'I am simply a 'book drunkard.' Books have the same irresistible temptation for me that liquor has for its devotee. I cannot withstand them.' L.M. Montgomery

'There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books.' Irving Stone

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Story of Story: A Murder Mystery

By Dennis R. Rader
  "Isn't that your lucky lure?" Chris asked.
  "It is, but there comes a time when you have to cut your losses."
  "That's up to you."
  Bill whipped the rod back and forth several more times. He had a heavy line so he wasn't worried about it breaking easily.
  "Not working," Chris said.
  "Yeah, you're right. Time to get back to fishing. This time it either breaks or pulls loose."
  Bill lifted up his rod and bent it double. That didn't work, so he put the rod down, slipped on a pair of gray canvas gloves from his tackle box, wrapped the line around his hands several times, and pulled hard enough to where the lure broke loose.
  "Finally," he said.
  "Line didn't break? Saved your Heggstrom?"
  "It's still there; I can feel it. Believe I got part of the tree or whatever dragging along with it." Bill picked his rod back up and began reeling the line in.
  Bill and Chris watched the line coming up through the water. They saw a blob of what looked like grass when it got within a few feet of the surface. Bill lifted the lure and the tangle out of the water. Both stared silently for a minute as they tried to decipher what they were looking at.
  "Chris," Bill said softly. "I believe that's a hunk of some woman's hair."
  "Red hair," Chris said simply, looking with dismayed numbness at the sunlit strands of hair glistening above the rippling green of the water.

This book caught my eye in a gift shop in Hot Springs, NC the first time we went over. They sell consignment things and handmade jewelry etc., called Lost Treasures. The title and the Lab caught my attention and then A Murder Mystery! I wanted this book, but the shop was closed. Still too early in the season. Nothing much was open yet. I went home and looked it up online. Found it on Amazon, but only available in Kindle and I wanted the actual book. I don't think it is in print anymore.

Then I found out it was set on Jellico Mountain TN. and surrounding areas.  My grandma was born in Jellico on Jellico Mt. The state line between KY and TN runs right through the town. Grandma was born on the KY side. Her mom died when she was two and her dad put her into foster care. She took us for a ride to see the house she pretty much grew up in, in Jellico TN. A nice enough family took her in she said, she was cared for but was never treated as part of the family. She was in fact taken in for help around the house. I guess this was fairly common in the old days. Give a homeless child a roof over their head and clothes and meals for work on the farm etc. Grandma did eventually go back to live with her dad who had remarried and had many children by this wife. She was in her early teens and they lived in LaFollette TN by then. Perkins was her maiden name. So of course I really HAD to have this book now! I was on a mission! I made a trip over again to the store on a weekend, not opened, tried to find a phone number, even looked the store up on Google maps satellite trying to find a name to look up. It's a good 30 minutes over there for me. Called the welcome center in Hot Springs and the lady there said she knows the owner, give her my number and she'll ask him when he's open and call me back. She did! I went over two more times when he was suppose to be open and he wasn't. I finally found him on Facebook and messaged him and he gave me his phone number. I finally got over there when he was open and got this book! Mission accomplished! Enough about that, on to the fun story of Story!

This book is different! A wonderful tale, full of wonderful characters. The main character is Story, the  dog, a Black Lab mix, possibly Rottweiler and Doberman, but mostly Black Lab. He is approximately six years old and 90 lbs. of solid muscle. And he is amazing!

'Story is a mutt of democratic heritage who gets along with anyone and anything except for Mr. Butts the Goat and any of the four Hatcher brothers, who he hates with a murderous passion–no one knows why. As members of the Hatcher family start dying in unusual ways, suspicion eventually settles on Story. Story is forced to flee from his home in Ethel, Tennessee, just south of the Kentucky border to take refuge with a friend on the top of Jellico Mountain.'

The book is fiction, only Story is based on a real dog. Mr. Rader said, "Story is a real dog, by the way, who I heard about from his mistress, Joy Kent, some years ago at the annual International Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN. and he did acquire his name by the way described in the book. None of the story created to fill in the story of Story is accurate - as far as I know." I truly enjoyed this book not only because it was a fun read and a good murder mystery, more than one murder I might add, but I know all the locales mentioned in it. Swam in Norris Lake, where one of the bodies is found, many times. One family is even named Perkins!

Some of the main characters are Sheriff Brett Haynes. In his early forties, single, started his career in law enforcement in the navy. Worked as a beat cop in Chicago for awhile then a deputy in Lake City TN. and finally the sheriff in Ethel Tn.. His deputy is Willis Harmon, a black man in his thirties who also got his training in the navy although Brett and he didn't meet in the navy. Brett recruited him from a police force in a small town near Boise, Idaho. Willis was originally from the area and was wanting to get back home. Belle Potter, a widow over seventy, thin as a rail, but tough as nails. She lived on top of Jellico Mountain somewhere. No one quite knew her location. Only a few people knew how to find her. Every once in a blue moon she came down from the mountain to get the few supplies she needed. She lived alone in a stone cabin, built by her late husband Hobart who had died 5 years earlier. Their only son had been killed in Vietnam. She enjoyed her solitude and her animals. Caroline Tipton, Story's loving mistress. She rescued Story. Caroline loved horses and riding. And Story loved her.

  'Story loved his life. He had plenty of good friends and no real enemies. He had a large territory over which he was free to roam. Lots of curious happenings and exciting events occurred. And, most important of all, he had a loving mistress.
  Little did Story know that new conditions were coalescing that would generate the emergence of dramatic changes in his easy-going life. In a few weeks, the lazy, slow and comfortable kaleidoscope of his existence would suddenly click into a completely different pattern, one that would be much more frenetic and fraught with danger.            pg. 15

Here's a little sample...

  'Story had, by this time, moved off into one of the bedrooms. She heard him growl from there, one that was louder and deeper. Caroline closed the refrigerator door, raised the gun that she had lowered to her side, and followed him into the bedroom. This one was completely empty except for a pile of old newspapers. But Story stood in front of a closed closet door to the right. A steady deep growl emanated from his throat. His hair stood on end. He glanced at Caroline, his eyes asking her to open the door.
  Gun in her right hand held up in the air, Caroline reached out with her left and opened the door...'


'Disappointed, Story had a decision to make. The road scared him, even at night with no cars around. He hesitated to cross the road. And he was not allowed off of his territory unless in the company of Caroline. Besides, the trail was gone. He knew that truck well-enough by this point and could probably track it for a short distance, but it had sped off. It had turned into the trailer park, but Story had no way of knowing that the entrance was the only way in or out.
  He decided not to chase after the truck. Angry, and frustrated, he walked stiff-legged back to the grove of pine trees. He settled down to wait and see if the man would come back. He set on his haunches amongst the trees, staring with the alertness of hate across the road at the dark hill speckled with the occasional light of a trailer. His nose twisted constantly in search of the hated smell.
  Memories shook his body and soul. A pure hatred shoved its way into his friendly heart. He wanted to do something. He just didn't know what. His frustrated desire for revenge made him sick at his stomach. He coughed up several gobs of yellow-green bile.'

Finding this book in print might be hard but you can get the Kindle for just $3.99! If you love dogs and you love murder mysteries you really need to read this!

The author Dennis R. Rader is originally from East Tennessee and has an interesting resume. Read about him on his Amazon page!

Peggy Ann

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