St. Martin's Sep 2002, 22.95, 240 pp.
Over forty years ago in the North Carolina Mountain town of Boone, Roy Freedman was courting his landlord's daughter Eva Porter. When he proposed to her, she refused saying her parents would disown her if she married a Mulingeon. Roy was arrested after the family found a lot of blood in the area where Eva was last seen.
Roy confessed to the murder and was sentenced to life in prison. He was in a minimum-security prison, had a lot of privileges and even worked in the governor's mansion. Roy risked everything he had by walking out of the mansion and holding Professor Simon Shaw at gunpoint. He tells the professor he was forced to confess and wants Simon to find out what really happened to his beloved Eva. Despite his doubts, Simon is drawn into the man's story and after Roy surrenders to the law, the professor decides to find out what really happened forty years ago.
THE FUGITIVE KING is a delightful amateur sleuth novel though why Roy chose the professor rather than a pro remains questionable. Still the engaging tale stars a lovable protagonist who is very much in touch with his feelings. His sensitivity is the reason he decides to help out a man who held him at gunpoint. The support cast consists of a bunch of amiable eccentrics, the kind of people who live in a rough and ready mountain town.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner