I am excited to announce the publication of the sixth Liam Dutra mystery novel, BLUE SONG, FAR SHIMMER. This one sends Liam on the lost trail of a Vermont woman who vanished back in 1925. As Liam traces her past through a far mountain landscape he finds himself confronting his own darkest fears and visions.
Here's the first chapter if you'd like to check it out:
Golden light suffused the chapel of Saint Augustine’s church. The sound of the choir had the hushed feel of gentle snowfall, a soft blur as they sang--together, for the most part. Or maybe it was that pale light somehow blending with the music, making harmonies sound better, more perfect than they actually were.
Our daughter, Rose, was a sleeping bundle, warm in my arms. Of course she was asleep: What better way to quiet an over-excited five-year old than a Mass delivered in murmurs on Christmas Eve by an elderly priest who seems to be barely awake himself?
Shawn’s mother, Faye Donahue, had warned us that Father Thomas, a guest of the parish this night, might be lulling, to use her word for it. But she was thrilled to have her daughter and granddaughter with her in church tonight. It was a promise we’d made to her, and making good on it felt right.
I myself was doing my very best to stay awake. The mellow light and stained glass, the kind voices, the smells of soap and perfume and wool clothes tinged with winter wood smoke were pulling me into dreamland.
But a sudden cold draft from the cathedral’s open doors at the end of the service stirred me awake. I stood, handed over to Shawn the slack bundle that was our daughter, and slipped into my old gray sweater.
Outside in the dark, people thronged in chattering groups to their parked cars along Barre Street. A century ago this street and been home to work-sheds for the granite industry and rows of apartment houses for the laborers--many of them Italian, Scots, Irish, Swedes---here in the hill-nestled city of Montpelier, Vermont.
This church, tall and imposing with its gray stone and big rose windows, had been the heart of the neighborhood back then. In a smaller way, it perhaps still was, though the industry was almost-- though not quite--gone, and the people who lived here now were more apt to work for the State of Vermont, or the big insurance company up on the hill, or the retail stores and restaurants downtown and on the outskirts.
From the shadows beyond a streetlamp, a tall, broad-shouldered man called out Faye’s name. She moved toward him, showing that same taut confidence of stride and bearing, that same quizzical tilt of head that I so often saw in her daughter.
Shawn kept moving, as I would have, too, so as not to stir up the sleeping kid. I hung back, waiting for Faye.
Faye called me over to where she stood with the big man in the shadows.
“Somebody who’d like to meet you,” she said, “And I think you’ll be very interested in what he has to say.”
“Ethan LaSalette,” the man offered a handshake. I felt the hard calluses, saw now that he was about Faye’s age. Even in the hazy light of the streetlights I could see that he had dark eyes and dark hair, a full and friendly-looking face.
“I’ve known your mother-in-law since we were kids,” he said. “Look, it’s cold out here. And I don’t want to keep you from your family. But I wanted to connect with you. I think we can help each other out.”
His breath made a luminous vapor in the lamplight. The sounds of voices came from the front of the nearby church, along with a variety of footfalls--winter boots, high heels, dress shoes--on the stone steps.
“I saw your local history column in the paper, the City Bridge,” he went on. “I read what you wrote about looking for traces of a woman named Marie Dubois; about trying to find a granite statue she had posed for back in the 1920s.”
I had just begun the weekly column the month before. It was hard to believe that the one-sentence query at the end of what had been only my second column had already stirred up interest.
“Like I wrote,” I said, nodding, feeling my heartbeat kick up a notch. “She’s only a name in somebody’s diary, a few sentences. But I’d love to know who she was, what might have happened to her.”
Ethan nodded back at me.
I could see that Faye was grinning, even as she hugged herself against the cold.
“A woman named Marie Dubois was my mother’s cousin,” Ethan said. “Marie disappeared when she--Marie, I mean--was a young woman. And my mother was haunted for decades by… not knowing what ever became of her. And I’d like to know more about her, too. I can tell you some things. Maybe you know some things that I don’t. Let’s get together soon. But someplace warm, that’s not the church steps on Christmas Eve.”
“Yes,” I said, thinking, if this is the same Marie Dubois, then here it is, the first gift of this Christmas.
(excerpt from BLUE SONG, FAR SHIMMER, by Kevin Macneil Brown, Liminal Editions, 2017)
The book is available in print and kindle editions at amazon.com: