Friday, February 8, 2013

A Stairway to Danger by Ben Woodard

It’s 1923 and Tom and Will, two small town boys, discover the body of a local deputy. Was the death an accident? The boys don’t think so and become immersed in a harrowing mystery. A giant assailant with a single gold tooth attempts to kill them. With their friends, the boys battle a shadowy group involved in an illegal activity. Will Tom’s “crazy” book ideas save them or get them killed? And where does the stairway to danger lead?


Will used his boot to roll the body over. An arm flopped in the water and the face pointed directly at Tom. A face with no eyes. Tom sucked in a breath and staggered back. He slumped to his knees staring at the ground.

“Fish ate em,” Will said, toeing the body.

Tom raised his eyes to see Will studying him, his head cocked. Tom turned away. His stomach rolled like the back of a hay wagon, and the taste of bile filled his mouth. His breath came in short gasps as his mind went back to that narrow staircase four years ago. He felt those walls closing in again. Sweat rolled down the nape of his neck. He bent over, gagged, and threw up. Not just because of the eyeless body. He wanted to empty out all his guilt and self-loathing onto the rocky hillside.

“Never seen a dead body before, huh?” Tom glared.

“No. Not that.” A flash of remembrance crossed Will's face. His head dropped and he turned back to the body. “You reckon that’s the Deputy?” Will asked. “He's been missing a couple of days. We better tell the Sheriff.”

Tom didn’t answer. His only thought was running. Running and not stopping. Running north until he collapsed somewhere on the way to Cincinnati. He had to get away. And not later. Now.

Will slipped his arm under Tom's armpit and hefted him up like a sack of potatoes. “Let's get outta here. I'm getting kinda sick myself. We’ll follow the river back. That’s the quickest way.”

The yellow sky darkened to purple as they edged around the body and moved along the bank back toward Shakertown. Tom looked away from the bloated corpse and tried not to breathe. The stench filled the night air suffocating the musty smells of the river and forest. Will first said the smell was a dead cow until they spotted the body. Tom didn’t recognize the Deputy, but he recognized death. He had hoped coming to the farm would help him forget what happened at Grandfather’s. But reminders were everywhere.




4 / 5

If your looking for a compelling read, then this is the book to try.  The details are written in a way that make you feel like you're there with the characters on their adventure.  I could see what they saw, hear what they heard and it was a refreshing change.
The only hesitation I have is the reader level it is meant for, I fear for a younger audience the lengthy detail and slower unraveling story might lose them before the good parts are revealed.

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