52) Missing The Mark (A Review)


By John W. Ridley

A young and naïve northeast Georgia mountain girl, Margaret Ann, has great aspirations for her life, but does not have the financial or experiential resources to fulfill her life’s plans. But through creativity borne of ambition, circumstances that lead her toward her ultimate goal place her on a dangerous and circuitous path.

A visit to a nefarious gypsy at a county fair provides dire warning about the future to the girl, who largely ignores the message. Subtle clues abound throughout the book, and a tale that is rife with an omnipresent feeling of uneasiness prevails. Upon arrival at college, Margaret Ann is almost immediately thrust into a world that is different from anything she has previously experienced. Her childlike trust causes her to ignore warning signals as she engages in a relationship that will prove to insert her into the midst of grave danger and uncertainty.

The man she marries against her better judgment has a past checkered past and any doubts Margaret Ann has is squelched through ill-advised denial. During the first few days of marriage to Jerry, Margaret Ann begins to wonder about his unwillingness to discuss anything of his past. In fact, he grows defensive over seemingly innocuous questions asked of him. Over the first few years and after the birth of two children, Margaret Ann feels she knows her husband less as the years pass. A surprise discovery by Margaret Ann when the couple takes a walk through the mountains near their home fuels further speculation by Margaret Ann as to the meaning of a mysterious clue she has observed. With her creative mind, Margaret Ann is surprised and pleased when she finds that she has a miraculous ability to engage in the pursuit of sleuthing activities to an extensive degree.

Nighttime visits by strange men and out-of-town trips accompanied by no explanation by Jerry further feeds the flames of suspicion. Margaret Ann has now grown into a more confident, strong, and increasingly world-wise young woman who is the mother of two children. She is sometimes lulled into false feelings of security for brief periods of time, but events eventually unfold that bring her back to a belief that potentially dangerous issues are still present. But the only way to find out is to do so secretively and by the machinations by her own fertile mind, which she does with amazing alacrity. But periodically she often doubts that anything other than the ordinary is occurring, occasionally even doubting her sanity.

Taking care of her children, and interspersed by events that lead her back to her detective work, Margaret Ann manages to be a mother, wife, and even to begin a career in the Army Reserves. She is protective of Jerry and tries to take care of him emotionally, but it is all in vain. He continues to drift from job to job, one of which he loses due to a crime he was convicted of years before. Then Jerry’s sudden demise, despite heroic measures by Margaret Ann, leads to great life changes for her, but the sense of danger still permeates her mind and her life in a number of ways. She sometimes remembers that Jerry had alluded to the fact that he had once been wealthy, but was there any truth to his assertions?.

But unexpected events begin to occur with great regularity, and many answers are uncovered by Margaret as the story unfolds. A surprise ending answers all of her questions in a way she could have never imagined. Each of the seemingly mundane aspects of her life from her childhood to later adulthood provides enticing clues as to what will occur from day to day as the story unravels.

John W. Ridley, Ph.D., RN, Medical Technologist