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TIME OF DEPARTURE by Douglas Schofield: Book Review

Claire Talbot is the youngest prosecutor in the state of Florida, only a few months into her new job.  She’s working long hours with no time for a personal life, but she’s convinced herself she doesn’t need or want one.

The day following a successful trial, her secretary hands her a package that she says was given to her by a man who wouldn’t leave his name.  Inside the envelope Claire finds newspaper clippings related to eight missing persons cases that took place three decades earlier.  In little more than a year, eight women from Central Florida had disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again.  With one exception, all were in their twenties and brunette, the only exception being a blonde woman about a decade older than the others.  And even though the articles were written in a formal, factual manner, Claire becomes violently upset after reading them.

This brings up a familiar feeling for Claire, one she has had all her life.  It’s a sense that something unexpected is about to happen, and it manifests itself in a tightening in her stomach, a strange vibration in her body, an increased pulse.  But nothing ever happens, or at least has never happened so far, so why is she  feeling this way again?  Shaking it off, she leaves her office and gets into her car only to have the front passenger door flung open by a man holding a knife.  Before Claire can obey his order to drive, the passenger’s door is opened again and the assailant is pulled out.  A couple of quick punches to his face leave him flat on the cement, those punches coming from a middle-aged man whom Claire had noticed attending the trial she won the day earlier.

The man identifies himself as Mark Hastings, a former police officer and the person who had left Claire the envelope of newspaper clippings.  He tells her that the missing persons cases date to the time he was on the force and that he’s never been able to forget them.  Claire tells him to make an appointment to discuss this with her, but before he can do so there is a break in the cold case.  It appears that the body of one of the women has just been found.

Time of Departure is a mystery novel with fantasy overtones.  Or is it a fantasy novel with mystery overtones?  Either way, it’s a great read.  Claire Talbot is an engaging heroine, trying to come up with answers to the chilling series of crimes that took place when she was a child but also trying to understand the strange feeling that she has whenever she’s around Mark Hastings.  And Mark, a wounded soul, knows more about Claire than he can let on without alienating her completely.  Each one is engaged in a delicate maneuver, trying to come at a past truth while still maintaining a hold on a present reality.

You can read more about Douglas Schofield at this web site.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her web site.