Peace Corps Writer’s Crime Debut

Congrats to fellow Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Chris Orlet (Poland, 1992-94), who’s debut novel In the Pines came out this month from New Pulp Press. New Pulp is home to many other fine noir and crime writers like Mark Richardson (see my review of Hunt for the Troll–2015). NPP released my neo-noir satire, Two Pumps for the Body Man, this past spring.

Read what other RPCVs are up to at PeaceCorpsWorldwide.

in the pinesIn a small southern Illinois town, Emily Ahrens, a rather plain, unexceptional 17-year-old girl, dies suddenly, horribly and inexplicably, at home. There appears to be no rational explanation for her death. Tests soon confirm that Emily died of kidney failure due to arsenic poisoning. Tests also confirm that she was not pregnant. A coroner’s inquest, called to decide whether her death was suicide, accident, homicide, natural or undetermined concludes the death is undetermined. With no evidence of foul play, local authorities are reluctant to investigate. The girl’s father, Walt Ahrens, a local car dealer, refuses to let the matter drop and begins obsessively seeking answers, even as his family begs him not to, even as the townspeople seek to put the tragedy behind them. Stonewalled, Walt hires a shady private investigator from the city to look into the circumstances of his daughter’s death, but he too fails to turn up any answers, only more questions, before dumping the case back into Walt’s lap. When the desperate father turns up the screws on one rather unsavory suspect, a fatal accident ensues, and circumstances begin to spiral out of control.

Chris Orlet was born and raised in Belleville, Illinois. He has worked a multitude of dead-end jobs, including bartender, sportswriter, gun seller, Peace Corps volunteer, tech writer, salesman for a trailer parts company, and other occupations too unsavory to mention. He lives in Saint Louis, Missouri with his wife, son, and dachshund.

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