Review: A large, prosperous and influential development company has come to Mason County, Virginia to urge land owners to sell their property so they may build an up-scale resort for the wealthy in their Blue Ridge Mountains community. The company, Packard Development, is willing to pay top dollar for those willing to sell. If, however, anyone refuses to sell the land that is needed for this venture, no one benefits: the company will look elsewhere. The company spokesman stresses the development will bring jobs to the unemployed and growth for the town. The economic future of the region is at stake, in Poisoned Ground, the sixth mystery in this series by Sandra Parshall.
There are a few landowners that adamantly refuse to sell their property, even with the promise of jobs, and the likely increase of prosperity for all. On the other hand there are quite a few who want to benefit from this venture, take the money and run (so to speak). The bitterness that arises when the hold-outs prevent an instant financial windfall to those willing, even eager to sell their land, causes tempers on both sides to flare all over the area. Rachel Goddard, the town's veterinarian and part-time coroner, is drawn into the mess when her best friend Joanna turns her shot gun on the town's bank president, who had been sent out to her farm to try to convince her to sell. Rachel's husband, Sheriff Tom Bridger, must remain neutral. As the arguments heat up, so do tempers. Soon tragedy strikes. A couple set against selling their land are found murdered in their home. It wasn't long before a person eager to sell his land is also murdered. Are the murders related? Why would someone target both sides of the dispute? Tom is determined to discover the truth before anyone else is hurt … or killed. Rachel wants to help her friends who oppose the sale of their land, yet she feels she cannot impede Tom's work. She and Tom search for answers as they try their best to stay clear of the controversy and danger.
Poisoned Ground does a fine job of creating tension in the story, using the greater argument over what's best for the community in parallel with the smaller, individual arguments pitting neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend, and even Tom against Rachel. The characters are strongly drawn even as their feelings are sometimes mixed. The mystery plot is well crafted, creating a puzzle for Tom (and Rachel) but also for the reader, as he continues his efforts to identify the person responsible for the murders in their community all the while wondering what the endgame is.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Poisoned Ground.
Acknowledgment: Poisoned Pen Press provided an ARC of Poisoned Ground for this review.
Review Copyright © 2014 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Poisoned Ground: Virginia
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Poisoned Ground by Sandra Parshall — A Rachel Goddard Mystery
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: March 2014
List Price: $24.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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