On the eve of World War II, the coatless body of a prominent journalist is found lying in the snow beside a lonely road in the mountains of east Kentucky, over 100 miles from his home. No one knows why is there or how he got there. No one knows whether his death is accident or murder. Though the story is the biggest in the state that year, the mystery is never solved. Thirty years later, a death-bed letter sets his son in search of answers he doesn’t want and gives columnist Theo Clark a story he can’t write, the story of the Dannans and Jesse Bristow.
The search takes place in the middle of a bitterly fought governor’s race in which Michael Dannan is a dark horse candidate battling the Party’s choice, Jesse Bristow. It carries him, with Theo riding shotgun, the length and breadth of Kentucky — from the rolling meadows of the Bluegrass to the rich bottom lands of the Jackson Purchase, to the mountains of Appalachia. It leads from a remote Melungeon village and the mystery of the Lost Colony to the coal mines of Harlem County and the aftermath of the Battle at Evarts. There is a “perfect murder” to confront, a scandal to avoid, and a forsaken lover to comfort.
Most of the action takes place in the early 1970s and much of it in and around Frankfort, the state’s capital city. Rhody grew up and worked as a journalist and broadcast newsman and in state government there. He has written three books. Theo’s Story is his first work of fiction.
Rhody knows his place and his time and this debut novel puts the reader in both with a fast paced and riveting tale. Theo’s compulsion “to make things right” leads to a disturbing, but strangely satisfying, climax.