Posted by Literary Titan
Blood on the Chesapeake is a suspenseful murder mystery that involves the civil rights movement in some unique ways. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing novel?
Like many Americans, I have been concerned by the country’s still pervasive tendrils of racism, even decades after the civil rights struggles of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s. I’ve personally witnessed this discrimination in the classroom, in the school and in the community, and the harm such bigotry has wrought on young people. I decided, with this work, to illuminate this issue. The selection of the setting of the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay gave me the opportunity to capture this social tension in an unusual manner. As I have journeyed there, I was overwhelmed by the quiet, scenic beauty of the region, but also intrigued by the dichotomy of the cultures there. This region bears the hallmarks of a proud New England tradition, but also with roots still very much in the South. (The area was home to famous slave plantations and was split in loyalties during the Civil War.) In this most peaceful and beautiful of settings on the Chesapeake Bay, what if some horrific racial injustice occurred in this small town—and they tried to cover it up?
Darrell Henshaw is an interesting and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?
Like most teachers and coaches, Darrell is driven by his deep concern for kids, concern for their learning and concern for their lives. He commits most of his life—certainly professional and sometimes, even personal—to give his kids a chance at a better life. When he stumbles upon an horrific crime against a student, even one perpetrated decades earlier, he’s moved to do something, do anything to find justice for the youth. But Darrell carries his own demons. In his teens, he had an encounter with a ghost, an encounter that left one a friend dead and his brother crippled. He still carries the scars of this encounter, a severe case of OCD. In order to help this young man he didn’t even know, Darrell has to confront his apprehension of the spirit world and deal with his condition. In the end, he finds his desire to secure justice for his student is greater than the sum of all his fears.
This novel seamlessly blends paranormal, urban fantasy and history. Was this intentional or did this happen organically while writing?
I did a great deal of research to complete this novel—research about the area, about sailing on the Chesapeake, about small town lynchings, about commonly accepted beliefs regarding the spirit world. My goal was to make the story as credible as possible within the limits of the genre. So, even though the narrative occurs in 1998, only twenty plus years earlier, I worked to make every detail authentic to the time and place. Even though it’s paranormal, the ghost sequences are closer to documented spectral occurrences that I had researched. Although the inspiration for parts of the story happened organically, the blending of these threads was carefully planned to render a tale that was fast-paced, engaging and satisfying.
This book is a part of your Haunted Shores Mysteries. What will the next novel in this series be about and when will it be available?
I’m currently completing the second installment in the Haunted Shore Mysteries series—tentatively titled Crimson at Cape May. Like Blood, Crimson is another ghost story/cold case murder mystery with even more romantic elements, this time set in the beautiful, historic resort town of Cape May, New Jersey. By the way, Cape May happens to be the most haunted seaport on the eastern coast and that doesn’t bode well for Darrell’s aversion to the ghost world or his OCD. In this second installment, not only is Darrell haunted by more ghosts, but he’s forced to confront another horror of modern life, human trafficking. Crimson at Cape May is scheduled to be released by the Wild Rose Press in September, 2020.
Wilshire, Maryland, a quaint shore town on the Chesapeake, promises Darrell Henshaw a new start in life and a second chance at love. That is, until he learns the town hides an ugly secret. A thirty-year-old murder in the high school. And a frightening ghost stalking his new office. Burned by an earlier encounter with the spirit world, Darrell doesn’t want to get involved, but when the desperate ghost hounds him, he concedes. Assisted by his new love, he follows a trail that leads to the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and even the Klu Klux Klan. Then, when two locals who try to help are murdered, Darrell is forced to decide if he’s willing to risk his life—and the life of the woman he loves—to expose the killers of a young man he never knew.
Posted by Literary Titan
Darrell Henshaw is the keeper of many secrets–most of which are not entirely his own. When he decides to make a change and accept a job in a new school, he fully expects to leave all of his ghosts behind–literally. Entering this new school and beginning the season as the coach of Wilshire, Maryland’s high school football team, should be an exciting time for Darrell, but his past and present are now blurring together. He finds himself in the throes of researching the decades old story of a suicide that took place at the school. In addition, Darrell finds himself dredging up memories that might better be left alone.
Randy Overbeck’s Blood on the Chesapeake follows main character, Darrell Henshaw, on an epic journey of historic proportions as he tackles racial injustice and attempts to correctly label a suicide as a murder. With pertinent mentions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement, Overbeck has crafted a murder mystery for the ages that encourages readers to investigate their own feelings regarding social injustices.
Overbeck could not have taken a more perfect route than the diary he opted to have Darrell find and peruse. Kelly’s diary is not only the most telling sign that Hank was murdered, it is also an amazing glimpse into life in the 60s and a sure sign that desegregation was, in many areas of the US, as violently protested as it ever was decades prior. The readings of the diary by Darrell and Erin, his love interest, make the book. I could almost smell the mildewed pages, and I felt the characters’ frustration as they battled through the diary’s pages to piece together the mystery that is Kelly and Hank’s fates.
Overbeck’s pace is spot on and makes for a thoroughly engaging and quick read. With no excessive filler material, the author moves seamlessly from one tragic event and clue to the next. Overbeck makes readers yearn for closure.
One of the most amazing aspects of Overbeck’s work is the way in which he conveys the characters’ feelings toward racism. Blood on the Chesapeake is not a book to be enjoyed; it is a book to appreciate for the reminders it provides readers. With mentions of lynchings and the KKK leading up to the setting of this book, and Overbeck gives readers a clear look at the way racism and bigotry continued to leak far beyond the bounds of the deep South even after desegregation began to make its way across the US.
Though the book is clearly focused on events from the 60s via Kelly’s diary, the plot is timely considering the state of today’s world. Readers will find themselves quickly caught up in Darrell’s descriptions of his ghostly encounters and eagerly awaiting each and every clue.
Pages: 296 | ASIN: B07N3BZBPR
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