THE GRAVE TENDER
By Eliza Maxwell
Genre: Women’s Fiction / Psychological Suspense
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Date of Publication: April 11, 2017
Number of Pages: 248
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A chilling psychological suspense novel, The Grave Tender explores the dark boundaries people cross to save loved ones, and the limits of family bonds tested by the deepest of betrayals.
Endless questions from a shadow-filled East Texas childhood haunt Hadley Dixon. People said her mother, Winnie, was never quite right, but with one single, irreparable act, life as Hadley knew it was shattered. The aftershocks of that moonlit night left her reeling, but the secrets and lies had started long before.
When a widowed and pregnant Hadley returns years later, it’s not the safe harbor she expects. The mysteries surrounding a local boy’s disappearance remain, and the townspeople still whisper about Hadley’s strange and reclusive Uncle Eli—whispers about a monster in their midst.
But Hadley’s father and grandmother, the cornerstones of everything safe in her world, avoid her questions. If Hadley stays here, will she be giving her children the family they need or putting their lives in danger?
The hunt for answers takes a determined Hadley deep into the pine forests, in search of sunlight that will break through the canopy of lies long enough to reveal the truth.
“The Grave Tender will grasp you in its hooks from the beginning as you try to figure out the truth behind each character, because no one is truly what they seem … Addicting, easy to read, and hard to put down.” – Shelbi LeMeilleur, Insite Magazine
* * *
Most people, if asked, would tell you that Cooper Abbott had surely had some sort of accident. Maybe he’d been bitten by a snake, or fallen into the river and hit his head on a rock. There were as many rumors as people to spread them, and a thousand possibilities to choose from.
The one thing they all agreed on was that tropical storm Jolene had been a true misfortune, carrying off any clue to finding the boy. Probably carrying off the boy himself, down the river toward the Gulf of Mexico.
No one suspected anything more sinister.
Not at first.
By Thursday night the skies had cleared. On Friday, the clean-up began.
The Dixon’s power was still out, as it was in many places across town, but Hadley didn’t care. She was happy to be outside, helping to haul downed branches into a pile and picking up dropped nails while Walker took the boards off the shutters. Light slowly came back into the dim house.
It was just after lunch when the Sheriff’s car pulled slowly up the drive, gravel crunching under the tires all the way.
Ben Hammon was an old friend of Walker’s. They’d gone to school together way back when, and still met up for poker night every other Friday. But it wasn’t a social call that brought Sheriff Hammon out to the Dixon house that day.
The Sheriff wasn’t alone. One of his deputies got out of the passenger side of the car. The deputy looked forbidding in his brown uniform and hat, his eyes scanning the trees behind their home. But he smiled and gave Hadley a wink when he caught her watching him.
“Hey, Ben. Any news on the Abbott boy?” Walker asked.
The Sheriff shook his head. “Nothing yet. We’ve picked up the search again, but frankly Walker, I don’t expect to hear anything until we get a call from somewhere downriver.”
Walker cleared his throat and motioned in her direction.
“Hadley, you remember Sheriff Hammon, don’t you?”
She knew good and well the reminder was for the Sheriff, so he wouldn’t say anything else that meant something. Cooper is my friend, Hadley thought, tired of being treated like a baby.
“Actually, Walker, we’d like to speak with Hadley, if you don’t mind.”
Walker’s eyebrows shot up.
“What’s this about, Ben?”
“Dan Abbott was in to see us soon as the weather let up,” the Sheriff said. “He says the kids had a run in with your brother last weekend.”
The camp out. An image of Eli looming over them in the doorway of the tent filled Hadley’s mind.
“Eli?” Walker asked, glancing down at Hadley, clearly confused. She’d never told him what had happened last week, and so much had happened since.
“What’s Eli got to do with anything?”
The Sheriff tipped his hat back and scratched his head, not looking entirely comfortable in his own skin.
“Probably nothing, to tell you the truth. But a boy is missing, Walker, and we have to do our jobs.”
All three men turned to Hadley then. Her eyes went wide.
Walker squatted down next to her.
“Hadley, honey, you don’t have to be scared. You’re not in any trouble. Just tell the men here what happened. Nobody can be hurt by telling the truth.”
Hadley knew that wasn’t true. If it were, her father wouldn’t look so worried. But she couldn’t see another option, so she did as he asked. She told the truth.
Eliza Maxwell lives in Texas with her ever patient husband, two impatient kids, a budgie named Sarah, and a bird dog who lives a tortured existence. She’s an artist and writer, an introvert and a British cop drama addict. A former bookseller with a lifelong love of the written word, she can often be found barefoot on the front porch lost in a good cup of coffee and a great book.
GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
Grand Prize:The Bookworm Basket ($150 Value)
Signed paperback copy of THE GRAVE TENDER
$50 Amazon gift card
Plush decorative throw blanket (Smoke Grey)
Greatest opening lines of literature coffee mug
Taste of Texas Coffee variety pack
Ferrero Rocher Gift Cube
Library card socks
Paperback copy of THE LIFE WE BURY by Allen Eskens
Paperback copy of SISTERS ONE, TWO, THREE by Nancy Star
1st & 2nd Runners-Up:
Signed paperback copy of THE GRAVE TENDER
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