BY: WILLIAM H. SMITH
It all happened so long ago. Does a murderer still stalk the small Connecticut village? Is he watching? Is he still killing?
Local policeman, Gordy Powell, who lives on a small farm with an attached pond, is rarely put in harm’s way: traffic stops, car thefts, burglaries, an occasional runaway, domestic squabbles, etc. All that changes one horrible winter night in 1997, when a state senator’s daughter and grandchildren drown after their car spins out of control on the icy road and plunges into Gordy’s pond. When the pond is drained in an effort to straighten the road, a 1938 Chrysler is found on the muddy bottom, a bullet hole through the head of the skeleton in the front seat, and a sixty-year-old murder mystery unfolds.
Is the killer still alive and living in town? Has he killed again and never been caught? Gordy must use his best investigative skills to solve the crime and capture the killer—except that the killer is also after him, wreaking havoc in Gordy’s life…
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In The Shoreline Murder(s) by William H. Smith, Gordy Powell is dismayed to find that a car has gone out of control and slid into his pond, killing a mother and two little girls. But he is even more shocked when the pond is drained to straighten the road and there is car on the bottom with a murder victim from sixty years ago. As a local cop, Gordy knows how hard it is to solve a cold case, but this seems to be one that no one cares about. So Gordy decides to investigate it himself with the help of the victim’s granddaughter. But as they dig for the truth, they both become targets in the killer’s sights.
With a complex mystery, fast-paced action, and plenty of surprises, this is one that mystery fans should love.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: The Shoreline Murder(s) by William H. Smith is the story of a local cop who seeks justice for a sixty-year-old murder when the powers that be don’t seem to care. When Gordy Powell discovers that a car has gone into his frozen pond, killing a woman and her two daughters, he has no idea that this is just the first of the horrors in store for him. When the pond is drained the following summer so the road can be straightened, a car is discovered on the bottom. The car has a body in it, one with a bullet hole in his head. Even though the murdered man was thought to have disappeared some sixty years ago, now that it is clear that he was murdered, the local authorities don’t seem to be interested in solving the case. So Gordy and the victim’s granddaughter, Emily, decide to investigate on their own time. Little do they know that some people will do a lot more than commit murder to keep their dark secrets buried.
Intense and compelling, switching between the present and the past, The Shoreline Murder(s) will keep on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.
Crystalline sheaths of ice formed on tree branches as darkness, wind, and sleet rapidly overwhelmed the evening. The road ahead was furrowed with tracks left by passing vehicles, and icy ridges crisscrossed the treacherous surface. Now and then, cone-shaped beams from headlights revealed shadows of a million bits of falling sleet and snow.
Annie Martin pulled herself close to the steering wheel, hoping this would somehow make it easier to see into the night. The windshield wipers were clogged with slush. Each pass left soupy smears across her view. In the back seat of the Ford Explorer, Annie’s two little girls were sound asleep.
Damn, she thought, this would be so much easier with four-wheel drive.
She headed west on Nod Road, having just exited Interstate 95. There were another five or six miles to home, where she and the girls would be safe and warm in their own beds. The notion encouraged a little pressure from her foot on the accelerator, resulting in the rear tires spinning on the slippery surface. She quickly eased off the pedal and gripped the wheel even tighter.
“Whew, be careful,” she whispered.
Nod Road ran straight for about a mile then bent sharply right and crossed a small bridge. Annie knew the road well and anticipated the familiar course as it meandered through the Connecticut countryside.
She approached the tiny bridge and noticed the glow of on-coming headlights rounding the curve ahead. Light zigzagged left, then right. Now she made out the shape of a car, a light colored car, sliding across the centerline of the road. The headlights lit up a path to her right, and then cut a swath of light over the frozen pond that lay on the north side of the bridge.
No room on the left, she thought.
No room on the right.
God, no room!
Instinctively, Annie pulsed the brakes and aimed for a path between the on-coming car and the guardrail on her right. The Explorer slid right and plowed over the shoulder, missing the security of the guardrail by a few inches. As the Explorer skated away, the approaching car swerved, regained its traction and disappeared into the swirling blackness beyond. Annie felt the pressure of her body against the seat restraint as the SUV tumbled down the embankment onto the surface of the pond. The big Ford struck the ice, spun in a perfect circle, and came to rest about forty feet from a culvert that went under the bridge. A few seconds went by, and Annie’s mind raced over what had just happened.
“Goddamn, we’re on the pond!” she wailed. “Emma, Kristen, wake up. Wake up!”
The two girls, Emma who was eight, and Kristen, six, were already awake and wide-eyed from jolts received coming off the road.
“What’s wrong, Mommy?” Emma shouted. As she spoke, there was a loud crack, like a rifle shot.
Annie knew immediately what was happening, but it was already too late. She felt the Explorer sinking. For a moment, she wasn’t sure what to do. If she opened the door, the big car would sink faster; but she thought, maybe the water was only a foot or two deep and they might be able to walk out. Whatever she was going to do, she’d better do it quickly.
“Emma, Kristen, get out of your seat belts and climb up here with me,” she shouted. The girls scurried forward and Annie wrapped her arms around them. Trying to be calm, she said, “We’ll be okay. We just need to get out of the car.”
She looked and saw the water was nearly level with the doorsill. Remarkably, there were only a few inches of water on the floor. The Explorer’s headlights were still on, shining into the murky water and ice. Then it occurred to Annie to lower the side window, maybe she could float out and pull the girls through. If she survived the water temperature for a few minutes, she’d get everyone out. She pressed the power window switch.
She clicked the switch back and forth.
“Shit, shit, shit,” she hissed through clenched teeth.
Annie knew her only option was to open the door and let the big car sink. She noticed the water inside was nearly level with the seat. She had been straddling the front console, and she realized she was about to get wet. Next, she pulled at the door handle and discovered the door was locked. She tried the electric door lock button.
Cold terror gripped Annie’s mind at the enormity of what was happening. She then tried to pull on the manual lock plunger. Her hands were cold and wet and she had difficulty getting a grip on the slippery shaft. After several tries, she got a firm hold, and the plunger lifted. She felt a sense of relief for a moment, but as she looked through the window, she realized the water had risen to four inches above the sill.
Annie grabbed them both and hugged them close to her. Trying to be calm, she said, “We’ll be okay. We just need to get out of the car.”
Annie pulled at the door handle and felt reassured at hearing the mechanism click. She pushed against the door.
“No, no, goddamn it,” she wailed.
Water pressure and frozen slush around the door made it impossible for her to push it open. She braced herself against the passenger seat and slammed against the door with all her strength. Water trickled around the bottom of the door seal. Annie pushed harder, but by now, water neared the top of the door and forces holding it were still too great. In desperation, Annie leaned across the center console and lifted the door lock on the other side of the car. Her grip was stronger now, and after a satisfying click, she pushed on the door and again was met with too much resistance.
She was wetter now in nearly freezing water.
The girls were wet too.
© 2019 by William H. Smith