Beware when you enter Clement County, Kentucky. People in this fictional locale continue to get murdered in unconventional ways. First, the threat came from feuding sasquatches. Then, serial killers, superwolves, and vengeful witches posed the greatest danger.
Now, in the fifth and latest release of the Clement County Saga, "Where There’s Fire," Sheriff Ron Motley leads an investigation into the gruesome deaths of a young couple.
"They were scalped and hanged from a covered bridge linking Clement to its poorer neighbor, Slocum County,” said Hal Blythe, co-director of Eastern Kentucky University’s Teaching & Learning Center, and one of the five writers who collaborate on the novels under the pen name, Quinn MacHollister.
"Two rival Native American tribes live in those counties," explained another author, Mason Smith, a senior lecturer in English at EKU. "The more prosperous Quapanog and the bitter Khiute, who feel they've been ripped off by their richer cousins."
For jurisdictional reasons, Sheriff Motley partners with his sexy Slocum counterpart, Mattie Combs, to track the killer, encountering along the way an arson-for-hire scheme, a white supremacist group, the Gunpowder Garrison, and The Clan of the Silver Talon, who are inciting the Khiute to reclaim land and wealth that they believe is rightfully theirs.
"Like Tina Turner, we never do anything the easy way,” added Charlie Sweet, the third writer, and the other EKU Teaching & Learning Center do-director. “So to complicate the investigation, we threw in a greedy corporation buying up mineral rights in Clement County, a third murder, and Satan's bounty hunter.”
“But, to keep things from getting too grim, we always add a little comic relief,” said Marie Mitchell, a fourth author, and EKU communication instructor. "We have an incompetent elderly assassin team, a true believer in alien abductions, and the return of a loveable loser named Joey Jeter, who is a lightning rod for trouble."
Sadly, the team’s fifth member, Rick Givan, professor emeritus of criminal justice and police studies at EKU, passed away in May. "He was the weapons and legal expert,” Sweet said, “and a stickler for details. We keep a place open for him at McAlister’s Deli, where we meet to map out our chapters.”
“And,” added Blythe, “since Rick gave us some specific suggestions about where this plot should go, we dedicated this novel to him and created his avatar, ‘Boom’ Givan, who shows up frequently in the novel, appropriately enough to guide the investigation.”
The writing team is already dangerously close to completing its next installment of the Clement County saga, which features an international assassin, a new drug kingpin and a spectacular wedding extravaganza.
“We also plan to include a map,” Smith said. “We sort of know where everything is located, but at times it gets a little confusing. Hopefully a map will help readers — and writers — keep everything in its place.”
All five books in the Clement County saga are available through Amazon and Kindle. You can also find Quinn MacHollister on Facebook.