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The Hatch and Brood of Time
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ISBN-10: 1-55404-071-X
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Mystery
eBook Length: 243 Pages
Published: July 2003
OUT OF PRINT

From inside the flap

Natalie Joday, a newspaper reporter with a knack for getting at the facts, is pulled into a murder investigation by a tormented young woman's cry for help. But her compassion turns to fear when she discovers her brother, always a magnet for trouble, is somehow involved. A lifetime of painful run-ins with the legal system has left Natalie wary of the police, so she sets out to solve the case herself by uncovering the secrets of the past--even when the secrets are her own.


Reviews and Awards

"Hatch should be highly recommended as an excellent first showing"
Midwest Book Review

"Real emotional power and resonance in the writing." Reviewing the Evidence

"An excellent New Jersey who-done-it that will capture the reader's
attention due to its freshness." Harriet Klausner


I hope some enterprising movie producer scoops this one up. I would like to see that final chase through the hills of northern New Jersey not far from the Palisades and Fort Lee, where the earliest movie thrillers were first filmed.

Barbara Hudgins, author of New Jersey Day Trips (July 1999)


Set in modern New Jersey, The Hatch and Brood of Time is a tale of family relationships, personal redemption... and murder.

Included in Publishers Weekly "Mystery Notes"

"Highly recommended"
?Midwest Book Review


The Hatch and Brood of Time (Excerpt)


Prologue

It had been an old-fashioned winter in that intensely
suburban corner of northeastern New Jersey called Bergen
County. A wet and heavy snow, laying siege on Christmas
Eve, withstood the January buffet of freeze and thaw and
was reinforced in early February by a blasty blizzard of
snow and sleet. The neat backyards and shrub-encircled
homes were sealed beneath slabs of snow with a razor-sharp
glace crust. Alpine peaks, raised by straining snowplows,
overflowed the verges and encroached upon the streets,
subduing the noise of suburban traffic to an unaccustomed
and equally old-fashioned quiet.

At the heart of the County, bounded to the west by a
frozen Oradell Reservoir, to the east by a well-sanded
Knickerbocker Road, and to the north and south by lines
born of the surveyor's pencil, was the Borough of Haworth.
Near the center of town, half way up steep and slippery
Tank Hill, just opposite the upper exit of the Haworth
Elementary School, lived Natalie Joday. On many a
snow-silenced winter's eve, Natalie could be found in
her tiny second-floor apartment, sitting cross-legged
beneath an afghan on her sofa, diligently preparing for the
next day's work, or indulgently catching up on her reading.
Either way, when lurking memories of troublous times broke
the tranquil surface of present occupation, she would throw
an arm across the back of the sofa, bury her chin in the
bend of her elbow, and gaze out the frosty picture window
as others might gaze at a crystal ball.

Below her the lights of half the borough twinkled in a
snowy night-time world of unfamiliar shapes and shadows. A
double row of oversized yellow street lights blazed along
Haworth Avenue, starting atop Tank Hill and running down
through the center of town and over the railroad tracks
before curving left and ending in a darkness that was White
Beeches Country Club. Bright home-lights clustered
galaxy-like around an amorphous central downtown glow. In
contrast to these steadfast tokens of order and safety,
flashing blue and red lights now and then shone forth,
reflected by ice and snow and window glass, presaging the
swoosh of a sander lurching through the slush, or the
scrape of a snowplow's metal blade upon the pavement.

Whenever those skipping colored lights appeared, Natalie
held her breath, and braced herself--just in case. Just in
case the rotating flashes should be followed not by the
muffled but homey sounds of plow, sander, and slush, but by
the squeal of car brakes and the slamming of car doors and
the ringing of the doorbell above the crackle and jargon of
a police radio--insistent spinning lights invading her home
and streaking across her walls in painful bursts of blue
and red that did not go away.

Then, as sander or plow slid cautiously down Tank Hill and
swiftly out of hearing towards White Beeches, whisking those
intrusive lights away to bedazzle other homes, Natalie would
breathe again, tension fade, and guarded winter silence
would return.

Chapter One

Natalie sat down at her computer on the afternoon of
February 11th with a cup of French roast coffee and renewed
purpose. Inspecting her kingdom, she found, under a thatch
of papers, two fugitive pens and a highlighter, which she
retrieved and jammed into a clay flower pot abloom with
variegated journalistic impedimenta. The papers she
gathered together, patted into order, and placed in the
filing cabinet beneath the window. Mind and desk thus
cleared for action, she propped up her spiral notebook at a
convenient angle, pulled the keyboard towards her stomach,
and looked at the monitor for the fifth time:


Animal Activists Against Abduction
Sandra Cappi, Harrington Park reference librarian and animal lover, has announced the formation of a nonprofit
organization to combat a growing epidemic of dog and cat
theft from private residences throughout Bergen County. The
newly formed Housepet Abduction Hotline will offer members a
monthly newsletter, and maintain a 24 hour toll-free number
for the general public.

A study (available from HAH) compiled by Ms. Cappi
and her colleagues, based on county-wide police reports and
statistics gleaned from the files of the Westwood ASPCA,
reveals that the incidence of missing housepets doubled in
the second half of 1992. From July to December, 18 dogs, 9
cats, and an Angora rabbit were "missing, presumed stolen."
The number of strayed pets reunited with their owners
decreased dramatically over the same period. Such
information has led this group of concerned Bergen County
residents to conclude...
"To conclude...," said Natalie, informatively. She rested
her fingers on the keys, straightened her back, and tucked
in her chin.

"...that...," she continued decisively. Her eyebrows puckered
in studious preoccupation.

"To conclude that...," she said ingeniously. Her fingers
slipped from the keyboard and her gaze wandered.

The telephone rang, and Natalie launched herself from her
chair (hovering over the keyboard just long enough to hit
Command S), flew to the kitchen, and placed a hand on
the phone. She took a calming breath or two, and, after the
third ring, nestled the receiver against her ear.

"Natalie Joday..." She leaned against the counter and
crossed one foot in front of the other.

"Oh. I thought--I'm sorry... Is this the Joday residence?"
The young woman's rich voice, hedged in smothered emotion,
conveyed in those few innocuous words an encapsulated
history of conflict and incident that instantly captured
Natalie's attention.

"Yes it is..."

"Is Daniel Joday there?"

"Sorry, no." Natalie's interest faded as quickly as it had
been aroused: it was going to be one of those phone calls.
"Daniel doesn't live here anymore." She shoved a hip
against the counter and went to retrieve her coffee; if
this was going to be a question and answer session about
her brother's character and activities she would need
material sustenance.

"Oh. Is Natalie Joday there?"

"Speaking."

"Natalie? Oh--you said that, didn't you. I'm sorry. I'm
not... This is Sarah Dow. I don't know if you remember
me--or my sister? Lydia? I ...she was a friend of your
brother's? A couple of years ago?"

"Of course I remember you." Natalie, coffee in hand,
wandered into the living room, eased onto the sofa, and
stretched out her legs. "I reviewed you as 'Millicent' in
Hello, Dolly at Northern Valley in, uh 1989... no--1990. You
live up on Closter Dock Road somewhere. Big house, Japanese
garden, high stone wall with broken glass on the top. You
sing."

"That's right."

"Yeah, sure." Natalie took a sip of coffee. "So, how're
you doing?"

"Okay. No. Not okay. It's my sister. She's gone--she's
missing. Three days. Yesterday they found her car. I
really--"

"Jeez..." Natalie sat up, removing her feet from the coffee
table.

"I don't know what to do." The words came slowly, squeezed
out around the edges of her fear. "The police aren't doing
anything! I mean, I suppose they are, but if they don't
tell us what it is, how do we know it's enough? They say
it's too soon. Too soon for what? I know my sister--she
would never, never just ...disappear like this. I know! But I
can't get them to listen to a word I say."

"Yeah," said Natalie. "The cops have a real hearing
problem with people they don't consider professionals.
Especially family."

"Really? I thought it was because I--everybody is treating
me like I'm hysterical, and telling me I'm only making
things worse. But I feel this terrible urge to do
something!" A ripple of suppressed ferocity traveled along
Sarah's words. "I may not know anything about finding
missing persons--but so what? My father thinks I'm being
selfish, trying to interfere. He doesn't--but I can't do any
harm, can I? And I can't sit here and do nothing! I just
can't."

"No, you can't. You have to do something."

"You... really think so?"

"Of course." Natalie ran her fingers through her mop of
brown hair, holding it off her forehead. "Can I do anything
to help? Have you considered putting an ad in the paper?"

"No, I hadn't thought of that. You mean to find out if
there's anybody who has any information about where she is?
That's a good idea. Do you still write for the Star? Could
you tell me who to get in touch with?"

Natalie did so.

"Thanks," said Sarah. "I didn't expect you--I mean I didn't
intend to dump all this on you out of the blue. I'm sorry
I'm such a wreck."

"You don't need to apologize," objected Natalie. "This is
scary stuff."

"That's it." Sarah's voice fell to a whisper. "That's it
exactly. I'm so afraid that something has happened to her;
that someone might have hurt her. That's why I'm trying to
get in touch with Daniel."

Natalie's tone stiffened. "Mmm hmm."

"Because he was her friend, I mean," added Sarah hastily.
"Someone she might have confided in. And not only
Daniel--I'm trying to get in touch with anybody who knew her
well. I know it's not much, but I'm just trying to
do ...something."

Natalie's grip on the phone tightened. "I think it's a
good idea."

Sarah sighed. "It's the only one I've had so far. Lydia
and Daniel were very close once, and I thought... I'm sorry
to be bothering you, but this is the only number I had for
him."

"You're not bothering me. Daniel's not living here--hasn't
for over a year. But I'll get in touch with him."

"Isn't there a number where I could reach him?"

"No." She reached for the pad of yellow paper and pencil
she kept on the shelf beneath the coffee table. "But I'll
get the message to him right away, I promise. What's your
number?"

"555-4289"

"Okay. And, Sarah..." Natalie paused, wavering between
conflicting emotions. "If things get rough, or if there's
ever anything I can do..."

"Thanks, but, that's okay. I know you didn't know her very
well."

"I meant, if there's anything I can do for you."

"Me?" Again that super-charged delivery. "Thanks."

Natalie left the sofa and went to stand by the picture
window. She waited for the disturbing feelings aroused by
the conversation to dissolve, leached away by the passing
of time. It was another cold, blustery day. The wind
picked up the loose snow from the recent storm and sent it
swirling; skittering whirlwinds danced along her driveway
and crashed into the drifts. Lydia Dow. Although she hadn't
said as much to Sarah, her memories of Lydia were, though
few in number, very clear. Rich, foolish, insulated Lydia
Dow, unwittingly typifying a lifestyle that Natalie--raised
in harsher surroundings--had learned to despise. Lydia Dow
with her almond-shaped sky-blue eyes and expression of
calculated dreaminess... "How can dreaminess be calculated?"
Daniel had asked, challenging the logic of her instant
disapproval. "You can be dreamy, or you can be calculated,
but you can't be both. Your problem is you just don't like
her." "That's not the issue," she had argued. "It doesn't
matter whether I like her or not..." But in her heart she
had known it was true; she had not liked her, not one bit.
Lydia Dow. Bursting dramatically in and out of Daniel's
delicately balanced life, oozing sympathy for his past
hardships, but flaunting the promise of wealth and easy
living before his wistful eyes. And always dancing
tightrope-style along the verge of a tempestuous scene.
Lydia Dow. Blind to the feelings of those closest to her,
thoughtless enough to be capable of anything.

Natalie touched the cold glass of the window with a
forefinger, breaking the spell of memory. "What's she
pulling this time?" Whatever it was, she was damned if she
would get involved....
(end of excerpt)