Mischief in the Catskills - Purple Mountain Press


by Norman J. Van Valkenburgh

From Chapter 9:

"Ward [Land Surveyor Ward Eastman], shook his head in confusion as they looked over the other odds and ends heaped and scattered about the shed. The rain pelted down on the roof as thunder rumbled up and down the valley.

`Wonder where these came from?' Bruce asked as he pulled two metal boxes from under the bottom shelf. `They have Westchester Boy Scout Council stamped on the lids.'

`They must have come from the scout camp that used to be at the end of the road,' Ward replied.

The boxes were rusted shut . . . . `They look like cash boxes to me,' Bruce concluded. `How do you suppose they got here?'

`They are cash boxes,' Ward agreed. `They were supposedly lost in the fire that burned the main building at the scout camp when we were still here. It took the fire company so long to get here from West Kill that everything was gone by the time they reached the place. The scout people said they didn't keep a lot of cash on hand. . . . They kept it in a couple of boxes stashed behind some loose stones in the cellar foundation so they told the chief.'

Ward stood thoughtfully, as if in a trance. Suddenly, he exclaimed, `No car came up the valley after the snow started.'

There are some mysteries only a surveyor could unravel. Ward Eastman is back! Having dealt successfully with murder in Murder in the Catskills (1992--reprinted 1998) and mayhem in Mayhem in the Catskills (1994), he's ready to tackle the mischief that kept dozens of law enforcement people and numerous volunteers in the woods for months as they searched futilely for a missing hunter many years before.

This new novella-length mystery is accompanied by five, finely crafted short stories: "Put Out the Fire," "Paddle Your Own Canoe," "The Deer Hunt," "Revenge is Sweet?," and "Brothers."

Norman J. Van Valkenburgh was born in West Kill in Greene County and has spent most of his life in or in sight of the Catskill Mountains. He is a licensed land surveyor and 32-year veteran of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. He has written extensively about the Catskills and Adirondacks. Of his first Ward Eastman mystery, the Kingston Daily Freeman wrote: "Knowing the terrain as only a good surveyor can, Van Valkenburgh has filled his first novel with a wonderful assortment of true Catskill detail. He knows how the forests that blanket our mountains look and feel when walking through them at different seasons. He knows the taciturn manner in which long friendships unfold in deep hollows. And he knows a lot about local history."

Norman Van Valkenburgh is the author of three other Ward Eastman stories: Murder in the Catskills, Mayhem in the Catskills, and Murder in the Shawangunks. His non-fiction works published by Purple Mountain Press include The Forest Preserve in New York State in the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains and Old Stone Walls: Catskill Life and Lore.

159 pages, 6 x 9
$12.50 paperback
A Purple Mountain Press mystery original

E-mail the author

Copyright © 1998 Purple Mountain Press. All rights reserved.