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"This was an excellent read! I read it in 2 days and couldn't put it down. The story was captivating and suspenseful. The emotions of the characters were raw and real. I loved it, and can't wait for another book from the author."

“I could not put this book down…I was too engaged to pause…like getting hooked on House of Cards and watching 3 episodes in a night. I don't remember the last time I picked up a book and read it straight through except when I am on vacation!”


“This is storytelling at its best! From the very first pages, the author sucks you in to a twisting, turning tale.” “I can't even begin to say how great it was. If you're looking for a great read I highly recommend it! One of the best books I've read!”


“This book grabbed me and didn't let go! It took me down the rabbit hole on a journey that was both heart-breaking and uplifting.”


“I really loved this book…I couldn't put it down! This writer is gifted and I hope I don't have to wait long for the next one.” “The end leaves you longing for an update (or a follow up book!) of what happens next. Highly recommended and would love to read another story from this author.”


“If you're looking for engaging, suspenseful reading this summer, definitely consider "The Boy and What Might Have Been." You won't be disappointed!”

Kirkus Review

When his son goes missing, a successful young businessman searches for him as his own life falls apart. Newell’s taut, well-constructed debut family drama centers on 32-year-old Gus Delaney, the youngest hedge fund manager in Boston’s Elysium Fund. In 1977, he’s a well-intentioned but vain and somewhat strutting young father of two children, Jack and Lilly, who spend most of their time with Gus’ ex-wife, Victoria, a shrill woman still bitter about the divorce. The novel opens on one such tense scene: it’s Christmas Eve, snow has started falling, and Victoria is hours late arriving to Gus’ house with the children, which causes an awkward family scene once she and the children finally show up. Gus and Victoria are blindsided when Jack disappears the following day, abducted by a messianic religious cult. Giving Jack the new name Augustine, the cult’s overseers forcibly induct him into their ranks, telling him his mother is dead and that only his obedience to their orders will guarantee the continued survival of his father and sister. As a police investigation in the suburb of Boston ramps up and gradually turns its attention to Gus as a possible suspect, Newell skillfully cuts back and forth between the dismantling of Gus’ life and the construction of Jack’s new life. Some of the secondary characters can seem a bit flat as the narrative moves them around the chessboard of a plot, but more effective are the portraits of Gus—his deterioration, then the slow climb to a new understanding of himself—and especially the cult and their creepy inner workings. Jump-cutting between scenes keeps the story gripping even in more utilitarian chapters, and the police investigation and missing child case—conducted without the aid of modern technology—feel authentic in every detail.


First-rate thriller in the vein of Joseph Finder

IndieReader -


BURBANK - Author Russell Newell's debut novel, "The Boy and What Might Have Been" (Dog Ear Publishing, 2015) recently was chosen by book reviewer IndieReader as one of its "55 Best Self-Published Books of 2015" in the Mystery/Thriller category. In its review of the book, IndieReader said it is "superbly written" and "a gripping read from beginning to end." "Covering a ten-year span of time, Newell keeps his plot fluid by alternating concurrent and drama-filled character scenes from chapter to chapter while tightly weaving in an underlying feeling of tension," IndieReader said. "The Boy and What Might Have Been" centers on a missing child, his heartbroken and determined father, and a mysterious religious cult. The book became available in print and in digital format over the summer. "It's the story of a father who tries to find his kidnapped son," says Newell, "but it's much more than that. His desperate search for his son transforms into an exploration for his true self as he discovers the extent to which he has become a lost soul in need of salvation." Newell, a native of Billerica, Massachusetts, used inspiration from his childhood to add color to the book, which is set in his hometown during the late 1970s. "In addition to taking readers on a thrilling, suspenseful ride, I'm delighted that it will also take many on a nostalgic trip that pays homage to their childhoods - when the first Star Wars was new and kids played outside and rode actual bikes versus virtual ones in video games." Although this is his first novel, Newell has years of professional writing experience. Early in his career, he worked as a sports reporter for the Salem Evening News and later as a journalism graduate student in Boston University's Washington, DC program where he covered Congress for local Massachusetts papers. He then became a speechwriter for Tom Ridge, the first Secretary of Homeland Security, followed by chief speechwriter jobs with Florida Governor Jeb Bush and two Secretaries of the Interior. He also wrote speeches at the U.S. Department of State and served for 14 months as the Senior Media Advisor for the Spokesman for Multi-National Forces-Iraq, providing strategic communications counsel during a critical time in Iraq's history. Currently, Newell lives in California and serves as Director of Executive & Corporate Communications for Disney|ABC Televison, where he crafts speeches and messaging for the President of Disney|ABC and the senior leadership team.

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