“Deeply imagined and intricately plotted, A Stranger Here Below marries richly textured historical fiction with the urgency of a mystery novel. Fergus knows certain things, deep in the bone: horses, hunting, the folkways of rural places, and he weaves this wisdom into a stirring tale.” – Geraldine Brooks, author of March and People of the Book
A Stranger Here Below (Skyhorse, March 2019) is the first in a historical mystery series set in the 1830s, featuring the young Pennsylvania Dutch sheriff Gideon Stoltz.
Author Charles Fergus himself – like his protagonist Gideon – is haunted by having discovered the body of his own mother, the victim of a violent murder. Fergus, a seasoned writer about nature and the outdoors, has turned this trauma into a riveting mystery.
In 1835 in the Pennsylvania town of Adamant, newly appointed sheriff Gideon Stoltz faces his first real challenge when his mentor, the respected judge Hiram Biddle, commits suicide. Gideon is regarded with suspicion: he’s new to town, and Pennsylvania Dutch in the back-country Scotch-Irish settlement. And he found the judge’s body. As Gideon digs into the judge’s past, he realizes that the suicide was spurred by much more than the man’s despair. The quest soon takes him down a dangerous path into the town’s history.
“With luminous and deftly sketched prose, Fergus takes us into an American past that is both deeply familiar and utterly strange . . . Sheriff Gideon Stoltz patiently unravels a series of crimes and secrets, while also examining his own past and the beauties and tragedies of life itself.” – Jeffrey Lent, author of Before We Sleep