Author Ken Stichter Merges Backpacking, A Buried Time Capsule, and Murder in New Thriller Novel

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‘Trail of Madness’ leads Investigator Van Vanarsdale on a Wild Goose Chase Through the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

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A time capsule was buried at a high school where author Ken Stichter once taught. When the capsule was opened 25 years later, he was the principal. Though the thought of a body being discovered in the capsule was never a part of the speculation among students as to its contents, Stichter thought it would make a great mystery novel plotline.

In “Trail of Madness” a decades old cold case is reopened after the remains of a young woman are found in a school’s time capsule 27 years after she and her date went missing from the prom. But the case soon grows cold again. A few years later, the case is given to Sherriff’s Investigator Van Vanarsdale who is known for unconventional, sometimes overly intellectual, approaches to investigation tactics.

In his investigation, Vanarsdale discovers that the young woman’s death has similarities to the disappearances of several backpackers along California’s John Muir Trail in the 1960s and 1970s. The suspect for these disappearances, as Vanarsdale later discovers, is a woman with a high IQ, a photographic memory, and unmatched backpacking skills who has an inclination for backcountry revenge murders.

“As an avid backpacker myself, my inspirations for this story have come from my time on the trail,” Stichter said. “For example, I once found a handmade earring when hiking along the John Muir Trail in 1960, which later turned into a key piece of evidence in the book.”

In “Trail of Madness,” readers and avid backpackers can hike along with Stichter’s mystery solving investigator as he connects the dots to see where the trail ends.

“Trail of Madness”
By: Ken Stichter
ISBN: 978-1-5320-3050-5 (sc); 978-1-5320-3051-2 (e)
Available at the iUniverse Online Bookstore and Amazon

About the Author

Ken Stichter is a former high school teacher, principal, district administrator, and assistant professor at California State University, Fullerton. A wanderer at heart, he has a passion for books, backpacking, and fly-fishing. Now retired, he lives with his wife in Orange, California. Trail of Madness is his third book, which has received the iUniverse Editor’s Choice award and Rising Star selection. His first two books include “Death on the High Route” and “The Water and Murder Flow South.”

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