By: Harold Michael Harvey
Newspaper editor Clay Moore, a bachelor, lives in an upscale golf and tennis community. He cannot afford such luxury on his salary as a newspaperman. The gated community is protected in the medieval sense by a modern day moat and drawbridge nestled in the middle of Georgia.
He is plagued by recurring nightmares where he's stalked by a sniper. Clay wakes up most mornings in a bed surrounded by faded newspaper clippings that mysteriously appear during the night. Clay is befuddled when the news clippings point him back to the biggest news story of his career.
Clay walks into the Macon Tribune & Journal newsroom fresh from College in 1974. He has no idea he holds the key to unraveling the circumstances behind a moonshiner found frozen to death in 1946. The moonshiner, a returning veteran from World War II, ran a successful trade in untaxed whiskey which threatens similar businesses operated by the sheriffs in three adjoining counties.
According to the sheriffs, the moonshiner's death was caused by a bad batch of his own brew. This account of the moonshiner's death goes undisturbed until the red haired stranger appears in 1975 leaving a farmer and his wife dead in his wake. Through some fancy footwork the sheriffs and their financial backers are able to draw the darts away from the moonshiner's death.
While learning the ropes of the newspaper business Clay covers the case of the Red Haired Stranger. The case was abruptly closed after 30 torrid days of news coverage. Clay tucked his notes away thinking that there was more to the story than what appeared at first blush.
A decade later, Clay is the managing editor at the MTJ, living in River North and is finding news clipping from the 1975 double murder in his bed each morning. His security is compromised.
Clay searches for answers.
When the Florida lawyer who represented the red haired stranger in the Georgia court proceedings is appointed to the bench in Florida, he needs to clear a Bar Disciplinary matter from his file. He asks the Court to unseal the records of the 1975 case. The federal courthouse in middle Georgia is frantic.
While interpreting his dreams and making a cork board puzzle of the newspaper clippings, a young Atlanta socialite is murdered gangland style in Atlanta. The young socialite and her husband, a liquor distributor, were the first to live in Clay's house.
Realizing he is in deep danger when he is arrested and ordered to turn over his notes of the red headed stranger's case, Clay turns to someone he has not spoken to in years. He turns to the black editor of a local paper.
Clay's white heritage and the social mores of the time have kept them from professional or personal associations, but now that must change. Against harsh social pressure, both men work together to save Clay's career and to solve the mysterious paper puzzle lying in Clay's bed.
(c) July 5, 2009