40 Days


Photojournalist Duane Key is almost fifty when the first clue gets his attention: a text message refers to his upcoming milestone birthday as 40. Flattery will get you everywhere, he replies. Several days later, as he’s being bombarded with the number 35 (the price of a can of green beans, the morning temperature, a song on a radio countdown), he mentions the numerical coincidences to an old friend but finds them more curious than troublesome.

That soon changes as Duane, a devoted father but a flawed man, feels a strong need to ask forgiveness of the people he has hurt and even goes to a priest for guidance. He ends his romance with a woman half his age, then attempts to reconcile with his ex-wife and grown daughter when he learns that his ex is near death.

The numbers keep coming—20, 19, 18—and it soon dawns on Duane what really might be at stake: he might not live past the countdown. Which, based on the calendar, ends Easter Sunday. His concern—swiftly bordering on fright—increases each day. Who’ll take him seriously if he shares his deepest fears? The priest? His wife? His best friend? His girlfriend, who he loves with all his heart? Six-year-old Chad, the son Duane absolutely adores? And what if Duane, after feeling strongly enough to make major revisions in his will, is wrong … about everything?

Taking place in the seemingly serene Mississippi community of Oakdale, 40 Days is a story of redemption, forgiveness, and the ultimate leap of faith for a man who realizes he must do better … if there’s time.

“Joe Lee’s 40 Days… shines a bright numerical light on love and forgiveness.”
—J.C. Patterson, The Clarion-Ledger

“ … extremely well-written, a quick-paced and entertaining read … a story of redemption and certainly one that will make readers think about their own lives.”
—Niles Reddick, Midwest Book Review

“ … a novel of redemption … a compelling page turner that I found hard to put down.”
—Sue Minchew, Town & Gown Magazine

“ … an easy and entertaining read … the characters are at once familiar and believable … the reader is left with insight into the rightness of making amends while there is still time.”
—Donna Biggert, Mississippi Catholic

“ … tells the story of redemption, forgiveness, and the ultimate leap of faith …”
—Portico Magazine

“In the compelling book … tension bordering on fear arises as the countdown—which begins with the number 40—inexorably marches toward zero.”
—Jan Swoope, The Commercial Dispatch