Things in Ditches: Jimmy Olsen
Sometimes when someone gets too close to you they need to be disposed of. The story opens in a unique way with the murderer describing why he decided to kill his former lover and the method he used. While eating breakfast with his wife this sick, twisted and sad sack character discusses his plans for what he hopes will end his life. But, not everything goes as planned as this man finds out as he decides that when trying to pull the trigger and leaving a note tucked somewhere for his wife to find, he never completed this simple task.
Willow River is the setting for his dark and macabre story as we enter the minds of many different characters in a town that thrives on gossip, loves to feed on the misery of others and finds itself in the middle of two murders and maybe more before all is said and done. Walleye is the main focus of the first encounter with a body found as the title says: Things in Ditch. Well, this body is found within the confines of a ditch by Walleye a junk man. Walleye is slow in comparison to others and his feelings are easily hurt. Because of his disabilities many of the people of this small town are mean to him and often ridicule or belittle this man. Not dangerous just trying to find his way in the world, looking through garbage cans and doing his job, poor Walleye Hertz is what you might think a cast aside. Walleye finds his way into garbage and what starts this off in this case a ditch. But, Walleye like many others like him have different ways of dealing with daily activities and in his case repetition is one. Keeping to a schedule and following a regimented routine he rides his tricycle throughout the roadways of this small town. But, something would change it all as he is riding and ice cases him to slip and fall and not able to ride his tricycle home. Trying to flag down a car to help him no way pays him any mind. Leaving it where he was he decides to walk home after one last try at fixing it. Ditches are exciting to him and you never know what good stuff you can find until you find something that you never expect. Walleye learned that ditches in the woods can be dangerous to explore but he believed they contained great treasures. So, on the way home he decided to explore one more ditch even though he got covered in freezing water and what he found would change it all. Within a heavy plastic he uncovered the body of a woman who was unclothed, dead and definitely not what he expected. Afraid, scared and unable to speak Walleye did not know who she was but he also knew it was not quite the treasure he hoped for.
Within this small town there is one Police Chief named Charlie Benson who does not carry again. Along with the undertaker, they decide to assess the crime scene in a unique way. From the start you can tell that Charlie is quite good and his ability to run an investigation, although limited at times, seems better than that of the local Sheriff who wants him out of his way and not involved. Within this small town they rarely have to deal with murders and now they had a corpse with no identification and no idea where she came from or who she was. Charlie might think this surpassed his abilities or skills but the unidentified victim deserved more respect and a proper funeral and autopsy and he was determined to see it happened. Where as the sheriff could care less and only wanted to be reelected.
Within the story we hear the voice of Dutch the man who committed the murder and then another of someone he thought would get in the way of his freedom and who was related to the first victim. Getting to know Dutch we also get an inside look at his relationship with Vicky, their time together and her relationships with other men. You begin to wonder just why he veered towards her and why his wife would remain with him. When Charlie questioned Jean about Dutch she remained steadfast and would not divulge anything that would lead to his capture. But, on the loose was Vicky’s two husbands, one ex and one current who decided to take matters into their own hands and create a trail of destruction and death before all was said and done. Going to a motel that terrorized the young boy at the reception desk. Added in the found Walleye and sent him on the run or did they kill him? With the corpse missing and now finally found what will the Sheriff plan to do next to hinder Charlie’s investigation as he insults, hits and causes havoc wherever he goes but lucky for him he has Marlene to center him.
The story is graphic and the violence will make you shudder as we enter the motel and feel the pain inflicted on Danny and then the fear in Walleye as he runs for his life. This once quiet sleepy little town is no longer safe for anyone. So, why would a man’s wife stay with him, be so loyal and not betray him? What happens when Murdock and Johnson attack her? Putting the pieces together Charlie is surprised when several come forward with information that might change their perspective about Dutch.
Hiding out he enlists the help of Dylan and Sally who seem bent on aiding him with the help of many others. But, his friend Les is on the way and finally catches up and what happens next will provide another twist to the plot. Why would he want to help him? What happens when Charlie and Jean team up to find Dutch? Who really killed Vicky? Was it Dutch or was it someone else?
This is a story of a town torn apart by fear, deceit lies, abuse, betrayal and greed and one lawman whose primary goal was Power. Can Charlie find the answers he needs or will he too be a casualty?
Sheriff Matton’s only concern is making sure that Vicky’s body was taken to St. Cloud but when it went missing and the truth comes out during a press conference things change. While Charlie and Jean are going in one direction, Gordon Murdock and Carroll Johnson go in another and someone finds Dutch. As he relates in his own words what he remembers on the night that Vicky died, you realize that it’s not that he’s sorry but that he might get caught.
Gordon Murdock might be her current husband but is he a killer and rapist too? Jean Cleland didn’t say much to Charlie nor will she provide much help until she had no choice. When things come to a head Dutch comes face to face with two men that might prove more dangerous than the Sheriff or the courts. An ending that will surprise readers and an added twist that you won’t expect. Who killed Vicky? What is Dutch’s fate? Will justice prevail? If so whose? What is next for Charlie and will the Sheriff really be reelected? The only way to find out is if you visit Willow River. Characters that will not endear you to them and one Chief of Police that definitely deserves better.
This is an intricately and delicately woven story that will keep you transfixed to the printed page from start to finish by author Jimmy Olsen. This is one story that will make you wonder what is the definition of deceit, betrayal and JUSTICE! Things in Ditches: You never know what or whom you might find?
FRAN LEWIS: Reviewer