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Hardcover, Published in Mar 2006 by Xlibris Corporation

ISBN10: 1599264021 | ISBN13: 9781599264028

Page count: 324

MULE MADDOX by Ronald L. Bern On a stormy November night in 1932, young Rafe Maddox is exploring the flooding Saluda River in rural South Carolina when he hears a woman's scream. Beaching his boat, he finds three men attempting to rape a beautiful local girl behind a country church. In her desperate struggle, Barbara Ann Marshbanks bites one of the hands that restrains her and is smashed in the face with a rock. Maddox fights and kills two of the men and stabs the third, whose name is Mason Miller. Maddox is desperately wounded but manages to get back to his boat. The wildly flooding river carries him more than 60 miles, first down the main branch of the Saluda and then down the smaller Generostee. His boat finally comes to rest in the shadow of a rough woods shack where he is found by Buck Daniels, landowner and ex-combat soldier. When the boy begs him not to call a doctor, Daniels makes a rough job of sewing his grotesquely slashed face with cotton thread by lantern light. Close to death, Barbara Anne and 'Mase" Miller are found and rushed to the hospital. Bud Clarke, longtime sheriff of Highland County, inadvertently provides Miller with an alibi: that he and the other two men stumbled upon Rafe Maddox attempting to force himself on the girl and came to her defense. Sheriff Clarke's instincts incline him differently, but he can see no way to determine the facts unless Barbara Anne recovers or Rafe Maddox -- assumed dead -- can be found alive. Barbara Anne survives surgery but is left horribly disfigured and in a coma. The sheriff sends deputy Billy Drake down river on the outside chance he will see some sign of Maddox. The young deputy stumbles on a liquor still where a retarded bootlegger accidentally kills him. Sheriff Clarke, bitterly blaming himself for Billy Drake's death, travels down river to help track his killers. The search for Maddox broadens. Meanwhile, rumors begin to circulate among fearful sharecropper families on the Daniels place about a dead man living in the woods shack. Absent any other evidence, Bud Clarke seeks a court order to exhume the bodies of Cliff Stamples and Charles Miller. Meanwhile, beneath a new gravestone and six feet of South Carolina clay, a fateful clue awaits in the desiccating hand of Charles Miller: the bite mark still visible above a cracked bone. Dark legends grow down on the Generostee as Clarke edges closer to finding Rafe Maddox and establishing a provable case. Powerful currents of justice and religion, guilt and superstition, fear and moral resolution all swirl together in a surprising and satisfying conclusion.

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