Readers of Lauren Carr become fans, Avid Fans, often because of her characters. Because she is such a prolific writer, readers will often become enthralled with certain characters. Mine is Gnarly, the first animal character released in her first book. Gnarly oftentimes freely makes his own decisions about what he will do, even when he is being directed differently. Yes, he is a trained, professional who served in the military, but, since retired, he is often off doing what he wants or thinks he should do.
But each characters has been so developed that, even in a short story, we are already prepared to enjoy the story, knowing that we have already met the character. A very enjoyable experience. I'm one of those readers who see "specials" offered by the author so I had picked up two anthology. One six years ago, but hadn't read. I learned quickly that the book had since been updated and one of them had been taken off the market. I mention this because, if you are a fan, I highly recommend you ensure through a review of the beginning pages, that you haven't already read the book, or stories. In Spring Thaw, for instance, we got a novella plus five shorter stories. Prices are always reasonable, but if you're like me who sometimes doesn't remember what I've read years later, it's a good idea which I've gotten into, to check the date of publication...
Charles Town, West Virginia—Six Years Ago
The blast of the vehicle’s horn sent shock-waves through the darkened church building. In the spacious corner office that had formerly been home to the previous congregation’s pastor, Bishop Lawrence O’Donnell ripped his dark-framed glasses from his round face. “What the hell!” He pointed a thick finger at Liz Jennings. “You’ve created this mess.”
Liz’s eyes grew wide behind her cat-eye tortoiseshell frame glasses. “I’m the one who kept this church together, which is more than I can say for you.” She pointed a stubby finger adorned with a large rhinestone at the religious leader.
The horn blared again—this time broadcasting its message in one long continuous blast to the occupants inside the office.
“Liz, I’m ordering you to go shut that bastard up!” the bishop ordered.
“Don’t.” An elderly man with thin gray hair, Reverend Truman Holmes polished his thick eyeglasses, put them back on, and peered through the window. “We should be still and pray.”
“Liz, what did Duane mean when he said you ripped his family apart?” Rusty Patton, the youngest of the church’s two remaining trustees, asked.
“Nothing,” she snapped. “I have known you to—”
“Shut up!” The vehicle outside erupted with a long ear-shattering blast. “Son of a bitch!” Bishop O’Donnell hoisted his robust frame from the overstuffed chair, stomped to the door, and threw it open. “Damn you to hell, McCall!” O’Donnell’s curse was answered with a barrage of gunfire. Bullets riddled the front of the building.
The window shattered. The two men and woman inside the office hit the floor and covered their heads. They didn’t move until after the roar of the vehicle’s engine died down to a throbbing silence—a sign that the perpetrator was gone. “Bishop,” Reverend Holmes gasped, “are you okay?” He rose onto his hands and knees. His legs too unsteady to stand, he crawled to the motionless body. “Sir?” He laid his hand on the man’s shoulder.
Something warm and moist soaked the knee of his pant leg. The reverend looked down at the bishop to find three bullet holes in his chest.
A Chris Matheson Cold Case Novella
Other Mystery Short Stories
By Lauren Carr
Six years ago, Bishop O'Donnell was murdered in Charles Town, West Virginia. The accused had been convicted and indicted by the Grand Jury...
Even in churches, and sometimes, especially in church, there are evil people who choose to attend for personal prestige and power. Or perhaps they are merely misguided and unable to deal with upheaval that happens. Like when a Bishop is murdered... The church split after that; the investigation began and continued.
Now, the investigation had concluded with the arrest and indictment of Duane McCall. Duane McCall had been a Trustee of the church at the time of the murder. Indeed, he had been there the night the Bishop was murdered... Afterward, when the church split, Duane had chosen to stay with the original group, cutting off ties with all those who moved to another church, including some family.
And more came out about Bishop O'Donnell:
... “His whole speech was anti-American and anti-military. He basically stated that our government was an instrument of Satan training our young people to be killers.” She covered her face with her hands. When she looked up, she let out a breath. “Then he started trashing law enforcement.”
“If we didn’t have law enforcement, criminals would be running the country.”
“It gets worse,” she said. “We had the misfortune of landing in the same elevator with Bishop O’Donnell while going up to the dinner afterwards. After Kirk told him point by point where he was wrong in his speech, Bishop O’Donnell let loose with a string of obscenities like I haven’t heard since you bit your grandma on the toe.”
“How does a man like that rise through the ranks in a church—”
“How did the pharisees and rabbis who plotted to kill Jesus Chris move up through the ranks of the Hebrew church?”
She handed the mug to Chris and slid back into her seat. “We’re all human, Christopher. That makes us susceptible to falling prey to the wolves dressed in sheep clothing. Unfortunately, so many who don’t know any better don’t realize they’re in danger until they’re being devoured.”
It was Duane's wife who rushed to thank Chris and his family for coming and pleaded for their help... and, of course, further investigation begins in support of finding the truth... It was certainly apparent that lies were being thrown out!
“No big loss there. It isn’t like that pompous SOB was really a holy man.” Her upper lip curled into a snarl. “They were all a bunch of hypocrites.”
There was a long silence during which Rose Marie stared at her hands. Finally, Chris sighed. “Our culture has come to assume that Christians are supposed to be perfect—or that we think we are—when really, it’s the opposite. We study the Bible because we’re sinners and we want to learn how to fight the sin in our own lives and the surrounding temptation.”
“If we were perfect, we wouldn’t need to go to church,” Helen said with a slight grin. “We could stay home and bask in our sainthood.”
I was pleased to see Carr tackle a topic that rarely gets a close look...an important message to help readers realize that one must look inward often to see exactly where we are in our life. As always, Carr weaves a wonderful twisting mystery that requires close attention, but throws in humor to make it lighter, as well as letting us know, we've got a life to live and seeing ourselves in a lighter framework often helps us! Even when the topic is...murder...
I wanted to spotlight two other stories, which have Gnarly as the main character. Both are humorous and totally fun and enjoyable. One is about two men who attempt to kidnap Gnarly. The other is when Gnarly gets in trouble for stealing the whole turkey meant for dinner! But all is forgiven when they find out why! By the way, the author give two of the stories from this book as gifts for Christmas on my blog, in case you want to check them out while you considering buying the book. For me, the novella gives us the best story, but each of the shorts give an exceptional reason for letting you know...I highly recommend the book, and this author! Loved all the stories!