Nineteen years ago, Frannie Granger disappeared . . . Since then, the land at Beaumarais near Caddo Lake, East Texas, has hidden the secret of her fate. Now that secret is out, but a mystery remains: who is responsible for what happened on her last hectic morning so long ago?
The local sheriff is convinced Jed Louis, heir to the antebellum plantation house, breeder of Percheron horses, and the eldest of the three foster children Frannie raised as her own, is responsible for what took place.
Gwyn Miller, who leases land from Jed, is equally committed to proving the millionaire horseman was in no way involved. She’s also determined to show Jed that nothing can ever threaten what they have with each other, not even his Uncertain Fate.
I was pleased to discover the works of Ken Casper a number of months ago and am happy to report that I have never been disappointed with any of the novels he has written. Now he and two other authors have embarked on an ambitious writing project that will give each author one of the three books in the trilogy, an on-going murder mystery and the journeys of three young people back to the place where they found love and the sense of family that has stayed with them throughout their adult lives.
This novel is Jed Louis’ story. A young man who was not wanted and who ended up being cared for and cared about by a woman of deep compassion and endless love, and woman who did above and beyond for the three kids who made up her family even though none were her own biological offspring. Now he is accused of his foster mother’s murder, an idea that is so foreign to Jed he can scarcely comprehend it. In spite of his wealth that has benefitted so many in his community, he is a man under suspicion and this is a novel that walks the reader through the pain of that uncertainty, the harsh reality of what could happen even though he knows in his heart of hearts that he would never have done anything to hurt the one woman who made him feel special.
The most unique aspect of this novel is that while the journey the reader takes through weeks and months of Jed’s life introduces them to special people in his life, the reader is also aware that there are large questions that are not being answered. In fact, the solving of the mystery of Frannie’s murder doesn’t happen in this book. But don’t be reluctant to read it. This novel is one of Ken Casper’s best, one that weaves Jed’s life in and out of Gwyn’s, brings him face to face with a lot about himself that he has struggled over for years, clarifies relationships from the past and the present, and helps him to recognize that all of life is uncertain, all of our future days are assumptions, and that one can only live one day at a time. It is the supreme lesson that Jed and Gwyn are poised to face. Whether they will learn it is the question that drives this novel.
This novel was written late in 2012 and I am not really sure when I acquired it. But I am sure glad that I did. It is the kind of book that pairs sizzling romance with a mystery so profound that it is going to take more than one or two books to solve the crime. It is also the kind of book that doesn’t hesitate to craft characters that aren’t always “nice,” not always comfortable, and which allows the tension between various people in Jed’s life to live and squirm and assume a life of its own throughout the story. The sheriff is one of those characters I hope gets a dose of real life before this is all over, but he is a mystery in and of himself. What drives him? Why is he so angry at Jed, so determined that Jed is the killer? These are questions that aren’t really answered here and are guaranteed to push us all on to the next novel in the series: Uncertain Past.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Bell Bridge Books has done well to give us this fine novel and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. I know that I am off and running to the next episode in this trilogy.
I give it a rating of 4.5 out of 5.
You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.