Red Farlow’s cold case conundrum

The Bible salesman makes a house call.

A cold case slams Red Farlow in the gut and takes him back decades. 

Early in his career, he investigated the 1973 slayings of a family in Valdosta, Georgia. The killer eluded police at the time. Now, surviving son Randy Goings wants closure on his family’s deaths and asks Red to reopen the case. 

One man holds clues to all the deaths. Cleet Wrightman was charged with killing a young Damville, Georgia, woman in 1955. Due to his retardation, the judge sent Cleet to the state mental hospital in lieu of a trial. He remained there until 1973. Upon his release, uncanny coincidence puts him in town the day the Goings family died. 

Several weeks after the murders, Cleet vanishes. 

Did Cleet serve time for someone else’s crime? That’s just one of the questions Red must answer as he delves into his past and a crazed killer.

Red delves into old case files and press clippings, and interviews witnesss again. But his biggest challenge is unraveling a small town’s dark secrets. And finding the man with some answers.

But where’s Cleet? 

Cracker Town buries its secrets well

Cracker Town, book five of the Red Farlow Mysteries, debuts today from Tirgearr Publishing.

In 1955, Cleet Wrightman is found guilty of murdering a woman and sent to the Georgia State Mental Hospital to serve out his time until 1973. In spring of that year, young agent Red Farlow investigates the slayings of three members of the Goings family in Valdosta, but he was never able to apprehend the murderer.

Fifty years later, the surviving son hires Red to revisit the crime and track down the killer. As he begins his cold-case probe, uncanny coincidences emerge from a key witness and old interview files. He follows a lead to Cleet’s hometown of Damville and its polluted Cracker Town area and discovers two brothers prone to violence are the ones speaking up the loudest against Cleet. But where is he? Cleet hasn’t been seen since his 1973 release. Red believes the man is still alive and knows who the real killer is but finding both proves challenging.

Red’s going to need more than old investigation files and Doctor Goings’s clinical notes if he’s going to solve this cold case.

Get the ebook at a special price through Sept. 20. Find all the Red Farlow mysteries at Tirpub.com/wfranew

The evolution of Cracker Town, Red Farlow’s latest adventure

tirpub.com/wfranew

Cracker Town — Red Farlow Mysteries book five — developed over time. I’ve always had an interest in people sent to Georgia’s Central State Hospital and what happened to them.

Over the years, I’ve known friends who worked at the hospital, either as psychologists and counselors, graduate student interns, or aides in the wards. Their stories are fascinating.

A counselor friend worked at Milledgeville — the hospital’s location and nickname. He told me about a man named Lippy, who became a patient after he attempted suicide. Fortunately or unfortunately, Lippy’s aim shifted at the last second. Perhaps his hands shook or he had second thoughts. At the last second, as Lippy pulled the trigger, the barrel moved slightly but took off his right jaw in the blast. Plastic surgeons did their best on Lippy, but he lived with a misshaped lower lip and had a forever had a constant drool on the right side of his mouth.

In my hometown of Quitman, Ga., back in the late 1930s, a leading citizen with emotional problems shot and killed his sister and brother-in-law over breakfast one Thursday morning. His name was Livingston Snow. The sheriff arrested him and the judge convened a lunacy board, which remanded Snow to Central State. He died there in the early seventies.

From these and other stories, Cleet Wrightman came into creation. The fictional character of Cracker Town went to the state hospital after his arrest for killing a young woman. He spent 18 years there before being released.

Here’s a recap of his story:

In 1955, Cleet Wrightman is found guilty of murdering a woman and sent to the Georgia State Mental Hospital to serve out his time until 1973. In spring of that year, young agent Red Farlow investigates the slayings of three members of the Goings family in Valdosta, but he was never able to apprehend the murderer.

Fifty years later, the surviving son hires Red to revisit the crime and track down the killer. As he begins his cold-case probe, uncanny coincidences emerge from a key witness and old interview files. He follows a lead to Cleet’s hometown of Damville and its polluted Cracker Town area and discovers two brothers prone to violence are the ones speaking up the loudest against Cleet. But where is he? Cleet hasn’t been seen since his 1973 release. Red believes the man is still alive and knows who the real killer is but finding both proves challenging.

Red’s going to need more than old investigation files and Doctor Goings’s clinical notes if he’s going to solve this cold case.

For more about Cracker Town and an excerpt, visit my publisher at tirpub.com/wfranew. You’ll find all of the Red Farlow mysteries there.

Cracker Town releases on Sept. 14 and has a special prerelease price through Sept. 20.

‘People ’round here have a long span of memory’

Here’s an excerpt from Cracker Town, Red Farlow Mysteries Book Five, which debuts Sept. 14. There’s a special prerelease price at tirpub.com/wfranew through Sept. 20.

Cleet arrived in Damville at midnight. He walked straight to his cousin’s home and knocked on the kitchen door.

He and Wallace were never close, even when they were boys, and played cowboys and Indians in the backwoods. Cleet never won those imaginary fights. In the end, Wallace and his younger brother Gordon always piled on their mentally challenged cousin. 

As he approached the house, Cleet glanced back into those woods. He remembered a lot of things that happened back there. Playing war games, marching off on fishing trips under the railroad trestle, and camping out around a fire. 

After a few minutes and knocking several more times, the traveler heard footsteps approaching. Wallace eased open the door a bit, then brought it back to stare at Cleet in the back porch light. 

“You made it, cuz,” Wallace said. “Guess you ought to come inside.”

Cleet sensed a cool reception and didn’t know what to make of it.

They walked into a room midway in the big house. The TV blared, and a cigar smoldered in an ashtray. The place was a mess, with old newspapers and magazines stacked here and there. In the corner, three shotguns rested against the wall. Family pictures hung in frames, many tilted and all caked with dust. 

“You come right on down, did ya?” Wallace asked. He sat in the soiled easy chair next to the table and picked up the cigar. He took it between his lips and puffed, held the smoke, and blew it out. 

A window air-conditioner coughed and strained to cool the room. 

“Yeah, got out a few days ago and hitched my way here. Took ’bout as long as could be expected,” Cleet said. 

Wallace nodded and looked at his visitor. Cigar smoke drifted up. The grayish cloud mingled with smoke on the ceiling. 

“Reckon you’ll need to bunk som’ers, and I guess you can stay here a couple of days,” Wallace offered. “I imagine you’re likely hungry. I’ll put a can of beans to warm up.” 

Cleet nodded.

He looked around the room as Wallace went back to the kitchen. He remembered everything about the house. But he’d never seen it in such disarray and so filthy. His grandmother would never have left it in such a condition. 

In a few minutes, Wallace hollered for Cleet to come and eat. 

As he rose and walked down the short hallway, Cleet heard boards creak. He felt the lingering heat from the afternoon. 

The two men sat at the kitchen table. Wallace put down a plate and fork and set the hot pot of pork and beans on the tabletop. He put thick-cut smoked bacon onto a plate from an iron skillet on the stove and left it near Cleet. 

“Help yourself,” he said. “I done ate.” 

Cleet took the pot and forked out beans onto his plate, along with two pieces of bacon. Steam rose with a sweet aroma. Cleet tasted sorghum syrup and the bite of black pepper. The bacon was salty and good. 

“Reckon you’re planning to be here a while, crazy boy?” Wallace asked. 

Cleet looked up at his cousin as he chewed the beans. “I don’t know,” he said. “Supposed to check in with the mental health clinic in Thomasville. I ain’t got no way to get over there. Too far to walk. And hitching a ride’s out of the question. Done with that. Don’t you think I’m asking for one neither.” 

Cleet finished the plate of beans and served up another helping.


“Let me give you some advice, Cleet,” Wallace said. “You can take it or leave it.” Cleet looked up again at his cousin but said nothing. Wallace had aged a great deal, much more it appeared than Cleet had. Wallace had fattened up, although still broad in the shoulders and muscular. 

“I’ll tell you straight up, for your own good,” Wallace offered. “People ’round here have a long span of memory. They ain’t forgot what happened that sent you off to the loony bin.” 

“I didn’t do that,” Cleet said. His voice wavered and sounded unconvincing. 

“Well, nobody in town ever believed otherwise. Best not go around thinking you’re the only person got locked up who ain’t guilty.” 

Cleet cleared his throat and spoke again, with more determination. “I intend to get a job and a place to stay. I don’t know where. Just thought I’d come by and see you first. Guess folks hate me, but don’t matter. Nobody can put me through the hell of the hospital when I first got there.” 

“That may be. Don’t know,” Wallace said. “But her family might come looking for you round here if they know you’re back. They still convinced you’re crazier than a shit house rat, Cleet.” 

If the words burned, Cleet said nothing to indicate displeasure in hearing them. 

The day Cleet Wrightman came to town

Cracker Town, Red Farlow Mysteries No. 5, releases Sept. 14. Special price on preorder and through Sept. 20.

After his release from Central State Hospital, former Bible salesman Cleet Wrightman hitchhiked to his hometown of Damville, Georgia. The trip took days. On the way, he stopped in to visit his former counselor, Doctor Walter Goings.

That evening, someone savagely killed Goings, his wife, and his daughter in their home. Son Randy found the bodies.

Red Farlow, as a young GBI agent, investigated the Goings’s family murders in spring 1973. He never found the killer.

Forty-plus years later, Randy Goings wants the investigation reopened and hires Red to do it.

The first question confronting Red is whether Wrightman committed the crime. As Red reviews old case files, he sheds new light — and raises many questions — on the Goings killings.

Was Wrightman framed in the death of a young woman that sent him to Central State in 1955? And did he kill his friend Walter Goings and the man’s family?

Complicating the original Goings’s investigation was Wrightman’s disappearance after his release from the hospital.

A web of deceit shrouds Cleet’s hometown of Damville, as Red soon learns.

Cracker Town takes the reader into the dark and gloomy history of a town torn by industrial poisoning and shrouded in receipt and murder. And a man, tormented by mental challenges, who finds a new life in another town, only to relive the horrors of being falsely accused. But, was he?

For Cracker Town and all of W.F. Ranew’s Red Farlow books, visit tirpub.com/wfranew.

Cracker Town Debuts Sept. 14, 2021

Town’s secrets cloak ruthless killer

In Cracker Town, Red Farlow Mysteries No. 5, a cold case slams Red Farlow in the gut and takes him back decades.

Early in his career, he investigated the 1973 slayings of a family in Valdosta, Georgia. The killer eluded police at the time. Now, surviving son Randy Goings wants closure on his family’s killings and asks Red to reopen the case. 

One man holds clues to all the deaths. Cleet Wrightman was charged in 1955 with murdering a young woman. Due to his retardation, the judge sent Cleet to the state mental hospital. He remained there until 1973. Upon his release, uncanny coincidence puts him in Valdosta on the day the Goings family died. 

Several weeks after the murders, Cleet vanishes. 

Did Cleet serve time for someone else’s crime? That’s just one of the questions Red must answer as he confronts into his past and hunts a crazed killer.

Red delves into old case files and witness accounts for clues. But his biggest challenge is unraveling a small town’s dark secrets. And finding Cleet Wrightman.

Reviewer on Blood Mug ‘all of my senses were engaged’

Book reviewer Cathy Geha awarded five stars to the mystery novel. Here’s here review and a link to her post.

Blood Mug (Red Farlow Mysteries: #4)
by W.F. Ranew
Cathy Geha‘s review Apr 10, 2021
it was amazing
Blood Mug by W.F. Ranew
Red Farlow Mysteries #4

Red Farlow Mysteries are thought provoking, twisted, complex, evocative, paint pictures and intense. They are a delight and I look forward to reading each and every one of them! This time people affiliated with the Wickham Art Center seem to be dropping like flies but…why? Red is called in to find out what is what and as a PI he might have better luck than the local police force since he is not constrained in quite the same way as they are. Will Red or the police be first to find the killer? They say murder has to do with means, motive and opportunity so…who will it be this time?

What I liked:
* Red: mature, grounded, steady, wise, has many contacts, knowledgeable from past work with Georgia Bureau of Investigation, a good friend, married to a good woman…like him.
* The first-person narrative and the feeling of looking over Red’s shoulder as the story unfolds
* The slow unfolding of the story as clues are revealed
* That all of my senses were engaged
* That Red was not invincible
* The supporting characters and the parts they played
* The way it all came together
* The tidbits that made it “more” … so much information gleaned through the story that might not seem important but definitely played a part.
* The pottery tie-in since I took a class in elementary school and college and enjoyed them both
* Being reminded of previous cases/books in the series as Red mentioned bits of them
* Reading through my reviews for the first three books and remembering why this series is one to revisit and reread in the future.
* Finding out the “who, what, when, where and why” journalists are to note and also the “means, motive, and opportunity” that police look for – and that the person(s) involved in crime and murder were unearthed

What I didn’t like:
* The people I was meant not to like and the crimes they were involved in

Did I enjoy this book? Yes
Would I read more in this series? Definitely.

Thank you to the author for the ARC – This is my honest review.

5 Stars

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3936376358


Red Farlow Mysteries capture the thrill and danger of the private detective’s cases. Set mostly in Georgia and north Florida, Red sometimes travels to far-flung places to track down his suspect. Blood Mug is Farlow book four. Find them all at tirpub.com/wfranew

Blood Mug’s Red Farlow seeks killer of potters at Atlanta art center

Excerpt from Blood Mug by W.F. Ranew, Tirgearr Publishing.

The night heat hovered without relief—eighty-eight degrees at ten forty-five when I arrived. Outside, the wind swatted at oak limbs and brushed my sweat-dotted face. Inside the basement studio, fans blasted from two of the windows opening out at ground level. Lights seemed adequate but cast a gloomy pall over the front room.
While taking the final pictures of the tragic scene, my phone screen caught a shadowy movement. I looked into a dark back chamber adjoining the studio. My phone switched to video as my eyes tried to focus on the blackness through the next room’s portal. I heard nothing, but someone lurked there.
I stepped toward the darkness.
Footsteps sounded in the back of the room. I entered but saw nothing. Still, the video captured the faint, mostly dark scene and whatever else the dim available light might reveal to digital recording, or so I figured at the time.
A door creaked open. The sound came from above the room. Reaching inside the doorway, I fumbled around and found a light switch. The room lit dimly from a single bulb dangling near the far door, which stood open. A stone stairway led up in a spiral to the left and down to the right.

I started the trek. At the top, perhaps two stories up, I opened a door into the old mansion’s ballroom.
Another door at the opposite end of that large room slammed shut. The air was much cooler there than the outside temperature dictated. I quickly walked across the parquetry, opened the door, and stepped inside another dark chamber. The kitchen from the smell of it.
A crevice of light showed a nearby pantry. Someone had just moved through an exterior French door leading onto a balcony. I saw the figure move along the balustrade through the windows.
I followed cautiously and stepped onto the long, wide balcony. The summer wind whipped my face, and I looked down the wall lit by a streetlamp. The untamed growth of mature shrubs cluttered the area below me. Wickham needed a gardener.
Suddenly, an overhead spotlight went dark. I carefully made my way forward.

“Get out of here,” a voice said from a place at the far end of the balcony.
I stepped in that direction and into darkness. I stopped along the balustrade and listened for further movement.
“Leave now,” the voice said. A woman’s?
I walked on slowly, but despite caution, my foot caught on a loose stone, and I tripped, my right shoe sliding across crumbled mortar where several balusters and the railing had fallen away.
I wobbled a moment, my hands and arms waving in a desperate attempt at balance. Then I tumbled down in the darkness and met the fresh scent of leaves against my face. Thorny branches pierced my skin. I sank fast and deep into nature’s prickly bed. Along the way, my body swept out of the bushes and landed hard on a flagstone and grass walkway. My head thudded against slate.
Blackness inside and out overcame me. Somewhere I felt pain. All over, I felt discomfort. My mind blanked. For how long, I couldn’t know.

_________________

March 7-13 is Read an eBook Week at Smashwords. All four Red Farlow Mysteries are half price during the sale period.

tirpub.com/wfranew


A mug of wine, a loaf of bread, and a dagger to the heart

Blood Mug by W.F. Ranew, published by Tirearr Publishing

Latest Red Farlow Mystery debuts. Take a look…

PI Red Farlow has a meeting with Wickham Art Center board chair in Atlanta, but when he arrives, he finds the chairman slumped over his potter’s wheel with a medieval battle dagger protruding from his back.

During the investigation, other victims are discovered in the pottery studio, each meeting the same gruesome end as the chairman. Is the dagger a dramatic flourish of a twisted mind, or a more profound message?

Clues soon reveal a real estate scheme—wealthy Venezuelan investors plan to plow Wickham under and build condos on the site.

Red gets his hands muddy as he throws himself into finding the answers.

_____

Tirgearr page

http://tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Ranew_WF/blood-mug.htm

Blood mug publishes on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021 and has a promo price until Sunday, Feb. 28.