"Annie's Bones" 16th novel by Howard Owen
Howard Owen's book talk and signing
In the winter of 1968, Grayson Melvin met the girl of his dreams. Annie Lineberger was so far out his league that he felt like she was playing an entirely different game, but somehow he won her affections. He couldn’t believe his good luck while it lasted. They both were 18, but Grayson was a baby, and Annie had been around. She was beautiful, smart and funny. When she told him she loved him, he would have died for her, right then and there.
Instead, Annie died –– or at least disappeared from the face of the earth. On the same night when she broke Grayson’s teen-age heart by giving him his walking papers, she vanished.
Everyone believed he killed her. Without a body, though, nothing could be proved. And so Grayson Melvin lived his life. Kicked out of his university, he went from the Army and Vietnam to bartending to another college to newspapers, where he discovered that Annie’s well-connected and vengeful family still had the power to step into his stunted life and punish him.
Then, in the spring of 2016, Annie reappears. Our at least her bones do, dug up by a backhoe operator clearing land for a strip mall in a small Virginia town. Grayson, now teaching at a community college in Richmond and creeping toward retirement, is back in a spotlight he has tried to avoid for all his adult life.
With the court of public opinion almost unanimously against him, Grayson goes back to North Carolina to try to make the past go away, with disastrous results. Then, he gets a call. A woman he doesn’t know in a town where he’s never been has found a ring –– his high school ring –– last seen in Annie Lineberger’s possession. Grayson Melvin has one chance to prove his innocence, by chasing a ghost and figuring out what happened on that long-ago night, the one when he lost Annie.
This is Howard Owen’s 16th novel. Owen was a longtime newspaperman, working at everything from reporter to sports editor to editorial pages editor. He has been writing fiction since 1989. He and his wife, Karen, live in Richmond. Among his earlier novels are the best-selling Littlejohn and the Willie Black mystery, Oregon Hill, which won the Dashiell Hammett prize for best crime literature in the United States and Canada.
Review from Publishers Weekly:
In 1968, Grayson Melvin, the protagonist of this moving, well-crafted standalone from Owen (The Reckoning), meets the love of his life, Annie Lineberger, when they’re both college students in North Carolina. When Annie breaks up with him, he tells her to get out of his car. She scrambles out and is never seen again. Grayson is the primary suspect in her disappearance, but without any evidence he moves on—always followed by a cloud. In 2016, Annie’s bones are found in Portman, Va., and Grayson’s nightmare begins again. He gets support from only a few people, including Richmond, Va., reporter Willie Black (the lead of Owen’sThe Devil’s Triangle and five other mysteries). Arrayed against him are public opinion, seemingly every lawman in the area, and Annie’s unforgiving brother, Hayden. The discovery of Grayson’s high school senior class ring, which he last saw when he refused to take it back from Annie at the time she left him, puts Grayson on a tortuous path that eventually leads to answers that may or may not explain what happened. This tale of loss and redemption will resonate with many readers. (Apr.)