Charles Fergus is the author of "A Stranger Here Below," the first novel in a historical mystery series set in the 1830s in central Pennsylvania. His main character, Gideon Stoltz, is a Pennsylvania Dutch sheriff who solves murders and other violent crimes.
A Stranger Here Below: A Gideon Stoltz Mystery by Charles Fergus
It’s 1835 in Adamant, Pennsylvania. Twenty-two-year-old sheriff Gideon Stoltz faces his first real challenge when his friend and mentor, the respected judge Hiram Biddle, commits suicide. Gideon is regarded with suspicion: he’s new to town, and Pennsylvania Dutch in the backcountry Scotch-Irish settlement. And he found the judge’s body.
Gideon’s quest to learn why Judge Biddle killed himself takes him down a dangerous path into the town’s past. Soon, a murder rocks Adamant. Is it linked in some way to the judge’s death? As Gideon investigates, he must relive the trauma of his own mother’s murder, a crime that remains unsolved.
A Stranger Here Below is the first in a new historical mystery series featuring Sheriff Gideon Stoltz and set in Jacksonian America.
“Deeply imagined and intricately plotted, A Stranger Here Below marries richly textured historical fiction with the urgency of a mystery novel.” – Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of March
“A dark, engrossing tale that introduces a decent, sympathetic hero. The novel’s special strength is its imaginative saturation in the community of Adamant, a violent, haunted place of dreams and visions, a place as hard and unforgiving as its name.” – Castle Freeman, Jr., author of The Devil in the Valley
“A cracking good mystery, and a window to the time when our young country was a wild and treacherous place.” – Scott Weidensaul, author of The First Frontier
“With luminous and deftly sketched prose, Fergus takes us into an American past that is both deeply familiar and utterly strange.” – Jeffrey Lent, author of Lost Nation
“Imbued with Michael Connelly’s gumshoe skills and the vivid historical descriptions of Charles Frazier. . . Fergus displays a deft touch in detailing the rough-and-tumble life of 19th-century America.” – Brad Smith, author of the Virgil Cain mysteries
“The kind of mystery Lee Child would have Jack Reacher tackleif he placed a story in the 1830s.” – Michael McMenamin, author of The Liebold Protocol
“A slow, rich novel of a distant time and a man who is ‘Othered’ in most aspects of his life . . . an exploration of the soul in the presence of death and wrongdoing.” – Beth Kanell, New York Journal of Books
“I loved this novel. It works asa compelling and complex historical mystery, but it’s more. The characters struggle mightily with the evil around them, trying to find purpose in a world that is frequently brutal and unforgiving . . . The details, whether of a grouse’s feathers or a horse’s gait or burning charcoal for an iron mill, are flawless. Fergus has a curious naturalist’s attention to detail. This is a gem. I hope we see more of Gideon Stoltz in the future.” – Matthew Miller, The Nature Conservancy “Cool Green Science” blog
Charles Fergus has written nineteen books, most of them about nature and wildlife, and one previous novel. Learn more.