Monday, March 12, 2012
The Legend Of Rachel Petersen
by J. T. Baroni
(Baroni is gentleman on the left. Just in case you thought it was the furry creature in the lower right.)
Christian Kane is a sports writer for a Pittsburgh newspaper. On the night of the annual awards banquet the paper celebrates the retirement of a long time veteran and Kane is expecting to be promoted. He is not. Disgusted, he quits the paper and he and his wife use what money they have to move to a rural house where Christian plans on writing a novel. He is unable to come up with a worthwhile plot until he and his wife stumble upon an old grave out in the woods. Buried in the grave is a young girl, Rachel Petersen, who died during the Civil War. Inspired by this grave, Kane then proceeds to write the following story:
In 1950, two brothers, Thaddeus and Seth, are out hunting deer. They finally managed to bag the prized buck but the deer is lying on an old grave, the grave of a little girl whose ghostly legend is popular in the area. Come Spring, Thaddeus digs up the grave and releases the spirit of the girl.
Everyone assumes the story of the little girl who reportedly killed her uncle, aunt, and cousins, then hung herself is true. Everybody uses the legend as a way to scare others because Rachel supposedly returns haunt area folk, wielding the knife used in her slayings. However, Thaddeus and Seth are encouraged by the Rachel's spirit to discover the truth behind the girl's death.
This is a story within a story involving a paranormal mystery. There is a little bit of the classical revenge-of-the ghost story here, too, but I really got into it because I happen to enjoy these types of stories. I wasn't too sure at first how the story within a story would work, because the Kane's story takes up the majority of the entire book. I think it works pretty well, though.
Christian Kane: 6'2”, fit physique, late thirties, sports reporter for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, doesn't wear a watch or like electronics such as new computers, likes ESPN, drives a BMW, likes the Steelers
Shelby Kane: Christian's husband, fit physique, late thirties, secretary for law firm
Rachel Petersen: 12, redhead, mother dead, father unable to care for her, taken to Pennsylvania in 1863 to live with uncle and aunt
Some good characters here. Pretty well defined. I enjoyed Kane's rebuffing of modern technology even to the point of not wearing a watch. Nobody was forgotten or left behind; in other words, I didn't feel there was any character needing more attention.
A good effort at bringing voices of the different time periods into play. No long speeches or unnecessary filler.
If it weren't for the excessive profanity and a rape scene this would have been a great YA story. It had that type of feel to it. It's a fairly quick read (only about 142 pages in the pdf file and part of that is intro and promotion of other books at the end). Good use of period products and factoids (a young Roy Clark at the Grand Ol' Opry, for example). I had mixed feelings about what happened after Kane's story ended. I thought Baroni rushed to get to the end and everything seemed to fall into place for Kane rather systematically, quickly, and unbelievably. Then, I received the first surprise (which I won't tell you because it'll ruin the book) and I groaned audibly wanting it not to be so. However...the very ending and the next set of surprises wrapped the story up nicely and I had a good satisfied chuckle. I think you will, too. Not because the story is belly laugh humorous, but because of the sly eeriness with which Baroni finishes it off.