is a novelist who, despite his efforts, cannot keep his hometown of Adelia out of his books. There is only one problem... some people may not want their histories shared with the world. When C.J. returns to Adelia to attend his grandfather's funeral, he finds himself confronted with a family secret he ran away from, and a number of family members who are and aren't happy to see him. C.J.'s brother, Graham, is running for senate, and meanwhile C.J.'s messy divorce and other family happenings are sort of mucking up the plan. All the while, C.J. is rediscovering who he is and who God is calling him to be. Here is the bottom line: this book wasn't half bad. I thought there were too many characters right off the bat, and too many with similar names which made it hard for me to keep them straight (George and Graham for instance). That and the fact that the mysterious family secret was revealed pretty early in the story were my only "cons". I thought the author did a really good job of presenting C.J.'s young faith in Jesus without being super preachy but still being authentic to the character and to Christianity. The story did meander a little bit, but I was engaged in C.J.'s life, so it was actually OK. And the end kept me up past midnight because I didn't want to go to bed without finishing it, which if nothing else at least shows that the book had caught me pretty well by then. Hunter's Moon is a pretty solid read, not great, not the best book I've read in a while, but good. If you like mysteries and suspense, you'll probably like it. 4 scarecrows out of 5.
khager23 More than 1 year ago
I have minor issues with the cover of the book, because it makes it seem like a thriller, and this really isn't. It's a novel about family and about integrity. Most of the book is literary fiction at its best (and while I say that term with a mighty eyeroll, it's true). The writing is crisp and evocative and the whole book is wonderfully paced and plotted. (This is not to say that the last 50 pages or so aren't action-packed. They are--I think I read them in about 20 minutes and I was unable to read fast enough.) CJ is a very likeable character; I hope there's a sequel.
Trinity-Rose More than 1 year ago
Hunter's Moon is an excellent book. I really like the picture on the cover of the smoking gun and the title of the book. I always look in the book to find out what both of these mean. I thought this book was clear on what they meant. CJ is an author and his grandfather passed away, CJ decided to return to his hometown to attend the funeral. That is when all of the past comes at him. All of the things he has tried to cover up or forget his whole life. Hunter's Moon has many things, secrets, domestic violence, anger, bitterness and you can see how all of this affects the family. One holds a secret about the other that has shaped the entire families lives and could destroy their future. CJ Baxter has only recently become a Christian, and he is still struggling but makes the right life choices in the end. CJ has been away from his hometown for many years, but finds in the end that it is a special place. This book is full of action, adventure, happiness, sadness, betrayal, and life. Like I said Hunter's Moon is an excellent book, but it started out slow and I would have loved the ending to have been more to it. I would have liked having the ending wrapped up more and find out what is going on with each character. This would be a great book to have a sequel to. Overall I really love this book. It held my interest very easily and I would recommend it to anyone
ChristysBookBlog More than 1 year ago
Hunter's Moon by Don Hoesel is the powerful sophomore novel by the writer of Elisha's Bones. CJ Baxter, a famed novelist, is summoned home to Adelia, NY after being gone for over seventeen years by the death of his grandfather. The Baxters have long hoped to build a political dynasty like the Kennedy's and those hopes are finally coming to fruition with CJ's brother Graham. But not is all it appears between the brothers. One holds a secret about the other that has shaped the entire family's life and could destroy their future. CJ is a likable character, new in his Christianity, who just keeps seem to let his temper get the best of him; he's on the brink of divorce, facing charges for assaulting a critic, and running from a bench warrant for breaking into his house to steal back his dog. Hoesel carefully builds the drama slowly, ratcheting up the tension so carefully as to be almost imperceptible except for the building tightness in the reader's chest. The dialogue rings incredibly true. A character returning home to face a family crisis and drama is an often used device, but Hoesel avoids the cliches that come with it, making the story brilliantly fresh. The scene of teenaged Graham's threat toward ten-year-old CJ is haunting and CJ's gut-wrenching fear is palpable. This is a story that will stick with the reader long after the final page.