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by Judy Reveal
Description: Just as recently divorced Lindsey Gale begins to bring balance into her personal life, she discovers that her new role as publisher of the Greensboro Press is anything but stable. Lindsey is asked to investigate the death of a friend who had been staying at The Writers' Bloc, a writers' retreat located on Maryland's rustic Eastern Shore. Lindsey reluctantly takes on the assignment and soon finds herself face to face with the retreat's reclusive owner and noted author, Odious Clay. With the help of Conrad Trent, her managing editor and closest confidant, she digs into the background of the retreat, Odious Clay and the eclectic group of residents and attendees and soon finds herself facing a publisher's greatest nightmare--plagiarism peppered with a dash of murder.
eBook Publisher: ebooksonthe.net/ebooksonthe.net, 2008 ebook
eBookwise Release Date: May 2008
2 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [253 KB]
Reading time: 159-223 min.
Bill Coldwater feared for his life. He pushed his foot down hard on the accelerator, propelling the small MGB around the precarious curves of the small country lane. The January temperatures in Kent County Maryland did not warrant remaining outside for any length of time, and thin layers of black ice placed unsuspecting drivers in life-threatening situations. He stole a quick glance at the briefcase on the seat next to him. The information he needed was neatly tucked inside and would soon bring justice for those who could not speak for themselves. The last four weeks flew through his memory in a blur and he tried to recall the exact dates when he felt threatened. The signs, covert at first, were hidden in snippets of conversation and stares, small things out of place in his room, then blocks of manuscript missing one moment and returned the next.
His thoughts ran to Claire and her enthusiasm for writing. He recalled how he envied her ability to match the right word with the right phrase to come up with the right picture. Claire had no family and as far as he knew, he was her closest friend. Their relationship never reached beyond that first plateau of friendship and yet her death evoked a cloud of sadness that lay on his memory like dirt on her coffin.
For all of her talent, her insecurities about writing occupied her every moment. She analyzed every word of every sentence. Bill was the only person she allowed to read and comment on her work. He desperately wanted her to pursue her dream to write. He knew of the Writers' Bloc, a small retreat on Maryland's Eastern Shore and encouraged her to attend--to find a peaceful place to write, dedicate her time to her craft, and come back with a stronger sense of herself.
He would not have thought twice about the accident that took her life if it were not for his passion for books. The incident would have gone unnoticed except for his weekly trip to Barnes and Noble. It was the anthology of short stories that caught his attention and when he thumbed through the first few pages he immediately recognized Claire's work. Bill was as familiar with her style as he was with his own and he recognized her stories immediately. But the author was listed as Mr. Odious Clay, a well known author and owner of The Writers' Bloc, and immediately Bill Coldwater knew something was dreadfully wrong.
He wondered if her death was more than an accident and his determination to find out had brought him to this point. He submitted his work to The Writers' Bloc, accompanied by a fee greater than required, and he was accepted for residency. He wondered briefly if it was his skill as a writer or the extravagance of his wallet that was the deciding factor, but it was the only way he knew of finding out what role, if any, The Writers' Bloc and its staff might have had in Claire's death. His clandestine searches in the library of the retreat uncovered copies of two of Claire's manuscripts. They were the exact stories that had appeared in the anthology and they still had her name on them. He did not understand why Odious Clay would keep stolen manuscripts, but it was a fortuitous find and now Bill had the information he needed to expose Odious Clay for what he was, a thief and a murderer. Claire's stories lay tucked neatly inside the briefcase.
The reflection in the side-view mirror caught his attention and dragged him back to the present. He spotted the familiar van trailing him at a distance. A shudder crept up his spine and Bill no longer felt safe. The driver of the van did not close the gap between them, but remained several hundred feet behind. Bill shoved the gas pedal of the small car to the floor, speeding around the narrow road, driven by his desire to put many miles between himself and The Writers' Bloc. The sharp s-curve around Still Pond Creek came up quickly. The MGB spun out of control at the top of the curve, careened off the road and slid across the slick frosty pavement into the creek. The speed of the car turning threw Bill sideways, slamming his head into the left window. The layer of ice covering the creek opened as if to accept this gift. The car flipped over once, landed upside down and began to settle under the ice and slick green goo beneath it.
The van drew up to the side of the highway and idled for a moment. A man got out and stood next to the van He looked at the summer homes that dotted the creek, each closed for the winter and he waited to see any signs of life. Still Pond Creek was silent. He turned toward the creek and watched as the MBG disappeared beneath the slushy layers of algae and ice. The water settled and the van drove away, slowly navigating the narrow, dangerous country lane.