The JSF has just released Clement County: Tales of Mystery & Intrigue from Kentucky. Everything from gritty reality to the supernatural rears its head in the new short story collection from Hal Blythe and Charlie 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, 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 Kentucky offers something for everyone who loves mystery, especially when drawn from southeastern Kentucky.

The JSF has just released Clement County: Tales of Mystery & Intrigue from Kentucky. Everything from gritty reality to the supernatural rears its head in the new short story collection from Hal Blythe and Charlie 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, 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 Kentucky offers something for everyone who loves mystery, especially when drawn from southeastern Kentucky.

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