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Eastern Kentucky University’s resident authors Charlie Sweet and Hal Blythe have two new books out this summer. 

A Vicious Peace, is set in Louisville. May. Time for Derby Week. Time for magnificent parties by and for thoroughbreds. A time for balloon races and buried secrets. And also a time to kill and a time to die.

Enter private investigator A. E. “Doc” Holliday, who previously appeared in Kennedy’s Mistress (2016, also available on Amazon). Hired by his former high school/NBA nemesis, Holliday investigates a Louisville blueblood, Hunter Stern, who has applied for ownership of an NBA expansion team.

Set in the 1990s, A Vicious Peace (Amazon, 2021) chronicles Holliday’s journey from a time of war to a time of peace, through the world of the rich and famous and a descent into the Louisville underworld, a place where dark secrets are supposed to be eternally hidden.

And it’s also a time for love. Along his investigation, Holliday finds himself attracted to Bekka Stern, the beautiful and alluring wife of Hunter Stern. 

Will it be a time for embracing or refraining from embracing?

Only by joining Holliday for the most memorable Derby Week in recent history can you find out.

A.E. Holliday, the writer of A Vicious Peace, is aided by two prolific Richmond writers Blythe and Sweet, who often use the pseudonym Hal Charles. Blythe and Sweet collaborated with other Richmond residents Marie Mitchell, Mason Smith, and the late Rick Givan on the recent ten-book Clement County Saga (also on Amazon, 2014-2019).

Hal Charles’ other stories have appeared in such magazines as Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, andWoman’s World.

“Be sure to read the author’s Preface and the Editor’s Foreword to A Vicious Peace,” suggests Sweet. “These two essays frame the entire Holliday series,” adds Blythe, “and basically provide Holliday’s raison d’etre for penning the Holliday series.”

The co-authors are currently working with Holliday on the third book in the series, Redemption.   In addition, they have several short mysteries scheduled to appear in upcoming issues of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.

New Short Story Collection Revisits Clement County

Everything from gritty reality to the supernatural rears its head in Clement County: Tales of Mystery & Intrigue (published by the Jesse Stuart Foundation), a new short story collection from Blythe and Sweet. Following the success of the Clement County Saga, a ten-novel collection penned in collaboration with fellow Eastern Kentucky University professors Mason Smith, Marie Mitchell, and the late Rick Given, Blythe and Sweet revisit the fictional southeastern Kentucky county through an anthology drawn from their over 40 years of writing together.

Clement County: Tales of Mystery & Intrigue from Kentucky zeros in on the characters, plots, and locales that make Kentucky’s 121st county unique. Years of writing the lead novella for Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine’s monthly issues and everything from locked-room mysteries to hardboiled tales to humorous pastiches for such publications as Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine honed the skills of the two former co-directors of EKU’s Teaching & Learning Center and allows them to offer a broad canvas with both earlier published work and stories written specifically for the new collection.

Published 20 years after their first short story collection, Bloody Ground (Jesse Stuart Foundation, 2001), the new collection delves into the lives of both native-born eastern Kentuckians and those transplanted from other parts of the country. “One of the themes that run through many of our stories,” says Sweet, “is the clash between the culture of Appalachia and those from the outside.” Blythe adds, “Often we uncover the humor arising from misperceptions brought by people unfamiliar with what makes the folks in rural Kentucky tick. And sometimes the humor can get pretty dark.”  “Draw Play,” for instance, provides an ironic take on a basic staple of rural life.  “The Death of Doc Virgo” centers around the clash of central Clement County values and the 60s’ counterculture.

About half the stories were previously published in other venues. “Horn of Plenty” first appeared in Kentucky Monthly, while “Moody’s Blues” showed up in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.

Fans of Quinn MacHollister’s Clement County Saga will recognize many of the Saga’s characters in the stories as well as meeting new heroes and villains. “Several of the locals in the Saga,” says Blythe, “were drawn from our earlier stories, while others in more recent stories leapt from the pages of the Saga.” Sweet finds an interesting aspect concerning the genesis of several of the newer stories: “We created a few of our recent stories to investigate questions about characters and situations unanswered in the 10-novel saga.”

The collection also yields some behind-the-scenes information.  One essay reveals the origins of Blythe and Sweet’s private Yoknapatawpha County back in the 1970s as a first-year English assignment.  Another piece provides the fictional history of Clement County from its creation in the nineteenth century.  The volume even contains a map of Kentucky’s strangest county.   

Clement County: Tales of Mystery & Intrigue from Kentuckyoffers something for everyone who loves mystery, especially when drawn from southeastern Kentucky.  If you are interested in purchasing the collection, contact the Jesse Stuart Foundation at