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Poisoned Ground: A Rachel Goddard Mystery

Poisoned Ground: A Rachel Goddard Mystery

4.3 3
by Sandra Parshall

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When a powerful development company sets its sights on Mason County, Virginia, as the location for a sprawling resort for the rich, the locals begin taking sides. Many residents see the resort as economic salvation for the small Blue Ridge Mountains community, while others fear the county will become financially dependent on a predatory company.

Few oppose the


When a powerful development company sets its sights on Mason County, Virginia, as the location for a sprawling resort for the rich, the locals begin taking sides. Many residents see the resort as economic salvation for the small Blue Ridge Mountains community, while others fear the county will become financially dependent on a predatory company.

Few oppose the development more vocally than veterinarian Rachel Goddard. She sides with locals reluctant to sell their land and, in the process, complicates the life of her new husband, Sheriff Tom Bridger.

When a beloved couple is gunned down on the farm they refused to sell, it seems supporters will stop at nothing to ensure the success of the resort. Disagreement in the community explodes into civil war with both sides lashing out.

Can she bring the truth to light before her community tears itself apart?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Farm families in southwestern Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains struggle to survive in Parshall’s strong sixth mystery featuring veterinarian Rachel Goddard (after 2012’s Bleeding Through). A large development company’s decision to build a resort in Rachel’s county divides the region between those anxious to accept generous checks and promises of new jobs and those who want no part of the scheme. When a well-liked couple is gunned down in their own backyard, the lines are drawn between the opposing factions. A third murder leads Rachel’s husband, the county sheriff, to question whether the murders may be motivated by drugs or old grudges, rather than the standoff over the proposed development. Parshall does a good job depicting the close-knit community and the strife that arises when the residents are pitted against each other in a depressed economy. A fast-paced plot with plenty of false leads keeps the reader turning the pages. (Mar.)
From the Publisher

"Rachel’s fifth adventure combines nerve wracking suspense with a twisty mystery."—Kirkus Reviews of Bleeding Through

"Readers will enjoy the complex plot and well-developed characters. Parshall won an Agatha for The Heat of the Moon (2006), the first installment in this series."—Booklist of Bleeding Through
" Edge-of-the-seat suspense and a budding romance for Tom and Rachel make this essential reading for fans of Margaret Maron and Karin Slaughter."—Library Journal, starred review of Disturbing the Dead

Dennis Palumbo
When a conflict over land development leads to murder, it's up to veterinarian Rachel Goddard and her new husband, Sheriff Tom Bridger, to sort out the guilty from the innocent. Once again, Sandra Parshall delivers great characters and a twisty, suspenseful plot.
Kirkus Reviews
Plans to build a resort in rural Virginia start an uncivil war. Many of the locals see the new resort as Mason County's chance for much needed jobs, even if they're minimum wage with no benefits. Since some of the people whose land is required dream happily of a big payoff while others adamantly refuse to sell, it's neighbor against neighbor. Veterinarian Rachel Goddard tries to walk a fine line, since her husband, Sheriff Tom Bridger, must remain impartial, but the developers' smug arrogance drives her to speak her mind. When a couple who refuse to sell are found shot, Tom and Rachel have to wonder if their deaths were intended to move the land deal along. But they're confounded by the murder of a woman who'd planned to sell her place. The murdered couple's children start a war of their own when the son, who's deeply in debt, learns that his sister is getting three-fourths of the assets. After Rachel's friend Joanna McKendrick, a vocal opponent of the scheme, loses her barn to arson, Tom learns that many people on both sides of the issue have been getting threatening letters and suffering petty vandalism. Three sisters who haven't made up their minds are in constant fear. Tom warns them and all the anti-resort forces to be extra careful, since he and his deputies have their hands full with violent demonstrations. Though she worries about threats from Tom's job, Rachel can't sit on the sidelines, especially once their nephew is threatened. But it won't be easy to find out if the murders stem from the fight over the resort or from a much more personal motive. Parshall (Bleeding Through, 2012, etc.) expertly maintains the tension between warring factions until the surprising conclusion.

Product Details

Poisoned Pen Press
Publication date:
Poisoned Ground Series , #6
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
14 - 10 Years

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Tavia Gilbert is an Earphones and Parents’ Choice Award–winning producer, writer, narrator, and a multiple Audie Award nominee. School Library Journal has called the performances of this highly acclaimed actress “as close as you can get to a full-cast narration with a solo voice.” She has narrated more than two hundred multicast and solo-voice audiobooks and has appeared on stage and in film.

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Poisoned Ground: A Rachel Goddard Mystery 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
tedfeit0 More than 1 year ago
Veterinarian Rachel Goddard and Sheriff Tom Bridger have finally tied the knot and are living in depressed Mason County, Virginia, where she has bought an animal clinic and he is the newly elected lawman. The area, in the western part of the State, s extremely depressed, with high unemployment. Then the prospect of jobs arises when a development company proposes to buy land, paying top dollar, to build a resort. The proposal pits those would sell against those who wish to retain their land. A nasty circumstance at the best of times. Then, three persons, on opposite sides of the issue, are killed by rifle shots, and Tom has his work cut out for him. First he has to solve three murders. Then he has to keep the peace between the warring factions. No easy task, either of these. The tension mounts as the plot thickens and Rachel and Tom separately attempt to find out the truth about the attacks, each in their own way. It turns out a lot more complicated than the reader is initially led to believe. It is an interesting combination of the history of an Appalachian area and human interaction, written in an engaging manner, well-told and developed with care to a surprising conclusion. Recommended.
LauraMHartman More than 1 year ago
Poisoned Ground starts with a bang. Literally. Veterinarian Rachel Goddard arrives at one of her closest friend’s home for a routine call to find her with a shotgun in her hand. Robert McClure, president of the local bank is standing stock still on the business end of that gun.  While Rachel tries to defuse the situation, twin shots ring out from a neighboring farm. An elderly husband and wife are found dead. It cannot be murder/suicide, but who would murder this kind couple? Apparently, more people than you would think for more reasons than you would associate with a small town.   To begin with, there is a big land deal in the works for Mason County, Virginia. A developer wants to buy up all of the prime land, paying much more than the residents would ever hope to see in a lifetime. Half of them are ready and willing to sign on the dotted line. But the other half have dug in their heels, willing to protect the family farms with their dying breaths.  And they might have to. When Rachel’s husband Tom, the newly elected sheriff, begins investigating the murders, everyone believes it is because of the land deals. Digging deeper, he finds illegal marijuana being grown and distributed, old love affairs and even cold case murders muddying up his findings.  Neighbors are pitted against neighbor in this once peaceful town. Protests lead to arrests and lifelong friendships are tested.  At first glance, this is a comfortable cozy mystery.  While it has some of the elements, Rachel gets involved with the murders deeper than she should; it has many more plot lines that add depth and layers. When Tom digs into the past of some of the residents, the sub-plot adds a richness that most cozies do not have.  I really enjoyed reading this as a standalone book having never read any of Parshall’s previous novels. There were twists and turns that kept me guessing until the last  few pages . As an avid reader of mysteries; it is often evident to me who the killer is within the first half of the book. Not this one! There were so many subtle suspects I kept getting it wrong (much to my delight) until almost the end of the book.   This is the sixth in Parshall’s  Rachel Goddard Mystery Series.  I haven’t read her other works, but didn’t feel gaps in the story or characters. Enjoying Poisoned Ground as much as I did, I will seek out her previous novels. As bonus to anyone that collects autographed books – personally, I love them and am very excited when I get one to add to my collection – you can to go her website where you can purchase signed copies or signed bookplates. Summer is coming; you may want to order several. Copyright © 2014 Laura Hartman DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.
BuriedUnderBooks More than 1 year ago
It’s hard to say whether Poisoned Ground and earlier books in this series should be called mystery, suspense, police procedural or thriller because, in reality, none of those subgenres is inappropriate. There’s even a dash of cozy at times or perhaps traditional would be a more accurate term. That’s the beauty of Sandra Parshall‘s books—they appeal to a wide spectrum of crime fiction readers (although the hardcore cozy bunch might not find them entirely to their liking). All I know is, when I see Sandra Parshall‘s name on it, I’m quite sure this is a book I’m going to like and this latest entry is no exception. The intimidation and divisiveness that goes on when a big corporation wants to take over large swaths of land is at the core of Poisoned Ground. We’ve all seen it, even if only remotely, when Walmart tries to move into an area that has survived quite nicely without a megastore and the arguments for and against go on endlessly until, in the end, Walmart almost always wins. It’s difficult for a governing body to ignore the economic benefits such a company might bring to the locality but that means that personal fallout is inevitable, particularly the loss of land or a beloved business. Throw in the animosity that arises when holdouts prevent financial windfalls to others and the fuse is lit on the powderkeg. Such is the atmosphere when veterinarian Rachel Goddard stops by her friend Joanna’s farmhouse and finds her holding a local banker at bay with a shotgun. Robert McClure’s transgression? He’s there to offer a deal for Joanna’s land, a deal she doesn’t want, and he just won’t give up. When shots ring out, though, they’re not from Joanna’s gun. They seem to come from a neighboring farm, home to Lincoln and Marie Kelly who also oppose the development causing tempers to flare all over the area. Tom Bridger, Rachel’s husband and recently elected sheriff, arrives on the scene and immediately knows he’s looking at murder but is it really because this well-liked couple didn’t want to sell? Tom and his deputies follow up one lead after another, none leading to full answers, and suggestions begin to point at other possible motives. Rachel, in the meantime, while not sleuthing per se, learns even more about some of their neighbors than she could ever have suspected. I’ll admit I had a pretty good idea of who was killing people somewhat before any of the characters did (and I was right although I didn’t know why) but that didn’t matter in the least. Rachel and Tom are one of my very favorite crime fiction couples and the reasons are simple: they’re both very astute, they love and respect each other, they’re both good at their jobs and Rachel does not behave as though Tom is incapable of investigating the crimes that occur around them. Add to my affection for them the well-drawn, interesting people they live among, plots that are clever and full of puzzling leads and quality writing and, as I said before, each book is one I’m bound to like. Poisoned Ground by Sandra Parshall is the latest in a string of intelligent mysteries and I’m just sorry I now have to wait for the next one—but at least I don’t have to wonder if it’ll be good ;-)