CORPSE IN THE CAMERA: A Mark Stoddard Mystery by J. D. Crayne


Mark Stoddard, Police Detective in the small Northern California town of Pomo, investigates two intriguing and baffling deaths. The first case opens when a brush-clearance project reveals a crashed car in the middle of a berry patch, with the skeleton of its owner still inside. The remains, as Stoddard shortly discovers, belong to a man who vanished from the town without a trace during World War II, and apparently without leaving behind anyone who cared. Was it murder, or a simple traffic fatality?

Stoddard is still scratching his head over that one when the curator of the town Historical Society's museum is found in the museum's storage area with a large dent in her skull. There's no doubt that this one is murder. As events unfold, Stoddard begins to suspect that the deaths may be connected, even though they are separated by over sixty years.  His suspicions become a certainty when an elderly acquaintance, who just happened to know both the photographer and the curator, is found in a welter of blood on the sun room rug.  Why were these three people killed, and who killed them?  Was it the woman who once posed for the local camera club, and sold intimate services on the side, or perhaps the curator's husband, whose visits to the hairdresser involved more than a simple trim?  Does an innocent and fluttery old lady, reminiscing about her youth in California's Bay Area, know more than she is willing to admit?  Does the local florist have a better motive than anyone suspects? Tracing a trail of smut photography from the locked trunk of a 1938 Packard through the local Senior Center, to the  home of a famous artist's model, Stoddard finds himself walking through a tangle of love and hatred as he searches for the solution.

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