Book Reviews: The Compost Pile and Now Where Did That Come From?

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STEPHEN WOODFIN UNDERSTANDS the complications of a legal system that entangles and oftentimes strangles those who try to work their way along that fine but ragged line between guilt and innocence.

He’s a lawyer.

But what has always fascinated him is not necessarily the case, the trial, or even the verdict, but the individuals involved. And that curious cast of characters forms the heart and soul of The Compost Pile.

It is a quiet little melodrama in a quiet little town and is triggered when the body of a teenage girls is found lying beneath the dying and decaying leaves of an isolated trash heap.

Is it just another murder?

Did the victim just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Or does the root cause of her death lie much deeper in the secrets of a luxurious coastal Florida neighborhood where justice can be handed down swiftly or easily swept under the rug, depending entirely on who has the most power, most influence, and most money?

A girl is dead.

A young man is charged with the murder.

A district attorney cares little about the plight of the dead girl and wants only to secure a quick, dramatic conviction in order to further his own political motives.

The young man’s fate lies in the hands of three men: an iconoclastic old lawyer who believes in him, an attorney fighting his own personal demons, and a detective who happens to be a recovering alcoholic.

It’s not much of a defense team. But when Shot Glass Reynolds is investigating the case, it may be enough.

They are the only hope the accused has and find themselves embroiled within the tentacles of a conspiracy that has far-reaching consequences.

Who is actually guilty?

Who is really the target of the conspiracy?

Is it all an illusion?

What secrets have been simmering and festering for a long time, secrets that so many in the community want to keep hidden, secrets that may blow the lid off the whole investigation?

Stephen Woodfin never writes the convenient and comfortable legal thriller with a predictable ending. He peels away layer after layer and creates a psychological thriller that will mesmerize you, page after page, and haunt you long after the last page is read.

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GALAND NUCHOLS IS A COLLECTOR of stories, and she never keeps them a secret. She is a storyteller and has packed twelve little gems into her anthology: Now Where Did That Come From?

Galand finds wonderful little stories everywhere she looks.

As far as she is concerned, they are about life.

They define life.

They are life.

Just the titles of her chapters are intriguing – titles such as The Losing Place, Three Graves Outside the Fence, Strangers in our Midst, Secrets of Little Cypress Bayou, When the Time Comes.

We can relate to those. Some of them seem to be torn from our own memories, our own lives.

Too often, we see someone walking past and think, “I wonder who they are, what they are doing, how their life has been.”

Are they alone?

Have they found love?

Are they happy?

What makes them look so sad?

And we see weather-beaten houses by the side of the road and think, “I wonder who lived there and what happened within those old walls.”

Was the house full of love?

Did it witness tragedy?

Why was it abandoned?

Why is it empty?

Life is full of stories, and Galand Nuchols has given us a dozen of her favorite ones. All are based solidly on real incidents. The collection can be read and enjoyed by anyone of any age. But, in reality, the book of short stories was probably written to appeal primarily to those aged ten and up.

She dedicated the anthology to storytellers, young and old, who are willing to share their tales.

Galand Nuchols was willing to share hers, and we’re better off as readers because she did.

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