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About Sandra Parshall
Sandra is a past member of the national board of Sisters in Crime and a member of Mystery Writers of America. She interviews other writers regularly for the The Big Thrill, newsletter of International Thriller Writers, and she reviews crime fiction for the Washington Independent Review of Books.
Her latest Rachel Goddard novel, POISONED GROUND (March 2014)), is a fast-paced story of the repercussions when a huge corporation invades the small mountain community of Mason County with the intention of building a sprawling resort for the wealthy. Their plans involve taking land from people who don't want to sell. No one is more vocally opposed to the company's predatory tactics than Rachel, and her outspokenness complicates the work of her new husband, Sheriff Tom Bridger. The jobless poor ally themselves with the money-hungry rich, and a small-scale civil war erupts. When a beloved husband and wife are gunned down on the farm they refused to sell, it seems supporters will stop at nothing to ensure the success of the resort. As the violence escalates, Tom and Rachel discover the attacks are more sinister than they appear, rooted deep in the poisoned ground beneath their county's bucolic surface.
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Now the bones of a Melungeon woman who disappeared ten years ago have surfaced on a remote mountaintop, and all evidence points to murder. Violence escalates as the victim's poor family and the wealthy white family she married into scramble to protect their secrets from Tomas probing. But as he probes into his father's investigation of the case, he finds his father was not the man he idolized.
The woman Tom is falling in love with, veterinarian Rachel Goddard, is struggling to start over in a place that holds no memories for her. Rachel puts herself in danger when she befriends the dead Melungeon womanas niece, Holly. As a child, the girl witnessed something that could implicate her aunt's killer, but she is too terrified to tell anyone what she knows. While Rachel is determined to keep Holly safe and help her piece together past events, the guilty are equally determined to silence the girl--and Rachel too, if necessary.
Will this murder be Tom's and Rachel's undoing or will it free them to look into the future?
Winner of the 2007 Agatha Award for Best First Novel
If a door suddenly swings wide in your memory, what would you see?
Young veterinarian Rachel Goddard's world begins to crumble when a client rushes into the animal hospital with a basset hound struck by a car during a thunderstorm. The dog owner's terrified tot, drenched with rain, loses sight of her mother in the flurry of activity and screams, "Mommy! I want Mommy!" Instantly Rachel is hurled back in time to a day in her own childhood when her baby sister Michelle uttered the same cry while thunder crashed and rain poured down on them. The unearthed memory feels like a fragment from a nightmare, and Rachel doesn't understand its meaning or the anguish it stirs up in her.
When she seeks answers she learns nothing from Michelle or from Judith, their loving but manipulative mother. Judith is a psychologist who is only too happy to have her adult daughters still living in her elegant Tudor house outside Washington, DC. But their apparently serene home is a house of secrets where Judith's unspoken rules forbid questions about the family history or the daughters' long-dead father. As more baffling memories surface, Rachel begins to suspect that nothing about her family is what it seems. As her mother's attempts to control her accelerate, Rachel embarks on a quest that takes her deep into her own memory as well as halfway across the country. The heartbreaking truth she uncovers will shatter her world and force her to make an unthinkable choice.
When veterinarian Rachel Goddard and Deputy Sheriff Tom Bridger take teenagers on an outing to clean up roadside trash in rural Mason County, Virginia, they make a grisly discovery: the plastic-wrapped body of a young woman. One teen peers at the face through the plastic and screams. The dead girl is her sister, Shelley, a law student who has been missing for a month.
As Tom launches the investigation, Rachel copes with a visit from her own sister, Michelle, who is terrified that a man is stalking her. Michelle's own husband doubts her. But soon it becomes clear that the mysterious stalker has followed Michelle to Mason County, and now he's turning his attention to Rachel, too.
Tom pursues the stalker at the same time he investigates Shelley's murder. Was Shelley's murder random, or was she killed because she was working to prove that a Mason County man was wrongly convicted of murder? Relatives of his supposed victim were enraged by Shelley's efforts to free a man they believe is guilty. Did they kill her to stop her? But what if she was right? If an innocent man was convicted, one person would have the strongest motive to silence Shelley: the real murderer.
Something frightening is happening in the mountain community of Mason County, Virginia. Pets are vanishing mysteriously and "Missing Dog" posters cover the waiting room walls at Dr. Rachel Goddard's veterinary clinic. A pack of feral canines roams at night, attacking livestock in a desperate search for food.
Then prominent physician Gordon Hall is found dead in his yard, his throat ripped open. Sheriff's Department investigator Tom Bridger believes the killing was premeditated murder using a trained attack dog as the weapon. He also suspects it is connected to the resurgence of an old problem: illegal dog fighting. But Dr. Hall's son insists the feral pack killed his father, and he organizes a group of men to find and shoot the animals.
Rachel and her friend Holly Turner make enemies by trying to rescue the dogs and move them to the sanctuary Holly has created. Tom, in love with Rachel and worried about her safety, must divide his time between the escalating controversy, shutting down the dog-fighting operation (if he can locate it), and hunting for Gordon Hall's killer....