Poison Town: A Novel

( 17 )

Overview


There's more than one kind of poison in this town.

People are sick and dying. Rumors are swirling. Some claim chemicals leaking from a manufacturing plant are causing the cancer that’s crippling people on the poor side of Trenton City, Ohio. Yet nothing at the plant appears amiss. The problem remains a mystery until reporter Jack Crittendon’s longtime mechanic falls ill.

As Jack investigates, he becomes engulfed in a smokescreen of lies, ...

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Poison Town: A Novel

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Overview


There's more than one kind of poison in this town.

People are sick and dying. Rumors are swirling. Some claim chemicals leaking from a manufacturing plant are causing the cancer that’s crippling people on the poor side of Trenton City, Ohio. Yet nothing at the plant appears amiss. The problem remains a mystery until reporter Jack Crittendon’s longtime mechanic falls ill.

As Jack investigates, he becomes engulfed in a smokescreen of lies, setups, greed, and scandal. The deeper he digs, the more toxic the corruption he uncovers. As he faces off with the big-time players behind the scenes and tries to beat the clock before more people die, he realizes the chillingly unthinkable — he knows way too much.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
12/02/2013
The follow-up to the first (Fear Has a Name) in Mapes’ Crittendon Files series is filled with incongruous twists and turns, peppered with tepid suspense and stereotypical dialogue. Jack Crittendon, reporter, husband, father of two, is recovering from the aftermath of his wife’s kidnapping and struggling with his faith when a chance encounter with old friends leads him to the story of a lifetime—a local manufacturer is poisoning not only its workers, but the people who live in the surrounding Ohio city. With the help of his co-worker Derrick and the support of his family, he must bring those behind the environmental misdeeds to justice before time runs out. By using multiple narrative viewpoints, Mapes provides critical insight into secondary characters, allowing for the story to proceed at a steady pace. But character interactions are stilted, and a contrived ending rounds out a lackluster novel. Agency: Natasha Kern Literary Agency. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
“Creston Mapes has crafted quite the thrill ride. He explores the evils of corporate greed and exposes an even more menacing enemy lurking inside all of us. Warning: once you pick this book up, you will not want to put it down.”
Mark Lee, guitarist and founding member of the Grammy Award winning band Third Day
Library Journal
02/15/2014
Something is very wrong on the east side of Trenton City. Reporter Jack Crittendon stumbles upon a big story while dropping his car off to be fixed with the Randalls. The mechanics claim that the Daimler-Vargus plant behind their property is poisoning people with its airborne fiberglass pollutants and that their father, Galen, has the inside scoop. Investigators from the EPA have not found any wrongdoing, but people keep dying. When a hospitalized Galen is poisoned by a mysterious man in black, Jack is driven to find out the truth—if it doesn't kill him first. Mapes (Nobody; Fear Has a Name) has written a riveting story with well-drawn, quirky characters. This tension-filled tale will leave readers spellbound, wondering if one person can really fight a corporation and make a difference. Can faith in the face of fear give one the courage to do the right thing, regardless of the cost? VERDICT A roller-coaster ride of a thriller with strong protagonists and a story line that hits very close to home. Recommended for fans of Jonathan Harr's A Civil Action and of Erin Brockovich (Rock Bottom; Hot Water).
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781434704870
  • Publisher: Cook, David C.
  • Publication date: 2/1/2014
  • Series: The Crittendon Files Series
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 335,576
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Creston Mapes is the author of Fear Has a Name, Nobody, Dark Star, and Full Tilt. A copywriter, editor, and author, he works from his home office in Atlanta. Creston’s early years as a reporter inspire many of his novels.

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Read an Excerpt

Poison Town


By Creston Mapes

David C. Cook

Copyright © 2014 Creston Mapes, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7814-1123-3



CHAPTER 1

Jack could see his breath even inside the car as he dodged potholes on the Ohio interstate and maneuvered his way into Trenton City at daybreak. He blasted the heat but was getting nothing but cold air. The gun he'd bought three days earlier still felt bulky and foreign strapped to his ankle. He didn't like keeping the gun a secret from Pam, but with Granger Meade out on parole, it was for her own good—hers and the girls'.

Wiping the moisture from the side window, he glimpsed one of the city's sprawling industrial plants, its web of mechanical apparatuses and smokestacks silhouetted by the dawn's red-orange glow. He put the windows down to clear the windshield. It was below freezing outside. "Shoot!" He laughed at how cold he was and how ridiculous he must look with the windows down in the dead of winter. Cars hummed alongside his, covered with clumps of snow and ice and white stains from the rock salt on the roads.

He'd been taking the cars to Randalls' Garage for repairs on the east side of Trenton City for years. Galen, the elderly father, and his two fortysomething sons, LJ and Travis, knew cars like a cardiologist knew chest cavities.

Jack glanced at the digital clock in the dash: 7:17.

The fact that Granger had returned to Trenton City made Jack sick to his stomach—especially each morning when it was time to leave Pam and the girls. The man had come to town to track Pam down two years ago because she was the only person who had ever cared two cents about his life. She had paid for that compassion—they all had.

Jack rested a hand on his chest. His sternum had been severely cracked that night when he slammed into the guardrail. The bone had eventually healed, but his heart had not. Jack didn't care. It was his right to despise Granger. He had zero sympathy for the man, even though Pam—the real victim—had mustered the mercy to forgive.

He recalled driving hopelessly in the dark, through sheets of torrential rain, in search of any sign of his wife—then spinning out of control.

Jack realized he was clamping the steering wheel like a vise. Ease up. He tried to relax his hands, his neck, his whole body.

He shook away the disturbing vignettes of that night.

At the last second he spotted the Tenth Street exit sign, shot a glance back, and veered off the interstate. When Granger got into his head, the memories possessed him. Just like that—almost missing the exit.

He looped around the exit ramp, past the new soup kitchen, which was lined with dark figures—standing, sitting, sleeping—trying to stay warm on sewage grates billowing clouds of steam. He hit green lights for several city blocks. Once past the library, thrift shop, and triple set of railroad tracks leading to the east side, he slowed along the narrow streets.

The houses were shoeboxes whose colors had faded long ago. Many were mobile homes, yet almost every one supported a monstrous leaning antenna or satellite dish. Smoke chugged from tiny chimneys, and he imagined the warmth inside. Beater cars and trucks were parked at all angles in the short driveways and right up against the shanties and shotgun shacks.

Jack's phone chirped. He knew without looking that it was a reminder to attend the editorial board meeting at nine thirty. He had tons of work on his plate. He took a left on Pell Lane and a quick right at the Randalls' place, easing the Jetta up to the large doors of the auto shop. It was a leaning, rusted silver metal building the size of a barn, sealed up tight with no windows or sign.

A hint of snow fell as Jack turned the car off. The Randalls' one-story house was situated about fifty feet from the shop. It was faded green with a big metal awning over the back. Next to it was a rusting white propane tank that looked like a giant Tylenol capsule. Out back were a red tool shed, an ancient doghouse, and a broken-down sky-blue Ford Pinto.

The Randalls' orange dog with the corkscrew tail was lying on the back stoop, which led to the rear entrance of the house. A cozy yellow light shone from inside. The instant the mutt saw him, it bolted upright and howled.

"Hello, Rusty." Jack continued toward the back door. "It's okay. I'm here to see the boys. Are they up?" Rusty quieted and sniffed at his coat.

Jack went up the steps slowly, the gun on his ankle feeling heavy. Through the screen door he could see Travis sitting hunched over an enormous plate of food at the small kitchen table. Jack knocked at the leaning screen door, and without any change in facial expression, Travis lifted a hand and motioned him inside.

Jack nudged the tightly sealed back door, scaring a gray cat away as he slipped in. "Morning, Travis."

The kitchen was small and toasty warm, permeated with the smell of cigarettes and dotted with NASCAR posters, hats, and paraphernalia.

"Jack." Travis nodded casually, as if Jack lived there and had just meandered in for breakfast. He sat with his right leg crossed and his right foot gently bouncing. He was distinctly bony, like a caveman, from his large hands and sinewy arms to his long, sculpted face. His fork tapped and cut and diced its way into a pile of yoke-smothered eggs, bacon, grits, grilled potatoes, biscuits, and white gravy.

"Could it be any colder?" Jack took his gloves off.

Travis continued to work on his breakfast, his elbows resting on the Formica table. "I guess it could, but I wouldn't want it to be." He chuckled at his own joke. "What's the word at the Dispatch? Any new scandals? You can wipe your feet right there on that rug."

"Nothing earth-shattering." Jack wiped his feet.

"You still doin' the city-hall beat?" Travis spoke slowly, in a deep voice. He wore faded jeans with a small rip above one knee, a soft brown T-shirt, and thick gray socks.

"Yeah," Jack said. "And I'm the features editor now, so I've been doing some personality profile stuff. We ran a story about a neighbor of yours recently—Jenness Brinkman."

"They live right 'round back, I think. Jenness is the handicapped girl, right?"

"Yep. Top of her class at East High. Got a full ride to Yale to study criminal law. Wants to work with the FBI in Washington."

"I'll be," Travis said. "I missed that one."

"The features usually run on Sundays."

"Well, that answers that. Bo's always runnin' off with the Sunday paper. Uses it to clean car windows. You hear he's detailin' cars now?"

Bo was Travis's seventeen-year-old nephew, who was always into something new.

"No, I hadn't." Jack heard a sound from the other room.

"Yup. Ask him 'bout it. He's startin' off really cheap."

"I might do that."

"You want somethin' to eat? Biscuit? I got some a' Daddy's homemade sawmill gravy over there. A little go-joe?"

It all sounded good, but he'd had fruit and eggs with Pam. "No, thanks. I appreciate it, though."

The smell of a freshly lit cigarette wafted in from the next room, but Travis didn't seem to notice.

"What brings you out this mornin'?" Travis scratched his dark sparse beard, which was peppered with gray.

"I've got my '98 Jetta out there. The fan is barely working, and there's no heat. Plus the muffler's sagging."

Just then LJ rounded the corner from the dark room, a lit cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth, the usual black eye patch covering his left eye. He wore dark blue jeans, a white T-shirt, an unbuttoned blue and red flannel shirt, and white socks. "You want the good ol' boy fix on the muffler, Jack, or you want me to get the parts from Volkswagen?"

"Hey, LJ," Jack said. "The good ol' boy fix, if you can."

"What you doin', boy?" Travis suddenly came to life. "Sneakin' round here in the dark." He looked at Jack. "He's been doin' that since we was boys. Ears like radar. Stickin' that crooked nose into other people's beeswax. Ain't no such thing as a private conversation 'round here."

LJ smirked as he stirred some grilled potatoes in a frying pan above a blue flame. With the cigarette pinched at the end of two fingers, he took a heaping mouthful. "Momma used to call me Ghosty. Remember, Trav?"

The most prominent feature on LJ, besides the eye patch, was his Adam's apple, which protruded an inch from his long skinny neck. He was about six foot four and balding. The brown hair he did have on top was long and thin; on the sides it was full and flowing.

"Momma had your number," Travis said. "Remember how she got on you for spying on Daddy's customers? Hey, don't smoke around the food!"

"How long ago did your mother pass away?" Jack asked.

LJ ran his cigarette under water, threw it away, and got into the eggs, eating right out of the pan. "Two thousand and seven," he said with a mouthful. "These need salt. Want some grub, Jack?"

"I already asked him ... but now that you've gone and stuck your grea-zee grubs into everythin' ... Sorry, Jack. LJ, mind your manners."

"Same thing's gonna kill Daddy that killed Momma." LJ shook the big spoon toward the window as he spewed the words: "Demler-Vargus."

"Is something wrong with Galen?" Jack asked.

"He's in the hospital." LJ tossed the spoon in the sink. "They's callin' it emphysema, and maybe it is, but we know what caused it." He jabbed a finger toward the window. "That plant. It killed Momma, and it's killed others. But nobody wants to listen to us poor east-siders. We got no voice in this town."

Travis calmly tapped and scraped at the remains on his plate.

Jack knew that Demler-Vargus, the massive fiberglass manufacturing plant that employed half of Trenton City, had been the recipient of complaints in the past for emitting hazardous pollutants. But as far as he knew, the corporate giant had only received several slaps on the wrist from the EPA.

"How bad is he?" Jack said.

"He's gonna be okay." Travis didn't look up. "Passed out the other night. Wasn't gettin' enough oxygen to the brain. Scared the starch out of us."

"I thought he was dead." LJ came over and stood by Travis. "He was purple. Sprawled out yonder in the TV room."

"Lucky there was no brain damage, they said." Travis picked at his teeth with his upside-down fork. "It's my day at the hospital, so LJ will be takin' care of your car." He looked up at his brother. "You hear all his Jetta needs when you was listenin' in?"

"I heard. I gotta take care of the fuel filter on that Volvo first, then I got that little day-care bus out back, door's busted—"

"But you gonna get to it today, right?" Travis said.

"I might could. But it might be tomorrow."

Travis craned his neck toward Jack. "That okay?"

"That's fine."

"You need a ride to the paper?" Travis stood and took his dish to the sink.

"That would be great." Jack put his gloves on. "You know, we just ran a feature story about the CEO of Demler-Vargus. He was voted Trenton City's Person of the—"

"That is the biggest load of horse manure." LJ scowled and pulled at his thick brown mustache that reached to the bottom of his chin. "Don't get me started, Jack. That man is nothing but a murderer, plain and simple."

"No, please don't git him started." Travis finished rinsing his things and put them in the dishwasher. "I can take you to the paper on my way to the hospital."

"Great." Jack guessed LJ was frustrated and looking for someone to blame for his parents' struggles, but his own curiosity was piqued. He'd come away from his interview with Leonard Bendickson III thinking the fiberglass CEO was intelligent, cocky, and filthy rich. "Why are you so sure Demler-Vargus is hurting people?" he asked. "What do you know?"

"Whatever that plant is spewing, it's killing people," LJ said. "It's in the air and the water. I've heard plenty."

"Like what, specifically?"

"Uh oh," Travis said. "Here we go."

"You know what fiberglass is, Jack?" LJ whirled around like a raging pirate, with his arching brown eyebrows and long crooked nose. "It's tiny slivers of actual glass. We breathe it in day in and day out in this crummy neighborhood. Momma and Daddy been breathin' it in they whole lives. Some days we can see it on the cars and houses. You know what that does to your innards? That plant shouldn't be anywhere close to any neighborhood."

"What did your mom die from?" Jack said.

"Lymphoma, eventually," Travis said as he hoisted on a heavy blue-and-yellow parka. "But she had respiratory problems the last three years."

LJ slammed some dishes in the sink. "Her mouth was covered with sores." He stopped, gripped the sink, and stared out the window. "She had a sore throat for years. Used an oxygen tank."

"Did she smoke?"

"All her life," Travis said.

"That ain't the point!" LJ kicked away the gray cat that was poking around the dishwasher. "Smokin' don't make you twitch and break into hives till you itch yerself raw!"

Travis snatched his keys from a wooden board. "We know people who work in there whose health is broken down somethin' miserable. They's some horror stories, how it affects the central nervous system."

"Big joke at the plant is, none of 'em collect on their retirement 'cause they all dead shortly after they retire," LJ said. "If they last that long."

"I've heard things from time to time at the paper," Jack said. "But it always sounded to me like when there was any wrongdoing, Demler-Vargus complied and cleaned things up."

LJ closed the dishwasher with a bang. "Jack, this is dirty, filthy politics and greed and cover-up. Nobody wants to do nothin' about it 'cause Demler-Vargus employs the whole town. It would cripple the entire city if they got shut down. That's yer bottom line."

"Daddy got us a big-shot lawyer." Travis knelt to pet the cat. "Says we're gonna pursue it hot an' heavy. Lawyer says we got a good shot at winning some big moolah."

"Other people have gotten payoffs from Demler-Vargus, but you wouldn't know about that down at the Dispatch," LJ said. "Prob'ly wouldn't write about it even if you did."

"Sure we would."

LJ shook his head like a spoiled child. "No sir. I'm tellin' you, Jack, this here is a can a' worms. The Dispatch don't cover it, and neither does AM 550; Demler-Vargus is too powerful. They're Goliath. No one's got the guts to call 'em out and say what's really goin' on."

"That's enough, LJ." Travis headed for the door. "Jack's gotta get to work, and I gotta get over to see Daddy. Oh, that's right ..." Travis rattled around in a drawer until he found a brown bag. "I told him I'd bring him some biscuits." He dropped three in the bag and wrung it closed. "That'll do it. You ready?"

"Yep." Jack followed him to the door. "Look, I'm not promising anything, but if I can get my editor to agree, would you guys be willing to give me names and details?"

"Shoot, yeah. Daddy's got all the facts. You need to talk to him." LJ stretched his long arms and touched the low ceiling, then ran his fingers through his thin hair and snapped the elastic band that held the eye patch in place. "But I bet you a six-pack you won't do nothin'—beverage of your choice."

Jack reached his hand out, and it was engulfed by LJ's massive calloused paw, clean except for the dirt beneath his fingernails.

"You're on."

CHAPTER 2

It was getting light and snowing when Travis dropped Jack out front of the big Dispatch building downtown. From there, Travis rocked and rolled his dark green Jeep Wrangler through Trenton City slush puddles and backstreets, on over to visitor parking at Cook County Hospital.

Up on the modern fourth floor, he quietly entered the dark sterile-smelling room. Daddy was upright in bed, sleeping. Travis set the bag of biscuits down, then went to the window and pulled up the blind, knowing his father would want to see out when he awoke. His color looked better, more ruddy, like usual.

Travis ducked back out into the hallway, keeping the door open with his foot. "Excuse me—Candace, is it?" He addressed a plump young nurse in aqua scrubs, whose shiny brown hair was pulled back in a ponytail.

"Yes?" Her eyes shifted and cheeks reddened, as if she was surprised he knew her name.

Shoot, we've been here how many days now?

"Has Galen Randall eaten breakfast yet? Right here in 411?"

She looked at her watch. "It should be coming soon. You're one of the sons, right?"

"Travis." He nodded. "I know I asked this before, but can he have waffles 'stead of eggs?"

"They should know that by now in the kitchen."

Travis smiled and went back into the room, doubting they would get the order right. People didn't care about their jobs anymore. Not like Daddy had taught LJ and him—to do your job well, respect others, please the customer, go the extra mile.

Travis sat himself down in the green vinyl chair. His father was fit as a fiddle for seventy-eight. He stood only about five foot nine, but he was lean and stubbornly strong. His forearms were thick, and his hands were small and tough as metal. He could reach unreachable places on an engine, unscrew things, bend, clamp, tighten, and manipulate a motor with his hands like most people couldn't do with a full set of tools. And nothing ever seemed to hurt those hands, or him—until now.

His father's face was full of gray beard stubble. He looked older. Of course he had to be fatigued from all this hospital business. They still had the oxygen tube stuck up his nose, but it looked like they had reduced his IVs from two bags of fluid to one. Good.

Travis just hoped he could get Daddy home soon, because that house and that garage and that piece of property were his life, especially since Momma died. Daddy'd been going to church quite a bit since then too, and that seemed to give him a lot of comfort, which was fine with Travis. Daddy even managed to get LJ and him to church once in a while, when he promised to take them to Ryan's afterward for the all-you-can-eat buffet.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Poison Town by Creston Mapes. Copyright © 2014 Creston Mapes, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of David C. Cook.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS,
Chapter 1,
Chapter 2,
Chapter 3,
Chapter 4,
Chapter 5,
Chapter 6,
Chapter 7,
Chapter 8,
Chapter 9,
Chapter 10,
Chapter 11,
Chapter 12,
Chapter 13,
Chapter 14,
Chapter 15,
Chapter 16,
Chapter 17,
Chapter 18,
Chapter 19,
Chapter 20,
Chapter 21,
Chapter 22,
Chapter 23,
Chapter 24,
Chapter 25,
Chapter 26,
Chapter 27,
Chapter 28,
Chapter 29,
Chapter 30,
Chapter 31,
Chapter 32,
Chapter 33,
Chapter 34,
Chapter 35,
Chapter 36,
Chapter 37,
Chapter 38,
Chapter 39,
Chapter 40,
Chapter 41,
Chapter 42,
AfterWords EXCERPT FROM BOOK 3 IN THE CRITTENDON FILES: SKY ZONE,
Extras,

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 17 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 18, 2014

    A fantastic Christian suspense novel! Jack Crittendon is a repo

    A fantastic Christian suspense novel!

    Jack Crittendon is a reporter for the local paper in Trenton City, Ohio. At the start of the book he is taking his personal car to his regular mechanic for repairs. In talking with the mechanic he becomes aware of concerns about the health and safety of the people that live on the east side of town near a large manufacturing plant. So begins the roller coaster ride as he along with another reporter try to find out if this giant company is knowingly endangering people or not.

    The plot is very intricately woven and at the beginning of the book it very slowly develops. As you get farther in it picks up speed as more and more details are revealed.

    There is a wonderful cast of well developed and beautifully presented characters in this book. It is not just a couple of main characters and then small glimpses of side people. They cover a variety of personalities and most of them are easy to connect with.

    I really liked the fact that Jack’s character is still working through the residue of emotions from the first novel in this series. He is a human being with all the faults and failures possible with that. It is nice to see him work through things with his wife and with God as the story progresses.

    I received a free copy of this book through The Book Club Network in exchange for my honest opinion.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 23, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Poison Town is second in the Crittenden Files series by Creston

    Poison Town is second in the Crittenden Files series by Creston Mapes. It stands alone as an intriguing story, and the author cleverly doesn’t overwhelm readers with backstory. But issues of unforgiveness hang over the story from book one, distracting from a central tale of big business and small-town pollution, making this a series probably best read in the right order.

    “Fit as a fiddle” seventy-eight-year-old Galen might be dying, and it might be a result of pollution from the nearly Demler-Vargus factory. But bitterness poisons people and relationships just as surely as pollutants do. And sometimes it takes more than human skill and dedication to change the world.

    “God’s big enough... to protect us,” says one of the characters, and God does indeed prove big enough in this multiple-viewpoint, multi-threaded tale. Characters pray naturally, argue and fight over their faith, and investigate with all the tools of serious newspaper reporters. Betrayals come from unexpected places, and hope from others, as Jack, inclined to trust the gun more than the Lord, learns what being a “Christian role model” might really mean.

    While faith and past events might weigh heavy on this tale, it’s an action adventure with mounting tension, in the style of Erin Brockovich, and the final scenes will keep readers glued to the page.

    Disclosure: I won a free ecopy and I’m offering my honest review

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2014

    SUPER AWESOME MYSTERY!!!!!! I loved this book!!!! Creston Mape

    SUPER AWESOME MYSTERY!!!!!! I loved this book!!!! Creston Mapes has become on of my favorite authors. After reading his first book in this new series, FEAR HAS A NAME, I couldn't wait to get POISON TOWN. I was NOT disappointed. Poison Town is a fast moving roller coaster ride--an awesome well written suspenseful mystery. The characters are well developed and have depth and are believable. The plot is fast paced and keeps you wanting to keep turning the pages to see what will happen next. Once you start this book, you won't want to put it down until you've turned the last page. Get this book and put it on top of your "to be read list". You won't regret it!!

    I received a complimentary copy of this book from The Book Club Network. Thank you Creston and TBCN. tabby

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 14, 2014

    Poison Town by Creston Mapes is as addicting as Fear has a Name,

    Poison Town by Creston Mapes is as addicting as Fear has a Name, the first book in this series about Jack Crittendon, local reporter. Yes, there's suspicion that a manufacturing plant is manufacturing an illegal product and that it's poisoning the townsfolk who live nearby. But "there's more than one kind of poison in this town!" (as it says on the back cover). I don't quite know how to put into words the type of stories Creston Mapes weaves together. From the first page, the characters are engaging and real. His use of description puts you right in the middle of the scene. Things that pop up in the beginning of the story show up somewhere in the end. I'm talking about details that you don't think are important. But they are. You have to keep your eyes and ears open in this book or you'll miss something. Nothing was predictable. If you like John Grisham, you'll love Mapes! The only bad thing about this book is that it ended. I found myself staring at it on my desk wishing there was more to read. I cannot wait for the next book in the series!

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  • Posted April 6, 2014

    Poison Town played out like an action packed thriller movie in m

    Poison Town played out like an action packed thriller movie in my head. This is the first book I have read by Creston Mapes and it did not disappoint. I liked getting to know Jack Crittendon and his family and friends. Jack is really struggling with forgiveness and fear since the ordeal when his wife was kidnapped. This is then causing problems in his and Pam’s marriage. While that and more are going on in his personal life, he is having car trouble and goes to his mechanics. While there he learns that Galen, the father, has been really sick. While Galen was at the hospital someone had tried to poison him. This sets off a chain of events where Jack, who is an investigative reporter by profession, is trying to help his friends search for answers about their town being poisoned from a nearby factory. Jack and Derrick, his reporter friend/partner, begin to uncover some very shady dealings and a lot of corporate greed with people who really want this story silenced, that they will stoop to do anything to keep this quiet, including murder. There is a lot of stuff going on in this story and the last 80 pages or so had me on the edge of my seat. There are also quite a few characters, yet the author made them all stand out and we even got to know the minor ones well. This story takes place in my home state of Ohio which made the story even creepier for me. This is a second in the series and even though it is can be read as a standalone, the first book does deal with Pam’s kidnapping. I have not read the first one, but I do plan on going back and reading it. At the end of the book we get a sneak peak of the third Crittendon File. I am looking forward to reading that one as well. I received this book from The Book Club Network and the opinions are my own.

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  • Posted February 26, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Although I did enjoy the book for the most part, it just didn¿t

    Although I did enjoy the book for the most part, it just didn’t leave me wanting to know more about its’ characters. I didn’t realize it was a series until I was partway through the book, and I don’t plan to go out of the way to buy the next one. I chose to review this book because I really enjoyed a similar storyline from the Erin Brokovich movie. Both follow an investigation of a big corporation accused of being crooked due to its pollution of a nearby town. Turns out, the character portrayals were much better in her story than this one.

    There is a Christian element to this story that follows the main character on a soul-searching journey while he tries to decide if he should forgive the villain from the first book who has since turned his life around. There is a disconnect between Jack and his wife because of his inability to forgive up to this point. Though I understood the conflicts they were each struggling with, I just couldn’t find myself forming a connection with either of them. This was frustrating as a reader, because I did connect with some of the secondary characters and found myself wishing the spiritual focus had been on them instead.

    Overall, the storyline that revolves around the corporation and its heinous acts that try to cover up their wrongdoing is a gripping one that many readers will enjoy. By itself, I may have given it a 4, but the attempt at merging it with Jack’s personal spiritual struggles just didn’t work for me, so a 3 it is.

    Received for an honest review.

    Rating: 3

    HEAT Rating: None

    Reviewed By: Daysie W.

    Review Courtesy of: My Book Addictions and More

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  • Posted February 25, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Jack Crittendon has a new mission, as an investigative reporter

    Jack Crittendon has a new mission, as an investigative reporter for The Dispatch, he is turning the tables on the man he just interviewed Leonard Bendickson III, CEO of Demler-Vargas, the fiberglass manufacturer in Trenton City. Since taking the helm as CEO thirteen years ago, Bendickson has steered the Fortune 500 company to unfathomable heights. The $7.9 billion corporation has consistently surpassed Wall Streets expectations on its way to becoming one of the world's most prolific manufacturers of fiberglass - all kinds of fiberglass. Although Demler-Vargas has been the subject of complaints about air pollution from Trenton City neighbors over the years, Bendickson insists the company has worked diligently to comply with OSHA and the EPA.

    But there is something sinister and unsettling when Jack discovers that those around him that he knows are dying from similar symptoms. He wondered just what the truth was. Were pollutants from Demler-Vargas hurting employees and neighbors? Were they what killed Travis Randall's mother and made his father, Galen sick? But if Demler-Vargas was hiding something, wouldn't OSHA and the EPA caught on and stopped them? Was Bendickson lying, or was he running a clean shop as he claims?

    The more Jack tries to uncover the truth, the more it seems that someone is out to make sure those secrets stay buried. When it gets personal however, and his wife and mother-in-law become victims of a random car accident, Jack begins to dig deeper into the truth. He is aided by Derrick Whittaker, on of Jack's best friends who has been assigned that beat and together they slowly begin to uncover things that don't make sense, especially when their editor, Cecil Barton, will only allow them to spend no more than a hour a day working on this investigation. He seems to think that in the past, Amy Sheets has tried to do much the same thing, but now has moved away to be closer to her aging parents and discovered nothing. But is that really the reason why she is no longer working at the office?

    I received Poison Town by Creston Mapes compliments of David C. Cook Publishers and Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed are strictly my own. This could be any real company today as chemicals continue to surface in our food sources and water supplies that are being linked to certain types of cancer and illness that seem to multiply the closer people come to living next to these manufacturing plants. In this case, it is more than just the poisons from the fiberglass plant that are infecting people, it's also greed and justice that are tearing families and businesses apart. But will Jack's now dormant faith come to light in time to save them all or will he fall victim to the same fate as everyone else? You'll have to pick this one up to find out. This is the second novel in the Crittendon Files and I'd rate this one a 4 out of 5 stars. The first novel in the series is Fear Has No Name in which the reader gains insight into the back story of the issues between Jack and his wife.

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  • Posted February 23, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Hold onto your hat and watch your back! Poison Town is a story

    Hold onto your hat and watch your back!
    Poison Town is a story fueled with even more tension than the first novel in this series "Fear Has A Name," and THAT is saying something! Jack Crittendon is hot on the heels of a story that seems almost too bad to be true and he is dealing with a far larger problem than one or two mere men. The high profile Demler Corporation has provided jobs for decades in the city of Trenton, but at what cost?

    Somehow Jack and his co-worker Derrick have a story on their hands that is so big, they have to split time trying to put all the pieces together. Something terribly wrong is going on in the small community surrounding the Demler Corporation's fiberglass plant, and people Jack cares about are suffering in more ways than one. For Derrick this story could mean big things for his career as a journalist, for Jack the story could cause him to lose much more than time with his family. Both are learning quickly that nothing is as it would seem.

    "Poison Town" is the second book in the Crittendon Files series, and I loved that things did not wrap up in a nice neat little bow after the first story. First of all, that would be kind of boring. It is also totally fake. Sure, as much as I would like to see life going smoothly again, the reality is not everyone heals or forgives the same way at the same time. There is residual. Some of us move on swiftly where others can take months or even decades to recover from life's tragedies.

    The minor characters in "Poison Town" are equally engaging. I found myself rooting for the Randall family, and enjoying the time spent with them in the book. They made me smile and hope. They also made me quite nervous. There were even a few times where I felt like I would smack someone silly if anything happened to the elder of the family.

    This thriller will keep you guessing and quite literally on the edge of your seat. The characters will engage you and enrage you, but you will be glad for it. There is even a bit of slow and easy romance without being over the top. This is a story of faith in action in many forms.


    All in all, I actually enjoyed the book so much, I had a hard time putting it down. Then I got to the point that I knew it would end soon, and I just HAD to put it down. I just didn't want to disconnect with the characters. "Poison Town" is an exceptional follow up to the first book in the series "Fear Has A Name." If the third book in the series "Sky Zone" follows suit, I just may have to start adding past five stars.

    I received this book for free in eBook format from the author and the publisher as a kindness and to facilitate my review. This had no impact on my review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.

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  • Posted February 21, 2014

    Jack is angry and still wresting internally dealing with the kid

    Jack is angry and still wresting internally dealing with the kidnapping of his wife that happened months
     ago. He has purchased a gun without her knowledge, and has failed to put his faith in The Lord.
    His wife has forgiven the criminal and has used the circumstance to strengthen her faith.
    This is the backdrop of an investigation of a plant in town, Demler-Vargus. Some in town believe 
    the plant is polluting the air causing breathing problems and even death. Yet, they have no hard
    evidence, and no one seems to want to talk. Before long, he and his partner are in over their heads.
    ( As a side note, nothing is mentioned that guns are wrong. Just that he had something he was trying
     hard to hide from his wife thus creating distance in their marriage). Will Jack be able to forgive and
     put the past where it belongs? Will he and his investigative partner be able to find answers for those
     suffering in town? How far up the chain does the lying and deceit go? All of these are answered in a
    well written, gripping tale combining suspense, mystery, and faith. I love suspense and mystery books,
     and I'm so glad to see some great ones that are CLEAN! This book will keep you turning the pages
     and on the edge of your seat. Hang on for a thrilling read! Highly recommend.  This book was given to me through the Book Club Network for an honest review which I have given.

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  • Posted February 20, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Exceptional novel! I love the way Mapes weaved this story and hi

    Exceptional novel! I love the way Mapes weaved this story and his characters, and cannot say enough good things about  the first two books in this series that I have read; and I look forward to reading more of his novels. 

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  • Posted February 17, 2014

    ¿Poison Town¿ by Creston Mapes is the fast-paced second novel in

    ‘Poison Town’ by Creston Mapes is the fast-paced second novel in The Crittendon Files series. As quickly and brilliantly as lightning flashes across the sky is the intensity of this novel about the possible cover-up of cancer-causing emissions being released from a local fiberglass manufacturing plant. This plant provides much of the employment in Trenton City, Ohio. Unfortunately, there is no traceable evidence that the carcinogen resulting in sickness and death comes from the plant.
    Jack Crittendon and his team of reporters work at the Trenton City Dispatch, where he had recently written about Trenton City’s Man of the Year, Leonard Bendickson III, CEO of Demler Vargas – the plant where the fiberglass is manufactured and deadly emissions suspected. When Jack presented the concerns of the residents to his editor, the editor discouraged him from following up. After all, if this company that claimed to use green technology in their manufacturing had any skeletons, wouldn’t Jack have found them when he wrote the article?
    Jack, always on the trail for truth, was convinced of suspicious activity by his friends and long-time mechanics, and talked to his close friend on staff, Derrick. They discussed what they could do to investigate the concerns. This was especially critical after someone had sneaked into the senior Mr. Randall’s room at the hospital and injected a poison into his IV line. Had Galen’s son Travis not been going to visit him and saw someone slip from his room, Galen would have died.
    Jack was having his own crises, as well. The man convicted of kidnapping his wife was released from prison early. Jack felt he failed to be home to protect his wife from Granger Meade and changed his reliance from the Lord to the gun he had secretly purchased. What was more challenging – not only had Jack slowly and steadily turned away from the Lord in recent months, but his wife, Pamela, had actually forgiven Meade for his actions and didn’t understand why Jack could not. And Pamela’s mother, newly widowed, was living with them.
    The tension coils as we see Jack following up with the Randall’s and others who were ill and lived near Demler-Vargas. He juggled this along with keeping track of the whereabouts of Granger Meade, and his need to protect his wife and children. We see Jack and Derrick making contact with various people, including a former reporter for the Dispatch who attempted to investigate Demler-Vargas in the past. The former reporter and former employees started over in different towns with huge sums of money – payoffs? The former employees died under suspicious causes, and the former reporter was living in fear. It seems that a cover-up is far reaching among community members.
    The Randall family is holing up with assorted firearms and Jack has a showdown with Leonard Bendickson III that results in a death threat. A snowstorm is coming in … Pamela, their children and her mother are involved in a holdup at the home store … could Jack at least live long enough to rescue them?
    Creston Mapes, a former reporter, is adept at pulling readers in and keeping them in. His characters are so well-defined that one quickly feels as if they have lived around and known these folks for years. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a top-notch thriller written by a Christian who does not preach, but demonstrates faith through the actions and words of the book’s characters.
    I received a copy of this book through the “For Readers Only” group at The Book Club Network, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.

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  • Posted February 16, 2014

    This is the second in the Crittendon Files series. It continues

    This is the second in the Crittendon Files series. It continues the story of an investigative reporter, Jack, and his wife, Pam, and their two little girls. Although it could be a stand-alone, I strongly recommend reading the first, FEAR HAS A NAME, to really appreciate the impact of Jack and Pam’s history with Evan and Granger. That history has had long-turn effects on Jack’s faith and marriage. Added to dealing with Evan and Granger reappearing in his family’s life, Jack plunges into a dangerous and complicated investigation of a big and powerful corporation creating a health hazard in their community.
    This book is a well-written thriller that creates a sense of desperation and menace that just builds as the action progresses; yet, interwoven into the storyline are sweet moments of family life with the children. The strain in Jack and Pam’s marriage-where love still is obvious- is contrasted with their generous acceptance of Pam’s mentally ill mother. The investigation and the resulting threats and increasing body count are frighteningly believable, and the reader easily becomes emotionally involved in the terrifying events. It is truly a heart-pounding experience.
    It is impossible not to like and identify with the characters. Even the minor characters are well constructed. Jack’s struggles with his inability to forgive and failure to find comfort and guidance in his faith provide very human feet of clay to this tireless, brave crusader, and the reader will truly care about how all this will be resolved. There is a clear Christian message that is impossible to miss, but it neither distracts from or overwhelms the exciting storyline. Great thriller with likeable characters.

    I received this book from The Book Club Network in exchange for this honest review.

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  • Posted February 12, 2014

    This book is definitely one of my new favorites. It kept me glu

    This book is definitely one of my new favorites. It kept me glued to the pages, I didn’t want to put it down. There are several different storylines going on at the same time, which makes it seem like a very fast paced book. Greed, alcoholism, lying to your spouse, forgiveness, romance – all have a part in this book. 5 stars!

    I received this book for review purposes from The Book Club Network, Inc. for my honest opinion

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  • Posted February 10, 2014

    Poison Town, book 2 The Crittendon Files by Creston Mapes Wow be

    Poison Town, book 2 The Crittendon Files by Creston Mapes
    Wow be prepared to be taken on a wild ride with these faith filled characters. Set on the wrong side of the tracks in Trenton City, Ohio, Poison Town will intrigue you. Jack Crittendon a reporter for Trenton City Dispatch the local newspaper finds himself and those most precious to him in grave danger. Investigating the rumors about Demler-Vargus the local fiberglass plant Jack is faced with deception, lies and bribery. Who can he trust; the bad guys and the good guys are hard to tell apart. The further into the investigation he goes the larger the circle of corruption extends. I enjoyed seeing how the characters’ dealt with deception, anger, greed and bitterness. Any seeing the power of forgiveness and love was great.

    This book started off with a bang and just kept going. I thoroughly enjoyed the fast paced nature, the suspense and action at every turn. This is the first book I have read by author Creston Mapes but it is sure not to be the last. Poison Town follows Fear Has A Name in The Crittendon Files series but it can be read as a stand along. I have not read the first book and had no trouble keeping up and following along. I give a high five to the author and publisher David C Cook for bringing compelling Christian books that are entertaining and give hope to the reader with stories of faith. The Book Club Network Inc. provided me with this book in exchange for my honest review and I am so grateful for their, the author Creston Mapes and publishers generosity. I definitely am new fan of this author.

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  • Posted February 10, 2014

    Second in the Series Keeps Moving I totally enjoyed the firs

    Second in the Series Keeps Moving




    I totally enjoyed the first book as the characters struggled to make Godly choices in a highly stressful situation. This one picks right up as the protagonist decides to carry a gun to protect his family when the antagonist from the first book moves back to town. But, that is not where the danger lies. The suspense of Jack’s job is wound up with the problems in his personal life as he attempts to deal with the death of his father-in-law, his mother-in-law’s alcoholism, and his inability to forgive old enemies. Jack senses a story from talking to his mechanic friends, and runs from there. Danger sneaks in from an unlikely source. Mapes’ ability to create realistic characters dealing with extraordinary situations creates a highly readable, suspense filled read. I particularly appreciated that Mapes did not fill the book with sex and profanity to complete the story.




    I recommend this book for suspense lovers who enjoy a Christian element. 




    I received an ARC from NetGalley.

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  • Posted February 9, 2014

    Creston Mapes is a new author for me. Poison Town is action pack

    Creston Mapes is a new author for me. Poison Town is action packed and caused me many heart pounding moments.  The characters are very believable as they deal with many issues we all face on a daily basis, as well as, how they deal with the issues caused by industry in the town. There is something for everyone in this book, whether you like nail biting action, stories of characters struggling with matters of faith, or even a little romance. I could see the book played out on the "big screen" as I read it. Well done, Creston! I look forward to reading more of your books soon.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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