At the beginning of Hawke's Point by Mark Willen, Beacon Junction, Vermont, is a sleepy little town.
Jonas Hawke, a retired lawyer and proprietor of a B&B, is one of the town's most prominent citizens,
and Harrison Medical Devices is its largest business. But several things happen that threaten to
upset the apple cart. A high-level employee at Harrison confronts his boss with his suspicion that a
stent that the company makes may have been responsible for at least a dozen deaths. At the same time,
a mysterious young man comes to town to do research in the archives of the town's weekly newspaper,
which is run by Jonas' son Nathan. The young man, Steven Delacourt, turns out to be the grandson of
Harrison's founder and the son of a man who had once been accused of murdering him. Jonas Hawke, as
an attorney, had cleared Steven's father's name—or had he?
As one who has friends in Brattleboro, a real town that, in the book, is near the fictional Beacon
Junction, I can testify that Mark Willen gives a very realistic depiction of Vermont small-town life.
More importantly, he is a master of depicting family dynamics. While the Hawke family is a comfortable
one, it is also problematic, having seen the death of one of Jonas' children and an affair on the part
of his wife. This is not a courtroom drama—we don't see Jonas in action as a lawyer until near the
end of the book—but Willen does a good job of showing why Jonas is so respected in his
professional capacity. Willen also gives his story a Peyton Place kind of flavor by giving the B&B's
cook another job—that of a hooker. All in all, Hawke's Point is a well-written story of
~ Raanan Geberer for Readers' Favorite
First, I should note that I won this book in the Giveaway. Second, I understand that this is the
Author's first published novel. Disclaimers aside, I must state that I would have gladly purchased
this book and I eagerly await Mr. Willen's next work.
Hawke's Point explores timely moral themes in a small Vermont town. While the main characters, namely
Jonas, Emma, and Mary Louise, strike a familiar chord, don't assume they're always predictable. Willen
loves complication; his story lines, human dynamics, and characters reverberate within layers.
Mr. Willen develops the story gradually, complete with twists (and a couple of knots) and ethical
questions. Along the journey, he introduces each character as though he or she is a neighbor or co-worker.
The main character, Jonas, is a wonderful combination of intelligence, sadness, trustworthiness, loyalty,
and regret. He leads the reader through a set of circumstances that demands confronting the past while
charging into the future.
I thoroughly enjoyed Hawke's Point; Willen's initial work is worthy of recognition it will undoubtedly receive.
~ KC Smith, Goodreads Review
What a storyteller; I loved this and was caught right up in it. Quiet, "normal" community
with so much actually going on among a wide range of folks. Several lines rippled in
directions I hadn't anticipated, so that it became quite a page turner.
~ Constance Fullerton
Almost every day people are forced to choose between right and wrong. Usually these decisions
involve minor issues, but sometimes they can be life-altering. Taken together, they define who
we are. In Mark Willen's new novel, Hawke's Point, an accumulation of decisions, past and
present, build characters who hurt, yearn, regret, and still hope as deeply as your wife, your
brother, or yourself. They are real, which means as a reader I struggled with them in every
choice they had to make.
Sometimes I agreed with what the characters did and sometimes I didn't. But I was always intrigued
and rooting for them to do the right thing. In this way, Hawke's Point is haunting. Is anyone ever
completely sure they made the right decision? I don't know if Willen's characters always made the
right decision, but they gave me a lot to think about, and that's the kind of novel I like. I'll
be thinking about these people for a long time.
~ Sally Whitney, The Blog
"As Mark Willen explores life in a small Vermont community he addresses large themes: guilt,
forgiveness, familial loss, love, ethical dilemmas of many kinds. Vivid, complex characters
like Jonas Hawke, retired lawyer and repository of many of the community's secrets, engage
the reader and move the narrative along at an energetic pace. This is a novel so rich in
humanity and situation that the world of Hawke's Point will continue to beguile long after
the reader has turned the last page."
~ Margaret Meyers, author of Dislocation and Swimming in the Congo
The cold rain suited Jonas Hawke's mood. He didn't like large gatherings, and he especially hated funerals.
"Everyone hates funerals," Emma reminded him. "Have you ever heard anyone say they liked going to a funeral?"
"You're giving the eulogy, for heaven's sake."
"Only because I couldn't say no."
"Stop it. He was your partner for twenty-five years."
Jonas frowned as he buttoned his white shirt and tied a full Windsor in his gray speckled tie, both
remnants of his four decades as a lawyer. The tie was a little too wide to be fashionable, but no one
in Beacon Junction was likely to know that. Folks might notice, though, that the shirt collar was too
big, exposing the loose skin on his neck.
Jonas wasn't vain, but he couldn't help being aware of how time had treated him. In his prime, he cut
an imposing figure, with huge hands and clear blue eyes that could be either charming or intimidating,
depending on his mood. When he was thirty, Jonas stood six feet, two inches tall and weighed close to
two hundred pounds, a hard man to miss and even harder to ignore. He was well liked, despite a natural
shyness at odds with his professional demeanor.
He was also well respected-both for what he'd accomplished and for all he would have accomplished if it
hadn't been for the accident, which had set him to drinking more and doing less. For a while, people
believed he would get over it and go back to being who he was. Eventually, he did recover somewhat,
gradually emerging from the fortress he'd built around himself. But never completely, and now, at
seventy-three, his appearance matched his retreat from life. His curved spine and shabby posture meant
the top of his almost bald head was little more than six feet from the ground, and his one hundred seventy
pounds hung loosely from his bones. One of those blue eyes was glazed over with a milky cataract, and his
once-powerful hands were marked with arthritic lumps.
Emma helped him with his jacket, and he realized she was ready, just waiting on him. It had always been the
other way around when they were younger.
Connect with Mark
Mark Willen grew up and attended college in New England before embarking on a journalism career based in
Washington. He has been a reporter, editor, producer, columnist, and blogger at The Voice of America,
National Public Radio, Congressional Quarterly, Bloomberg News, and Kiplinger. He has published and
broadcast hundreds of nonfiction articles from datelines as varied as New York, Concord, N.H., Moscow,
Jerusalem, Cairo, Beijing, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, and Cape Town, South Africa.
Mark retired from full-time journalism in December 2010 to devote his energies to writing fiction. His
short stories have been published in The Rusty Nail, Corner Club Press, and The Boiler Review.
Hawke's Point is his first novel.
Mark also leads a writer's workshop for teenagers, and serves as a volunteer tax preparer for elderly and
low-income clients. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wife, Janet.