||January 29, 2009
Second Time Around is a mystery set in the Rocky Mountains of western Montana. It has been nominated for a 2010 EPIC Award in the Mystery/Suspense Fiction category.
Second Time Around
What do you do when the dead body you stumble across turns out to belong to your father, the father you thought abandoned you in infancy?
That’s what Timmie Campbell asks herself. Turns out her mother has been lying for years: about her father’s abandonment, about him not contacting them, about a lot of things. Unfortunately, Timmie can’t dwell on her mother’s deception because bodies begin piling up and she needs to stop the killer before he wipes out her entire family.
My Friday started out great. But the dead body rolling down the hillside took care of that.
One minute the boys and I were trotting down the driveway, which is nearly a quarter-mile long and meanders through the forest alongside a small creek-- all excitement and anticipation. The next minute a corpse joined us, plopping into the nearby creek with a splash.
Talk about a shocker. My legs threatened to buckle and I was torn between getting a closer look and running the other way. Considering the state of my knees and stomach, running trumped looking.
Murph and Mac, my dogs, insisted on investigating. I was just as insistent they didn’t. Thank God they’re obedient or they would have yanked my arms right out of their shoulder sockets on the mad race back to the house. Murph’s a 98-pound Rottweiler, probably purebred. Mac, a black lab mix, only weighs in at about 65 pounds, but they’re muscular pounds. I rescued both from the animal shelter and they’re better company than just about anyone I know.
Back to the dead body. After dropping onto the couch to calm my shaky knees while calling 911, I left the boys in the house and trotted back down the driveway. The body remained undisturbed, still lying half-in, half-out of the creek about three feet from the edge of the driveway. Not that I expected it to disappear--it was missing the back half of its head and, judging by the smell, there was no mistaking it for someone who’d get up and walk away. The wildlife, however, concerned me. Have you ever seen what happens to road kill in the mountains of western Montana?
I live twenty-five miles north of Missoula in the small town of Jocko. Say Montana and people think cattle and endless fields of grain, droughts in the summer and thirty below during winter. They think cowboys, Indians, and the vastness of nature. All that is Montana but it’s also the Rocky Mountains, four human inhabitants per square mile, and the most peaceful, restful, place you ever set foot on. On top of all that, western Montana is truly the last best place: we have milder weather than the rest of the state—it’s not much different from New England. Unless you count summer wildfires and the lack of an occasional hurricane in September. A lot of the wildlife is similar to what I used to see in New England, as well--the deer, coyotes, black bear, and moose. I’ve never worried about the four-legged creatures I worry about in my neck of the woods. Until the appearance of the fellow in my creek, there’d been no reason to worry about the two-legged ones, either.
Fun and Murder in Montana
Timothea Campbell (Timmi to her friends) has a perfectly nice life in a small town not far from Missoula, Montana. She owns and runs Campbell Business services in the town of Jocko. Her comfortable house on twenty wooded acres is populated with dogs cats and assorted wildlife.
While walking her pets one morning, a dead man rolls down the hill and practically lands at her feet. She doesn't recognize the corpse, even though the stiff turns out to be her father. Thus begins a wild and complicated tale of revenge, years of lies, romance, and, of course murder. More than one. This suspenseful mystery also contains a well-thought-out romantic entanglement between two feisty independent characters in a novel filled with engaging characters.
Timmi herself, a transplant from the East Coast, has adapted to rural ways quite well, even up to packing heat upon occasion. For someone with her kind of mercurial temperament, I might want her to wear a temperature gauge at times. While the story does not have a high level of forward drive, the author's sense of place, her characters, and the complications of a former lover (Deputy Jack Kendall) becoming the principal investigator in the case as the bodies pile up, all adds to reader interest. A fun, well written, story about a couple of people you'll want to meet again. by Carl Brookins
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