Evidence of Blood

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Jackson Kinley claimed Sequoyah, Georgia, as his hometown, but the contact was primarily educational than residential. As a young boy Kinley was identified as particularly gifted and transferred “down the mountain” to Sequoyah High School. Not surprisingly, the talented young boy found it difficult to make friends.

Fortunately, Ray Tindall was not as reticent, and the two became inseparable. Over the years, despite his success as an author of true-crime books, Kinley maintained his friendship with Tindall, who never left Sequoyah. When Kinley is informed that his old friend has died, he catches the next plane for Georgia to attend the funeral.

Kinley soon learns that Tindall was obsessed with finding the solution to a crime more than thirty years old. Moreover, he believes his friends is best laid to rest by bringing the project to a final conclusion. So it is that Kinley methodically essays to retrace his friend’s tracks and thereby determine what happened to Ellie Dinker.

Ellie Dinker vanished from Sequoyah in 1954, leaving behind only a bloody dress and a host of unanswered questions. Admittedly, in 1954 the questions seemed irrelevant, and Charles H. Overton was convicted of murder despite the lack of a body. Overton’s daughter, however, convinced of her father’s innocence, convinces Tindall, and finally Kinley, to reopen the case. Kinley is able to identify the murderer, but the victory is bittersweet insofar as more than a few innocents are affected by his success.

Thomas Cook writes about the people of Sequoyah as individuals worthy of respect and interest, not as specimens of some exotic life-style to be placed on a fictional glass slide for dispassionate examination. Moreover, if EVIDENCE OF BLOOD grips the reader like an old friend’s handshake, the denouement is so unexpected and yet predictable as to raise questions about what we really know.