Supreme Commander Robert E. Leeson, an exemplary student at Wimberly Academy, is found naked and dead after falling from a bell tower six months before his graduation. Suicide? Or was it?
That’s what law officials and an inexperienced, but enthusiastic, newspaper reporter are trying to find out in “Darkness Rising,” the eighth book of the Clement County saga by Quinn MacHollister.
In the previous six novels, the five Eastern Kentucky University professors who comprise MacHollister, have focused on murder and mayhem in fictional drug-riddled Clement County and its poorer neighbor to the east, Slocum County.
Now the drama moves west to the more prosperous Wimberly County.
“Wimberly Countians don’t welcome strangers at all – especially ones meddling in their business,” said Charlie Sweet, co-director of EKU’s Teaching and Learning Center, and one of the authors. “And the macho commandant of the Academy, C. T. Forrest, has his own secrets to protect.”
“Aaron Parke, a senator’s son who was almost killed earlier by a sasquatch, comes back in a new role,” noted Hal Blythe, a second author and other Teaching and Learning Center director. “His three-year marriage has ended, and he’s decided to become a journalist. He’s convinced The Woodhole Gazette editor, Olliver Bradley, to let him investigate Leeson’s suspicious death.”
“Parke teams up with his old pal, Obie, who attended Wimberly Academy, to pursue some leads – including interviewing a former girlfriend who is Leeson’s sister,” said third author, Mason Smith, a senior lecturer in English.
“Obie-Wan, as Parke calls him, provides some comic relief to the novel,” explained the fourth author, Marie Mitchell, a communications instructor. “He’s the editor’s estranged son who has been in-and-out of rehab and, while not living in his father’s basement, does reside in a rusted-out Airstream down by the river.”
The fifth creator of the series, Rick Givan, passed away in 2016.
While many new characters are introduced in the latest novel, numerous threads connect this case with familiar characters.
“Clement County Deputy Tommy Hornbeam, one of the few blacks in the county, has again been promoted to sheriff after the sudden departure of Ron Motley, who barely survived an assassin’s attempt on his life,” said Sweet.
Hornbeam is troubled by his girlfriend’s refusal to marry him. The girlfriend, Slocum Deputy Sheriff June Manymoons, is from the Khiute tribe, which has always felt cheated by its cousins, the Quapanogs, who run the lucrative casino and resort in Clement County.
“June has been warned by her deceased dad, a koman, or dreamwalker, that bad things will happen if she doesn’t follow her destiny. That destiny means marrying the shashome, a legendary warrior, who will rescue the Khiutes from their dire circumstances,” said Blythe.
“Ex-biker Deke Dawson is the reluctant hero who is looking for other ways for the Khiutes to get their fair share of the Native American spoils,” said Smith. “That beats dying in an attempt to raise them from poverty – which is what his mother, a shaman, predicts will happen.”
Add to the mix the corrupt BSE Corporation that’s still trying to get the mineral rights to property in Clement County, a German professor looking for hidden historical treasure in a cave on Black Bear Mountain, and an ex-spy seeking closure on what happened to his father 50 years ago, and you have “Darkness Rising.”
This novel, and the other six in the Clement County saga by Quinn MacHollister, are available on Amazon.
In addition to the new release, the authors are already outlining their next book. “For a place that attracts weird and supernatural occurrences, there are plenty of plots we haven’t explored yet,” Mitchell said