Tom Bridger, who is half Melungeon, thought he had escaped his mountain community's lingering prejudice against the mixed-race group when he left to work for the Richmond, Virginia Police Department. Tom was moving up the detective ranks when a family tragedy brought him back home and moved him into his fathers job as a county sheriff's deputy.
Now the bones of a Melungeon woman have surfaced on a remote mountaintop, and all evidence points to murder. Violence escalates as the victim's poor family and the wealthy white family she married into scramble to protect their secrets from Toms probing. But as he probes into his father's investigation of the case, he finds his father is not the man he idolized.
The woman Tom is falling in love with, veterinarian Rachel Goddard, is struggling to start over in a place that holds no memories for her. Rachel puts herself in danger when she befriends the dead Melungeon womans niece, Holly. As a child, the girl witnessed something that could implicate her aunt's killer, but she is too terrified to tell anyone what she knows. While Rachel is determined to keep Holly safe and help her piece together past events, the guilty are equally determined to silence the girl--and Rachel too, if necessary.
Will this murder be Tom's and Rachel's undoing or will it free them to look into the future?
In Parshall's dark, suspenseful second novel (after 2006's Heat of the Moon), Mason County, Va., sheriff's deputy Tom Bridger reopens a cold case that his predecessor--his deceased father, John--never fully closed. Ten years earlier, Pauline McClure, a Melungeon woman (of Portuguese and Native American descent) went missing, and when Tom unearths her bones, he discovers she died of an ax blow to her skull. Pauline had married into a snobbish, wealthy white family, and the reopening of her case pits local Melungeons against the white establishment. Additional tension arises when Tom's romantic interest, veterinarian Rachel Goddard (the heroine of Heat of the Moon), hires and befriends Pauline's teenage niece, Holly Turner, whose connection to the tragedy puts her and Rachel in danger. Both Tom, who's of half Melungeon heritage, and Rachel, who's a recent transplant to Mason County, hoped to leave behind their respective recent violent pasts. Instead, they're drawn into the center of a lethal, gothic drama. (Mar.)
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Poisoned Pen Press
May 14, 2008
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