Crossroads: A Camino Tale – F. R. Merrill

(Reviewed by JD Jung)

Exceptional

“As they stood before a large stone crucifix of the body of Christ carved in a three-dimensional form she pulled out her syringe. When she moved toward Amanda to complete the deed, her sister Margie stepped out from behind the crucifix…”

Each of the seven women had her own reasons for embarking on The Camino Del Norte: the 550-mile pilgrimage across mountainous terrain along the northern coast of Spain. A few hoped to find inner peace and strengthen their spiritual core amid life’s hardships. Tina was caring for a sick husband. Faith wanted to reconnect with her daughter with whom she had a strained relationship since her husband’s murder. Jocelyn wanted the physical challenge. However it was Honey who sought to carry out the perfect murder and seek revenge.

Honey was a former patient of psychiatrist Ivan Harris who was in prison for murdering Faith Straton’s ex-husband. He claimed that he was framed, and asked the willing Honey to kill Faith’s grown daughter, Amanda. However for me, this was just an aside.

Crossroads takes us with these women as they hike the Camino. We see the gorgeous mountains and beautiful beaches of Spain along with the historical castles and cathedrals. We visit the quaint towns, and savor the local food and drink. Though we encounter  the bickering and personality clashes, we also see how this trip has affected these women and forced some to face their fears. There are no huge transformations, just glimpses of enlightenment.

Author F.R. Merrill actually walked the Camino Del Norte in 2006 with six other women. Though the story is fictional – no murder on the actual trip- she notes that the trail, the places where they stayed and the people they met were as close to the actual as she could remember.

If you are looking for a suspenseful read with twists and turns, this is not the book for you. There are no surprises. It is not a murder mystery. It is a travel adventure, with side stories that I hope the author will  explore in future books. This novel may even convince the reader to take the next flight to Hondarribia, Spain. For that reason, Crossroads : A Camino Tale turned me, the proverbial cynic, into a true believer.

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