Beneath Devil’s Bridge
Loreth Anne White
June 1st, 2021
Beneath Devil’s Bridge by Loreth Anne White is based on a true crime podcast. It has so many twists and turns readers may get dizzy.
The author noted, “The story grew out of the threads of a horrific true crime that occurred in a nearby part of my world. My eldest daughter was not far apart in age from the victim, and I saw echoes of the circumstances of that crime in my own small town. I suspect a lot of mothers did. And the unsettling emotions never left me. In crafting a work of fiction based on the facts of that crime I wanted to convey the idea that: If it takes a village—a community—to raise a child, does it also take a village to kill one? When something like this happens, are we not all a little complicit, even in our silence, or in just looking the other way?”
The plot has true crime podcaster Trinity Scott looking to make a name for herself, and her brand-new series may just be the one to make her a household name. The subject is Clayton Jay Pelley who more than two decades ago confessed to the brutal murder of teenage student Leena Rai. He was her guidance counselor and a respected member of the community. But why he killed her has always been a mystery.
“I drew Elements drawn from the real-life case include the manner of the victim’s death beneath a bridge, how she was found in the water, and the autopsy/coroner’s findings, which were also detailed in court. Aspects of the victimology are gleaned from the true crime as well. A Russian rocket did in fact fall to earth on the night of that murder—we watched it streak across the sky above the mountains where we live when the terrible thing was happening under a bridge not that far away. The rocket exploding across the sky anchored things in the memories of witnesses and others involved, and I used this concept in the fictional re-working of the crime.”
In a series of exclusive interviews from prison, Clayton discloses to Trinity the truth about what happened that night beneath Devil’s Bridge. It’s not what anyone in the Pacific Northwest town of Twin Falls expects. Clayton says he didn’t do it.
As her listeners increase and ratings skyrocket, Trinity is missing a key player in the story: Rachel Walczak, the retired detective who exposed Pelley’s twisted urges and put him behind bars. She’s not interested in playing Clayton’s game. But after Trinity reveals secrets about Rachel’s family the former detective begins to question everything, she thinks she knows about the past case.
“I wrote Rachel as every mother who wants to protect her child but even with best intentions, things don’t always work out. She’s the older woman in the mirror of my younger Trinity. Both are sleuths. One represents the past, the other the future. One is trying to expose the past, another is possibly trying to protect it. Again, this is an echo of what the town itself is transitioning through. Her teenage daughter, Maddy, is representative of many teenage girls trying to fit in, to belong, and making mistakes, then trying to deal with the repercussions they have created through their actions. She’s also unsettled by problems in her parents’ relationship.”
There are many layers to this story. Intertwining the setting makes the mystery even more riveting. The two timelines enhance the plot with the podcast being in the present and Rachel’s observations in the past. Readers will be kept guessing as the author brings in suspect after suspect.