Title: Killing Among Friends
Author: Toni Morrow Wyatt
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Sennie Lacefield has always felt safe at her family’s peaceful mountain lodge . . .
The only break in her tranquil life was the death of her boyfriend Patrick Devon, which left her heartbroken and unable to understand Patrick’s sullen, withdrawn brother Lonnie. But when her best friend Reatha Alcoker disappears, her sense of security is shattered. With the help of Reatha’s boyfriend Milo Durham, she launches a search for her friend.
More girls disappear, and bodies begin turning up . . .
When one of the missing girls is found dead in a swamp with a symbol burned into her forehead, Sennie focuses on her growing list of suspects. She can’t count on help from the lazy, lecherous Sheriff Warford Cackley. She also has suspicions the sheriff’s son Rex and his nasty friend Ottis know more than they’re willing to share.
Someone is watching Sennie’s every move . . .
Refusing to believe Reatha is dead, Sennie and Milo continue their frantic search, and Sennie is plagued with threatening messages. When another girl’s body is discovered, she and Milo visit the site and find evidence that Reatha has also been there. Some aerial photographs might hold a vital clue . . . if they can find them in time.
As Sennie unravels a tangled web of secrets, arson, burglary, and murder, could it be that a desire to help Sennie has warped the mind of a murderer?
As a child, Toni Morrow Wyatt’s family spent nearly every summer visiting relatives in a small, rural community in Arkansas. Finding magic in this place, it is the setting for many of her novels. Her love for southern fiction led to the writing of her upcoming novel, A Killing Among Friends, and also, Return to Rocky Gap. Her work has appeared in From the Depths Literary Journal and Belle Reve Literary Journal. She writes an eclectic blog titled, A Pinch of Me, on Tumblr. She was previously an independent bookseller, owning and operating Kindred Books for seven years.
The truck’s engine echoes through the trees. A body wrapped in a tarp shifts and bounces with every pothole and rut. The person inside struggles to escape, while a glistening stain of red spreads rapidly through the stiff material.
Getting to Craneneck Slough the back way is like driving through a jungle. There is no time to open the Lacefields’ gate. It is out of the question. With little time to spare, the truck rams through the fence, sending debris flying through the air.
Why doesn’t she cooperate? I didn’t plan for it to end this way. She put up a fight. She didn’t listen to me. I’ve got to finish this before nightfall. I’ve only got one more chance to put my plan into motion. Luckily, this is just a practice run.
After parking the truck, lowering the tailgate, and studying the surroundings for any sign of intruders, the wriggling body is yanked by the ankles and pulled to the ground with a sickening thud. Looking around, a fist-sized rock comes into view. Picking it up and feeling the weight of it, it feels good, just the right size. With an impassioned effort, it slams down on the girl’s head. The squirming slows and then finally stops. Unfastening the ropes, the body is rolled out onto the ground. Taking her beneath the arms, the slow trudge toward the marshy waters takes more time than can be wasted. As the body hits the water, she comes to life again, lashing out with what is left of her strength. Her claw-like fingers grab the front of a belt. It comes loose and is pulled with her to her watery death.
When the bubbles stop rippling to the surface, the body is released. A large boulder is carried to where she has surfaced and is placed on her stomach, sinking her into the blood-tinged depths. Her opened eyes stare at the sky, disappearing beneath the muddied waters until she sees no more. Reaching into the murky water, searching for the belt, blood and mud stained hands come up empty.