The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter
Laura Bruce receives an unexpected phone call from Sheriff Spencer Arrowood. He needs someone to come to the Underhill home on the banks of the Little Dove River. There?s been a murder. While Spencer can deal with the dead; it?s the survivors he can?t handle. Who better to call than the minister?s wife?
In ?The Hangman?s Beautiful Daughter?, by Sharyn McCrumb, Laura Bruce?s husband, Will, has been called overseas by the military, so Laura shoulders the load of Will?s congragation in his absence. When Laura arrives at the Underhill home, she is introduced to Maggie and Mark Underhill, children of the deceased, and siblings of the obvious murderer, their older brother Josh. Maggie and Mark are unemotional. Spencer wants to call in protective services, but Mark convinces Spencer to let the two of them remain alone in the house. After all, Mark argues, he is almost 18, and Maggie almost 16. Spencer agrees, and Laura will act as their guardian and look in on them occasionally.
The reader is also introduced to Taw and Tavy, friends from childhood when they used to go fishing in the Little Dove. Eventually Taw moved away to Detroit, married and raised a family. Tavy stayed on the family farm. Now Taw is widowed and retired and has come home to Dark Hollow, TN. Taw is anxious to get back to the Little Dove with Tavy and the lazy days of fishing. Tavy takes Taw out to the River which is now foul smelling and foul looking. Tavy tells Taw the river is being polluted by the big North Carolina paper manufacturer, Titan Paper, which is dumping its waste into the Little Dove. Tavy believes it is the pollution from the water that has given him cancer. He does not have long to live.
Taw is shocked by the appearance of both the river and Tavy. He asks Tavy why the river hasn?t been cleaned up. Tavy tell him about the politics that block any clean-up action, and the two friends decide to do something about the situation.
Meanwhile, Laura, who also lives along the Little Dove, discovers that she is pregnant. She is excited, as is Will. Will is unhappy with his military assignment, but must remain away from Laura and his congregation. Laura tries to fit in by joining the Ladies Circle at the church, but doesn?t share the same interests as the ladies of the club.
Tavy and Taw do everything they believe a person is supposed to do to get polluters to clean up their polluted mess, with no result. They take a sample of the river water to be analyzed. What they learn is a shock. They try again to get someone with power to help them get Titan Paper to clean up, but there is no response. The two take matters into their own hands and go to the office of Roger Sheridan, Titan Paper company president. They get him to acknowledge the pollution in the river, but, as usual, Sheridan covers everything up and does nothing. Tavy, however, has done his best and quietly passes away, leaving Taw to fight on in his place.
Mark and Maggie have been pretty much forgotten, albeit unintentionally. Mark is losing his mind, and Maggie is drawing closer to that same point. When a flood comes to Dark Hollow, Laura remembers the children, and rushes out to save them.
Many of the character?s issues are not totally sorted out, but they are clearly on their way to satisfying resolutions. The Hangman?s Beautiful Daughter is another winner by author Sharyn McCrumb.