The Deadline

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Among Top 25 Best Crime Fictions of 1999

Former Chicago Tribune crime reporter Jefferson Morgan is living his life-long dream of running a weekly newspaper, The Winchester Bullet, in the Wyoming town where he grew up. But when an infamous child-murderer comes home to die and begs Morgan to help clear his name, the dream becomes a nightmare. Under the gravest deadline of his life, amid an extraordinary backlash from his neighbors, readers and advertisers, Morgan struggles with his own conscience to tell a story no matter the consequences, digging deep into the town’s past, and revealing a killer who’s hidden himself for almost 50 years.

Now a dying convict’s last request thrusts small-town newspaperman Jefferson
Morgan into a deadly maelstrom as he explores a fifty-year-old case of child
murder — a wound his town still isn’t ready to scrape open.


“An impressive debut that will keep you on the edge of your seat!” — San Francisco Chronicle

“Ron Franscell has undeniably hit his mark. His masterful storytelling strikes hard at the heart. It leaves his readers stunned one moment and tenderly moved the next. … a brilliant and engaging blend of fast-paced suspense, painstaking prose and characters so real they could drive down southbound I-25.”  — Denver Post

“Full of well-drawn human relationships that make the reader care about Morgan and the people who cross his path, but Franscell’s second book has healthy doses of crime, death, destruction, violence, sex and page-turning action to go along with its terrific characterizations.”  — Rapid City (SD) Journal

“What separates Franscell from the rest of a large pack of mystery writers is the sheer quality of his writing. … When you add writing that flows smooth and runs deep, like a proud old river, you have something different: A mystery novel that transcends and separates itself from all the others.”  — Publisher’s Auxiliary

“A masterfully woven mystery, filled with colorful characters.”  — Charlotte Austin Review

“[Franscell] makes us entirely forget that we’ve been down this road many times. As a bonus, he packs the novel with plenty of fascinating details about the newspaper business. A nice little sleeper of a mystery that deserves a wide audience.” — Booklist

“Fascinating and beautifully crafted, in my book, this is the best mystery of the year.” — Genreflecting

Original hardcover published by Write Way Publishing, Denver CO, in 1999. Trade paperback published by WildBlue Press, 2014.

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