J. Michael Stewart
Sometimes the smallest
of towns hold the biggest secrets . . .
The clear, cold waters of the White River carve a twisting path through the heart of the Ozark Mountains, passing farms and limestone bluff walls, country roads and large tracts of dense forest on its journey. But for everything this life-giving body brings to the area, its secrets are even more powerful.
During the autumn of 1990, the residents of Fairhope, Arkansas, were more focused on the undefeated high school football team than on deer hunting or trout fishing or any of the other bucolic pastimes that make up daily life in the small Ozark town. But on the night the Fairhope Tigers secured their spot in the state championship playoffs, sixteen-year-old outcast Emma Drake disappeared after telling her mother she was going to the local library for her usual study session. There were rumors that she had left town to escape her poverty-stricken home life or the near constant bullying she received at the hands of the school’s most popular girls. She almost became a forgotten name, one of the countless runaways who are lost forever.
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But two days later, her nude body was found along the banks of the White River, stripping the community of its innocence and shattering its sense of security.
The Tigers went on to win the state football championship, Christmas came and went, and Emma Drake’s murder gradually faded from the minds of Fairhope’s citizens—the local authorities ruling her death the act of a passing vagrant who was never identified.
Twenty-five years later, Claire Matthews is struggling to pull her life back together. She was once a shining star in the newsroom of the Arkansas Telegraph, climbing her way to the position she was born for: Chief Political Reporter. But lately, her entire life seems to be on a downward trajectory. After a bitter breakup with the man she had hoped to spend her future with, she is surprised when her editor demotes her, forcing her to work on a series of articles about cold cases, rather than covering the political scene she so loves. But when she comes across the story of Emma Drake in the Telegraph’s archives, Claire sees a chance to salvage her floundering career—perhaps, her only chance.
She travels to Fairhope and begins to dig into the secrets of what happened to Emma Drake that cold November night, but soon after her arrival it’s clear someone is desperate to keep the truth hidden. Another murder rocks the tiny community, and Claire must race to uncover the killer’s identity before she becomes the next victim.
And when the truth is finally revealed, it will shake the very foundations of this sleepy Ozark town.