Dodging and Burning
By John Copenhaver
A lurid crime scene photo of a beautiful woman arrives on mystery writer Bunny Prescott's doorstep with no return address―and it's not the first time she's seen it. The reemergence of the photo, taken fifty-five years earlier, sets her on a journey to reconstruct the vicious summer that changed her life.
In the summer of 1945, Ceola Bliss is a lonely twelve-year-old tomboy, mourning the loss of her brother, Robbie, who was declared missing in the Pacific. She tries to piece together his life by rereading his favorite pulp detective story “A Date with Death” and spending time with his best friend, Jay Greenwood, in Royal Oak, VA. One unforgettable August day, Jay leads Ceola and Bunny to a stretch of woods where he found a dead woman, but when they arrive, the body is gone. They soon discover a local woman named Lily Vellum is missing and begin to piece together the threads of her murder, starting with the photograph Jay took of her abandoned body.
As Ceola gets swept up playing girl detective, Bunny becomes increasingly skeptical of Jay’s story about the photograph and begins her own investigation into Lily’s murder. A series of clues lead her to Washington, DC, where she must confront the truth about her dear friend—a revelation that triggers a brutal confrontation that will change all of them forever.
Inspired by the turmoil abroad and nationalistic unity at home that encapsulated post-World War II America, Copenhaver’s debut sheds light on the lives of those who were largely overlooked during this historically over-documented era: the LGBTQ community.
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John Copenhaver’s historical crime novel, Dodging and Burning, won the 2019 Macavity Award for Best First Mystery Novel and garnered Anthony, Strand Critics, Barry, and Lambda Literary Award nominations. Copenhaver writes a crime fiction review column for Lambda Literary called “Blacklight,” and he is the six-time recipient of Artist Fellowships from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. His work has appeared in CrimeReads, Electric Lit, Glitterwolf, PANK, New York Journal of Books, Washington Independent Review of Books, and others. He grew up in the mountains of southwestern Virginia and currently lives in Washington, DC with his husband, artist Jeffery Paul (Herrity).
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Publication Date: 10th September 2019
Print Length: 288 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction