Sooner Than Gold by J. R. Lindermuth
Genre: historical mystery
Publisher: Wild Oaks, division of Oak Tree Press
Buy links:Amazon / Publisher
It’s the summer of 1898. The nation, just coming out of an economic slump, has been at war with Spain since April. And Sylvester Tilghman, sheriff of Arahpot , Jordan County, Pennsylvania , has a murder victim with too many enemies.
There’s Claude Kessler, who is found standing with a knife in his hand over the body of Willis Petry.
There’s Rachel Webber, Petry’s surly teen-aged stepdaughter, who admits an act intended to cause him harm.
Then there’s the band of gypsies who claim Petry is the goryo who stole one of their young women.
If this isn’t enough to complicate Tilghman’s life, add in threats to his job by McClean Ruppenthal, former town burgess; a run-in with a female horse thief; scary predictions by a gypsy fortuneteller, and the theft of Doc Mariner’s new motorcar.
There’s plenty of good eating, church-going and socializing along the way. And, before all is over, Sylvester solves the crime and even comes a little closer to his goal of finally marrying longtime girlfriend Lydia Longlow.
In the kitchen of the Petry house
held the woman’s hand and did her utmost to console the grieving widow. Though
what can a body really say that has any power to salve the wound in such a
case? I know I can’t think of any words with that ability. I sat mum and
useless as Lydia
did her best in what should have been my task.
Nancy Petry was a thin, work-worn woman in her early forties. Her brown hair streaked with gray was bound up in a bun and she kept patting it with one thin hand as though it threatened to go wild any minute. She sobbed until there were no more tears to be squeezed out, cradling one daughter, a child of about ten on her lap, while another, a sullen girl in her teens, stood mute by her side. It didn’t make things any easier to see Mrs. Petry’s belly was swollen with another child to come.
When the woman was cried down to dry heaves, she told the older girl to brew some tea.
naturally, volunteered to help and nodded for me to get on with any questions I
“Did your husband have any enemies, Mrs. Petry?”
Her tear-reddened eyes focused on me. “What do you mean? I thought it was the cave-in killed Willis.”
Steam whistled from the kettle. There came the clink of china and rattle of silverware as
and the girl got our tea.
“How he died isn’t quite sure yet,” I said, accepting a cup, though I was already perspiring in the room overheated by a big Acme coal range. “But it doesn’t appear to have been an accident.”
Mrs. Petry gasped and her gaze darted to the older daughter who stood by the stove.
“Is there something I’m not aware of?” I asked, looking from the woman to the girl.
“He was an abusive bastard,” the girl snapped. “He was nasty to my mother and I’m not sorry he’s dead.”
“Rachel!” the mother cried.
Before I could question her further, the girl fled the room.
Mrs. Petry commenced to sob again. I sipped tea and held the other child on my lap while
consoled the woman. There was no use asking more questions until I conferred
with Doc and knew more about the victim’s death.
“The man must have been a brute,”
said as I walked her back to the store.
Though the day was warm and I could feel the perspiration running down my back under my shirt I was glad to be away from that stifling kitchen and the grieving widow. “Did somebody tell you something I didn’t hear?” I asked as I fanned myself with my hat.
“A churlish teenager,” I said, with a shrug of my shoulders. “She didn’t like her stepfather. That’s not proof of anything.”
“Syl! Didn’t you see
“Her arms? What of them?”
“They were covered with bruises, that’s what.”
Either my observation skills are failing or sobbing women distract me. I had to admit I hadn’t noticed. For the moment I didn’t see what Petry’s mistreatment of his wife had to do with his death and I didn’t press the subject.
What reviewers are saying about Sooner than Gold....
“A sneaky, twisty murder mystery filled with colorful and intriguing characters and enriched by precise period detail.” W.D. Dundee, author of Dismal River and Reckoning at Rainrock.
“Welcome to Arahpot where Sheriff Sylvester Tilghman keeps the peace in his little town…you’ll appreciate his wry humor and keen intelligence.” Carol Crigger, author of Two Feet Below and Three Seconds to Thunder.
About the Author...
The author of 12 novels, including two in the Tilghman series and five in his Sticks Hetrick mystery series, J. R. Lindermuth is a retired newspaper editor and currently serves as librarian for his county historical society where he assists patrons with genealogy and research. His short stories and articles have been published in a variety of magazines. He is the father of two children and has four grandsons. He is a member of International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Society and EPIC.
Sooner Than Gold, (April 2013) Oak Tree Press
Practice To Deceive (August 2012), Whiskey Creek Press
The Limping Dog (March 2012), Whiskey Creek Press
Fallen From Grace (March 2011), Wild Oak