The Incredible Winston Browne by Sean Dietrich

“The Incredible Winston Browne”
By Sean Dietrich
Thomas Nelson (March 2021)
Hardback; 352 pages

Sean of the South evokes small, sleepy Florida town facing storm clouds

By Susan O’Bryan
Special to The Mississippi Clarion Ledger

Storytelling is an art. It’s the skill takes brings forth mental images, memorable characters and an emotion that lingers long after the last words. 

Sean Dietrich, red-headed with a full beard, is an artist. The Alabama native, also known as Sean of the South, takes a simple story, a thread of a plot, and spins it into gold. He’s done it with his previous books, but his latest, “The Incredible Winston Browne,” is the most precious gem of all.

Winston Browne is the sheriff in Moab, a small, sleepy Florida town. It’s a gentle time (the mid-1950s), for the most part, when baseball and helping your neighbor can bring the whole town together. Think Andy Griffith and Mayberry with a darkening cloud rolling in.

We meet Winston as he and some old cronies are helping build a baseball field for Moab. They want to do something nice for town kids, and grown-ups, who are playing in the streets and fields long after the porch lights come on. 

Living there is easy. The most excitement comes thanks to ice cream socials, the newspaper’s weekly gossip column and radio broadcasts when Jackie Robinson takes the bat for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

No one but Winston and his doctor know that he‘s dying of lung cancer. Life is moving along at a slow pace for everyone in Moab except for Winston. He knows his days are limited, so he’s in a hurry to accomplish something, even if he doesn’t know exactly what it is.

Winston grows impatient with friends who won’t commit to each other, a boy who’s missing out on being a kid, and a deputy who moves at the speed of mud.

When a strange little girl turns up their town, hiding in a hen coop, Winston swears he will protect Jesse from those coming after her. Her arrival marks a change in the town, reinvigorating the townfolks’ spirit. They rally around the baseball-loving, rough-playing child who escaped from a religious cult, and in the process, several grown-ups discover feelings they thought died long ago.

Winston and longtime friend Eleanor take in Jesse, forming an untraditional “family” and finding what they didn’t know was missing in their lives. To say more would give away the story, and it’s one you should read for yourself.

And as sad it is to know that Winston Browne couldn’t defeat cancer, he did, indeed, live an incredible life, thanks to Dietrich’s rich descriptions and narratives.

It’s a simple story with subtle undertones. “The Incredible Winston Browne” is pure Sean Dietrich, an author who writes in simple words and sentences, but who tells seemingly innocent stories that always carry a message. He loves the South and the people in its communities. Whether he’s writing his 10 novels, his podcast, newspaper columns, emails or even in recent commercials, Dietrich is pure “home-grown” who easily relates to readers as if they are his neighbors, distant cousins or strangers in the grocery store.

Susan O’Bryan is a retired Clarion-Ledger newspaper editor and web content coordinator. She is an avid reader who enjoys discovering new writers, plots, and angles for fiction and non-fiction publications.


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