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Nothin’ Short of Dyin’ is the long awaited 14th book in the Garth Ryland mystery series. Called “an exemplary series hero” by Publishers Weekly, Ryland lives and works in the small town of Oakalla, Wisconsin (“Lake Woebegone made sinister”) where passions run high, secrets go deep, and nothing is ever quite as it seems.
His morning starts quietly on a picture perfect, mid-November day. But even as he stands at his office widow admiring the flawless blue sky and coverall layer of fresh white snow, he knows it won’t last. Wisconsin Novembers are notoriously bad. They are “one long gray litany of clouds…the ankle deep slush you wade through on your way to your first cold of the season.” Besides, it was a Monday.
So Garth isn’t surprised when town marshal Cecil Hardwick soon arrives and wants Garth to accompany him to a clover field just outside of town where a mud-caked black pickup with bullet holes in the door and blood on the seat is parked. Garth does so under protest, and only because Cecil’s jurisdiction ends at the city limits, where Garth’s begins.
The driver of the pickup is nowhere to be found, and there is no way to identify the pickup because it has no license plate or registration. A day long search turns up nothing but a menacing ex-football star from the Deep South who is looking for the same pickup.
The first fire occurs in the night at Fickle, a whistle-stop five miles south of Oakalla. It bears an eerie resemblance to an earlier fire along Coon Lake where a ghost reportedly walks the shoreline a stone’s throw away from where a father and daughter once drowned.
The second fire strikes at the heart of Oakalla, and at Garth’s heart as well. It threatens his friendship with his housekeper Ruth, who refuses him access to Ruth’s ward at the Women’s Shelter, and whom Garth blames for the fires.
Another fire will occur. A life will be lost. What promises to become a beautiful friendship will be destroyed before the mystery is unraveled and justice served.
- AuthorHouse, June 2011
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