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by Darryl Wimberley
The Permanent Press, February 2019
248 pages
ISBN: 157962555X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Clara Sue Buchanan is the owner, editor, photographer, and chief reporter for the Laureate, Florida Clarion. As one might suspect, this is not a ginormous paper; Laureate is not a large town. Clara used to be a reporter in a big town. Now she worries about the ratio of news items to advertising and how much she is willing to ignore in order to keep that advertising revenue stream flowing. It's a major moral dilemma for a woman who is used to ferreting out the truth and costs (literal and figurative) be damned, and one that Clara hadn't planned on when she moved back home.

Laureate is a small town and Clara knows pretty much every one in it, some a little better than others and some a little more than she would prefer. She knows who the movers and shakers are, and where they like to congregate. What she doesn't know doesn't seem all that important, at least not at first. Then the politics begins to matter. There is a chance for a multi-million dollar grant to come to town, and the only things standing in the way are two businesses. One is easily handled; a local landowner has the means and the will to kick out his tenants. The other one, a local candy store located dead center in the proposed project zone, is owned by the local half-wit Butch, and he sees no reason to sell. Threats are made.

Wrapped around all of this are the paranormal activities in and around the town. A good hunting dog is found dead and mutilated in the middle of a tar circle out in the boonies. A young child with diabetes is the focal point of a scuffle at Butch's during which she disappears. When she is found a short time later, her diabetes has been cured by a little green fur-covered man. Another child has a vision, which she paints on the wall of her bedroom; the painting is amazing. How are these things explained? Somehow, all these disparate events connect to a long-ago death and suspected suicide. Some of the connections are obvious. Others, not so much. And some, even when much is made clear, are left unexplained.

Wimberley writes with obvious love and affection for the landscape of Laureate, Florida. He writes, also, with great clarity about the intricacies of small-town life and the relationships which give meaning and structure (no matter how twisted) to that town. Clara is a well-rounded individual. So are the people of Laureate. One might not want to know all of them up close and personal; Wimberley makes them that real. If POST FACTO is not the start of a series, that's too bad. It has plenty of potential and still is satisfying all by itself.

I have been reading and reviewing mystery fiction for over a quarter of a century and read broadly within just about all genres and sub-genres. I have been a preliminary judge for the Malice Domestic/St. Martin's Press Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Contest for at least 25 years. I live in Northern lower Michigan with my spousal unit, one large cat, and 2 fairly small dogs.

Reviewed by PJ Coldren, January 2019

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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