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Kenneth Butcher Books In Order

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Publication Order of Asheville Mystery Books

As the Crow Dies (2020)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Middle of the Air (2009)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Dream of Saint Ursula (2014)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Kenneth Butcher is a mystery author from Washington DC though he spent much of his childhood in Ohio. His father was an avid reader of science fiction and while growing up, he read the many stacks of fiction and analog science fact magazines his father owned. From when he could read his father would get the best stories and then pass them on to him which is perhaps what got him hooked on mystery. He grew up in a very conventional home with his father, mother, brother, and two sisters. His grandfather would often spend some time with them. For their summers they would head to his grandmother’s farm in West Virginia where he had tons of cousins to play with. As a teen, he proceeded to study engineering at Ohio State University and after graduating married his high school girlfriend. Soon after, he got a job for a small research lab in Kent in Ohio and then started a family. It was in the small town that they brought up their family before they went to college and left home. Dealing with empty nest syndrome proved to be too much for his wife who opened an ice cream and chocolate shop.

During the 1980s, Butcher was doing very well as he traveled all over the world on development, research, and business projects. He ran Shining Rock Technologies, a development, and engineering company that kept him very busy. Kenneth Butcher would seamlessly transition from the laboratory into a fiction author mostly because he adhered to the old maxim write what you know. Years after retiring, he took his family to Hendersonville, where they made a new life for themselves. Butcher served on the School board for two terms and also served on the board of the Mountain Community School and Blue Ridge Community College. Over the years, his family has been involved in all manner of projects in their community. They hosted the New Zealand Olympic swim team during the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. The family also made the largest chocolate chip in the world at more than 100 feet in diameter thus getting their small team into the world record books.

After his retirement, Kenneth Butcher had much more time to write the manuscript for his debut novel “Middle of the Air.” He had always been a reader but never thought of becoming an author until he found himself too idle with his wife running her chocolate and ice cream place. His novels are known for tongue in cheek humor and sense of place which he says he got from combining the best aspects of Carl Hiaasen and Tony Hillerman. Given that he likes to write what he knows, his debut had a Western North Carolina setting and an ice cream shop. Nonetheless, even though much of Butcher’s inspiration comes from real-life experiences, he also gets some from anachronistic night visions. He has had dreams of famous figures such as Abraham Lincoln smoking their cigars from the 1950s that he would then portray in the characters in his story. Once he was done with the writing and editing, he sent to several agents but nothing came of it. He had once read and loved John F. Blair’s “The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break” and called the agent who surprisingly accepted his manuscript immediately. The novel is the first of a trilogy he is writing about the Colebrook family.

The “Middle of the Air” by Kenneth Butcher opens to a truck going missing. But what makes the case alarming is that it had been transporting materials to the Oak Ridge National Laboratories from the Savannah River Nuclear Processing Site. In the mountainous roads between Knoxville, Tennessee and Asheville, North Carolina it had disappeared. Someone in the government is trying to set up a family of unusually gifted and intelligent members known as the Colebrooks. He has done a good job and it is not long before they are the prime suspects in the case. The search for the truck gains momentum even as the family tries to extricate itself from the net spread by some nefarious government agents. It is an interesting take that combines irreverent religious humor with southern Appalachian charm and with a little government satire and intrigue makes for a fun story. It looks at how the government spends tax dollars, the Appalachian Trail lore, and even footnotes detailing animal communication.

Kenneth Butcher’s “The Dream of Saint Ursula” is set in the Virgin Islands, a place where the weather is warm and the skies are clear as the sun shines brightly bouncing off the blue waters of the Caribbean. Just like the island population, the life is dependable and relaxed. But recently, piles of abandoned clothes in a filthy state had been turning up in isolated spots on the island. There have also been found coins bearing Chinese looking characters at the base of a waterfall. Could some people have taken advantage of the lax policing to tart some sort of human trafficking operation in the tropical forest? An earnest local police officer teams up with a comely park ranger to investigate the crime. They suspect foul play even though they are told off by their superiors. Could misconduct and subterfuge on the Virgin Islands be connected to the power brokers thousands of miles away in Washington DC? To resolve the mystery, the investigations may have to go to seemingly unrelated events and individuals that may have connections to people in the highest levels of government.

“As the Crow Dies” by Kenneth Butcher tells the story of a strange mystery that involves murder, military conspiracy, and super-intelligent animals. It all starts when a nerdy detective and his partner are called to the River Arts where a body has been discovered. The detective is non-other than Ira Segal, back at work after he had spent time recuperating from a gunshot wound he had incurred in the line of duty. Segal soon learns that the murdered man had been an employee of Creatures 2.0 a mysterious startup that trains animals to become very intelligent. Francis Elah the founder of the company is an eccentric man who has disappeared and not even Naval Intelligence who is his biggest client can locate him. As Segal and his partner continue their investigation into Elah’s disappearance and the murder, they come across the animals that had been trained by the deceased. Some pigeons accompany a priest when he goes to pray, there is a raccoon that can roll cigarettes, and a crow that collects evidence about the case. But despite all their advantages, Segal and Dinah do not know who to trust when the evidence points to a shadowy military contractor as being behind the murders.

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