Pineland Serenade (Paperback)
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Welcome to Paradise County, Minnesota. No, it doesn't resemble the original Garden of Eden. It was named after a nineteenth-century lumberman who turned its towering groves of virgin pines into stumps, setting the stage for a huge forest fire that killed 400 people. After that catastrophe, settlers arrived to build hardscrabble farms out of the ashes, and the county became just another lonely, quiet place in the cold heart of flyover land. But that all changed one day when a baffling mystery began to unfold in the county seat of Pineland, a small town of under three thousand people on the banks of the Paradise River. The county's richest man, Peter Swindell, vanishes after his hilltop mansion is blown to bits. Soon, vaguely threatening messages appear all around town, posted by a shadowy figure who calls himself the Serenader. A high-powered lawyer from Chicago suddenly appears in Pineland, with a mysterious story of her own to tell. Murder and mayhem follow, set to the curious music of an old and all-but-forgotten song called "Pineland Serenade." Local and state law enforcement officials appear unable to solve the mystery-or perhaps they are part of it, hiding old and deep secrets. It's left to the newly elected county attorney, Paul Zweifel, to solve the case. A sharp-tongued loner whose best friend is an existential border collie named Camus, Zweifel begins digging into the mystery even as he becomes a suspect in the crimes. The case leads him down a winding trail into the pure heart of evil and a final, chilling confrontation with the Serenader.