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All Darrell Henshaw wanted was to enjoy his honeymoon with his beautiful wife, Erin, in the charming town of Crystal River on the sunny Gulf Coast of Florida. Only a pair of ghosts decide to intrude on their celebration. And not just any ghosts, the spirits of two young Latino children. Unwilling at first to derail the honeymoon for yet another ghost hunt, Darrell finally concedes when a painting of the kids comes alive, weeping and pleading for his help.
When he and Erin track down the artist, they discover the children’s family were migrant workers the next county over. But when they travel there, their questions about the kids gets their car shot up and Erin hospitalized. Torn between fear and rage, Darrell must decide how far he will go to get justice for two young children he never even knew.
As they neared their destination, the roads got worse, going from paved surfaces to potholed, ancient asphalt badly in need of repair to gravel roads. Several times Darrell had to slow the rental down to a crawl to prevent them from being tossed around like ragdolls inside the car. Crooked Creek turned out to be little more than a fork in the road, and they needed Luis’ help to even find the pitted driveway that led to the Settlement. There was no sign or marker for the “complex,” if it could be called that. When they pulled up, they all got out, and Darrell stared at the Settlement.
He hadn’t expected much but was appalled by what he saw.
The Settlement was little more than a series of small barracks, badly maintained with a broken-down fence running around what might have served as a yard. Some buildings had weathered wood siding, long since turned gray, and other shacks were covered with mere tarpaper. On the front of each dwelling, clothes hung on hooks attached to the boards, stained shirts and jeans drooping in the slight breeze. At the end of the first set of barracks, a clothesline was stung across the space, yellowed underwear and socks dangling over the muddy earth. Each dwelling had one door and a small window, the whole place no larger than five hundred square feet. Darrell tried to imagine a family of four or five living in one and shook his head.
He caught a small splash of color in the drab gray and brown scene, the window of the second apartment. Dark green with a little red. Studying it, he could barely make out a hand drawn and colored Christmas tree. His gaze went up the row of shacks and realized it was the only Christmas decoration, the only evidence of the holiday.
Little Feliz Navidad here.
The wind shifted and blew past them the acrid odor of rotting garbage from somewhere on the other side of the Settlement. Darrell used his arm to cover his nose and then, afraid of offending, he brought it back down. If these people had to deal with that smell all the time, he’d have to tough it out.
Behind the buildings, a group of three kids kicked a soccer ball in and out of the rut that ran along the row of structures. In front of the first shack, an older Hispanic woman sat in a broken-down, upholstered living room chair, one that looked like it had been rescued from a dump.
4 out of 5 (very good)
Independent Reviewer for Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!
Darrell and Erin Henshaw have gone to Crystal River on the gulf coast of Florida. They are enjoying their honeymoon, as well as Christmas, somewhere exotic. Being used to cold and snowy Christmases, it's fantastic exploring and getting a tan. If only Darrell wasn't being followed by the spirits of two lost Latino children needing him to discover what really happened to them. With the help of his new wife and some new friends, his discovery could just be the death of him or somebody he loves. Can they do this before it's too late?
At the start of the book, you think its going to be all lovey-dovey and nauseating. They're a newly married couple; they're bound to be. Some of the descriptions of the scenery I am quite jealous of as it sounds absolutely gorgeous. Definitely a dream destination. Darrell then starts having his bad feelings and it puts you slightly on edge. Definitely keeps you gripped and wanting to find out what's happened to the children. It's a thriller, for sure.
I haven't read the other 2 book in this series but, from how well this one is written, I will certainly be indulging in them. I highly recommend this book for reading.
** same worded review will appear elsewhere **
* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and the comments here are my honest opinion. *
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Dr. Randy Overbeck is an award-winning educator, author and speaker. As an educator, he served children for more than three decades in a range of roles captured in his novels, from teacher and coach to principal and superintendent. His thriller, Leave No Child Behind (2012) and his recent mysteries, the Amazon No. 1 Best Seller, Blood on the Chesapeake and Crimson at Cape May have earned five star reviews and garnered national awards including “Thriller of the Year--ReadersFavorite.com, “Gold Award”—Literary Titan, “Mystery of the Year”—ReadersView.com and “Crowned Heart of Excellence”—InD’Tale Magazine. As a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Dr. Overbeck is an active member of the literary community, contributing to a writers’ critique group, serving as a mentor to emerging writers and participating in writing conferences such as Sleuthfest, Killer Nashville and the Midwest Writers Workshop. When he’s not writing or researching his next exciting novel or sharing his presentation “Things Still Go Bump in the Night,” he’s spending time with his incredible family of wife, three children (and their spouses) and seven wonderful grandchildren.
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