Fifty-two-year-old professor of criminal law, recent widower, and experienced hiker who agrees to help the Appalachian Trail Conference and police search for the serial murderer of Appalachian Trail hikers.
Runaway and abused fifteen-year-old girl who encounters Dell on the Pennsylvania section of the Appalachian Trail. They develop a close father-daughter relationship and she bonds with his German shepherd.
Dell’s female German shepherd who is a gifted search and rescue dog and fiercely protective of both Dell and Willow.
An attorney, Dell’s former student, and his late wife’s best friend. Grace and Dell fall in love. She joins Dell and Tara for the search in Maine’s “Hundred Mile Wilderness.”
Denied tenure at Colby College by female faculty members and administrators for misogynistic behavior, former English professor Dubois takes perverse revenge by killing Appalachian Trail hikers, especially women.
Dell’s friend since childhood and president of the Appalachian Trail Conference who urges Dell to assist in the apprehension of the murderer.
Hard-nosed FBI agent who is initially resistant to having either Dell or Grace involved in the investigation.
References to real people – living or dead – locations, entities, or events are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
In May 1991, criminal law professor Dell Peterson agrees to assist the FBI and state police apprehend a misogynistic killer of Appalachian Trail hikers. On the Pennsylvania section of the trail Dell encounters, befriends, and hikes with Willow, a runaway teenage girl. But when Dell must return home to Washington, D.C., Willow continues hiking north alone. A vicious murder in Maine brings Dell, Tara, and now Grace back to the Appalachian Trail to find Willow and help catch the killer. They join the FBI and state police in a tension-filled search in Maine’s forbidding “Hundred Mile Wilderness.”
Duncan L. Clarke
Duncan L. Clarke is Professor Emeritus of International Relations and former Director of the United States Foreign Policy Field at American University’s School of International Service, Washington, D.C. He was Visiting Professor of Politics at the University of California Santa Cruz and Professor of National Security at the National War College of the National Defense University. He has served in the intelligence community and authored numerous articles and five books on U.S. defense and foreign policy. Professor Clarke lived and taught in Washington, D.C. for many years before moving to California’s Monterey Peninsula. He earned his BA at Clark University, JD at Cornell University, and PhD at the University of Virginia. He is an avid hiker who has twice hiked the entire Appalachian Trail. His debut novel, A Little Rebellion Is a Good Thing (Belle Isle Books, 2020), concerns a student uprising at a women’s college in Southwest Virginia. Clarke’s second novel is Murder on the Appalachian Trail (Touch Point Press, forthcoming spring 2024).
Twenty-seven-year-old lawyer and recent Ph.D. recipient who is a new professor at a rural Virginia women’s college. David leads a movement to oust the repressive college president by aligning with key students and faculty.
Harsh autocratic college president who is determined to “protect my girls from dangerous and immoral elements” symbolized by David. Barton and David are locked in an irreconcilable and potentially deadly struggle.
David’s German shepherd who loves women, distrusts men, and comes to David’s rescue.
Twenty-three-year-old president of the honor society who flees an abusive marriage, assertively seeks David’s emotional support, and becomes his first “intimate ally.”
Dean Evelyn Baird
The only high-ranking woman in an otherwise male-administered women’s college. The thirty-seven-year-old dean of students is attracted to David, provides him with vital information about Barton, and becomes a crucial “intimate ally.”
A twenty-four-year-old student plaintiff in a successful lawsuit against Barton, Kim is an adventurous and innovative New Yorker who becomes David’s third “intimate ally.”
A gorgeous and provocative nineteen-year-old temptress who, while not a full-fledged “intimate ally,” makes life risky for David.
“The portrayal of several characters is grounded largely in reality. To my knowledge, all personal names have been changed. Some events and place names (including that of the college itself) have also been altered, or, are products of my imagination.”
In September 1969, a young New Yorker found himself in a sea of 4,000 single women in an era of profound social change. The basic academic freedoms of students and faculty alike were severely constrained. And sensitive interpersonal relationships had to be delicately finessed.