This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
“Everyone in the country has a secret.
Which should have enabled my seeing it coming.
Which should have prevented my violent death.
But then, what could I possibly know? I am only a rapidly cooling, congealing corpse.
In this lost county of New York, abutting the Berkshires, unknown to most, and largely agricultural, there are pockets of multi-generational families who were born here and attended school here, married, bore children, and in a majority of cases, divorced here. They are either a dying breed of farmers who sell off parcels of their land, the very soul of their ancestors’ legacies, to pay the current year’s taxes, or they have become savvy entrepreneurs, eager to provide the services to which the weekenders do not wish to spend their precious hours attending. The ‘cityots’ (a quaint and locally ubiquitous slur combining ‘city’ with ‘idiot’) need someone to mow their lawns, haul their firewood, and wash their windows, so why not print up some business cards, set up a Facebook page, and charge near-city prices to free up those precious weekend hours for those who have found their way up the Hudson River in search of country life with its fresh air and open vistas of farmland.
For their part, the weekenders arrive fully intending to assimilate themselves immediately into village life; passionately ideological, their political probity is proudly professed at every possible opportunity. Their naïve assumption that the locals actually care about their commitment to the community inevitably begins to erode when one or another of the locals stands up at the monthly town hall meeting and pronounces judgment upon the newcomers, or reads out loud a random bitch piece in The New Yorker descrying the vitriolic - yet symbiotic - relationship that exists between the two factions.
Relative fiscal prosperity for one-time struggling farmers has become the equivalent of the casks of rum cased betwixt the boxes of bibles that made more profitable the 18th century New Englanders’ journeys to the gold mines of the slavers’ wharves. Put simply, the farmers are getting rich off of the newcomers, whom they then resent for their enrichment.
A sizeable clique of the recent arrivals are famous folk, celebrities who need both easy access to the city for work, and the cachet of blue-jean casual weekends that they can hold up to the interviewers from the hip city mags to prove their true down-to-earth natures despite their eight figure salaries. Where once the mainstay of the pub gossip was alternating braggadocio about the pointed capture of the day, now it is who has had cosmetic surgery.
The locals’ presumption that these newcomers simply cannot do without their early morning lattes has led to a spurt of eatery growth as well. Where once Lancaster was a small, funky (yet charming), one street town, now it is a one street town that houses a natural food store, a fashionable clothing store, antiques enough to entice even the most avid watcher of PBS . . . and restaurants of every possible ethnicity. Italian, Chinese, French, Continental . . . my God, man, there’s even a Thai place! In their mad rush to take advantage of the increasingly strengthening real estate situation, the hordes of escapees from Manhattan have actually ended up re-creating the city in the country.
Well, we all sell our souls in one way or another. And at least for the time being the air is still clear.
I may have been the biggest hypocrite of them all. I proclaimed my eagerness to be accepted by the locals—when in reality I hated them for their ignorance, their greed, and their lack of respect for that which sustains them, the mother’s earth. The vast expanses of farmland that had once graced this part of the country are rapidly becoming a pre-fab getaway development.
I hid my disdain of their ways well. You see, I fitted into yet another category. Not having been born here, I could never have been a true local, but I had lived up here long enough that the lines had blurred.
I had my “spies”- they came and drank my beer, ate my food, and in return, clued me in on some incestuous relationship, or some long-known indiscretion of a mutual acquaintance, even of the next batch of high-schoolers who would be absent from graduation due to a swelling of abdominal regions.
I never expected death to be such an epiphany. Rather, I thought that the epiphany would occur prior to my demise, perhaps even in time to prevent it. But no, all of the trite aphorisms are true. We really do have to wait until it’s too late for enlightenment to hit. Considering all of the things that I did to them, the fact that anyone at all feels even the slightest emotion about my life and premature death holds amazement for me; for I used them as the locals use the newcomers—for my own enrichment.
And as I said, it was a symbiotic relationship.”
Alex Rushmer: I read the first chapter, and I'm not sure I can handle anymore, but I certainly liked what I read. The idea of the drug, Fortis, was very interesting, and I enjoyed how you conveyed its effects. The beginning is very intriguing. I think I'd like to see you do a little more with the main characte...
GeorgeS: The author has a VERY refreshingly direct writing style. Sometimes being punched in the gut (or nose, as the case may be) can be an excellent thing, indeed. Whatever may be lacking in subtlety is more than made up for in the diamond clarity of character development. I look forward to MORE. I c...
Kalyan Shobhana: There is not a moment in this book where you think...let me stop now. this book cast a spell that compels you to finish it. in the end...you just hope and pray that may it turn out to be a series and the author keeps writing more and more. Let's just say this books makes me want to be selfish ,so...
Keith R. Pharis Jr.: Thoroughly enjoyed the novel. I was drawn in and stayed intrigued throughout the entire story. It was full of drama and emotion. Very well written. It left me wanting more. I would absolutely recommend this book to everyone. It will certainly leave you wanting more and more. Excellent job.
Alex Reltin: This is a great story! I love how well you go into detail and emotions of Capri, and Mel. You have amazing dialogue and overall it's just a thrill to read!The only critique I could find is that some of the paragraphs should be separated. For example:-"If Nia would have just let me take the car an...
lopezmariana97: I loved everything about this book. I read it in a weekend because it was so hard to put down. I real liked that it wasn't a typical demon story and that It didn't involve vampires. I pictured the cast for this book if it ever becomes a movie. 100% love
Deleted User: (A review in progress). I like this. It's sparse, gritty and atmospheric - reminiscent of the classic Golden Age of American detective fiction of the Thirties. I've only read the beginning, but I'll definitely be back. This writer knows their stuff and has done their homework on detective work. T...
Ben Gauger: Kudos go to Karissa, author of Elements Of Engagement, an otherwise dark and twisted tale of love and workplace intrigue, very 'Fifty Shades of Grey' to be sure, her writing style being very graphic ad otherwise sexually-charged, hence the 'Fifty Shades of Grey' reference, and as for her use of g...
Karl12: This is a very unusual sci-fi mystery. I enjoyed the suspense which was present throughout the story. I loved how I never knew what to expect from the characters. This made the story thrilling and made me suspicious of everything and everyone. You have a great style of writing – one which captiva...
Jan Imonti: Loved the story, but didn't like the delivery...had to read this on my computer on line. Wasn't able to download it to my kindle. Excellent story, lots of twists and turns. Fairly quick read. Love the versitility of Mitchell's writing. Keep up with the great mysteries.
FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"
Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."