"Tom Bridger, the lead detective for the Mason County (VA) Sheriff's department and of Melungeon (mixed-race) descent, heads a search for the missing skull belonging to a skeleton uncovered on a remote mountaintop. Ten years ago, a Melungeon woman named Pauline McClure vanished, and Tom's father had worked the case until the car accident that killed him and most of the Bridger family. Introduced in The Heat of the Moon, veterinarian Rachel Goddard gets involved in the McClure case when she hires Pauline's niece to work in her animal hospital. Parshall writes complex stories peopled with characters dealing with many personal problems and secrets. As she shows, disturbing the dead in this remote Appalachian community can be a very serious-and dangerous-business. Edge-of-the-seat suspense and a budding romance for Tom and Rachel make this essential reading for fans of Margaret Maron and Karin Slaughter."
--Library Journal, starred review
"An unlikely pair of sleuths finds there's no escaping the past, whether or not it's their own past. Veterinarian Rachel Goddard and Police Captain Tom Bridger have moved to Mountainview, Va., trying to forget the violence that overtook them in their debut (The Heat of the Moon, not reviewed). Several skeletons are unearthed on a nearby mountain, including that of Pauline Turner McClure, a beautiful Melungeon of mixed-race ancestry who married into a wealthy family and vanished after the death of her husband, leaving her daughter Mary Lee to inherit a large estate. As a half-Melungeon, Tom is more than a little interested in the case, especially since it was one of the rare failures in his father's career. When Holly Turner, Pauline's look-alike animal-loving niece, gets a job at Rachel's clinic, Holly's relatives and her father, the local drug dealer who's the prime suspect in Pauline's murder, want her to return home, perhaps because her nightmares may reveal too much about the strife-ridden past of the McClures and the Turners. Meantime, Tom gets shot by a suspect and Rachel is threatened and fired upon when she refuses to let Holly's relatives drag her away from her new life. Tom must dig deeply into a case that threatens his respect for his father, and Rachel must face her worst fears before a violent confrontation brings closure. Fast-paced, chilling and compulsively readable."
"In Parshall's dark, suspenseful second novel (after 2006's Heat of the Moon), Mason County, Va., sheriff's deputy Tom Bridger reopens a cold case that his predecessor-his deceased father, John-never fully closed. Ten years earlier, Pauline McClure, a Melungeon woman (of Portuguese and Native American descent) went missing, and when Tom unearths her bones, he discovers she died of an ax blow to her skull. Pauline had married into a snobbish, wealthy white family, and the reopening of her case pits local Melungeons against the white establishment. Additional tension arises when Tom's romantic interest, veterinarian Rachel Goddard (the heroine of Heat of the Moon), hires and befriends Pauline's teenage niece, Holly Turner, whose connection to the tragedy puts her and Rachel in danger. Both Tom, who's of half Melungeon heritage, and Rachel, who's a recent transplant to Mason County, hoped to leave behind their respective recent violent pasts. Instead, they're drawn into the center of a lethal, gothic drama. (Mar.)"
"Tom Bridger, a Melungeon (mixed race) police detective who left his rural community to escape prejudice against his people, returns home due to a family tragedy and begins work as a deputy sheriff. When the bones of a Melungeon woman are found in a remote mountainous area, evidence points to an old murder case that Tom's father investigated when he was sheriff. Tom's investigation uncovers numerous family secrets along with some uncomfortable revelations about his father. Meanwhile, Tom begins a romance with veterinarian Rachel Goddard, the star of Parshall's earlier novel, The Heat of the Moon (2006), who is struggling to rebuild her life in a new location and finds herself involved in the investigation after befriending Holly, the dead woman's niece. Parshall effectively captures the atmosphere of a closed rural community and weaves a compelling plot that will appeal to mainstream mystery readers."
"Sandra Parshall is a wonderful storyteller who creates a small, rural backwater town where race and class divisions still exist and people of mixed blood are subjected to prejudice. Her characterizations are fantastic, especially Tom, who is half Melungeon, heartwarming and sensitive, willing to give Rachel all the time she needs to figure out what she wants, even as he investigates a mystery that creeps closer to home."
--Harriet Klausner, online reviewer
"A friend recommended Sandra Parshall's first novel, The Heat of the Moon, and I found it to be a riveting, romantic, and beautifully told tale of suspense. I was therefore anxious to read her follow-up story, Disturbing the Dead, in the hope of spending more time getting to know her lovely protagonist, Dr Rachel Goddard... Once again, Parshall has woven an intricate mystery into a colorful tale of suspense laced with the slightest dash of romance...Haunting and captivating."
--Reviewing the Evidence
"Disturbing the Dead is an engrossing read."
“Long-time Washington, D.C.-area resident Sandra Parshall has written Disturbing the Dead with the same grit and inventiveness characterizing her debut title, The Heat of the Moon (2006)... Reader fascination with local color and regional writing adds to Disturbing the Dead’s appeal. Parshall’s work will satisfy the fans of Dana Stabenow, Nevada Barr, and Karin Slaughter, who excel in using outdoor themes and rural settings. Parshall’s quaint dialogue ("That bunch would skin a flea for its hide.") crackles with authenticity. Her characters are also complex and original to transcend the clichéd versions of provincial townsfolk.
“Parshall uses a visceral prose style, deft pacing, and intricate plotting. She deals in enough clues and red herrings to keep readers guessing whodunit. Rachel and Tom in Disturbing the Dead is a successful teaming, calling to mind S.J. Rozan’s popular detective business partners Bill Smith and Lydia Chin.”
Author of The Dirt-Brown Derby and The Blue Cheer
“An engaging novel replete with local color... Reminiscent of the best of Sharyn McCrumb, this is a worthy anthropological exploration as well as a compelling murder mystery.”
--Mystery Lovers Bookshop Reviews
“[Parshall] skillfully evokes the rural South without resorting to cliche or contempt. Along with the character of Bridger, veterinarian Rachel Goddard and the teenaged Holly (a girl who longs to escape her family’s twisted history) come vividly to life and add depth to this engaging slice of country crime.”
-- Derek Hill in Mystery Scene