You never know what you might find when you start a home improvement project. For Mattie Combs, sheriff of fictional Clement County in southeastern Kentucky, it was a diary from 1975, hidden in a wall of the house she was remodeling. The author: the late Bev Dezarn, a former sheriff who died while defending his town, Woodhole, against a warring band of Sasquatch in 2014.
But in the latest novel, Hunting Asian Carp, a much younger Dezarn has just returned from a six year stint as a sniper in Vietnam, accompanied by his Army buddy, A.E. “Doc” Holliday from Louisville.
Seeking a much deserved break from the horrors of Nam, they instead find themselves embroiled in conspiracy, murder and supernatural elements connected to a Trickster God of the native Quapanog tribe.
Mattie and others in modern day Clement County are equally challenged by the same shape-shifting vengeful Trickster named Koyotyl. As three members of the local casino's Board of Directors are found murdered, law enforcement officials, casino security and a local lawyer are among those searching for answers while wrestling with their own personal demons—from loneliness to a mother with dementia, a stepfather's unsolved murder, confronting a brutal ex-spouse and a change of careers.
All of this action is enhanced by the enticing ambiance of 1975 where our heroes drive Corvettes and a red 1965 Triumph Tiger motorcycle, while phone booths and cassette recorders are commonplace and hit songs like “Stand By Your Man” and “Thank God I'm A Country Boy” play on the radio.
While the past eight novels in the Clement County series were written jointly by the five writers, Hunting Asian Carp was authored largely by Charlie Sweet, Co-Director of EKU’s Teaching & Learning Center. “Immediately after we wrapped book eight, I had this idea in my head of how to move the story forward. Everyone else had other commitments that required their attention, but I didn't want to lose this thread. So, with their permission, blessing and input, I stayed immersed in Clement County and continued to tinker with our characters’ lives, loves and adventures.”
Of course Charlie shared his progress with his writing partners, Hal Blythe, the other Teaching & Learning Center Co-Director, Mason Smith, senior lecturer in EKU's English Department and Marie Mitchell, a Communication Department instructor, all who served as Editors. The fifth author, Rick Givan, professor emeritus in Criminal Justice & Police Studies, has passed away, but was instrumental in helping to create the Clement County-verse.
With Hunting Asian Carp now in print, all four authors are now collaborating on the 10th and final book set in Clement County. All of the novels are available on Amazon and Kindle.