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Disturbing the Dead [Large Print] [Paperback]

Sandra Parshall

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Book Description

May 9 2007 Rachel Goddard Mysteries
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?

Product Details

  • Paperback: 523 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press; Large type / large print edition (May 9 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590583795
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590583791
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 15.2 x 22 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 658 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,778,342 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Tom Bridger, a Melungeon (mixed race) police detective who left his rural community to escape prejudice against his people, returns home due to a family tragedy and begins work as a deputy sheriff. When the bones of a Melungeon woman are found in a remote mountainous area, evidence points to an old murder case that Tom's father investigated when he was sheriff. Tom's investigation uncovers numerous family secrets along with some uncomfortable revelations about his father. Meanwhile, Tom begins a romance with veterinarian Rachel Goddard, the star of Parshall's earlier novel, The Heat of the Moon (2006), who is struggling to rebuild her life in a new location and finds herself involved in the investigation after befriending Holly, the dead woman's niece. Parshall effectively captures the atmosphere of a closed rural community and weaves a compelling plot that will appeal to mainstream mystery readers. Barbara Bibel
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  31 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Parshall has done it again! Jan. 25 2008
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Disturbing the Dead by Sandra Parshall is every bit as good as her debut novel, Heat of the Moon, and probably even better! This book is very hard to put down, the suspense is great. The storyline is very fascinating and the characters are very complex and interesting. This delves into an Appalachian race called the Melungeons. These people are a mixed race that seems to be shunned by most of the others in the area, so they tend to stick close and have a community of their own with their own secrets and sometimes unlawful activities. The story is about Rachel Goddard, the vet from the first book, who moves to this area and gets involved in a mystery that happened 10 years before, but only came to light again when bones were found on the mountain that belong to one of the Melungeons that disappeared 10 years before and was believed to have run off. The detective investigating the "now confirmed murder" is also Melungeon and very interested, romantically in Rachel. This is NOT a romance book, but does touch on it a bit; it is definitely a mystery that is very suspenseful and intriguing. I loved this book and I highly recommend it! If you've read the first one, don't hesitate to get this one, it's even better. If you haven't read the first, you can still read this one, as the story holds fine on its own. But read them both, you'll be glad you did.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rachel Returns March 28 2007
By Carol Baier - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I loved Sandra Parshall's debut mystery (The Heat of the Moon), with its high suspense and leap-off-the-page characters. I loved Parshall's follow-up, Disturbing the Dead, even more.

This time around, Rachel Goddard's moved her veterinary practice to the mountains of southwestern Virginia, hoping to escape the violence she left behind. Fat chance. When Rachel befriends the niece of a woman whose decades-old skull is found on a remote mountaintop, she's up to her feisty neck in a decades-old murder investigation and sidestepping the advances of Tom Bridger, the sheriff's deputy in charge of the case.

Tom's a Melungeon -- and a special feature of this book is a look inside that community, a racially mixed people of Appalachia who are "tri-racial isolates" -- a mixture of white, Native American, and black.

Disturbing the Dead has a complex plot, fascinating characters, plus lots of suspense and lots of heart.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent mystery March 10 2007
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Ten Years ago, Pauline McClure, a rich and desperate Melungeon widow, vanished from her country estate and hasn't been heard from or seen since. She was a child of poverty and racism but the wealthy McClures accepted her because she gave them an heir.

In the present on top of the mountains a skeleton is found and dug up. Near the first burial site another skeleton is discovered. The dental records of one of the skulls match Pauline's; police Captain Tom Bridget is out to find the killer.

His father was obsessed with the case because it was his first that he failed to solve. When he goes to question Pauline's mother, Mrs. Turner, he runs into her grand-daughter Holly. Holly's mother left the family though she supposedly sends money from time to time. When Tom mentions to veterinarian Rachael Goddard how great Holly is with animals, the vet hires her on the spot even though her grandmother tries to guilt her into staying and her father, Mr. Shackelford, the local drug supplier, uses threats to make her return to her grandmother. Both Holly and Rachel refuse to be intimidated but someone really wants Holly out of the way because she is shot at, the office is torched and her family tries to physically get away from Rachel. Tom is determined to protect Rachel but when another skull is found and he begins to hear rumors about his father's relationship to Pauline, he finds his objectivity is not what it should be.

Sandra Parshall is a wonderful storyteller who creates a small rural backwater town where race and class divisions still exist and people of mixed blood are subjected to prejudice. Her characterizations are fantastic especially Tom, who is half Melungeon heartwarming and sensitive willing to give Rachel all the time she needs to figure out what she wants even as he investigates a mystery that creeps closer to home.

Harriet Klausner
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love finding a new author! May 19 2011
By J. S. BROWN - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I was looking for books written by Craig Parshall, found this author by pure chance beside his books at the library.

Her descriptions grabbed me from the very beginning in Disturbing the Dead. I found later that I read the middle book first, but doesn't matter. I then checked out the other two by her. They are equally as good.

I love getting lost in the setting, town, people, all of these come alive and take me there as if I am really there. I hated for it to end.

She is currently writing another book to be finished in the fall, and another next year.

I emailed her and asked for her to write faster!!
She is a terrific author.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quest for Independence June 17 2009
By S Froetschel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Few mystery writers tackle or master the complicated relationship between middle-aged adults (Rachel, the vet) and young adults (Holly, the young assistant). With Disturbing the Dead, Sandra Parshall succeeds in exploring the challenges and lessons exchanged in such a friendship, while offering excellent characterization and a satisfying plot details. Besides being a murder mystery,this story is about the tensions that emerge when young adults seek independence and close relatives seek to maintain control.

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