It did not take long after your heart-wrenching death on June 12, 2017, for family members and many of your dedicated readers to start asking, “Did Arnold ever finish that last novel in the Jake Baker series? Of course, some of us knew the answer. No, you had not brought this work to completion. However, the questions continued: “Well, then, where is the manuscript?” “Will we ever read his last words as a writer?
Knowing that I too love to write, our sisters had asked if I would consider finishing your partial manuscript if it could be located. When I shared, with your nephew Blake, my desire to possibly finish your novel, he could not have been more encouraging. He very much wanted me to tackle the project. Unfortunately, he had to reiterate that he had no clue if he would be able to retrieve any information from the badly damaged computer found in the vehicle that had wrecked as a result of the massive heart attack that took your life.
So, I waited. I would often walk by your writing desk that now fills the bay window in my living room. Time and time again, I would see your books, your two non-fiction collections of nostalgic life stories, as well as the three novels in the Jake Baker Mystery Series. The stack of your dear, dear works, had a way of catching my eye. With every passing glimpse, I of course, would think, “Your last story is out there, lost somewhere in a maze of corrupted computer files. If we could only find the partial manuscript….”
It was well into a cold month of January, 2018, that an afternoon call came from Blake. “Mary Jo, with some hard work, I have been able to get into Arnold’s computer. Can you confirm the name of the partial manuscript? The corrupted files are no longer in any logical order, so this is basically like hunting for a needle in a haystack.” As our phone call ended, both Blake and I clearly understood that the odds for successfully retrieving DARK SPOT were still stacked against us. Interestingly, your nephew called again within ten minutes. “I’ve located it!” I admit my heart was rushing. It took me a few minutes to form the next question, “How much did he leave us? My heart quickly sank with his response, “I am afraid it is only four pages.” I felt this just could not be the case, for I had heard you say several times that you were making good progress with the book. It was not long, however, before one more call came, “Mary Jo, I have located 127 pages and some rambling rough notes.” My response came quickly, “Let me read it. Let me see if I can connect.”
Once I began to share that your partial manuscript had been located and that I had every intention of bringing it to completion, your readers started responding. I soon realized that your lead character, Jake Baker, the somewhat bigger-than-life master in the courtroom, has earned a reputation of his own. One of your fans went so far as to say, “As much I miss that Arnold Dyre, I tell you that I have just got to have some more of that Jake Baker character of his.”
DARK SPOT is now finished. Like a phoenix rising, your renowned Mississippi attorney protagonist is once again strongly entrenched in a plot full of criminal actions and their deep, long-running ramifications. Big brother, let me assure you, that just when you think you have figured out all the twists and turns of the various dark spots brought to light in this intriguing novel, you’ll find a depth of plot rising on the horizon that is sure to put a smile on your dear face. Arnold, your last story has been brought home.
PS. DARK SPOT is now available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle.
August 23, 2019
Mary Jo Dyre
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