The reviews and endorsements for Return To Sender are coming in! I’m humbled and grateful.
“In Return to Sender, Mindy Halleck writes about family and neighborhoods and the ways our roots define our lives with the assured vividness of Dennis Lehane and the unflinching edge of Gillian Flynn. An old school, can’t-put-it-down read.”
Larry Brooks, critically-acclaimed bestselling author of four psychological thrillers, in addition to his work as a freelance writer and writing instructor. www.StoryFix.com
Mindy Halleck’s Return to Sender has it all: a protagonist, Theo Riley, with a psychic wound that caused him, as a child, to kill three other human beings, then become a priest in an effort to find redemption for his soul, and a serial killer antagonist who makes Hannibal Lecter look like a choir boy. And add to that a fast-paced plot that slows down only when Theo periodically stops for a reflective moment that takes one’s breath away in its profundity. You’ll find yourself pondering your own redemption as you accompany Theo on his quest to save the woman he loves, his beloved beach town, and himself in this novel that will haunt you long after you’ve put it down.
Gloria Kempton, Writing Coach and author of ten books, including Write Great Fiction: Dialogue, and The Outlaw’s Journey: A Mythological Approach to Storytelling. www.gloriakempton.com
Mindy Halleck’s Return to Sender is a deeply evocative novel wherein the protagonist, Theo Riley is a Roman Catholic Priest who carries a dark cross and earns redemption through blood and tears. This is a novel that explores what it means to have faith in a world torn by conflict.
Bill Johnson, Author of A Story is a Promise & The Spirit of Storytelling, www.storyispromise.com.
“Monsters don’t just happen.” In her debut novel, Mindy Halleck creates a monster–Genghis Hansel–who needs a warrior-priest to release him from his demons. “Return to Sender” is a big book with a cast of edgy characters. It is a deep love story and a thriller rolled into one.
Jack Remick, Author and Instructor www.jackremick.com ~ Montaigne Medal and BOTYA Finalist.
The vivid imagination of a born story-teller comes to life in Mindy Halleck’s new novel, Return to Sender, starring a warrior-priest as reluctant hero—he waits for death, he prays for mercy, he hopes for the miraculous return of his fighting skills—as he faces a stone killer, the ruthless dragon-antagonist rising up from the mists with vengeance in his heart. Set against a backdrop on the picturesque—and often quixotic—Oregon seacoast, Return to Sender blooms with a sterling cast and some peachy plot-twists.
Robert J. Ray, The Weekend Novelist www.RobertJRay.com
READER’S FAVORITE AWARDS ~ 5 STAR REVIEW to RETURN to SENDER!
Wow! When you pick up Mindy S. Halleck’s debut novel, Return to Sender,
be sure you have enough time to devote to it, because you won’t want to
put it down! A gorgeous read featuring our protagonist, Theo Riley, a
Catholic priest wrestling with demons from his past as his life spirals to a
very dark place. Drinking too much, dealing with his guilt over the
outcomes of the Korean orphans he encountered during the war, haunted
by the legacy of a dark family secret, and grieving the loss of his true
love, Andréa, he struggles with his duties as a prison minister. When a
sweet little girl arrives on his doorstep, love returns to his life, and a serial
killer madman arrives, putting all he loves at risk. Theo must make
decisions that could lead to his redemption or to his ultimate demise.
Return to Sender was what I would truly bill as an epic read. Touching on
issues of wartime trauma, PTSD, spirituality and religion, and grief and
redemption, this wonderful book has something for everyone. It’s hard to
believe that it was written by a new novelist as its breadth and scope are
so wide and vast. Mindy S. Halleck’s writing style is emotionally driven,
complex and intriguing. Return to Sender would appeal to any reader who
enjoys an exciting, emotion-filled tale. Her book will keep you on the edge
of your seat, rooting for our hero, Theo, and hopeful for the best for all
the characters that you come to love. I will be eagerly waiting for the
next work from this promising author. Reviewed by Tracy A. Fischer for Readers’ Favorite
~Mindy Halleck’s debut novel, Return to Sender is a multi-layered psychological exploration of pain, guilt, shame and ultimately (this isn’t a spoiler), redemption. Halleck digs deep into the darkest pockets of her character’s psyches and tugs at secrets that would rather remain hidden.
Although the prolog explains Father Theodore Riley’s position (physically and emotionally wounded alcoholic priest assigned to redeem the unredeemable), the first few sentences of the opening chapter give readers a clear understanding of the real Theo Riley.
“The concrete towers of the Oregon State Penitentiary rose high, a doomed cathedral…I parked my ’39 De Soto, took another swig of Murphy’s, put the bottle back under the seat… Next to the front gates lay a bird—a sparrow. Smashed, rusty brown-and-white feathers flittering the in the breeze. I wanted to scoop it up, take it home, and bury it on Neahkahnie Mountain. Instead, I walked by it and through the overlapping, locking metal gates. I was late.”
Theo wants to scoop up smashed and troubled souls and to heal them in the spiritual haven represented by his beloved Neahkahnie Mountain. But this priest is too late to save the innocents he shepherds. He is too late to redeem or even forgive the most depraved of those he must face. Theo fears that he may be too late to save those he loves, and he is sure that without assistance from a Spirit Guide far more powerful than the law or the church, he will be too late to save himself.
Return to Sender is both chilling and gripping. Although this title is Halleck’s first work of fiction, she is an accomplished writer and she is skilled at weaving words and at shining light in dark corners in search of story and of truth.
Jessica H. Stone, Ph.D., Author www.jessicahstone.com