Disturbing the Dead Paperback – Large Print, May 9 2007
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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.
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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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.
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.
It seems like a whole story is missing. And this was definitely not a Rachel mystery. It is Tom's.
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.