A true-crime writer returns home to solve the mystery that haunted his boyhood
After witnessing an execution, true-crime writer Colin Douglas starts having nightmares of himself as a boy, alone by the levee, trapped in the mud of the Mississippi River. Each night, the dreams grow worse, becoming horrid recreations of the day his childhood died.
In 1959, Colin and three friends went camping on the levee, across from the tumbledown old Windsong plantation. When one of the boys disappeared, Colin went searching for him, and was approaching the old estate when he saw what appeared to be a ghost. The next day, he learned a woman had been murdered in the area—an unsolved crime that has haunted him ever since. Decades later, he attempts to solve this forgotten cold case, raking up something even dirtier than the muddy bottom of the Mississippi.
Shuman (Burial Ground) works the familiar plot of an older man returning to his childhood community to resolve an old crime with limited success. True-crime author Colin Douglas is still haunted by his memories of a pale white form he and his teenage companions saw on a 1959 camping trip outside Baton Rouge, La. Douglas later learned that this ghostly apparition coincided with the brutal murder of Gloria Santana, the Spanish teacher at his high school. The father of one of Douglas's friends, the local doctor, who'd been having a fling with Santana, was arrested and released after the authorities concluded that one of two obvious suspects (with heavy-handed Dickensian names, Rufus Sikes and Darwin Drood) was responsible for the murder. Officially, the case was never solved. Douglas's return stirs up bad memories for those he left behind. The solution may shock some readers, but the surprise element comes at the expense of plausibility.