Three kids rob a diner in Greenfield where everyone knows them. A boy goes to the Big E in West Springfield and runs away with the circus. An animal control officer has to shoot a moose in Sheffield. A ghost still roams the flooded and sunken town of Enfield. A prep school teacher in Old Deerfield reenacts the raid of 1704 with his students, to disastrous results. These deceptively simple stories share two commonalities—first, each one ends in the name of a town that ends in “field”--Ashfield, Northfield, Plainfield, and so forth. Second, most of the stories contain a crime, or something like one, but this is not a crime novel. It’s an exploration of this magical landscape in the Pioneer Valley (or slightly beyond), populated not by magicians or wizards but by very real human beings.
A Book of Fields is a collection of stories about the men and women of the Pioneer Valley in western Massachusetts. Each story has characters and locales from the towns that will be recognizable to anyone who has spent any time in the area. A few of the stories share characters. It’s a book about the good people of the Pioneer Valley; the crimes are merely an entry point into their lives. Taken together, the stories in A Book of Fields are a portrait of a world that is rapidly disappearing--the lush farms and fields of the Connecticut River basin shrinking every year, and the agricultural way of life giving way to suburbia. The people change as the land use changes. A Book of Fields is a portrait of a changing world and the men and women who inhabit it: hardy, independent, passionate, hardheaded, sometimes a little crazy.