March Storm

If you've read January Moon you already know that Lt. Del Carter, a Chicago homicide detective, had his mind and soul messed up by the notorious serial killer, Bradley Mommsen (the United Nations Serial Killer). Early in January Moon we learn Del dreams about turning in his badge, chucking the city life, and exploring a saner life in the country. Del even mentions he might like to be an alpaca farmer, an idea that his fiancee, Jessica Farrell, thinks is comical at best. 

Jess enjoys her position as a history professor at Loyola University and is still adjusting to the idea that she's about to become a cop's wife -- the one thing she swore she'd never become.

Jess's dad was a Chicago cop until some bad boys put his partner in the ground and her dad in a wheelchair and, to put in mildly, Jess has quite a few reasons why being a cop's wife was not her first choice... but when Del refused to take "no" for an answer Jess realized she finally met the man she can love forever. The alpacas, however, are not a part of her dream (or even nightmares); they simply seem ridiculous.

When Jess's own deranged sister draws her into a web of pure evil inside a bizarre religious cult on the Illinois prairie, Del and his loyal team of fellow cops heroically risk everything to save her. Before the story is over, hearts will be broken, lives will be shattered, old lovers will be reunited, a good man will be dead, a maniac will be brought down by a dog, an assassin will be on the run, and the FBI and Mayor of Chicago will have been forced to play by Del Carter's rules. But most of all, a very strange prophecy will have been fulfilled under the cold and mysterious light of a January Moon.


March Storm continues the stories about Del Carter and Jess Farrell, as well as their remarkable friends, Fred Wiley, Eliot Ness, Tooch, Eggs, Mayfield and, of course, Wolf -- the most amazing dog in literature since the world first fell in love with Lassie and Rin Tin Tin. In March Storm we find Del and Jess married and living with their two small children in LeSueur (pronounced luh SOOR), Illinois. Del is working hard to reinvent himself and try his hand at alpaca farming and Jess has just finished a book about her experiences inside the cult at Wyatt, IL. She is also teaching at the local community college.

When January Moon opened, Del was haunted by his memories of Bradley Mommsen, the infamous serial killer who terrorized Chicago, and when January Moon ended Del was fighting to save Jess from both the physical and emotional beating she endured at the hands of yet another monster, Rae Hart. Del had his fill of  politics and violent crime and told the Mayor of Chicago to go to hell and take the Superintendant of Police with him. He moved himself and the woman he loves into another world -- a world where he hopes he can build a safe and sane life for his family.

LeSueur is a picturesque river town about 100 miles south of Chicago. LeSueur was founded as a Catholic mission by the French Jesuit Jean-Michel Le Sueur in 1678, three years after the more famous Jesuit Jacques Marquette established a similar mission roughly 100 miles away near present day Utica. 

English, Irish and Germans followed the French to LeSueur and the trappers gave way to farmers,  merchants and small businessmen. Over the years LeSueur tenaciously clung to life through floods, tornadoes, droughts and pestilence. Today it's a beautiful area that's known for its outdoor recreation opportunities along the river. 

LeSueur is also known for some utterly bizarre local history. The LeSueur Historical Society likes to stress how Lincoln and Douglas almost debated in the town square in 1858 but the venue was changed at the last minute. Less serious types like to entertain with the tale about Mrs. Beatrice Hoopswaller's 1937 murder conviction regarding the peculiar disappearance of her husband Hal.

Beatrice’s life began to unfold after a small hairy toe with an ugly yellow nail was found in one of the forty-two apple-mincemeat pies she happily donated to St. Vincent’s Annual Christmas Season Bake Sale. As luck would have it, the pie slice with the nauseating toe ended up on Sheriff McGinty's dessert plate. Mrs. Emmeline Boudreau died of food poisoning three days later, a matter that was largely attributed to her gluttonous passion for mincemeat and appples. As the story goes, Mrs. Boudreau had virtually inhaled the whole pie by herself before she heard the bad news about the toe. 

Counting the Sheriff's and Mrs. Boudreau's pies, thirty-seven pies were recovered or accounted for, which left a certain unsettling mystery about the other five. 

Whichever way you look at it, the story about Beatrice's pies trumps anything about the planned Lincoln-Douglas debate. 

LeSueur has always been and primarily remains a farm community; the few manufacturing, industrial, and service-related jobs in the area have traditionally supported the farming community, nearby Forest View Community College (where Jess now teaches) and the LeSueur Nuclear Power Plant.

When the United States Geological Society announced it was funding a center for geological research at the community college the local press hardly noticed and failed to ask any probitive questions. Curiously, none of the employees at the nuclear power plant seemed to care either. This was a vast relief to the USGS who feared the local population might begin to ask a lot of pointed questions, especially after it was obvious all the way to Milwaukee that the New Madrid Fault seemed a bit perkier of late.

People were much more interested in the Wal-Mart store going up at the outskirts of town. Some people, however, insisted on talking about Mickey Rivera's strange disappearance while others preferred to focus on persistent rumors about corruption in the local sheriff's department.

Every now and then somone would unwisely ask if anyone had heard the rumors about dog fighting or human trafficking that occasionally circulated around LeSueur, but wiser people quickly changed the subject.

Del and Jess soon learn that the picture-perfect farm community they've chosen for their new home has more skeletons than a cemetery and more criminal behavior than even a homicide dick from Chicago could begin to imagine. They'll be even more amazed when Mother Earth begins to show the area a thing or two.

In March Storm, Del and Jess find themselves in the middle of small town corruption and scandal, dog fighting, human trafficking, and murder. Oh, and did I also mention flood waters and earthquake?  

Once again, however, their remarkable old friends, as well as a few new ones, help Del and Jess battle for their survival and the lives of their children.



As printed in The St. Vincent’s Ladies Sodality Cook Book
LeSueur, IL

1 jar (1 lb.) prepared mincemeat
2 c. applesauce
1 c. (about 2 med) cooking apples, peeled & chopped 
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon rind
Pastry for 9 inch double crust pie
1 tblsp butter

Combine mincemeat, applesauce, apples, brown sugar, lemon juice and rind. Mix well. Roll out half of pastry and line 9 inch pie pan. Pour in applesauce - mincemeat mixture. Dot with butter. Roll out remainder of pastry. Cut in strips and arrange lattice fashion over filling. Trim and flute pastry to make standing edge. Bake at 425 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or cold. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Bon appetit!

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm, Sweeny Todd, eat your heart out! Sounds like an interesting read............