When a former golden boy turned retired professional athlete takes a trip back to his hometown of Comanche County, Colorado, he soon finds that nothing much has changed, except that there’s a murderer on the loose.
Chase Ford was the best basketball player to ever don the Brandon Buffalos’ jersey. After earning a full-ride scholarship to leave the small town and attend college, Chase went on to play pro ball in the NBA.
A knee injury ended his playing career prematurely, while an addiction to pills ended his marriage. With an offer to become a sports broadcaster on the table, Chase returns home for a week of hunting, where he plans to decide his future from deep within the sagebrush covering the Colorado shrublands.
With Chase back in town, the locals are buzzing about finally having their two best high school basketball players around at the same time. Jimmie Riley is the new phenom and best ballhandler and shooter since Chase’s glory days. The town couldn’t be happier.
Marty, a deputy with the local sheriff’s department, is especially happy to see Chase. The two were best pals in high school and seem to pick right up where things left off all those years ago. Rounding out their group of friends from way back when is Birdie, the girl that always had a crush on Chae, who is now the local game warden.
Chase’s quiet weekend home is soon overshadowed by the murder of Jimmie Riley. It was Birdie who found the body before radioing Sheriff Lincoln Kendal, a no-nonsense law enforcement officer who, like everyone else, grew up in Comanche County.
Chase and Kendal were known adversaries in high school, and the two still don’t particularly like each other. Kendal still holds a grudge from the last time he saw Chase, when the star ball player punched him in the face.
Initially, Kendal doesn’t want Chase anywhere near the crime scene and as far away from him as possible. But when the Buffalos’ longtime basketball coach is also found murdered, Chase becomes suspect number one.
Birdie finds evidence suggesting that someone other than Chase is responsible for the killings, but to clear his name completely they must all work together to find out who the real murderer is.
As the investigation gets underway, Chase’s backstory unfolds, revealing a hard and troubled upbringing. Even now, his life is full of loose ends and conflict from his childhood. To make sense of the present and clear his name to Sheriff Kendal, Chase Ford must revisit his past, both literally and figuratively, before it’s too late.
Coming in at under three hundred pages, I wish the author would have spent more time on his characters, giving the reader a reason to care about and connect with them. Instead, the story lacks an emotional punch that could have made it a lot better.
The Homeplace is an intriguing debut from Kevin Wolf. While the plot is good, the story is brought down by bad dialogue and underdeveloped characters. But if country homicide is what you’re looking for, well, at the very least, Wolf offers a strong original story that flirts with being really good!
Author: Kevin Wolf
Pages: 262 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: September 6th, 2016 (Order now!)