A bright note - nice reviews are coming in for my mysteries Grave Passage and Mediterranean Grave. There are a few clunkers in there, but for the most part, they're positive.
I had planned to be finished with Aleutian Grave by now, but I'm not quite happy with it yet so I have to think on it longer. I am pleased to have broken ground on my novella 'The Cannibals of Madison County' which I've been thinking about for a long time. I'll leave you with chapter one:
It Starts Like This
There are stories about people, and there are stories about eating. But there aren’t a lot of stories about eating people. And there should be. This is one of those stories.
I was staring out my office window when the call came in. It’s a big window, glass, and through it I could just make out the ridge where Leland Sutter first discovered silver back in 1859. They had moved me up to the second floor of the Sacramento Tribune building about a year ago when they made me regional editor. It was a job I had wanted for a long time.
The call was from a llama farmer up in Madison County by the name of Josh Dugan. Said he had a story he wanted to share, a story about something that happened back in 2009 that the world needed to know about. I asked him if it involved llamas and he assured me it didn’t. We made plans to meet for lunch.
I kept staring out the window even after he hung up. Madison County, California, I hadn’t thought about that place in months. Nothing ever happens up there. Nestled between the Yolo River and Roseville Peak, bordered on the north by Lake Galt, Madison was hit bad by the housing bust. Most folks took off. Only a few hardscrabble ranchers stayed on, along with those who had no place else to go.
Josh Dugan looked to be about thirty years old, fit, tan. He looked like a man who worked with his hands. With him was his sister Britney. She was a little younger. Attractive girl, but then I’ve always had a thing for redheads.
“We’d been going through some of our mother’s things,” Josh began. “Cleaning out the big house now that she’s gone. And we came across some diaries.”
“And the letters,” Britney added. “Letters he sent her.”
“Who?” I asked. “Who are we talking about?”
They both stared at the floor. Then they told me their terms. They’d leave the diaries and the letters for me to read, and if I decided there was nothing interesting there, I’d simply return them and never discuss what they contained with anyone. But if there was a story to be told, then I was to be the one to write it.
“Our mother was quite a woman,” Josh added. “Our father loved her very much, but this is a story of a more powerful love, the kind that comes only every few lifetimes, and I think it needs to be told.”
I assured them I’d think it over.
I didn’t sleep that night. I stayed at the office reading. Come first light I was back at that office window looking up towards Madison County, toward that pass where John Stanford drove the golden spike that completed the first transcontinental railroad. That’s where Jessica Weimar fell in love with Edward Rollins.