John Lundquist, who works at Enloe Hospital, writes novels on the side. He tells me "I like small towns and secrets that need to be explored," especially those little communities near the Sacramento Delta area.
The hero of "Absolution" ($11 in paperback from CreateSpace; also available in Amazon Kindle e-book format) is Jake Coulter. Never one to settle down, the handsome and confident Coulter wants to be free as the wind in his travels. But, sidelined by engine trouble in the Delta area, Coulter's life is about to change forever.
Where to get service? "The next town up the road was Royalton. According to the legend on the back of the map, the population for the town was listed as eight hundred and sixty." Back on the road, Coulter suddenly realizes that another truck is aiming to run him off the road. Coulter takes evasive action; eventually the other truck "ran clear off the road, over the drainage ditch, down the slope to the water, and ended up with its nose end in the lapping water of the Sacramento River."
Coulter determines to report the incident in Royalton and then mosey right along. It doesn't work out that way.
The town and surrounding countryside are pretty much owned by Richard Davidson, a man who wants control. In that regard his son, Billy, is quite the problem. He hates his father and is generally not to be found except when he chooses to run folks off the road for sheer sport.
Billy not only survives the truck incident but now wants Coulter arrested for hit-and-run. Then, as if on schedule, a series of mysterious murders begins. First a prominent banker. Later will come an attorney and a real estate agent. Davidson is afraid Billy is behind them and has decided that Coulter is the guilty party. And he wants his hand-picked sheriff to kill him. Davidson is intransigent in the face of contrary evidence, but Coulter is equally intransigent when it comes to his reputation. If it's not Billy, who is the real killer?
The tale focuses on action, but also what it costs to be a person of integrity. It's a fun, fast-paced read, just the kind of story for a meandering trip through the Delta.