When, Donald MacIntyre, an avid off-trail hiker, fails to return from a quest to bushwhack through difficult terrain up to the top of the Jumpoff, a dramatic cliff in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the good-natured, back country ranger, Hector Jones, leads a search and rescue team into the remotest depths of the Greenbrier section of the park and discovers the body. From the nature of MacIntyre’s injuries, it’s clear that he had fallen—or been pushed—from the top.
The job of investigating the suspicious death goes to Sally Connolly, a 31-year-old detective with the Sevier County, Tennessee, sheriff’s office. Due to Hectors expert knowledge of the hiking trails, Sally enlists his help in the investigation. She follows several leads. One reveals a feud between MacIntyre, who was a professor at U.T., and a rival professor at Emory. The second concerns the illegal digging of plants in the park on behalf of MacIntyre’s wife, who has a garden design business. And a third reveals a complicated relationship with an older female hiking friend.
Murder at the Jumpoff is a novel with a powerful sense of place and the story of unusual characters who challenge themselves to seek excitement, beauty and fulfillment from undiscovered, treacherous mountain landscapes and from those they dare to love.