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News flash: “Murder at the Jumpoff” accepted for publication May 6, 2011

Posted by Jenny in fiction, hiking, Smoky Mountains.
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Approach to the Jumpoff. Photo by Seneca Pressley.

Some of you know that I spent a big part of last year writing a murder mystery centered around off-trail hiking in the Smokies, Murder at the Jumpoff. I was delighted to learn today that my novel has been accepted for publication by Canterbury House, a regional publisher based near Boone, NC. If everything goes according to plan, it will be ready for publication next spring.

Here is a blurb about the book:

When a risk-taking off-trail hiker plummets to his death at the Jumpoff—a spectacular viewpoint in the Smokies— it soon becomes apparent that someone must have pushed him over the edge. The investigators’ paths lead them in a surprising direction involving a long-smoldering love affair as they close in on the murderer, who embarks on a bizarre journey of escape in a vintage 1968 GTO convertible.

“Murder at the Jumpoff” tells of the fate that befalls Donald MacIntyre, an adventurous man who is killed at the treacherous headwaters of a wild mountain stream. His death brings terrible grief to Hatsy O’Brien, a woman with an interesting past who had been secretly in love with the younger, married MacIntyre. The murder is investigated by the genial Hector Jones, a backcountry ranger who knows even the remotest sections of the national park inside and out, and by the attractive detective Sally Connolly, who finds romance blossoming with Jones. After pursuing intriguing leads involving a bitter academic feud and the illegal digging of rare native plants, Connolly and Jones home in on the unlikely suspect of Tim Strauss, a pillar of the community, whose long-buried passion for O’Brien might shed some light on the case—and who turns out to have some unexpected and humorous quirks in his personality.

Canterbury House makes a point of working with authors who are “passionate about their stories and their craft,” and it specializes in these genres:  Inspirational, Mystery, Nonfiction, Romance, Southern Fiction, and Suspense. Probably the best-known author on the Canterbury list is Rose Senehi, author of In the Shadows of Chimney Rock and other mystery/suspense works with a strong regional flavor.

Followers of this blog know that my favorite area for off-trail exploration is the upper watershed of Lester Prong and Porters Creek. These are the mysterious and challenging valleys that lead to such popular destinations as the Jumpoff and Charlies Bunion from directions that very few people attempt. A trip I did last August to the Jumpoff with Brian Reed and Seneca Pressley reminded me once again of the peculiar intensity of this area, which I first visited in 1984. When you read the book, you will find many bits of hiking knowledge from my personal experiences of bushwhacking in the Smokies. But don’t be fooled into thinking the whole thing is autobiographical—when it comes to the plot line, there are lots of things that I, well, just plain made up off the top of my head, just for the sheer enjoyment of telling a story!

Brian on cascade approaching the Jumpoff