A friend from Eagle, Idaho writes to alert me to a book by P.N. Ofinowicz, who received a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Chico State University and who “lived in Chico and worked for the Postal Service for twenty-five plus years. ... Most folk in town would know him as Nick.”
The book is “The Bigfoot Incident” ($9.99 in paperback from Paul N. Ofinowicz/Telemachus Press; also for Amazon Kindle) by Archer O’Brien with P.N. Ofinowicz. The book is billed as a memoir from now-retired Brenner County deputy O’Brien (with editorial work by Ofinowicz).
As O’Brien admits in the foreword, “There is no Brenner County in California, of course, but I will hint that the shape of the actual county is quite similar to that of Montana. And for those who might complain that this recollection resembles a novel rather than a police report, I can only protest that my personal life was inextricably entwined with the strands of the story. What is written here is as true as anything that has been written about Bigfoot.”
Most of the action takes place in and around Cove, “a small town in these remote Citadel Mountains of Northern California.” The “novel,” my friend writes, “recalls an event in which a honeymooning couple are killed and huge human-like footprints are discovered at the scene.”
The grisly deaths attract nosy reporters, and O’Brien also has his own issues to deal with, not least of which is an estranged girlfriend: “When I wanted to protect, it was interpreted as trying to control the people I care about. What was it Leigh said? That love meant ownership to me?”
It’s up to Deputy O’Brien to figure out just what (or who) killed the honeymooners, and to explain the series of gruesome deaths that came after. Mix in the ups and downs (mostly downs) of O’Brien’s love life with small town shenanigans from a well-drawn supporting cast, and what we have is a noir-ish soap opera murder mystery. It is a beautifully crafted and riveting read, with a dramatic moment of clarity at the end.