HAUNTS by John Doughs


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Shawnee, West Virginia, police detective Edward Hatter (Shawnee Alley Fire, 1987; Blind Spring Rambler, 1988) is called out again when an Allegheny flood unearths a long-buffed skeleton and a pile of ugly secrets in this atmospheric, deceptively low-key mystery. Who is the woman whose skull Mrs. Spilky found poking up from a bare spot uncovered on the Wilton place when the shed above it blew away? Is she Brenda Keith, who walked out on her husband and disappeared in 1945--or was she killed much later, in 1967, a few weeks before Nan Wilton was run down by a hit-and-run driver? Why did Nan's son Roger return to Shawnee only to be killed shortly after making a late-night appointment with Hatter? What's the meaning of the fragmentary tape in which Roger admits he helped his mother bury the body (""Mom said it wasn't good but it was right. . .She promised to help so it didn't happen to me what--"")? And what has all this to do with Darrell Phillips, whose confession that he's killed his wife is repeatedly belied by her embarrassed denials? Hatter commandeers unwilling sidekick Dave McManaway from his pregnant wife's side to help him pick through a flood's harvest of red herrings and revelations that lead deeper into the past--and into the Wilton family's sorry secrets. Douglas writes like an Appalachian Ross Macdonald; it seems all too natural that his improbably multiple malefactors, too numerous for most other novelists, be damned together.

Pub Date: Sept. 18th, 1990
Publisher: St. Martin's