Sing for the Lonesome Messenger by David Edwards

Review by Tyler Tichelaar

Newspaper Reporter Transcends Time to Find Redemption in New Novel

A vintage typewriter and a worn teddy bear positioned in a snowy landscape with a lake and wooden dock structure in the background, under a partly cloudy sky.David Edwards’ new novel, Sing for the Lonesome Messenger, is a mix of history, the supernatural, and quirky characters the reader will never forget. The story begins with Maggie Maise, an alcoholic reporter who finds herself taking a job at the Messenger, the local newspaper for Ore Town, a small town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Having no idea what she is getting herself into, Maggie soon becomes acquainted with Tracker McKie, former editor of the Messenger, when he first criticizes her reporter skills, then tells her he has a story to tell her.

Before Maggie knows it, she’s listening to Tracker’s rambling tale about life in Ore Town with his childhood friends from the Great Depression years, and sneaking in cigars and alcohol to him where he resides in a nursing home. Worst of all, Tracker has a series of audio recordings he wants Maggie to listen to and compile a story from.

The situation becomes increasingly more complicated and Maggie’s willingness to be involved deteriorates. Eventually, Maggie’s drinking leads to her being fired from the Messenger. She moves to Chicago where she develops a newspaper column about World War II veterans. She finds the subjects for her columns by attending veterans’ funerals and interviewing relatives. When she reads an obituary that describes the deceased as “subjected” to the war, she is curious about what that means and goes to the funeral. Maggie little suspects the deceased was not a veteran but a Holocaust survivor, and his widow, Mrs. Sykes, informs Maggie that she also has a task for her to do. Surprisingly, Tracker McKie and Mrs. Sykes’ missions for Maggie turn out to be intricately connected in ways Maggie cannot initially imagine.

In Sing for the Lonesome Messenger, readers will be taken on a cathartic journey through much of the twentieth century as the narration moves back and forth from 1933 to 2009. We watch two brothers growing up during the Great Depression while suffering abuse at their father’s hands. We discover what has caused the decline in the newspaper industry in the twenty-first century. We witness acts of carelessness, cruelty, evil, and courage. We experience a World War II battlefield and a concentration camp. We drive around Upper Michigan in the dead of winter trying to connect all the clues to a revelation we hardly know to expect. And we fall in love with Maggie, Tracker, brothers Mike and Jimmer, charitable nuns, and overworked nursing home employees.

And then there’s the supernatural—Maggie discovers she has an uncanny ability to hear the voices of her newspaper subjects and even witness their stories. Ghosts of the Holocaust join with a fawn named “Angel’a God,” who may be a reincarnated murdered woman. A glimpse of the hereafter—the Light—is even discovered in nursing home patients.

Author David Edwards, who worked for decades as a journalist and editor at Marquette, Michigan’s The Mining Journal, draws upon a lifetime of experience in depicting the reporters in his story. He also recreates the Yooper dialect of Upper Michigan that was so prominent in the early to mid-twentieth century but is now disappearing. Most importantly, he reveals how meaning exists in not only the bravest moments but the simplest experiences, from trying to save Holocaust victims to listening to the elderly so their wisdom is not lost.

If ever there was an epic novel set in Upper Michigan but that embraces the world and the universal human condition, it is Sing for the Lonesome Messenger. Edwards’ vision of the world is one we desperately need to help us put life in perspective, see the good amid the bad, and realize the heroism that exists all around us—in an older brother protecting a younger, a woman fighting alcoholism to find meaning in life, and a nun feeding pancakes to children.

Sing for the Lonesome Messenger deserves to become a classic not only of Upper Michigan but of world literature. This is a novel with subject matter as serious as anything in Dickens or Dostoevsky, and a resulting payoff for taking the journey that is just as intense and transformative. Don’t miss this book.

For more information about David Edwards and Sing for the Lonesome Messenger, visit

— Tyler R. Tichelaar, PhD and award-winning author of The Best Place and Odin’s Eye: A Marquette Time Travel Novel

Sing for the Lonesome Messenger by David Edwards
Edward Edwards, LLC. (2024)
ISBN: 979-8218370411

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