"Feeble-minded" youth accused of murdering young woman

SUNBURY, Pa.Sunbury Press has released Something So Divine, J R Lindermuth’s tragic tale of murder in the rural hills of Pennsylvania.

“… reminds us of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, with similar intrigue and tension, but set in Pennsylvania ..” The Publisher

ssd_fcWhen a young girl is found murdered in a Pennsylvania rye field in the autumn of 1897, Ned Gebhardt, a feeble-minded youth known to have stalked the victim, is the prime suspect. Incidents involving another girl and gossip stir emotions to a frenzy, nearly leading to a lynching.

Evidence against Ned is circumstantial and there are other suspects. Influenced by the opinions of Ned’s stepsister and Ellen, a woman who has perked his interest, Simon Roth, the investigator, is inclined to give Ned benefit of the doubt. Then he discovers damaging evidence.

Still unwilling to view Ned as a cold-blooded killer, Roth puts his job and reputation in jeopardy as he seeks to assure a fair trial for the accused.

EXCERPT:
The dog stirred beside him. Ned Gebhardt tilted his head, listening. Though he couldn’t see the girl for the thickness of the second-growth trees, the rattle of brush told him she was coming his way. The dog whined and started to rise. Cupping a hand around her muzzle, Ned patted the dog’s head. “Be still,” he whispered.

Excitement gripped Ned as he awaited a sight of her. His foot jiggled in the leaves, and his breath came a little faster. He snuffled, drawing in the scent of leaf mold and sun-warmed wood. But Susannah thwarted his desire, cutting across the hill opposite instead of coming to where he waited. Ned pursed his lips and muttered, his tongue thrusting out to test the air like a snake while one hand plucked at his pant leg. He rose to his feet and grinned down at the dog. “She foxed us, didn’t she? Well, there’s always tomorrow.” The dog cocked its head, gazing up at him as if expected to reply.

The boy plopped down again, drawing his knees up to his chin and sitting with arms wrapped round his legs, contemplating what to do next. He sighed in annoyance at not having intercepted the girl. Ned felt certain he knew where she’d go as he’d watched her leave home earlier that morning. I told her where to go. Why didn’t she come here? He sucked his lower lip. His disappointment souring the good mood of anticipation.

He sighed. Pap would be angry he’d skipped out on his chores. But it would be all right if he took home a couple squirrel or a rabbit. Especially rabbit. Pap’s awful fond of rabbit. Yes, that’s what I’ll do—hunt up a rabbit or two.

The warm air was heady with the odor of rotting leaves and damp earth. Almost too warm for this October morning in 1897 on a Pennsylvania hillside. But Ned knew the frost would be coming soon. He’d seen a flight of geese heading south the previous morning, and there hadn’t been any sign of frogs or turtles along the crick for the last week. A rustle overhead, and he raised his eyes to scan the canopy. Acorn caps and the hulls and shells of other nuts littered the ground beneath the nearest big tree. But it was no squirrel he spied. Only a nuthatch flitting from limb to limb.

Ned rose, brushed dry leaf litter from his trousers, picked up his shotgun by the barrel, and started up hill. The dog shook itself and followed.

Anyone watching would have had no difficulty picking Ned out of a crowd. Tall and gangly, big hands and knobby wrists protruding from the sleeves of a too-often washed cambrey shirt, strong legs encased in hand-me-down corduroy trousers, worn brogans on his big feet, he strode along with the ease of one accustomed to climbing hills and walking fields. Not yet a man, shy and immature, but with muscles and calluses defined by long hours of manual labor. He had a shock of thick hair the color of bleached corn shocks, big eyes reflecting the blue of the sky, and a protruding lower lip usually wet with dribble.

The maples were red and gold now, but the boy was oblivious to their beauty, intent on another vision flashing across the screen of his mind. He’d been sure Susannah would come to this hillside to hunt chanterelles. It was late in the season for them, but Ned had spotted a nice crop under the oaks above her father’s rye field, and he’d told Susannah. He knew her family loved these golden mush-rooms, and Ned was certain that would be her destination.

Something So Divine
Authored by J. R Lindermuth
List Price: $14.95
5.5″ x 8.5″ (13.97 x 21.59 cm)
Black & White on Cream paper
226 pages
Sunbury Press, Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-1620066126
ISBN-10: 1620066122
BISAC: Fiction / Mystery & Detective / Historical

For more information, please see:
http://www.sunburypressstore.com/Something-So-Divine-9781…

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