MURDER IN THE SHAWANGUNKS
A WARD EASTMAN MYSTERY
by Norman J. Van Valkenburgh
CLASS OF '68
A MOUNTAIN TOP MYSTERY
by Airilee Ellyn Blessing
Two regional mystery novellas in one volume.
From Chapter 4 in Murder in the Shawangunks:
"The notes of Carmer's survey were in Field Book K. As Ward Eastman leafed through it, he noticed a few pages and the book's cover were stained with rust-colored spots. Noting the crew names listed at the top of the right-hand pages and especially the initials in the margin of the last few pages, he realized this was the book Isaiah Denning had when he fell from the cliffs of Dickie Barre. This piqued Ward's interest, and he pulled Denning's personnel file from the bottom drawer of one of the wooden cabinets.
The file held Dennning's obituary and a number of newspaper clippings. Putting these in chronological order, Ward was able to reconstruct the tragedy. Denning had been working alone on the Preserve boundary line that ran along the top of the Dickie Barre ridge. As told by the marginal notes in the field book, he had been setting corners at the angle points in this line. At each point, the notations reproted: `Set pile of stones. ID 10-2-41.' Eight corners had been put up by Dennning and, although not stated, he had probably hacked witness marks on the trees around the corners and blazed trees on the lines between them. A good day's work, Ward thought and more so when one considered the rugged climb up and down the ridge. Only Denning hadn't made it all the way to the bottom. . ."
Our fourth Ward Eastman mystery finds America's only surveyor-sleuth on the trail of a murder committed many years before in the small range of mountains between the Catskills and the mid-Hudson River.
"Norman Van Valkenburgh. . .is a rich source for local history. . .as well as a keen storehouse for memories of this region in its last years of true uniqueness. . . With the creation of his lead character, surveyor and reluctant detective Ward Eastman, he's found a wonderful means to bring his amassed insights into the Catskills to life. . Eastman [is] a wonderful character who savors life and, at the same time, sees the world through what are fresh eyes for most readers." --Kaatskill Life
Norman Van Valkenburgh is the author of three other Ward Eastman stories: Murder in the Catskills, Mayhem in the Catskills and Mischief in the Catskills (a mystery novella with five short stories). His non-fiction works published by Purple Mountain Press include The Forest Preserve in New York State in the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains.
"The cistern and the spring are still there and pretty much the same unless one looks closely. The concrete is cracked here and there and a few stones have fallen from the outside wall. The present generation takes them and the mountains and streams, the trees and birds, and the seductive tranquility of the place for granted. I and many others--young and old alike--consider this little hamlet called Mountain Water one of the prettiest spots on earth. While I was growing up there, I felt--because of the beauty of our surroundings--we all lived charmed lives. Unfortunately in a later time, I found out bad things can happen in beautiful places."
The owner of a small bookshop returns uncertainly to the Catskills for her 25th high school reunion to find robbery and murder.
Norman Van Valkenburgh is the author of three other Ward Eastman stories: Murder in the Catskills, Mayhem in the Catskills, Mischief in the Catskills (a mystery novella with five short stories). His non-fiction works published by Purple Mountain Press include The Forest Preserve in New York State in the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains, On the Adirondack Survey with Verplanck Colvin, and Old Stone Walls: Catskill Life and Lore.
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