by Ron Franscell
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction
Retired from a big-city homicide beat to a small Colorado mountain town, ex-detective Woodrow “Mountain” Bell yearns only to fade away. He’s failed in so many ways as a father, a husband, friend, and cop that it might be too late for a meaningful life. When he stumbles across a long-forgotten, unsolved child murder, his first impulse is to let it lie … but he can’t. He’s drawn into the macabre mystery when he realizes the killer might still be near. Without help from ambivalent local cops, Bell must overcome the obstacles of time, age, and a lack of police resources by calling upon the unique skills of the end-of-the-road codgers he meets for coffee every morning—a club of old guys who call themselves Deaf Row. Soon, this mottled crew finds itself on a collision course with a serial butcher.
|DEAF ROW is more than a tense mystery novel, more than an unnerving psychological thriller drawn from Ron Franscell’s career as a bestselling true-crime writer and journalist. It is also a novel of men pushing back against time and death, trying not to disappear entirely. DEAF ROW is a moving, occasionally humorous, portrait of flawed people caught in a web of pain and regret. And although you might think you know where this ghastly case is headed, the climax will blindside you.
Woodrow Bell checked his watch, although he had no place to be. Nursing homes always made him feel that time was passing unusually fast.
The big man damn-near filled the cramped visitors’ foyer as he surveyed the dreary day room of the Old Miners Home. The sun was going down. It was Sunday, and the two nurses were elsewhere. Pale September twilight swathed the cheerless room as white-haired shadows silently drifted in for dinner, like dust that hadn’t yet been blown away.
Now past seventy, Bell knew he, too, was closer to the end than the beginning. It haunted him.
It wasn’t just the drabness of the Old Miners Home, with its dog-eared furniture, folding dinner tables, or the giant craft-paper calendar on the bulletin board that was utterly empty. It was the stiff knees … the hard mornings … the shrinking social circle … caring less and less about more and more … not remembering if it was the first time or the last time … getting up twice a night to pee a thimbleful … the AARP junk mail … the unreliable pecker … the fear you can’t finish the Sunday crosswords because you must have Alzheimer’s … the daughter who never calls … the mystery of why you ever voted for Democrats … already knowing which suit you’ll be buried in … and being invisible to the rest of the world.
It all pissed him off most days.
And today was one of those days. After months of making excuses, he’d been tricked by his closest friend, Father Bert Clancy, into visiting the Old Miners Home. It wasn’t because a priest lied, not even because a friend lied, but because Bell didn’t immediately realize he was being played. He especially hated that.
In truth, the St. Barnabas Senior Center hadn’t been the Old Miners Home since the Nixon Administration, but everybody in the trifling mountain village of Midnight, Colorado, still called it the Old Miners Home. Good or bad, small towns seldom quit on a memory.
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A veteran journalist, Ron Franscell is the New York Times bestselling author of 18 books, including international bestsellers “The Darkest Night” and Edgar-nominated true crime “Morgue: A Life in Death.” His newest, “ShadowMan: An Elusive Psycho Killer and the Birth of FBI Profiling,” was released in March by Berkley/Penguin-Random House.
His atmospheric and muscular writing—hailed by Ann Rule, Vincent Bugliosi, William Least-Heat Moon, and others—has established him as one of the most provocative American voices in narrative nonfiction.
Ron’s first book, “Angel Fire,” was a USA Today bestselling literary novel listed by the San Francisco Chronicle among the 100 Best Novels of the 20th Century West. His later success grew from blending techniques of fiction-writing with his daily journalism. The result was dramatic, detailed, and utterly true storytelling.
Ron has established himself as a plucky reporter, too. As a senior writer at the Denver Post, he covered the evolution of the American West but shortly after 9/11, he was dispatched by the Post to cover the Middle East during the first months of the War on Terror. In 2004, he covered devastating Hurricane Rita from inside the storm.
His book reviews and essays have been widely published in many of America’s biggest and best newspapers, such as the Washington Post, Chicago Sun-Times, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury-News, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and others. He has been a guest on CNN, Fox News, NPR, the Today Show, ABC News, and he appears regularly on crime documentaries at Investigation Discovery, Oxygen, History Channel, Reelz, and A&E.
He lives in northern New Mexico.
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