Monday, August 3, 2015

John Meany Brings Strong Mystery to Readers- In the Fog...

Rock Ridge County. Saturday. June 23, 2012. The cool fog there in Twin Valley, Oregon, a small town located roughly fifty miles south of Portland, was like an expanding cloud, as the mist settled densely upon the picturesque mountainous region. The summertime air smelled of pine, hemlock, and red cedar trees, and of course Lake Wakanda, which exuded a salty aroma, reminiscent of pickle juice.
Back in 1880 to 1930, this lushly forested area had been owned by a large timber company, and was heavily logged. Nowadays, not as many trees were cut down, and when they were, it occurred several miles to either the north or west, away from the campgrounds and long trails, where hikers loved to roam. Presently, on the lake shore, Canada geese were grazing on vegetation. In the water, a family of ducks floated along with the current, a mother and father with ducklings. Every now and then you would hear them quack or splash. In the woods, a couple of deer sniffed the terrain, searching for eatable plants, fruits, or nuts.
 “No, no,” Frank Parker announced gruffly, pushing the net away. “I’ve decided to throw this one back.”
 “Why?” his wife Dora asked. “That rainbow trout isn‘t big enough.”
 “Oh. All right. If you say so.” She expertly took the hook out of the fish’s mouth, and then tossed the wriggling trout back into the lake. They watched it swim away. Frank Parker, age seventy-nine, and his wife Dora, age seventy, were sitting in their vintage Boston Whaler, which they had owned for the better part of two decades. The only thing new about the 13 Ft. wooden craft was the outboard motor. The summer before Frank had gotten rid of the old Johnson (because it had mysteriously conked out), and had replaced it with a Yamaha. Frank glanced at his watch. It was nearing one-thirty. He and Dora had been fly-fishing since noon. So far they had managed to catch a few decent-sized fish, both rainbow and brown trout. The Parkers loved to fish. It was a relaxing way for retired people to pass the time.
“How many trout do we have?” Frank asked. 
“Let’s see,” Dora replied, peeking into the plastic bucket. “So far I count six.”
“That’s not bad. That’s almost more than we caught last weekend.” 
“Yeah. Maybe this is our lucky day.” 
“You might be right.” “Then again,” Dora added, watching the fog float down from the mountains. “The way this weather is starting to look, we might have to pack it in soon.”
...For the majority of their (mostly happy) marriage, his wife Dora had been a homemaker, mainly because back, before about say 1980, that was what was expected of women. And for a long time Dora Parker didn’t mind cleaning the house and doing most of the cooking. In fact, she still tended to those domestic duties, and still didn‘t have a problem with it. 

However, during the early 1990‘ s, when the grunge act Nirvana was one of the biggest bands in the world, Dora had gotten a job as a cashier at a local music store, and eventually she became the manager. She had loved that part-time position. Dora knew a lot about music, rock, jazz, folk, the blues; the young people who used to go into the store looking to purchase CD’s, or instruments, thought she was hip. They referred to Dora as the cool older woman, who, at the time, twenty-year old men would sometimes hit on, as that was back when Dora still had her eye-catching appearance. At the time, before the wrinkles, age spots, and grey hair had become visible, many people had viewed her as a kind of Raquel Welch look alike. The middle-aged version...
When Frank and Dora had first cast their lines, it had been cloudy; however, there had been no fog. Forty-five minutes before, was when the all-encompassing mist had commenced to roll in like a ghostly shroud. 
Now, Frank glanced toward the lakeshore, which was more or less sixty yards away. With the pair of low-strength binoculars that he had brought onboard, he observed a mysterious girl emerge from the trees and shrubbery. The female wore a button-down, white-collar shirt, tan Khaki shorts, and hiking boots. She stood on the rocky slope, and was drenched from head to toe, as if the woman either had fallen into the lake or had gone for a swim with her clothes on. “Excuse me, young lady,” Frank hollered in that direction. Due to allergies, his voice croaked. “What happened, did you fall in?” 
Puzzled, Dora gazed at the foggy bank. “Honey,” she said. “Who are you yelling to?” 
With his index finger, Frank pointed toward the rocky shore. “That girl over there.” He handed Dora the binoculars. “Look through the specs, you’ll see her.” 
“Girl?” Dora stood up and peered through the binoculars. Her shifting weight caused the speedboat to gently rock. “Frank, either my eyesight is failing me or you’re imagining things.” “No. C’mon, I’m not imagining anything.” 
The blonde female, who, in Frank’s estimation, may have been about thirty-years of age, removed, from the holder attached to her belt, a hunting knife. “Whoa! What’s she planning to do with that big blade?” No longer concentrating on hooking another trout, Frank did not notice the fish nibble on his hook. The line had suddenly grown taut and the rod had bent and wiggled. “Are you losing your marbles?” Dora asked. 
He sighed. “Dear, if you can’t see that lady standing over there near that huge rock, then your eyesight must be getting worse. In fact, I hate to say this, but the way things are going, Dora, pretty soon you’ll be clinically blind.”
 “Ha! Ha! You’re real funny.”
 “I’m not trying to be funny. Instead of leaving your glasses in the glove compartment, you should have brought them with you.”
 “I don’t need my glasses to fish,” she scoffed. “I think you’re hallucinating.” Even though she said that, Dora, once more, aimed the binoculars at the spot in question. 
“Look at that girl,” Frank declared. “Standing there all soak and wet, with no boat nearby. And rather than try to dry herself off, whoever she is, that young broad is just standing there, in a daze, cleaning her knife.” The woman had started to wipe the large blade with what, to Frank, appeared to be a handful of leaves. “And how is it possible that she didn’t hear me calling to her? We’re not that far away. She must be able to hear me.” The fish on Frank‘s hook continued to yank the pole, as more fog skirted across the lake.
“Frank, I still don’t see anyone. The only thing I see along the bank, close to where you‘re pointing, is those ducks and geese.” 
He was no longer paying attention to Dora. Frank was totally focused on the woman with the survival knife. “Excuse me,” he again shouted. “Miss, are you in some kind of trouble?” The female standing on the shore had golden blonde hair, fastened in a rumpled bun. From this distance, she reminded Frank strikingly of the actor Cameron Diaz. “I don’t get it, why won’t she answer me?” He wondered if, at any moment, other people might pop out of the forest. After all, who went hiking or camping by themselves?

In the Fog

By John Meany

The basic story line for this novel is an interesting look at Alzheimer's, which allowed the author to put together a solid, well-thought out mystery that held my interest through the end of the book.

For me, I was more intrigued with the characters than the writing. That is, while Meany has greatly improved since the first book I read of his, he is still in need of editing of his work. What results is that there are spots that are truly enjoyable and then others that will force the reader to stop, recognize some problems, and then get on with the story...

“No way!” Frank announced uncertainly, while
 still peering through the binoculars
. “This can’t be. Except I think it is.”
“What?” “It’s a body, Dora. The guy who stepped
 out of  the forest, who I’d estimate is
 about thirty-years old as well, is lugging a body.”
“A body?”
 “Yes.” Frank adjusted the lenses, to try to bring
 the image in clearer. “I’m almost positive he’s
dragging a dead body. Unless whomever the guy
 lugged out of the woods is just knocked out .
 . . No way!
I can‘t believe what I‘m seeing.”
 “Neither can I,” Dora said flippantly...
Basically, Frank and his wife, both retired, are out on the lake fishing when, as fog rolls in, Frank sees a girl on the lake side, and he calls to her to see if she needs help. He can tell she's soaking wet and can clearly see she's holding a knife. 

But she does not respond to Frank, who continues to watch and then Frank sees a man with a mustache that looked like Hitler's, dragging a body come into the picture. Soon they are working to weight him down and then the man takes her knife and stabs the body's chest. Frank can see that the man now dead had on a red jogging outfit, and watches as they flip him into a boat and start heading toward the center of the lake, soon dumping him

Dora, his wife, has not seen a thing, becoming more and more worried about her husband as he describes all the details of what is taking place. 

Frank is adamant that what he has seen was real and insists on reporting it to the police. Dora is unable to corroborate anything her husband has said. She begins to worry that Frank's mind is failing faster than they had anticipated. But, for me, following Frank's words, I was totally convinced he had seen what he'd seen.

While the police did not totally believe Frank, they at least searched for a body in the lake...

And found one! Except it had been in the water a lot longer than when Frank claims he saw the murder...

Readers are by this time aware that a man is missing from his home, having left to go jogging and never came back...The man had been gone for weeks and we learn of the anguish and suspicions of his wife...

Dora, in the meantime, has also acted, by calling her children, one of whom is a psychiatrist... In my opinion, the writer wrote them so that they would not be liked which is an important addition to Frank's character, especially since his son had diagnosed the oncoming Alzheimer's--probably not a good idea for a relative to become involved with... Immediately I was seeing Frank's son taking a superior attitude toward his father, automatically diagnosing him, assuming his condition was much worse, etc. On the other hand, Frank's activities, in my opinion, did not show severe signs of either Alzheimer's or Dementia, but rather just the beginnings of forgetfulness that comes with ageing...One thing though, Frank had been an alcoholic all of his life... When he realized Dora was going behind his back, he searched for and finally found a very old bottle of scotch and took his anger out by breaking things and destroying books that Dora loved within their home...

The police knew only one thing, the body discovered was dressed in a red jogging suit and had the injuries that Frank had described in detail. 

Frank was their number one suspect...

For me, a book's story line is everything and I found the mystery solid and, as written, unsolvable by readers. The ending was unique and a satisfactory conclusion. Rather than dwell on the need for editing, I encourage those interested to check out other reviews... For true mystery lovers and those who are facing mental deterioration of loved ones, you may find, like me, you can thoroughly enjoy it without too much diversion going to the writing.


John Meany is the author of sixteen books. Three of them became Amazon bestsellers, SAVE ME, THE BAD LADY, and FACEBOOK STALKER, a novella series. John's books are available worldwide. His latest novel is the murder mystery/crime drama, IN THE FOG.

For more information about him, please visit and like his Facebook page at John lives in Point pleasant, New Jersey, a small seaside town, situated an hour south of New York City.

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