History, romance and the supernatural are themes in “Blood on the Chesapeake,” a thriller by Xenia educator Randy Overbeck. Set in coastal Maryland, the story finds a high school coach haunted by an anguished ghost.
It is set in 1998, which allows the plot to proceed without the characters having constant access to cellphones and the internet. After a nasty breakup, Darrell Henshaw comes from Michigan to Wilshire High School to teach American history and coach the struggling Pirates football team. He’s seen the town’s waterfront mansions and the trendy bistros whose clientele is almost exclusively white. Yet the school is crumbling, and most of his students wear shabby clothing.
As Darrell is being shown around the school campus, he looks up at his office window and sees a young, shirtless black man. He looks again, and there’s no one there. He hears local legends about a 1960s student who hanged himself from the railing of the building’s cupola.
The principal introduces Darrell to the town’s elite, the school board principal for whose banking family the new high school will be named, and a local surgeon who once played quarterback for the Pirates. They announce that they plan to donate new uniforms for the team, but intimate that it would be a real shame if the team didn’t start winning.
A woman who offers to tell him “the real story” about the Wilshire Ghost ends up dead before she can meet with him. He experiences more sightings and vivid dreams. His new love interest helps him research the legend, while more danger awaits.
Overbeck reaches into the Civil Rights Movement for his historical perspective, and ably depicts the culture of crab cakes and Chesapeake Bay sailing regattas. He doesn’t overplay Darrell’s obsessive-compulsive disorder, making for a sympathetic and believable character.
“Blood on the Chesapeake” (400 pages, softcover) costs $18.99 from online retailers. Randy Overbeck earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Dayton and has worked as a college professor and school administrator. His debut novel, in 2011, was “Leave No Child Behind.”
“The Marrow of Tradition,” an important 1901 historical novel by Cleveland-born attorney Charles W. Chesnutt, has been reissued by Belt Publishing.
Chesnutt, who was one-eighth African American, identified with that part of his heritage, and sought to illustrate the background of the Wilmington Massacre of 1898, a race riot in which white residents took action against the black middle class who had established themselves in business and leadership. The book is a fictionalized narrative of the intimidation, violence and aftermath.
The introduction is by bestselling author Wiley Cash (“The Last Ballad”).
“The Marrow of Tradition” (378 pages, softcover) costs $14.95 from beltpublishing.com.
Warren-Trumbull County Public Library (Cortland branch, 212 North High Street): Cheryl Ann Tuggle talks about her novels “Unexpected Joy” and “Lights on the Mountain,” 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Rocky River Public Library (1600 Hampton Road): Poet E.F. Schraeder reads from “Chapter 11,” 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Akron-Summit County Public Library (Nordonia Hills branch, 60 South High Street): North Carolina children’s author Lucy Sams reads from “Hey Baby: Deja’s New Adventure,” 3 to 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Stark County District Library (Perry Sippo branch, 5710 12th Street, North Canton): North Canton orthopedic surgeon Ajay K. Seth, author of “Rewired: An Unlikely Doctor, A Brave Amputee, and the Medical Miracle That Made History,” is joined by amputee Melissa Loomis, for whom he performed an innovative surgery, 6 to 7:30 p.m. Register at 330-477-8482.
Dover Public Library (525 North Walnut Street): Tim Carroll signs “World War II Akron,” 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
Hudson Library & Historical Society (96 Library Street): Matt McCarthy talks about “Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic,” 7 p.m. Thursday. Register at 330-653-6658.
Cleveland Heights-University Heights Libraries (Coventry Village branch PEACE building, 2843 Washington Boulevard, Cleveland Heights): James Freedman discusses “I Let the Dogs Out,” a photo collection of shelter dogs, accompanied by dogs from Cleveland Animal Protective League (no on-site adoptions), 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday.
Don Drumm Gallery (437 Crouse Street): Laurie and Ed Caner of local folk band Hey Mavis, and illustrator Leandra Drumm present “Silver Ribbon Dream: Songs and Stories of the Ohio and Erie Canal,” a book-and-CD project with original songs, 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Send information about books of local interest to Listings, Akron Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Event notices should be sent at least two weeks in advance.