Staunton author and teacher Chris Cleary will read from his latest novel, The Ring of Middletown, sign copies, and discuss his work at the Waynesboro Public Library at 1 p.m. on Saturday, September 12.
The Ring of Middletown will appeal to lovers of both mysteries and historical novels. When a beer delivery truck slams into a colonial landmark and its George Washington signet ring on display goes missing, Uther Spurrock, a detective with an enigmatic past, is coaxed out of retirement and quickly discovers that nothing is as it appears in the unassuming borough of Middletown. His investigation of ten suspects becomes intertwined with a manuscript’s tale of Middletown’s first mayor, Peter Presshall, and his exploits in the Philadelphia Campaign of 1777.
As words are used more often to conceal than to reveal, the reader must work as hard as Spurrock to decode stories told through alternating narrators: Shari Sa’ad, Spurrock’s flirtatious assistant, the suspects’ internal monologues that tease with possible motives, Simeon Glasher, an octogenarian Quaker and Donnie Stovich, a drunken former glam rocker chasing the scattered manuscript up the main street when it gets caught under the grill of the Middletown trolley. As Spurrock’s world descends into absurdity, anything seems possible until the final chapters explode in a series of revelations.
Cleary, who teaches literature and writing at Buffalo Gap High School, is a native of southeastern Pennsylvania, the location in which many of his stories are set. He also is the author of the novel The Vagaries of Butterflies and is currently working on his third book. Cleary received his B.A. from the University of Richmond, and his M.A. from the University of Virginia where he wrote for the Virginia Quarterly Review and cofounded the Midsummer Players, a theater group that provided free summer Shakespeare productions on the U.Va. Grounds.