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Money and a Whole Lotta Madness
When the wealthiest man in the small town of Council Grove, Kansas, dies suddenly with a highly suspect last will and testament, the executor, up-and-coming Chicago attorney Henry Mathews Jr., must work to uncover dark secrets buried deep -- far deeper than six feet -- beneath his hometown. With The Will, Nashville-based music producer and award-winning composer Reed Arvin is playing a different tune, with a thrilling debut mystery of money, madness, and masterful courtroom drama.
Henry Mathews has been paying his dues to climb the ladder at the ruthless Chicago corporate law firm of Wilson, Lougherby, and Mathers -- although not without the nagging crisis of conscience you'd expect from a former divinity school student. But when Roger Crandall calls to say that his father, Ty Crandall, the multimillionaire who ostensibly ran the town where Henry grew up, is dead, Henry must put his breakneck career path on hold to execute the will written by his father, an idealistic lawyer who died in a car crash several years ago. No one could have predicted what the will reveals: The small-town mogul inexplicably left almost all of his fortune -- and with it, control of Council Grove -- to the local lunatic, Raymond Boyd, a.k.a. the Birdman, who has been proclaiming a mixture of Scripture and gibberish for 25 years. Now, Roger, who was almost cut out of the will entirely, will stop at nothing to get what he feels he deserves.
Although Henry has no sympathy for the Birdman, he knows his father would never have drafted such a will if Ty Crandall didn't know exactly what he was doing, and it is up to Henry to figure out the connection. He soon discovers that Raymond Boyd was a onetime employee of the local bank, one who approved the risky first loan that permitted Ty Crandall to purchase the oil wells that launched his success. Whatever else there is to know, however, is locked away in the Birdman's mind. Henry knows Ellen Gaudet, the past-her-prime pepper pot who has worked at the bank for decades, is hiding something -- but he doesn't know what, or why. And when Amanda Ashton, a whip-smart activist from the state Department of the Environment begins to investigate Ty Crandall's land, Henry learns that the ties between the millionaire and the madman could be even more haunting than he -- or anyone -- ever imagined.
Now, Henry must work to unravel the secrets his father and Ty Crandall took to their graves, and the search is one that will bring him face-to-face with the town's dark past, his own history, and his faith. In this intricate, thoughtful, and fast-paced novel, Reed Arvin has drafted a savvy, smart, gripping read, and we assure you: The Will is one book you won't contest.
Elise Vogel is a freelance writer living in New York City.