Set in 1835 in the Pennsylvania town of Adamant, Fergus’s first novel in a new mystery series introduces Sheriff Gideon Stoltz, who, as a young deputy, is thrust into his position by the death of the previous sheriff. Gideon faces his first real challenge as death rocks the small town again when the respected judge Hiram Biddle commits suicide. No one is more distraught than Gideon, whom the old judge had befriended as a mentor and hunting partner. Gideon is regarded with suspicion as an outsider: he’s new to town, and Pennsylvania Dutch in the back-country Scotch-Irish settlement. And he found the judge’s body.
Making things even tougher is the way the judge’s death stirs up vivid memories of Gideon’s mother’s murder, the trauma that drove him west from his home in the settled Dutch country of eastern Pennsylvania. He had also discovered her body.
At first Gideon simply wants to learn why Judge Biddle killed himself. Later, as he finds out more about the judge’s past, he realizes that the judge’s suicide was spurred by much more than the man’s despair. Gideon’s quest soon becomes more complex as it takes him down a dangerous path into the past.
A Stranger Here Below is so atmospheric, so compelling and convincing, that readers will taste the grit of the dirt roads, cringe at the unsanitary conditions and medical superstitions that inflame a flu epidemic, and marvel at the immensely arduous task of carrying out an investigation using the primitive tools of the early 1800s. Fergus leaves us breathlessly waiting for the next Gideon Stoltz mystery.
A Stranger Here Below
A Gideon Stoltz Novel
By Charles Fergus
2 January 2019
6.00 x 9.00in.
About the author
Charles Fergus is the author of seventeen books. The book review editor for Shooting Sportsman magazine, he has written for publications as various as Pennsylvania Game News, Audubon , Country Journal , Gray’s Sporting Journal , Yale Review , and the New York Times . A Stranger Here Below, his first mystery, is influenced by the personal tragedy of his own mother's murder. Fergus lives in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom with his wife, the writer Nancy Marie Brown, and four Icelandic horses.
In Praise of Shadow Catcher:
". . . the considerable skills of Charles Fergus making the palpable the life in a Navajo Hogan or plains Indian reservation shack."--Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Mr. Fergus understands how to evoke the powerful images of his setting. . . ." --The New York Times Book Review
"Fine historical fiction."--School Library Journal, Starred Review
"In his first novel, [Fergus] displays a fine grasp of both language and subject matter as he brilliantly chronicles the struggles of traditional culture to adapt to the modern world while holding on to a cherished heritage." --Booklist
"A scathing indictment of the wrongs inflicted on Native Americans and of the lies white Americans have fabricated about them."--Library Journal
"Deftly written account … Fergus compellingly evokes the twilight of the Indian and the Old West."--Kirkus