About Harvester of Sorrow
Weldon Burge’s debut thriller, Harvester of Sorrow, the first in the Ezekiel Marrs series, will be published by Suspense Publishing on November 16.
A whirlwind of tragic, terrifying events …
A vodoun priest is brutally slain in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
On American soil, a man stands atop his car—naked from the waist down—and suddenly succumbs to a mysterious death.
Within the silence of a state park, an abducted child is found dead, yet another in a series of similar slayings.
In the small city of New Warfield, ODs have skyrocketed from the use of cocaine laced with an undetermined substance.
Detective Ezekiel Marrs may just have the wealth of strength and skills needed to fight these dark forces, to uncover the facts behind these hideous cases and how they relate to one another. With his team, Ezekiel takes on the immense task of putting the pieces together, making the connections that will hopefully solve this puzzle and stop the seemingly endless death and destruction.
But when Ezekiel and his fellow police officers find themselves facing two of the most vicious adversaries they’ve ever encountered, more lives hang in the balance as they battle to survive a deadly, inevitable confrontation with unimaginable evil.Synopsis Provided by the Author
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Harvester of Sorrow Excerpt
The following excerpt takes place early in the novel after two teenagers discover a body in a state park.
Like all interview rooms, this one was sterile—only a table, chairs, and blank walls. The teenage girl sat between her parents, her shoulders hunched, not even looking up when the door opened. Her father’s eyes followed Marrs and O’Daniel as they entered the room, a look of confusion and grim expectation. The mother, hugging her daughter, didn’t seem to notice when they entered the room.
“Mr. Johnson. Mrs. Johnson. My name is Detective Ezekiel Marrs, and this is my partner, Detective Gordon O’Daniel. We’re so sorry that your daughter had to go through this.”
“I don’t know why she has to be here,” Mr. Johnson said.
“We just have a few questions for her,” O’Daniel said.
The girl was on the brink of tears. Marrs had to be careful. He sat in the chair directly across the table from her. O’Daniel stood to the side, keeping an eye on the parents. Marrs smiled at her.
“Hi, Heather,” Marrs said. “Promise we won’t keep you here long, okay?”
“You know, I love to take my family to the park in late April when the trees are turning green. And then we go again in May when the flowers bloom, and you can hear the songbirds in the trees. It’s beautiful that time of year.”
Heather nodded but said nothing.
“The park is pretty in the spring, don’t you think?”
“Have you been to the park in May?”
“Yes. It’s nice.”
“Yes, it is. Do you like to walk there?”
“Jeff and I walked there a few times.”
“On the trails? With the signs describing the different plants and animals you might see in the park?”
“We always stayed on the trail, to keep from getting lost. I was always afraid of getting lost in the woods. Jeff was never worried about that.”
“Why did he leave the trail this time, do you know?”
She glanced at her parents.
“It’s okay, Heather,” Marrs said. “You can talk to me. We’re all friends here.”
“We just wanted to be alone. There were so many people in the park, even on the trails. We just wanted some privacy. And Jeff’s friend told him about this place.”
“Now, think back.” Marrs kept his eyes on her, ignoring her parents on either side. He wanted to bypass the usual questions and get right to it. He had little time before DeRigge returned to the office. “Did you know the place he was taking you?”
“But you trusted Jeff.”
“Yes. I wasn’t worried this time. I wanted to be with him, that’s all. He didn’t seem worried, and we even held hands most of the time.” She glanced at her parents again. “It was kinda like a date. We hadn’t seen much of each other for the last few weeks. You know, ‘cause of family vacations and work. We just wanted some privacy.”
Sure you did, Marrs thought.
“Why did you decide to go when it was so hot?”
“I work at a summer camp, and I had the week off. Jeff had today off for the holiday. This was the only time we could get together for the next two weeks. But I now wish we’d gone to the pool instead.”
“I can’t disagree,” O’Daniel said.
“I don’t remember anything,” she continued. “It was so hot. So humid. I was sweating so bad, you know? I wish we hadn’t gone. I think we got lost in the woods. Jeff seemed to be wandering around and not knowing where he was. And it took so long to get where we were going. Well, I guess we never got to the place he was looking for.”
“Do you remember seeing anyone else?”
“Not in the woods where we were. But, like I said, there were a lot of people around the parking lot and picnic area. You know, for the Fourth of July. But not as many in the woods. Probably because it was so hot.”
“Do you remember hearing anything? Maybe someone talking?”
Heather shook her head. “Nothing like that. You could hear the bugs all over the place. Maybe frogs. I don’t remember hearing people. Definitely no talking. We walked for what seemed like hours, although I know it wasn’t anywhere near that long.”
“Did you and Jeff wander around the forest trying to locate where the awful smell was coming from?”
She hesitated, looked down at the table.
“Did Jeff lead you directly to the little girl’s body?”
She started to cry again.
“He did, didn’t he?” Marrs said. “He knew where the body was.”
“Do we need to do this now?” Heather’s father said.
Marrs looked at the man and said, with a level voice, “Yes, sir. We need to.”
“I don’t see why…”
“A child has been murdered, sir.”
Before Mr. Johnson could protest again, Marrs turned back to Heather.
“Heather, I need you to answer my question. This is very important. What did you see? Any little detail could be important.”
She shook her head. “It didn’t seem real, the little girl. Her face was so shiny. Like one of those creepy porcelain dolls. You know, like you see around Halloween? She didn’t seem real, and I thought Jeff was playing a trick on me. But he was just as surprised as I was. And then I realized that awful smell, the flies…”
She sniffed, wiped her eyes with the back of her hand.
“Is Jeff in trouble?” she asked.
“We just need to know what happened. Nobody is in trouble yet.”
“But I don’t want to get Jeff in trouble.”
“Why would Jeff be in trouble?”
“I don’t know.”
Marrs took another tack. “Was he surprised when he realized what it was?”
She nodded. “We both were.”
“He didn’t lead you directly to the body?”
“We wandered around the woods, looking for a clearing to spread out a blanket. Like I said, his friend Josh told him about some place in the woods, but I don’t think Jeff knew where he was going at all.”
O’Daniel leaned forward. “How did Jeff react to finding the girl?”
“He said something like ‘Oh my God’ and backed away. I thought I was going to throw up. Who would do that to a kid? Who could do something like that?” She teared up again.
“He never touched the body?”
Heather shook her head in apparent disgust. “No! Gross. I just wanted to get out of there. We started running back the way we came.”
“So, Heather, what did you have for breakfast?”
“Just wondering if you ate breakfast.”
She stared at him for a moment, confused. “We stopped at McDonald’s on the way to the park.”
“And you had?”
“An Egg McMuffin.”
“Pancakes and coffee. I had an orange juice.”
Her father said, “What does this have to—”
“Oh, nothing. Just curious,” Marrs said. “After discovering the body, you went back to the parking lot?”
“Ran back. Yes. I was scared to death.”
“Jeff drove to a 7-11. He called 911 as soon as he got to a payphone.”
“Think back. Do you remember anything else at all, anything unusual, maybe something that seemed out of place?”
She shook her head. “No, nothing like that.”
Marrs glanced at O’Daniel, a silent request for any other questions. O’Daniel briefly shook his head.
At that moment, Fulsom stuck his head through the door. “Mr. Mumford is here.”
Marrs smiled at the girl. “Thank you, Heather. You’ve been helpful. We may need to talk with you again.”
“Is Jeff in trouble?” Heather asked.
About the Author – Weldon Burge
Weldon Burge, a native of Delaware, is a writer, publisher, and full-time editor. His short fiction has appeared in many publications, including various magazines and anthologies (such as Crimeucopia, The Best of the Horror Society 2013, Pellucid Lunacy: An Anthology of Psychological Horror, Ghosts and Demons, Beach Pulp, and Scary Stuff, just to name a few). His stories have been adapted for podcast presentation by Drabblecast. Weldon is also a frequent writer for Suspense Magazine, often writing author interviews.
Earlier in his freelance career, Weldon wrote more nonfiction articles than he can count, including content for newspapers, magazines, and even website content. He was once a prolific garden writer, and for many years has written for an educational consulting firm. But, for the most part, Weldon’s writing has steered away from nonfiction and has been largely focused on fiction.
On November 16, 2021, Suspense Publishing will release Weldon’s debut thriller, Harvester of Sorrow, the first in the Ezekiel Marrs series. He is also currently writing a paranormal suspense novel that may also be the start of another series (but he hasn’t determined that yet). He intends to stay on the novel-writing rollercoaster for the future.
In 2012, Weldon and his wife, Cindy, founded Smart Rhino Publications, an indie publishing company focusing primarily on horror and suspense/thriller books, many of them anthologies. To date, the company has published 14 books and is now pulling together the anthology Asinine Assassins.