Things in Ditches
Genre: Mystery and Suspense
Release Date: December 25, 2000
Publisher: North Star Press of St. Cloud
Goodreads Rating: 4.26
My Rating: 5
A murder mystery novel. The story of Phillip "Dutch" Cleland, a man with a hidden past and a future about to explode in his face. A seemingly average man whose love for two women drives him to such extremes that deception, even murder and suicide are no longer unthinkable.
When a lovely corpse is discovered near Dutch's hometown, the nearby ditches begin to yield a harvest of secrets, none of them comforting for Dutch. Soon he is forced to flee for his life, before his past and the police slip a noose around his neck.
Things In Ditches is peopled with small town characters that are so humorous and eccentric, their oddball antics enliven every paragraph and page. A reader can't help but be reeled in by the strange citizens of Willow River, until soon discovering they're really not so different from all of us and Dutch's story is the oldest story on earth; good and evil, betrayal and laughter. And finally, the power of love and friendship, forging one man's determination to overcome all odds, even death.
My Take On The Book:
One of my favorite shows this last summer was a show called “Motive”. I am not exactly sure what it was about the show that drew me in but something did and this book was no different.
Just like the show, you are given the names/face of the killer and his/her victim with in the first 30 seconds, what you are lacking is the motive. Sure, we all have our own ideas as to was the motive is and more often than not, those ideas don’t pan out but it the case of this story, a clear line starts forming from point a to point b and everything starts to make sense… if you’re paying attention to detail that is.
Before I delve too deeply into the story’s plot let me say, one of the most appealing things about this title was the simplicity of its design. Things in Ditches does not have a flashy cover or fancy design, but that’s part of the appeal, it’s understated like the book’s many characters and the small town it takes place in. When you crack open he book, you are greeted by a clean and aesthetically pleasing font that is easy on tired eyes and a story to match. The title itself may have no real significance to readers at first but in due time, once you’ve gotten to know each character a little better, everything makes sense.
Each character is well planned and their story executed pristinely with no apparent inconsistencies. It’s a book I can really get behind.
I think one of the things that attracted me most was not the synopsis like most stories I review, but a review by John Molene from The Saint Cloud Daily Time. In the review he states “His name may be Jimmy Olsen but he writes like superman…” I’m a nerd and damn proud, so that complement in itself sold me. After reading Things in Ditches, I have to admit I agree wholeheartedly. Jimmy Olsen is one helluvah talented author who writes a gripping tale of a small town man that does the unthinkable and cheats on his wife, years later after the affair has ended the betrayal still strong in his heart leads him to commit an even more heinous crime, murder…
It is a murder mystery but definitely one that’s not written in the normal or typical sense. You have all the information almost off the bat, just a few missing key points. The story itself revolves around those few missing pieces, like what exactly would drive a many to kill his former lover years after their affair ended. This is the kind of book, with the kind of mystery to keep you turning pages without you even realizing it. Before you know it, you’ve reach the ‘about the author’ page.
Keep a look out for my next review on “The Hero of Blind Pig Island” by this extremely talented author. I honestly forgot how much I enjoyed books that didn’t have a paranormal aspect until I read this book. If you have not read this, you might regret it. My only real disappointment with this book was its end. Not the ending of the book but just that the story had ended, that and my schedule being so packed that I didn’t get to read a review this title earlier.
About The Author
Jimmy Olsen didn't start writing fiction until he was well past 40. In the tradition of American writers like Jack London and Louis L'Amour, Olsen spent much of his life seeking adventure. He began scuba diving in 1961 at age 13 and continues today. A machine-gunner in Vietnam, after two tours he settled down awhile, married, started a family, and graduated college with a BS in English. Still at college, he published his first national story in a diving magazine. A year later he moved his family to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic where he taught at a private American school and started the Republic's first professional diving school, Scuba Dominican, C por A. Hearing rumors of shipwrecks and gold, Olsen and a small group of adventurers discovered the site of the French Man-O-War Imperial and several other vessels. After five years in the Caribbean, Olsen completed his MA at the University of Alabama and returned to writing, taking a job with a daily newspaper in Athens, Alabama for a year before becoming an editor back home in Minnesota. This lasted four years before the thirst for adventure overtook him again and he was back in the diving business, traveling to dive destinations from the Caribbean to the South Pacific. The snorkeling scene in Thing In Ditches comes directly from the author's own rich experiences. Jimmy Olsen has written two additional novels, Scuba, due to be released next year and YR-71, a Vietnam seafaring adventure set near Da Nang. In addition, he's completed 20 short stories, some set in his native Minnesota and others from around the globe. Several of these have recently been sold and will soon be in print. Olsen continues to travel extensively, returning to the Dominican Republic to dive his old haunts only hours before Hurricane Georges. Equally at home at the keyboard of a computer or his ancient Royal, Olsen spends his writing days in a north woods setting without even the basic comforts such as running water or electricity and at his modern office in the city. He has three children, now grown, and lives with his wife in Minnesota.