- Author: Eric Praschan
- Published: July 2015 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
- Category: Crime, Suspense, Thriller
The smallest town can hide the biggest secret. After Jane Stoneman is killed in broad daylight on a dusty street, those who witness her death scatter to their homes without a word. Such things happen in Hollow Valley. Jane’s brother, Jack, returns to the small Missouri town after a six-year absence and tries to piece together the mystery of her death by following clues she left behind for him. To complicate matters, Jack must seek help from the one woman he’s made a habit of hating—his firecracker of an ex, Tessa Thornstead. Jack and Tessa launch a grassroots investigation that stirs up the close-knit town steeped in the shadow and folklore of the Ozark Mountains.
After learning his sister has been murdered, Jack Stoneman feels compelled to return to Hollow Valley, the home town he left six years ago. He needs to find out what happened to his sister, why was she was murdered and who did it. The knowledge that she was a meth addict and stabbed to death in broad daylight shakes him to his core. He wondered how she’d managed to keep her addition secret from him. But it seems they both had secrets they kept from each other. Hollow Valley is a place full of secrets.
The townspeople are evading Jack’s questions and he is forced to accept the help of the person who was the reason for him leaving Hollow Valley all those years ago. Tessa, his ex girlfriend. Jack hopes the locals might be more inclined to talk to Tessa about Jane’s murder, which was witnessed by some of the residents. But people are unwilling and too frightened to talk to Jack and Tessa.
I never wanted to leave Hollow Valley in the first place, but I certainly never meant to come back once I was gone. Love and hate are kindred scabs on the same arm, and I’d done my share of picking at both of them. Hate drove me away, but when the call came, love coerced me home.
Your sister is dead. Simple. Poignant. Your sister has been murdered. More effective. Powerful enough to cross a six-year chasm of silence.
There’s a huge problem with meth addiction in Hollow Valley, the Ozark mountains are full of run down properties used for the production the drug, and the local law enforcement seemingly unable or unwilling to deal with it. Jack and Tessa follow a trail of clues left by Jane, which leads them down avenues neither of them want to pursue. Unravelling the truth costs them both more than they’d ever imagined.
One of the great strengths of this story are the characters, they are all well defined and very believable. Jack is a strong, albeit flawed, personality fighting his own addiction. He’s dealing with a lot of conflicting emotions raised by returning to Hollow Valley. He and his father haven’t had the best of relationships, but worst of all are the circumstances and reality of his sister’s death. Coming home stirs up memories and feelings Jack would prefer to leave buried and he can’t help the attraction mixed with bitterness he still feels for Tessa. They both have issues to work through about their relationship, the way it ended and what caused Jack to leave. I like the way their back story and Jack’s relationship with his family and some of the townspeople is revealed gradually as the story progresses.
The narrative, and especially the dialogue, is extremely well done. That and the interaction between the characters is convincing and adds depth and extra insight to each individual. The story is told in such a way that I was drawn in from the start and would never have guessed the outcome. It’s a dark tale with no whitewash of the suffering and anguish caused by the drug problem and the inhumanity of those running the operation. There was undoubtedly much research done on the subject which brought home the horror of drug manufacture and the lengths people will go to.
The only negative, for me, was the trail of clues, which seemed a little too contrived but that’s a small point. I enjoyed the book very much.
I received an e-copy of the book from the author in return for an honest review. This does not influence/alter my opinions or the content of this review.
About the author
Eric Praschan lives in Columbia, Missouri, with his wife. He loves suspense fiction books like an addiction. He has a background in drama, music, teaching, and theology. Some of his hobbies include watching college football and monster movies, listening to hard rock music, and playing basketball.