Sunday, March 17, 2019
A Stranger Here Below by Charles Fergus
At twenty-two, Gideon Stoltz is a little young to be sheriff of Colerain County, Pennsylvania in 1835. Because he's Pennsylvania Dutch, and not from Colerain County, he's viewed as an outsider, a foreigner, even though he married a local woman. His only friend, and his mentor, is Judge Hiram Biddle. Gideon's lost and confused, though, when he finds Biddle's body, and the man committed suicide. His own faith forbids suicide, and he can't understand why a man would kill himself.
When Gideon reads the judge's journals, he begins to wonder if the man was brooding about a hanging that occurred thirty years earlier. When he tries to ask questions about the local history and the hanging, Gideon is mocked and jeered at, even by his wife's relatives. Despite warnings, Gideon is stubborn and probes into the past history of the community. A murder, and two disreputable strangers that show up in the county convince the sheriff that the truth may lie in the past.
A Stranger Here Below is a leisurely paced historical mystery. It has an atmospheric setting, and a strong sense of place. The book introduces a religious, reflective man with a strong sense of right and wrong, and duty. It's a book filled with the rich details of life, including the tragedies of life in this early period of U.S. history.
A Stranger Here Below by Charles Fergus. Skyhorse Publishing, Inc., 2019. ISBN 9781510738508 (hardcover), 272p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.