From the Author
Dean Feldmeyer is the author of the popular "Dan Thompson" mysteries. Viper Quarry was the first, set in the sleepy Kentucky town of Baird, and was nominated for an Edgar Award as "Best Paperback" in 1995.
Dan Thompson is a Methodist clergyman with a past. On probation with the church for an indiscreet love affair with a parishioner, he is assigned a tiny charge set squarely in the Kentucky coal fields. The local constable, Ray Hall, enlists the reluctant Rev. Thompson as co-investigator when murder occurs in the hills. As Ray puts it, "while Appalachian hill folk don't cotton to the law, they rarely take potshots at pastors."
Dean says, "In the Dan Thompson mysteries I have attempted to blend the dark edge of the hard-boiled detective novel with the humor of the clerical mystery, and put them together in an area that I have loved for nearly 40 years."
Dean Feldmeyer is actually a real-life Methodist minister living in Ohio, but with strong ties to the South. Since his youth he was involved in home repair and other service projects in the Appalachian regions of Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia. His grandmother served as a dormitory parent at an orphanage in the hills of Eastern Kentucky.
Before the ministry claimed him, Dean was a professional actor, high school teacher, cook, and dock worker. As a minister he has served as a hospital and police chaplain, and a lecturer on theology, family dynamics, and parenting teenagers at the Methodist Theological School of Ohio, the Bank One College, the Ohio Valley Course of Study School, and the United States Army War College. In addition to writing mysteries, he has either written or contributed to a half dozen books on parenting or youth ministries, and has written articles for a number of magazines. He also wrote a play, Homefront, set in a small Indiana town during World War II (Eldridge Publishing).
Dean lives with his wife of 28 years, Jean. His son and daughter are in college. In his spare time he enjoys wood carving and directing the drama department of the local high school. He will continue his Dan Thompson mysteries with Cut-Through Valley, which will be released by Silver Dagger in July 2000.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
I unzipped the bag and looked in. Underwear, socks, shaving kit, a couple of shirts, and a gun. I just looked at it lying down there in the bottom of the bag like an ugly, black, deadly monster from some far away galaxy.
Ray stooped next to me and looked into the bag. "Colt Python," he said. "357 Magnum with an eight inch barrel." He reached into the bag and pulled the gun out, holding it around the trigger and cylinder. He pointed at it with his other hand as he spoke. "Double action. That means you just point it and pull the trigger. Kicks like a son of a bitch so use both hands just like you see on the TV cop shows."
"Is it loaded?" I asked, not taking my eyes off of it.
"Five rounds. One chamber is empty so you don't shoot it accidental. . ." He handed it to me. It was heavy and it fit my hand comfortably. I know this sounds dumb, but it felt, well, masculine. . .
"This gun's got only one purpose, Dan. It's for killin' people. NRA can go on all it wants to about targets and huntin' but this gun's a mankiller. You have to point it at someone, you point it at the biggest part of his body and you pull the trigger three times at least."
I brought the gun up in front of me with a two-handed grip just like my uncle had taught me.
"If you have to use it you'll be stressed and you'll feel hurried, but don't be. Just seein' you with this thing will give a man pause. That'll give you time to level it and squeeze off three rounds. Put it in the bag," he said.
"Keep it beside your bed. If they come tonight, they'll come loud. That's their style."