Tuesday, January 8, 2019
Book Review: 'The Mist Rises Over Notchey Creek (Harley Henrickson, #1)' by Liz Andrews
‘She had returned. Was she aware that her existence had been lost to time, to history, to memory?’
Pennsylvania author Liz S. Andrews makes her literary debut with this fine little ‘cozy mystery’ that seems to make the beginning of a promising career. Liz is a native of East Tennessee and grew up near the Great Smoky Mountains. She currently lives in Western Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh.
Liz has that gift for creating a setting for a story that matches the tenor of the characters and the events to come. We enter her world and concepts for a mystery from her first word – ‘The mist had fallen again. It was midnight and Dr. Patrick Middleton lay alone in silence. His was the silence of regret. Whispers had woken him, whispers in restless dreams from the mouths of ghosts not yet buried. They whispered to him of the past, of his wife now dead for over thirty years, and of others, those he’d abandoned, abandoned yet never forgot. For memories are not mere illusions. They are alive and well in the minds of haunted men. His eyes tired from chasing shadows on the moonlit ceiling, he rose from his bed. He plucked his glasses from the side table and perched them instinctively on the bridge of his nose. Over the last forty years, those tired blue eyes had poured over countless texts, recording the lives of men long dead, their actions immortalized in the taps and rings of his typewriter. And like the man who tempted fate, he tied his housecoat about his waist, and he ventured out into the autumn night, a lantern in his hand. He had to see her. On the hillside, his three-hundred-year-old mansion stood like a brick fortress, the kitchen lights aglow like the eyes of a watchman, awoken by an old man’s guilt. A brood of dark clouds eclipsed the October moon, muting his green lawn to a sea of charcoal, dappled in hues of silver starlight. To the east, tucked in the quiet folds of the foothills, lay the small town where he’d spent the last thirty years of his life, only a few slivers of light peering from the curtained windows. What moonlight remained illuminated the surrounding apple orchards and pumpkin patches and hay fields as they rolled eastward toward the mountains, where the blue-gray peaks of the Smokies melded, stack by stack, toward the night sky. The heavens were dark. God and his angels always seemed to abandon him on his darkest of nights. And from those mountains, cresting from a vein of the Tennessee River, Notchey Creek wound its way like a snake toward Patrick, the mist hanging heavily over its dark waters, gathering a pale blanket of fog on the creek bank. He could hear her now. She was calling to him.’
Within this setting Liz introduces her chief character Harley Henrickson, the titular character of this most likely ongoing series. Harley was raised by her grandfather relinquished her option to enter Harvard when her grandfather’s cancer required her presence. Harley inherits the family distillery and the town’s perception of her changes. In the story there is an autumn festival where a strange man is discovered in a ditch – not dead as he first appears but rises and disappears in the woods. That same day a famous rock star moves to Notchey Creek, and soon after, a history professor and long-time resident of the town is murdered. As Harley investigates the murder, memories from her own childhood begin to surface, and she discovers a dark secret connected to the town’s more prominent citizens.
Mystery as enacted by a superbly crafted new character in Harley Henrickson signals the arrival of a fine new writer in the mystery/thriller genre. Watch her grow.
Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.