Patrick Garry’s new novel, A Bridge Back, centers on a horrible bridge incident that leaves two families shattered and two lovers torn apart.
The main character, Nate Morrissey, leaves his young love, Laura, after both his parents are killed in the accident. On that tragic stormy night, Laura and Nate had snuck away to get married. Both sets of parents were against the union, and while racing in pursuit didn’t notice that a lift bridge was raised. The cars drove off the bridge and crashed into a party boat passing underneath them. The young lovers had second thoughts, and on their way home came upon the tragedy.
A Bridge Back, a novel by Patrick M. Garry. Published by Inkwater Press (2008). $16.95.
Shutting out the memories of the past, Nate has made no attempt to visit Laura or his grandfather, who has been a mentor to him, for 19 long years. He escaped to law school and a prestigious job at a big New York law firm. (Garry teaches law at the University of St. Thomas.) At the start of the novel, it’s just another day at the office for Nate until his boss walks in and assigns him back to his hometown, at a client’s request.
It turns out that a moviemaker, Farley Ambrose, has connected the bridge accident to a notorious criminal, Sam Niting. Nate’s dad, also a lawyer, was working on a case against Niting when his car crashed, destroying some evidence essential to the case. Niting was never convicted.
With the help of two new friends, Carmen and Abel, Nate uncovers the truth of the “accident.” Carmen is the owner of a rundown motel who long ago had a crush on Nate. She is charismatic and draws the reader to root for her, instead of Laura. Abel, the old bridge operator, is just as loveable. He is now working as a janitor and uses his connections to dig up medical records, bank records, and even prison records for Nate. Abel is the best-written character in the book. Nate himself is not a very likable character; he is stiff and logical, lacking passion. Another wonderfully written character is Nate’s grandfather. Even though this character is dead, he is crucial to understanding Nate’s character.
Nate suddenly becomes involved in his past more than he imagined. He investigates the bridge accident, tries desperately to save his grandfather’s hotel from being sold to developers, and begins to court Laura again. Ultimately, Nate discovers that the only way to his future is a bridge to the past.
Melissa Slachetka is a freelance writer and photographer who lives in Minneapolis and contributes regularly to the Daily Planet.