THOMASVILLE — In the spring of 2010, the small Missouri town of Little Bend was home to people not unlike residents of any small American community of about 3,000.
Jack Archer, whose primary income was from dual duties as a bartender and piano player at a local restaurant, had received a short-term contract to research birds in wetlands along a nearby waterway. As mist retreated early one morning, Archer cruised to a marsh and recorded bird species and activity.
An hour later, Archer was on his way home when he saw turkey buzzards circling. His dog began to bark. Archer angled toward the bank below the vultures. Following his dog, Archer soon realized the large, black birds above were interested in the dead body he discovered — that of Andre Hadley.
Hadley’s body had become snagged on roots of a tree author M.C. Anderson wrote “stood upright as a deacon.”
Discovery of the bloated, gray-hued body comes to life on pages two and three of “The Lovestruck Detective,” a mystery novel written by Thomasville resident Mark Anderson.
The dead, gay black man was about to be married to his life and business partner, Charles Parker, a white man. The engaged couple live above the upscale antiques store they own in Little Bend.
Hadley was a candidate for county commissioner, despite a hail of gunfire that interrupted a campaign event a few days before his bloated body was found in the marsh. The candidate is opposed to an industrial hog farm that wants to come to the town.
Anderson, who grew up in Wisconsin and Minnesota, once knew a couple like Hadley and Parker.
During a newspaper career as an editor and reporter, Anderson worked for, among other newspapers, The Minneapolis Tribune, The Kansas City Times and The Kansas City Star, where he wrote an occasional column. He lives with his wife, artist Sandra Shaw, and their Shih Tzu in Thomasville.
“Most of this was inspired by places and people I knew,” Anderson, who is also the Thomas County Democratic Party chairman, said.
The restaurant where book character Jack Archer works actually exists. Like in the book, the eatery overlooks a river. Its actual location is just off an interstate highway in a small Missouri town.
Anderson’s descriptions of characters in his debut novel leave little to the imagination.
He described a lawman at the murder scene as bald, whose head was “a bit misshapen, like the top of a badly turned newel post.” The author described another character as “a fireplug of a man.”
Anderson, who was born on Halloween, always wanted to write a novel.
“Life got in the way,” he said. “I had a living to make.”
He would work on the book, put it aside, did a lot of editing and rewriting and changed things he did not like.
Sue McFadden designed the book cover, digital edition and interior of “The Lovestruck Detective.”
“All the graphics are hers,” Anderson said.
A book-signing is from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the The Bookshelf, 126 S. Broad St., in downtown Thomasville.
Anderson will take the 263-page book on the road in 2020, when he will do book tours in the Missouri cities of Kansas City, St. Louis, Jefferson City and Columbia.
Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820