Schiffman’s murder mystery has Rappahannock feel

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For Sperryville author Suzanne Schiffman, murdering a fictional Frenchman was the easy part. But where to set the story?

In her new novel, “Between a Rock and a Dark Place,” the characters came to fruition early, but the actual plot and setting took longer as ideas and rough drafts came and went. Then the answer became clear — the protagonist meets his end in a rural American county.

As in Rappahannock?

“‘Between a Rock and a Dark Place’ is set in a place very similar to Rappahannock,” Schiffman reveals.

Here’s what we can tell you: Daniel Perrault, a flashy entrepreneur, sought to transform a backwater region into a cosmopolitan destination. But his brash style rubbed many locals the wrong way and when he is found dead, the list of eclectic suspects is long. As the sheriff investigates, the story slowly unveils a motive and killer but . . . well, you’ll have to read the book.

Schiffman’s first novel published in 2011, “One Fine Day,” doesn’t entail murder but takes readers back to an era of turmoil, angst and self-seeking.

Set in the seminal year 1969 amid the upheavals of that time — war, protests, sexual freedom, generational divisions — protagonist Joanna meets a seductive French (yes, again) musician who quickly becomes a risky obsession. While characters and events are particular to that time period, it’s an age-old story of love and loss, moving on and growing up.

For further information and to order one or both novels check out the author’s website,

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John McCaslin is the editor of the Rappahannock News. Email him at