Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Hope's Peak Presented by Author Tony Healey

The tall corn rustles like paper. The young woman lies flat on the dry earth, arms by her sides, feet together, chin resting on her chest; her head is propped up against the thick green stalks. Her eyes are closed— at first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking she’s asleep. Detective Jane Harper squats next to the body. “How old?” she asks, looking up at the medical examiner. 
“Late teens?” Mike McNeil, the medical examiner, rubs at the gray stubble on his jaw. “I won’t know for sure till I get her back to the office, but I’d say so, yeah.” 
There are purple handprints around her neck— the killer left his mark when he crushed her windpipe. A troubled frown is forever etched into the girl’s brow, a lasting impression of terror. Wondering what’s happening . . . and why it’s happening to her. 
Mike shifts from one foot to the other, the keys on his belt jingling. It’s off-putting. Harper points to the red spread of blood on the girl’s white cotton dress, over her groin. “Raped. Like the last one.”
 “Could be,” Mike says. He sighs, and Harper can’t tell if it’s from the oppressive nature of the crime scene itself or the fact that she’s holding him up from doing his job— could be either or both. The young woman has a crown of twisted vine on her head. It has been hand fashioned, each woody twig intertwined with the next. Here and there leaves poke out. When the first victim was found, Harper had the crown on the girl’s head tested. It was identified as supplejack vine, native to the Carolinas. She has no doubt this one is the same— it appears to be.

Hope's Peak
A Harper and Lane Mystery

By Tony Healey

Podcast Interview Re Hope's Peak

I was pleasantly surprised to realize that Hope's Peak has the feel of a Southern Gothic novel--a mystery combined with the paranormal touch of a gift that some Black women were known to receive. Except in Hope's Peak, Ida Lane, an African American woman had been struck with it when she touched her mother after she had been murdered... After she recovered and was trying to go on with her life, she continued to have the same nightmare over and over...she saw her mother being killed!

Because of her experiences, Ida had moved into an isolated house where she lived alone, only going out when she needed supplies. Everybody knew what had happened, and figured she wanted to be alone...

But a series of recent murders have occurred in Hope's Peak--young African American girls were being found in various places where they had obviously been raped, murdered...and just left...

A dead girl. A murder, Harper thinks.
This shit.
Detectives Jane Harper and Stu Raley had lead on the case and are soon comparing notes on what they discovered at the scene of the crime...

“Any word on our witness?” In the early hours, a delivery driver saw a man walk out of the corn, completely naked except for a white mask. A truck was parked twenty yards farther down the road. The driver called it in right away, using his GPS to give them the location— it’s the first break they’ve had with the case so far, if you don’t figure the killer’s DNA into the equation, taken from the previous victim. But even that proved a dead end. The Combined DNA Index System contains only known offenders— if the perpetrator has never been caught and booked, he’s not in CODIS— and that’s about as useful as having fingerprints for someone who’s never had their prints catalogued. “The driver’s at the station. I asked him to wait.”

Harper is the kind of officer that takes each case on as a challenge, to seek justice for the victims. But they have not been able to find anything to begin to track this man...Until a folder was handed to her that was for the murder of a woman that took places many years ago... This unlocked the historical secret that had been kept for many, many years... and would not be kept a secret any longer!

The folder is for the case of Ida Lane's mother which had been locked away, as had others... With that, Jane goes to visit Ida and at first is turned away. Ida soon realizes, however, that she could not continue to ignore the vision that haunted her every night... Soon both Jane and Ida knew that the vision revealed that it was the same man who had started to kill again... Ida wanted to help!

A couple of other plots move to link things together. One is related to Jane and Stu as partners, and maybe something more... While the other plot is related to the killer...and his relationship to a married woman. Overall, the book sufficiently keeps readers intrigued and involved as each part of the mystery is discovered. I enjoyed the link that developed between Jane and Ida and foresee that their partnership will continue to heighten the resolution of crimes as Ida's paranormal skills aid Jane's investigations.

The ending could have been better in my opinion. While the mystery was solved, it was very low-key, flat, and lacked the impact that we would expect after being taunted by what had occurred, at least with the police involved. Most of us would have already pinpointed the clues in advance so it was more a confirmation than a discovery. I was disappointed that the author had not used his vivid ideas from throughout the book in providing an explosive ending that the book required.

Since my enjoyment in reading the book continued almost to the very end, I still would recommend it for your consideration.


Tony Healey is the bestselling author of the Far From Home series. He has written alongside such award-winning authors as Alan Dean Foster and Harlan Ellison.

Tony is currently working on the next book of his Harper and Lane series, of which Hope’s Peak is the first installment. He lives with his wife and four daughters in Sussex, England.

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