Sunday, August 26, 2012
Suspense fiction from a Willows writer
Newspaper columnist Shari Edwards, in her debut novel, tells the tale of Julie Morgan and her younger sister, Ann, who have returned to their rural Northern California hometown of Crowville to sift through their mother's effects. Julie, now in her early thirties, discovers an old newspaper story about a gruesome murder. She read the story as a little girl, the headline a shuddery memory: "Local Child's Body Found In Shallow Grave Beside the River." The child, Julie found out later, had lived in Crowville.
Now here was the old article, only this time with annotations from Ann and Julie's mother. There was a phone number, the names "Zac" and "Officer Jennings," and two places: Casper, Wyoming, and Alamosa, Colorado. And at the bottom of the article were the chilling, handwritten words: "Killer never found?"
Frightening events begin to terrorize the two women almost immediately as they clean their parents' old house to ready it for sale. Are those crunching sounds in the gravel outside just imaginary? That shadow by the window--real? But the note on the kitchen table is very real indeed. "Get out of town," it says, "or you will end up like they did."
"Murder In Mendocino" ($10 in paperback from Stansbury Publishing; available from Lyon Books in Chico and also from the author, SHASHANEE@aol.com) introduces the reader to Crowville's police chief, Sam Davis, his wife, Madge, and a handsome man in a silver Jaguar who turns out not to be a nemesis but a Denver detective, Will Jamison. Julie and Ann become convinced that their mother's death was no accident, and their father's death some years earlier in a hunting accident--well, that was no accident, either.
Even as the little group tries to unravel the mystery of the deaths of Charles and Beth Morgan, and that little girl so many years ago, death stalks Sam Davis in the form of Phillip Stone, Madge's nephew. He had escaped from a psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane in Alamosa, Colorado, and had vowed to get his revenge on Sam, who put him there. Will had come to California to bring him back. But Phillip had died in a recent car accident in Mendocino, his body burned beyond recognition, right? Right?
"Murder In Mendocino" reveals all and, at the end, the reader can begin to breathe again.