After the Petals Go is the 15th book in the Garth Ryland mystery series and perhaps Riggs' most ambitious book to date. Called "an exemplary series hero" by Publishers Weekly, Ryland lives and works in the small town of Oakalla, Wisconsin ("Lake Woebegone made sinister") where passions run high, secrets go deep, and nothing is ever quite what it seems.
Ryland never should have been in his office that beautiful Saturday morning in May when Will Jennings approached him with "something black and shriveled clutched in his right hand, and the weight of the world on his shoulders." The "something" that Will carries is Mike Manning's wallet that Will found in the Forty Acre Woods earlier that morning. Mike Manning has been missing from Oakalla for seven and a half years and is presumed dead by all who knew him best, including Will Jennings, his hired hand; Darrell Williamson, his best friend and drinking buddy, and Samantha Manning, his wife and Ryland's would've, could've, should've been lover.
As Ryland's search takes him from the Forty Acre Woods to the old Manning place, where Mike Manning was last seen, he discovers what appears to be Mike's Silverado pickup hidden in the barn along with an ammonia wagon, missing from Central Co-op. There Ryland also discovers a barn cat with an attitude, a milk house with its windows blacked out, and just as night starts to fall, a body upside down in a water tank. But before Ryland can begin to put the pieces of the puzzle together, he is attacked and nearly killed by an antagonist who is as ruthless and relentless as he is cunning.
Neither does his tormentor stop there, but pursues Ryland and his household even as Ryland slowly but surely closes in on him. Or her. Samantha Manning has a past, as Ruth Krammes, Ryland's housekeeper and trusted confidant, says to him, although she is reluctant to reveal just what that past is. So does Mike Manning have a past, one littered with bad debts, broken promises, deceit, and innuendo. As Ryland sorts through it on his way to the truth, he finds himself at odds with Ruth, his friends and fellow citizens, and worst of all, himself. Shaken by the events swirling around him, his near death, and the death of his hero, he steps outside of himself into an unfamiliar world of loose talk and hasty actions that are as dangerous in their own way as the killer who stalks him.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I thoroughly enjoy John R. Riggs' mysteries. They keep you on the edge of your seat without all the blood and gore that some murder mystery writers use. Plus, he was one of the BEST high school english teachers I had!
I've read most of his books and enjoyed them all. Feels like you're there with him from the descriptions. I recommend his books highly.