A Place of Belonging

A Place of Belonging

A Review 

Some people pick up stray dogs or cats – Steven Banks brings home a stray girl, who has suffered a memory loss.

Ex-Atlanta cop Banks, the principal character in Bob Mustin’s A Place of Belonging, (I Universe), has a lot more on his plate than just a poor unfortunate lost soul.  Banks is complicated, it’s obvious, but moreover, he is confused and conflicted.

North Carolina Real Estate tycoon Terrence Gaines has lost something – something of much greater value than all his fortune, and he wants his possession returned, whatever the cost.

Ginger Begay, the amnesiac, is a waif-like Native American woman who, quite by accident, ends up on the streets of Clarksville, GA, and walks into the lives of Banks and those around him.

Mattie Hollister, the woman who loves Steven Banks and tolerates his non-committal behavior in their relationship, accepts Ginger into her home with some reservation, if not fear of what this young mysterious woman’s presence portends for her family and her life with Banks.

Unfortunately for and unknown to the folks in Georgia, Ginger has led a troubled past which has culminated in her being accused of a murder she witnessed.  Banks seems drawn to this woman for more than a purely altruistic desire to help her uncover her buried past.

After a good amount of detective work as well as bits of returning memory, it seems that Ginger’s most recent past and the primary cause of her memory loss may lie in the mountains of northern New Mexico.  Hopeful that returning to the locale combined with concern for their personal safety – after a break in at Banks’ home and subsequent attempted bodily injury – Banks and Ginger set out for the west in his old pickup truck accompanied by his loyal canine companion Warwoman.

As a traveler, I have never been one for side trips along the way – I always tend to focus on getting to my destination as quickly as possible.  Therefore, I was somewhat bothered by the erratic if not circuitous route they take from Georgia to New Mexico, passing through many of America’s prime and oft visited vacation spots.  Banks doesn’t seem particularly eager, for reasons we can only assume, to reach their destination.

Is his motivation simply for more personal time alone with Ginger?  It seems unlikely he would be afraid of what they will find in New Mexico.  We don’t get a good answer as to why all the meandering.

But, while in San Antonio – yes, as in Texas, they finally tire of being on the road and with a certain degree of urgency they take the most direct path west then northward to New Mexico.  As Ginger’s memory returns, spurred by revisiting Taos and the surrounding area, the pieces of this mystery/puzzle fall into place, and they are prompted to return East quickly.

Mustin has constructed a first-class work of mystery and suspense in A Place of Belonging, giving us a view, primarily through the use of narrative, into the lives and thoughts of credible and well developed characters.  His picture-story is painted against a backdrop of real beauty – some of the best America has to offer, including: the Southern Appalachian foothills of Georgia and Alabama; the Ozark regions of Arkansas and Missouri; eastern Oklahoma’s Indian Territory; San Antonio – home of the Alamo; and finally the Western Mountains of New Mexico.

Interwoven in the journey portion of this story, Mustin touches on some of the great tragedies of American history – slavery in the south, the infamous Civil War Battle of Vicksburg, and the Cherokee’s “Trail of Tears.”  In doing so, we are reminded of some of the darker aspects of American development.

   Mustin is an excellent storyteller, quite possibly with the potential of becoming a great Southern writer in the vein of Faulkner or Thomas Wolfe – both of whom were masters in the presentation of the literary anti-hero.  I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Banks, Mattie and Ginger.  I eagerly anticipate Mustin’s future works.

J Russell Rose, Author


President, Appalachian Authors Guild & Associates


One Response to “A Place of Belonging”

  1. Bob Mustin Says:

    Thanks, Jack, for the generous review. You’ve touched on what I feel are some of my story’s shortcomings, things I would change were I now writing or editing the story. And you’ve also depicted very accurately what I intended my story to convey. Thanks for the careful reading.

    And I wholeheartedly agree: even as writers, our discernment skills are generally much stronger when we read than when we write. That’s why reviews and critiques are so important to a writer’s growth.


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