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About AR Simmons
AR Simmons grew up in the Missouri Ozarks. He walked a gravel road to a rural school evocative of “Walton’s Mountain.” His parents did factory work to buy things not provided by their subsistence farm which was passed down from his grandfather who cleared the land from the native forest. He and his wife (beta reader, illustrator, and muse) still live on that Ozark farm. So his roots run deep in the Ozark soil. Using the culture, language, and mores of this "Bible Belt" region, he writes culturally immersive contemporary stories of obsession set amidst the small-town and rural life that he knows and loves.
He began writing seriously with a suspense novel which he serialized around the turn of the millennium on his website www.bluecreeknovels. It was then that he met and got to know his main character Richard Carter. It took Simmons until 2013 for him to publish the first Richard Carter novel (Bonne Femme) as an e-book. The series now includes fourteen mystery/suspense stand-alone stories that also chronicle Richard’s life with each story spaced about a year apart. This required two year-by-year updates, one to the technology available to the characters, and two to the growth of Richard's daughter Mirabelle who is now twelve and a half.
PS. AR is a rather common drudge, so once considered changing his nom-de-plume to “Bess Sellers.”
Titles By AR Simmons
A Tale of Obsession and Corruption
The good people of the Wilderness Church have come to Hawthorn County, Missouri in an Air Stream trailer caravan following their charismatic leader, Father Joshua. They have ceased their wandering and created a closed commune of the faithful at Canaan Camp. There they enjoy an idyllic life sealed away from the corruption of “the world.”
But a serpent has entered Eden.
Bobby Lee Paget is on a murder spree. The manhunt is nationwide, but the people of the camp have no idea who he is or that he has come through the area.
A family of three is dead in Marked Tree, Arkansas. Two more die in the college town of Fayetteville. When more murders occur in Oregon, no one thinks Paget is still in the Ozarks where he abandoned a stolen car—no one but rural deputy, Richard Carter. When unidentified bodies turn up dumped in Hawthorn County, he alone suspects Paget is responsible.
Paget is a master manipulator. If he has his way he will utterly destroy the “purest woman” in the Canaan Camp, and use her boyfriend to achieve destruction on a scale that will make everyone remember the name of Bobby Lee Paget.
Twenty-three years ago, two teenage drivers collided. Marie was on her way home, while Harold was fleeing from a robbery he and his cousin had just committed. When his car wouldn’t restart, he and his cousin stole the girl’s. Marie was never seen again. Inevitably, the boys were caught. His cousin, Wayne, was eventually executed. Harold got twenty-five years.
Now Harold has come home. He has been paroled. No one wants him in Hawthorn County, but he knows of nowhere else he can go.
Within days, Marie’s remains are discovered.
Confrontations occur. He is released from his job because of public pressure. Then Harold becomes the target of persecution, dangerous persecution as someone tries to run him off.
Richard Carter is stuck with the investigation. He wishes as much as anyone that the ruined little man (for whom his wife feels compassion) would leave the county, but he does the job. His mind, however, turns to more serious crimes: a rash of burglaries (one ending in murder), home invasions (one involving sexual assault), and three disappearances. The vendetta against an ex-con who should have known better than to return to the scene of his crime takes a back seat for Richard—until it becomes attempted murder.
Trust Betrayed and Dark Obsession
A Tale of Terror
Three people. Two former soldiers, each with a mission, each waging a campaign. At the center of their conflict is a vulnerable young woman, alone and far from home.
Richard Carter has come back to Cartier trying to pull his life together, while Jill Belbenoit has come to finish her degree. He has seen her on campus, but doesn’t know her. When a former squadmate from Somalia, Mic Boyd, turns up unexpectedly and assumes a friendship that never was, Richard allows himself to fall into what he hopes will be only a brief association. The last thing he wants is a reminder of his tour in the famine-racked squalor of Africa.
Mic inserts himself into Jill’s life as well as Richard’s. As attractive women must do, she has learned to deal with unwanted male attention. Unable to disengage from one man, however, she obligates herself to the other. Now she must navigate out of both relationships. Jill reproaches herself for both her naiveté and her manipulativeness. Soon she will have much greater concerns.
Memories, dreams, and flashbacks torment Richard as he tries to discover if what he fears is real, while Jill must decide if he is only a damaged soldier suffering from PTSD, or dangerously delusional and obsessed with her.
Is his nightmare vision the product of a fevered imagination tortured by his war experience and his guilt? Or does he see what no one else can? Is he averting a horror or perpetrating one?
Where does Jill’s real danger lie? Can she trust him? Is the “godforsaken pile of rocks” called Bonne Femme a refuge from peril—or from reality?
A woman as deep in despair as a person can be. Is it unbearable grief or unbearable guilt?
A child is missing, a baby taken away in the middle of the night. It’s a life-shattering tragedy, but no one seems to care. Is it because the grieving mother is a “lowlife druggie,” as the chief investigator maintains? Or is there another reason the case is given short shrift by the “good people” of James Mill?
Richard Carter, an ex-Marine suffering PTSD who has been spared prosecution for felony homicide only by a governor’s pardon, consents to help the grieving mother, Molly. In doing so, he ignores the pleading of his wife, Jill, who begs him to disengage from the situation which she sees as a threat to his wounded psyche.
Will the truth, if and when he finds it, save or destroy the woman who sees Richard as her “godsend?”
What he is doing may be futile as well as unwise. It may, in fact, plunge him into clinical depression and wreck his marriage. He has given his word to Molly, but Jill is his life.
What will the truth do to them all? And what are “cold tears”?
Devil’s Run is a stand-alone Mystery/Suspense novel (#12) in the Richard Carter series.
An FBI friend tells Richard that the Bureau is tracking a coast-to-coast serial killer with an identical MO and signature, a killer who leaves immaculate crime scenes that tell investigators only what the killer wants them to know: how clever he is.
Is the local killer the FBI’s “Journey Man,” or only a copycat? Does it matter? How can Richard find the invisible? He needs a pattern, a clue, but all he has is a woman who might have been a victim.
While he struggles to find connections, Richard is unaware of something going on at home, something begun with the arrival of his tombstone. His wife Jill’s past, combined with what is happening, breathes new life into the smoldering coals of her emotional distress. When the killer strikes closer to home, she hurtles toward an abyss. Jill is nothing if not strong, but is she strong enough to bear this alone? Or will she become “collateral damage” of the Journey Man’s rampage through Hawthorn County?
Austen, the son of what passes for gentry in rural Hawthorn County, is missing. Taylor says that he fought the attackers and made her run away. She tells of running and hiding on the creek all afternoon and then walking through the woods after dark until she came to a farmhouse.
Austen’s father doesn’t believe a word of it. He sees her as a scheming “playpretty,” the kind of woman a respectable man might use as a cheap toy, but never consider marrying. Whatever has happened to his son, he is sure that Taylor is involved in it.
In the early morning the next day a brick with a Ziploc bag attached shatters the window of a parked car in town. Inside is Austen’s driver’s license with his bloody fingerprint, the first of several cryptic messages from the boy’s abductors. Kidnapping is a virtual a murder threat, but a deeper game is being played, one that leads to mayhem and multiple homicides.
Two days ago, Shara McGregor, the girl whose face adorns the junior college billboard on the highway, headed west to Springfield. A bright future lay ahead. After she completed her undergraduate degree, her mentor, former State Senator Willis Sparkes would pull the right strings to get her into a good law school. Despite her humble origins, the small-town girl seemed destined to be among the “movers and shakers.” However, Shara never made it to Springfield.
Yesterday, two counties away, three drunken teenagers found her car hidden in the woods near an abandoned cemetery in the Irish Wilderness area. Having lost the keys to their own car, they “borrowed” it to go home for another key. When a deputy stopped them, he found blood in the car—lots of blood.
Since the girl came from Blue Creek, Hawthorn County has jurisdiction. Deputy Richard Carter begins what he assumes will be a short investigation. After all, this wasn’t criminal genius at work—or was it?
The more he learns about the girl, the more Richard becomes emotionally involved. She seems one of his own, one of the "good people." The obsessive-compulsive ex-Marine pours his soul into the investigation, spurred by an irrational fear that something similar could happen to his own seven-year-old daughter Mirabelle someday.
Except for Shara’s blood in the car, there is no physical evidence: no murder weapon, no crime scene, no body, and no one with a motive. There are no suspects and no motive. Everyone liked the girl, and she had no history of high-risk behavior. What happened to her shouldn’t have. She wasn’t that kind of girl.
Don’t imagine that everyone in a small town knows everything about everyone else. There are secrets. And there is evil to match anything in the wider world.
If Shara had a secret that cost her life, what was it?
Maybe it was someone else’s secret.
Then Blue Creek College librarian Ella Macadams kills an intruder. Feeling sorry for the traumatized woman, Kit gives her temporary shelter. Tracing the intruder’s violent past, Kit follows his trail from a singles resort offering discreet rendezvous to the rich and lonely, to abduction and murder at a North Carolina campus, and on to the disappearance of a local coed.
When murder and attempted murder occur, it becomes clear to Kit that the killer intends to remain invisible no matter how many people are ERASED.
ERASED is a stand-alone mystery, the 14th book in the Richard Carter series.
Other information: Exact genre:
In tone and language, it is midway past Cozy Mystery and closer to Hardboiled Detective. The themes are definitely adult. There is some mild profanity. The violence is intense but not graphic. There are no overt depictions of sex.
As Richard Carter investigates the murders, the motive seems clear—at first.
A few days later, however, an angry landowner, searching for the source of a wildfire, stumbles onto a horror scene that could have come from the Spanish inquisition.
Another body left in the woods? A second heinous crime in the space of a week?
This time the victim is a penniless nobody from nowhere. There doesn’t seem to be a motive for his murder—but there always is.
This murder was senseless, sadistic—pure devilry.
This is the seventh in the Richard Carter mystery/suspense series. It is predominantly a mystery.
A young wife is found drowned in the Saw Briar Country Club pool. Days later, another young woman’s body is found floating in a lake near the small Ozark town of Blue Creek. Hawthorn County Deputy, Richard Carter investigates the drownings. Are they mere tragedies brought on by unwise alcohol and prescription-drug abuse as they seem? Or are they the work of single killer as the rumor mill suggests?
Mavis, a coed at the community college, reports that her friend, and former roommate, has disappeared. Missing summer clothes and a cleaned-out refrigerator indicate that the girl merely “ran off” with a boyfriend for summer break. Richard comes to believe that Charlotte Fouts was abducted while jogging, although his only evidence is a fish that’s missing, money that should be missing, but isn’t, and a Shirley Temple doll.
Meanwhile, Charlie, armed only with sports clichés and fierce will power, endures, trying to discover the identity of her abductor and hoping that someone is looking for her.
An unauthorized exhumation in Hawthorn County unearths the body of a girl whose abduction riveted the nation and sparked a nation-wide search eighteen years earlier. As federal investigators and national media descend on Blue Creek, Richard Carter is frozen out of the case, but not out of the spotlight. He is held up as an example of rural ineptitude by a news pundit demanding a quick solution to what appears to be a serial killer who has been operating undetected out of the area for decades.
Meanwhile, he tries to track down a missing girl who may or may not have been a victim of the killer now known as “The Gardener.”
What better place to hide a body but in a cemetery?
What better way to remember a treasured one than with a shrine?