Friday, May 15, 2009

Mary Jane's Grave

by Women in Crime Ink

If you've been wondering how life for fictional detective CeeCee Gallagher could possibly get any more difficult, the wait is officially over. Mary Jane's Grave, the highly anticipated second novel of the CeeCee Gallagher detective series is in bookstores now. The follow-up to The Devil's Closet, WCI's own Stacy Dittrich continues taking the reader down a road filled with unknowns, romance, and mystery.

Summary of the book:

“Long known for its history of being haunted by a witch who was hanged and buried there, Mary Jane’s Grave has been a teenage staple for decades. Local historians have since disproved the area as mere folk lore, but when a local teen is found brutally murdered at the grave, Detective Sergeant CeeCee Gallagher is forced to re-investigate the history, and find its link to the teen’s murder. With the aid of her powerful co-workers, Naomi and Jeff Cooper, CeeCee is thrown into the depths of a secret so horrifying; locals have kept it hidden for over a hundred years. Finding the chilling connection between Mary Jane, and an eighteenth century murderess, Ceely Rose, CeeCee refuses to believe in the supernatural occurrences that witnesses claim are taking place at the grave. CeeCee’s investigation takes her across the country in her hunt for the true killer while she tries to keep her relationship with FBI Agent, Michael Hagerman, from unraveling. CeeCee takes readers along with her to face their darkest fears, while holding their breath until the secret of the grave, and the identity of the killer, is revealed.”

Extremely detailed, Mary Jane's Grave tends to be one of those novels that the reader will get lost if one page is missed. Mixing history with modern day policing, the research on this book took Stacy the longest of the entire Gallagher series, as she had to delve into 18th century writing and history. Stacy also had complete access to the case files (investigated by her police department) of some of the crimes that occurred at the actual grave; some of which are depicted in the book.

The novel revolves around the local folklore that surrounds a real grave in Stacy's area in Richland County, Ohio. She combined the myth with a true case of an 18th century murderess whose crimes occurred at Pulitzer Prize winning author Louis Bromfield’s farm-Malabar Farm. (This also happened to be the location of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall’s wedding and is just a mile or so down the road from the grave). For over 5 decades, people from all over the state have flocked to the “real” Mary Jane’s Grave in Lucas, Ohio (pictured right) to see the burnt cross on the famed witches tree, and to indulge in possible paranormal experiences. Although there is much written about the myth on web sites, there has never been a book written about it, or the murderess Ceely Rose, until now.

Most Recent Reviews:

“A creepy ghost story lies at the heart of Dittrich’s second thriller starring detective CeeCee Gallagher. The crime is horrific and puzzling, and Dittrich does an excellent job laying out a clever procedural that is hauntingly laced with eeriness. A book to send true chills down the spine! Four and a half stars!
--Romantic Times Book Review

“In March 1898, four men killed her infant son, raped her and her daughter Madeline, and burned her as a witch. With her last breath, Mary Jane Hendrickson, using her gift, cursed the men and the grounds where they committed their atrocities. The sexual assault of Madeline left her pregnant. In the present, the grave of Mary Jane was buried by a tree in the middle of an old cemetery where teens fool around scaring one another.

Sergeant CeeCee Gallagher is called to the Mount Olive Cemetery because the murdered body of Keri Sutter was found on Mary Jane’s grave. She had been separated from her friends who swore they saw an old woman and heard the scream of a baby crying though no infant was seen. CeeCee assumes one of the students killed Keri and used the Mary Jane witch tale to frighten the others. Elder Walter Morris suggests CeeCee look up the history. The detective does and learns that twenty years ago another teen was stoned to death on the grave-site; the culprit got away with murder. CeeCee continues investigating into Mary Jane’s life and death tracking ancestry and descendants onto the present in order to prevent more homicides.

A CeeCee Gallagher police procedural is always a treat (see THE DEVIL’S CLOSET) as the sergeant gives her readers a deep look at how she runs an investigation and why she takes some of the key steps that she does. The audience also receives glimpses of her love affair with FBI Agent Michael Hagerman while he deals with a treacherous former wife who will do anything to get him back. The who-done-it is terrific with its ties to the late nineteenth century atrocities as Stacy Dittrich provides a unique voice with a fresh brisk thriller starring a heroine who resonates with readers.” --MidWest Book Review

"...Mary Jane's Grave provides a fast-paced storyline with a ghostly flair, emotional turmoil and multi-generational twists."--Fresh Fiction Book Review

Mary Jane's Grave is available in bookstores and online now. Stacy will be at BookExpo of America in New York City May 29th and May 30th for signings and also June 6, 2009 at the Barnes and Noble in Ontario, Ohio.


Diane said...

OMG, you have me completely intrigued. I can't wait to start reading it!
Thank you for the heads up

dcheryl83 said...

Looks like I'm going to be spending my summer reading! Appears to be another fascinating book.

Kathryn Casey said...

Congrats, Stacy!

Anonymous said...

I will probably be reading this book. It sounds interesting.

I did have to laugh, however, at the reverent: "the research on this book took Stacy the longest of the entire Gallagher series, as she had to delve into 18th century writing and history." when this is only the second book in the series.

(Please, please correct me if I'm wrong, but that is how the review reads......)

An Avid Reader