Shadow by the Bridge by Suzanne Zewan
Publication Date: November 1, 2017
No Frills Buffalo
eBook & Paperback; 368 Pages
Genre: Historical Mystery
11-year-old Fritz Reynolds recalled his father telling him that man is the only creature who can find amusement in killing. Little did he realize that those words would become the theme for his teenage years growing up in the rural hamlet of Linden, New York. In this coming-of-age story, Fritz takes us back to a simpler time when neighbors gathered at the general store to listen to radio shows, drank barrel-aged cider, and worshiped at the Baptist church every Sunday. All was picturesque in his close-knit farming community until terror was unleashed on them.
In 1917, 11-year old Fritz Reynolds is trying to find a good place to set his fox trap in the woods of Linden, NY. He stumbles upon a couple in the woods, thinking that the couple was just looking for some alone time, Fritz hides behind a rock. Instead, Fritz ends up witnessing the brutal murder of the women who ventured into the woods. As Fritz runs away, he is sure that the murderer catches a glimpse of him. Terrified, Fritz keeps the sighting to himself. When the woman is found, she is so brutally beaten that she cannot be identified and more so, the murderer is never found. Years later, another murder shakes the small town of Linden. This time it is a neighbor and obviously committed with forethought. Fritz is immediately reminded of the brutal murder he witnessed before. Several years later, three more beloved residents of Linden are murdered. With no arrests and no good suspects, the residents of Linden are thoroughly shaken. Fritz and his family decide to move on, but the memory of the murders continues to haunt Fritz.
I happened to grow up in Batavia, NY which is right outside of Linden, NY and mentioned quite a lot in the book. So, I have of course heard of the Linden murders and have been to the small town on numerous occasions as well as several of the landmarks mentioned in the book. I enjoy reading about local history and was glad that some new light has been shone on this unsolved mystery in a thoughtful and respectful way. The description of the town, farms and shops created a perfect image in my mind. The main characters names may have changed slightly and Fritz's character was fictional; however, the timeline and details of the case were presented with historical accuracy and detail while the writing drew me into an intriguing mystery. One thing I was surprised to learn was that the Linden murder investigations were among the first to use some new forensic techniques that were being developed such as plaster facial recreations, fingerprinting and using different 'tells' to see if someone was lying. While the Linden murders are still officially unsolved. Shadow By The Bridge provides interesting insight into just who might have committed such awful crimes.
About the Author
Suzanne is coordinator at Genesee Valley Educational Partnership and is an adjunct professor at Buffalo State College. She has a M.A. in English and Creative Writing and a M.S.Ed. in Career and Technical Education. Other publications include a poem in Jigsaw (2014), a short story and two poems in Jigsaw (2016), and a short story in Amaranth Review (2016).