Author: Sandra Parshall

Publisher: Pen Press

ISBN: 9781464202247

Although Sandra Parshall is an Agatha-award winning author, she exemplifies how much mystery writing has evolved since Ms. Christie penned her characters Miss Marple and Hercules Poirot. The lines between mystery, thriller, and suspense have blurred, not only in more hard-core police procedurals but also in books that focus on the quiet, rural violence so prevalent in Ms. Christie’s books.

Dr. Rachel Goddard, veterinarian and protagonist in the author’s series, belongs to that old class of sleuths, neither cop nor agent but concerned citizen. All the action takes place in a rural mountain community in Virginia, but this book has plenty of action and misdirects to keep any reader of the mystery genre intrigued and entertained. Goddard is married to Sheriff Tom Bridger, and the two form a mystery-solving power couple.

Chapter 1 starts with not one but two murders. An old couple resisting a resort development that wants their land are shot in their own backyard. The woman owning a nearby horse farm, the key piece of land for the developers, is threatened by pro-development residents who see only the promise of new jobs. Events spiral out of control as people choose sides. Yet, when a pro-development landowner willing to sell is also murdered, nothing seems to make sense.

The theme here is a favorite of mine. All too often development is identified with progress. It brings new jobs to the local construction industry and to fill personnel requirements afterwards. Those positives have to be weighed against the emotional distress of property owners who, in many cases, have a long-time emotional attachment to their homes, and leaving some pristine lands for our children and grandchildren.

An interesting and important subtheme also occurs in this book: how grownups can influence the younger generation. Sometimes that influence is negative. As we age, we should always consider how we’re molding that younger generation, given that we pay any attention to them at all. I mention this only as a heads-up to readers: there’s more to this book than meets the eye. You’re duly warned.

I’ll avoid spoilers by ending my erratic summary here. As in all good mysteries, the twists and turns in plot and the finely drawn character studies—some characters with dark pasts to hide—will heighten your reading pleasure. Readers who know my own work might be surprised that I’m a fan of this author, but I also read Mary Higgins Clark and Carla Neggers, who are better known. Parshall’s books match the best of theirs, though, so this one belongs on your to-read list.

Follow Here To Purchase Poisoned Ground: A Rachel Goddard Mystery