MURDER IN THE CATSKILLS
by Norman J. Van Valkenburgh
From the Prologue:
"He saw it through the trees from some distance away; it was too big to miss from any direction. As he approached it, he was surprised to see that a large maple tree, on the uphill side, had been uprooted, probably in that high wind last spring, and leaned at a 45-degree angle against the rock. It presented a perfect bridge from the ground to the top. Still having some adventure in his soul after all of these years, he decided to have a go at it and leave his name to history as the first person to reach the top of `big rock.' The climb up onto the broad trunk of the fallen tree was an easy scrable with the now bare roots providing sufficient handholds. He balanced his way along the first fifteen feet or so of the trunk to the first round of limbs. He cut his way through for the next twenty-five feet with the double-bitted cruiser's ax he always carried, leaving enough limbs to hold onto as he went up the tree. Once, heights didn't bother him, but in the last few years he found that the closer to the ground he stayed, the more comfortable he felt. As he neared the top, he didn't look down the thirty feet or so to the ground and hoped the rock wouldn't start teetering now. He was glad to reach the top and pushed his way through the last few limbs without pausing to cut them off. He was glad he hadn't, because he needed them to hold onto in order to steady himself form the shock of what he saw. He wasn't the first to climb `big rock' after all. There, near the upper edge of the flat top of it, lay a skeleton. It was bleached from the weather, but it was, unquestionably, a human skeleton."
So begins the adventure of Murder in the Catskills. Land Surveyor Ward Eastman is the only one able to sort through the conflicting evidence to discover the long-ago killer of the skeleton on the rock.
"Eastman is instumental in solving mysteries because of his knowledge of
the people and place where they live. . . .It is great to see these good
books being brought
out. . ." --Patrick Toscano, Professional Land Surveyor
Norman Van Valkenburgh is the author of three other Ward Eastman stories: Mayhem in the Catskills, Mischief in the Catskills (a mystery novella with five short stories), and Murder in the Shawangunks. His non-fiction works published by Purple Mountain Press include America's First Wilderness: New York State's Forest Preserves and Old Stone Walls: Catskill Life and Lore.
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