The small town murder of a high school
principal leads to life-changing complications for the deputy sheriff in charge of the case.
SOLDIER'S GAP may be purchased online at Amazon.com at a discount. Used copies are also available. Comments and reviews appreciated.
I feel a bit sheepish plugging my own novel, but the moderators say I should, so here goes.
According to the reviews on Amazon, the best quality of SOLDIER’S GAP is the characterization. Here’s an overview of the cast.
Deputy Dave Jenkins: I shamelessly named him after myself. He has some of my characteristics. He’s a small town cop with an ambition for higher things. He’s also got two women (In that respect we’re different): Annie Kline, the sheriff’s daughter and his high school sweetheart who’s back in town and apparently interested in renewing their relationship. Jenkins is pretty much an agnostic, so he’s dumbfounded when he discovers the dead body of the high school principal and has a psychic experience that seems to suggest that part of Jerry Egge has survived the grave. He doesn’t know who to tell since he feels a story about a ghost-like episode would ruin his career.
Annie Kline: She’s a volunteer firewoman and a shortstop on Dave’s softball team. Dave dumps her for his old flame, not a smart move since Annie is perfect for him.
Sheriff Kline: Annie's dad and Dave's boss. He’s been sheriff a long time, but he’s not the cop that Jenkins is and he resents him because of it. The Sheriff eats too much, smokes too much, and tells stupid jokes.
Olive Randall: She’s a sixteen-year-old suspect in the Jerry Egge murder case. Her mom is too busy working to keep track of her. She’s sexually promiscuous and contemptuous of anybody over thirty.
Mingo Jones: He’s the night deputy in Soldier, Minnesota. Mingo was a Lacrosse player at Johns Hopkins. While there he studied Native American history and is now embracing his roots. He’s much more accepting of the possibility that Jerry Egge is trapped between the Shadow World and the Land of Ever Summer.
Moe Pleasiac: Dave Jenkins’s next-door neighbor and sidekick, a sixteen-year-old genius, who has chosen Dave as a substitute father, although their relationship is more big brother, little brother and it’s not always clear who is who. He finds Olive Randall fascinating and threatening.
If the above sounds dark, that’s somewhat misleading. SOLDIER’S GAP is more M.A.S.H. than CSI.
The following is a synopsis of the novel:
When high school principal Jerry Egge sets out on his morning jog, he spots a red scrawl on the water tower across the way telling him to do something to himself that’s anatomically impossible.
He shuffles along, muttering about what he’ll do to the kid who smeared his good name. As he passes the holy roller church, the choir is singing “Shall We Gather At the River?” The frustrated jazzman of a train engineer blows his whistle, two longs and a short, “NOOOO, DON’T, GOO!”
Fifteen minutes later, Jerry is dead, bludgeoned to death by a Louisville Slugger with a Wayne Terwilliger endorsement.
The first officer on the scene is Deputy Sheriff Dave Jenkins, who’s suffering from a hangover and isn’t all that thrilled about dealing with a dead body.
But he hasn’t seen anything yet. When he touches the band of Egge’s baseball cap, he witnesses Egge’s life pass before his eyes. He thinks he must be in shock.
When Mingo Jones, the night deputy, arrives, Jenkins is tempted to tell him about the vision, but Jones, a Mescalero Apache, is miles ahead of him. He and Egge were friends and he wants to hold a ghost medicine ceremony to insure that Egge is not caught between the Shadow World and the Land of Ever Summer.
Faced with more hoodoo than a kabbala scholar, the cynical Jenkins begins to track Egge’s killer. The suspects are as legion as those in a William Peter Blatty novel. The superintendent of schools is romancing Egge’s wife. One of Egge’s students was expelled for bringing a gun to school and had been making threatening phone calls. A farmer, who is the closest thing to an eye witness, has a son who’s acting awfully guilty. And there’s a beautiful young girl who confesses to having painted the obscenity on the tower.
Will the haunted Jenkins hunt down the killer, or will he wind up trapped in the nether world between the Shadow World and the Land of Ever Summer?