Christian-themed ‘The Ravine’ ?tells tale of murder, healing

The message of forgiveness is central to The Ravine, a Christian-themed debut novel by Robert Pascuzzi, a Kansas City businessman.

Two brothers, Tony and Danny, golden boys at Geauga High School in the late 1970s, assume they will have everything handed to them, including college educations and high-paying jobs. Their attitudes spoil their chances, and the boys turn to petty crime, escalating to violence and, eventually, prison time.

Tony matures while in prison and, after his release, becomes a respected businessman, husband and father. Danny also marries and runs several of Tony’s sporting goods stores, but without his brother’s sincerity and principles.

One late night, Danny arrives at his Akron home and murders his wife, Rachel, and one of their young sons. He then drives to a nearby quarry and off the embankment, shooting himself as the vehicle falls. He leaves no note.

Rachel’s best friend, Carolyn, and her husband, Mitch, become the focus of the story as they struggle to understand Danny’s actions. Joanna, pastor of a Cleveland church, is the catalyst for their healing, but she also represents the angels that bring peace to the grieving families.

The Ravine (219 pages) costs $12.95 from online retailers. According to press materials, Robert Pascuzzi was inspired to write the book by a crime that affected him and his family.

True crime inspires mystery novel

University of Akron alumna Mary A. Russell also says she was inspired by a true crime in writing her novel, Secret Keepers and Skinny Shadows: Lee and Miranda. The book’s murder takes place in 1962 in New York, in a New York town whose main industry is building locomotives.

Bert, whose disability check goes mostly into the tills of every tavern in town, is found one snowy night in an alley, his throat slit. The police investigation isn’t very thorough.

In the present day, Lee Perkins is terminated from his job as a book editor because he won’t keep up with technology. He gets a letter from Miranda, his late wife’s best friend, asking him to join her in investigating the mystery. Lee remembers that his wife, Joan, had been interested in the case, but he’d always been too busy and self-centered to care. He agrees to help Miranda, hoping to atone for his behavior.

The investigation draws plenty of attention: People are clamoring to tell Lee and Miranda what they remember about Bert and the murder, but also to tell them to lay off their nosing around. They are shot at, accosted on the street, receive threatening phone calls, and Miranda’s house is ransacked by someone looking for the letters written by a barmaid who knew Bert, with claims of a police conspiracy.

The dialogue is heavy on exposition, and the many witnesses who rush forward to contribute their stories may be difficult to differentiate.

Secret Keepers and Skinny Shadows (340 pages, softcover) costs $14.50 from online retailers. Mary A. Russell lives in Wadsworth.

Events

Stow-Munroe Falls Public Library (3512 Darrow Road, Stow) — Milann Daugherty, author of Your Affectionate Son: Letters from a Civil War Soldier, talks about the life of a Civil War soldier through letters written by her great-great-uncle, 7 p.m. Monday. Registration requested; call 330-688-3295.

Mac’s Backs (1820 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights) — Anne Trubek, author of A Skeptic’s Guide to Writer’s Houses, editor of the online journal Belt and co-editor of Rust Belt Chic: The Cleveland Anthology, signs her work from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday in the “Tuesdays on Coventry” summer vendor village across the street from the bookstore.

Market Garden Brewery (1947 W. 25th St., Cleveland) — David Giffels (The Hard Way on Purpose: Essays and Dispatches from the Rust Belt) and Scott Raab (The Whore of Akron: One Man’s Search for the Soul of LeBron James) mark the second anniversary of “Brews + Prose,” 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Loganberry Books (13015 Larchmere Blvd., Shaker Heights) — Loganberry’s annual “Author Alley,” held outside the shop, brings as many as 50 authors to sign their books from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. See the list at http://loganberrybooks.com.

Books-A-Million (6751 Strip Ave. NW, North Canton) — Ravenna author Fred Tribuzzo talks about and signs American Sky, his memoir of life as a private pilot, 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Visible Voice (1023 Kenilworth Ave., Cleveland) — Poet Brendan Constantine reads from his work, 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday.

— Barbara McIntyre

Special to the Beacon Journal

Send information about books of local interest to Lynne Sherwin, Features Department, Akron Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309 or lsherwin@thebeaconjournal.com. Event notices should be sent at least two weeks in advance.