One-time major players are in black letters

Recurring ones are in blue



Richard Carter, the wounded warrior.

       Like most men and women thrust into the horrible crap shoot of combat, he has emerged both bloodied and bowed. He sees himself as a once-decent man who has done something unforgivable, something for which atonement is impossible. Yet, he still wants to make a difference and dreams of a career in the FBI—a dream never to be realized.


Jill Belbenoit, the French coed

       A young woman of modest means from Brittany, she has come to the land of her maternal grandfather to finish her education at Pere Marquette University in Michigan.  Unwilling to give up her dream and disappoint the maiden aunt who raised her, she refuses to return to her native country when she finds herself in a frightening situation. Two potentialy violent men seem to be fighting over her.  Tough, intelligent, and usually very perceptive, she finds that the most frightening thing of all is one's own uncertainty.


Mic Boyd, the alpha male

     Unlike Richard, he was the perfect soldier: smart, fearless, and uncursed by second thoughts or self-doubt.  In Somalia, he seemed totally comfortable with violence, mayhem, and death.  In fact, he relished them.  He comes to Cartier and presumes a friendship with Richard that never was.


Marta Florez, a friend of Jill's from Merida, Mexico.  Because of their friendship, she is drawn deeply into the craziness that evolves.




Richard Carter, the hero/pardoned felon.

         A governor's pardon saved him from prosecution for murdering a serial killer. He and wife Jill move to southwest Missouri to escape their "celebrity" in Michigan. Richard is adrift, both vocationally and emotionally. He is is danger of losing his sanity and his wife until the plight of a young mother with a missing baby gives him something to obsess on other than his guilt.


Jill Carter (Jill Belbenoit) the wife and saviour,

       Jill thinks a regular job and routine will exorcise his demons from Somalia. She longs to have the kind of family she was deprived of as a child, but she also wants a career. She is working on her doctorate, plans to teach at a prestigious university, do historical research, and perhaps publish. Her main concern, however, is her damaged husband.


Molly Randolph, young single mother whose baby daughter Mancie is missing. A recovering drug addict, she sees Richard as her godsend when he agrees to do what the police refuse to do: look into the abduction of her baby.


Reese Adams, James Mill policeman who is convinced that Molly is covering up for a boyfriend who killed her child.


Sarah Rafferty, P.I and former Marine. She gets upset because Richard's private and amateurish investigation is "crossing" her own on behalf of a wealthy client.




Richard Carter, The road deputy
           It is a far cry from the FBI career he once dreamt of, but Richard finally lands a job in law enforcement when he becomes the lowest level of full-time deputy for the Hawthorn County Sheriff's Department. The job gives him a daily routine and a feeling of usefulness, and he comes to love the sleepy Ozark community of Blue Creek. However, he can't escape the feeling that he has exiled his wife to the sticks, depriving her of a career at a prstigious university.

(For Richard's background see Bonne Femme above)    
Jill Carter, the associate professor.
     Jill has a job for which she is over-qualified, but in which she is satisfied, professor at Blue Creek Community College.  Richard suspects that she is wasting her talents and sacrificing her career in an attempt to keep him from succumbing to the depression from which he suffers. He fails to realize that she has made her choice and is comfortable with it. What she is not comfortable with is Richard's obsession with a murder case to which he is not assigned—especially when it seems to leave no time in his life for her. 
(For Jill's background see Bonne Femme above)
Shug Shively is Richard's straight-laced, but politically savvy boss, perennially elected Sheriff of Hawthorn County.  He is a huge man, as rural sheriff's often are since they must look the part.  He is utterly incorruptible.
Bobby Lee Paget is a spree killer with ties to the Oregon Freemen, a separatist militia organization.
Father Joshua (formerly US Senator Josh Leland) is the charismatic leader of the Wilderness Church at Canaan Camp in Hawthorn County.
Raven Bliss, is a young woman with a nightmare of a childhood who is trying to salvage her life in the camp.  She sees the Wilderness Church as her family, and almost worships Father Joshua. 
Shane Sanders, is a young man trying to do likewise.  He loves Raven, although she cannot give him what he most wants from her.
Carl Hoag, is a doctor who runs the Blue Creek Clinic. He is a Vietnam vet and former POW who came to the hills for either fishing or absolution (he hasn't decided which). He is a friend of Richard's and an informal father confessor for Jill. He tries to get Richard to attend group sessions with him.
Mirabelle Carter, is born at the conclusion of Canaan Camp. She is named after Aunt Mirabelle,  who was Jill's "mother," mentor, and role model. Little Mirabelle is, of course, a genius. Ask her father.


Richard Carter, The part-time investigator
            A three-fold cord is not easily broken. Richar came fro the trauma of war needing a lifeline. Now he has a strong one. Along with his new part-time assignment as detective and CSI, he has a supportive wife and a baby daughter. The family and his job keep the dark times to a minimum and the ghostly boy soldier at bay—most of the time.
Jill Carter, mother, confidant, friend, lover, and career woman
     Jill has settled into her role as mother with the same diligence that she employs as professor and wife. She is ambivalent about Richard's occupation, but sees that it is something he must do if he is to remain whole. Fiercely determined that daughter Mirabelle will have a real family with the requisite number of fully functioning parents, she is less tolerant of Richard's obsession with his job. Now she is Raven's mentor, as her Aunt Mirabelle was to her. 
Mirabelle Carter, baby girl who shows every sign of being a genius just like her mother. If you don't believe it, ask her father.
Ron Guidry is a newly-hired deputy from New Orleans with extensive homicide experience.  He is profane, irreverent, and grates on many people's nerves.  Given his extensive professional experience, why has he fetched up in a place like Hawthorn County?
Clarence Greer, octogenarian mortician, perennially-elected Hawthorn County Coronor  
Harold Porter is a recently paroled murderer who has returned to his home after more than twenty years.  He is a man out of time, friendless, and as far as the modern world is concerned, clueless.
Raven Bliss, babysitter who lives in a cabin the Carters have bought on Blue Creek where they will run a canoe rental in the coming year.
Shane Sanders, he lives with Raven and does repair work for the Carters as well as house-sitting the cabin. He and Raven have an unusual relationship.
Steve Preslar, forty-something redneck sawyer (turns logs into rough lumber at a local sawmill). He and his running buddies dip snuff, drink beer, shoot nine-ball, ogle women half their age, and observe "Hillbilly Holy Week" (deer season). He has strong opinions, but as Shug says, "thinking ain't Stevie's strong suit."


The King Snake
Richard Carter, the nominal criminalist
     The events surrounding the case of Harold Porter have forced the Carters to move into a small cabin on Blue Creek from which they run their canoe rental. Living with them is a young couple who were house sitting for them, Raven Bliss and Shane Sanders. Richard finally gets a "major case" to work when he joins a multi-county drug task force. As he investigates a series of murders along with a new friend from Ripley County, tragedy strikes, threatening to undo years of repair to his psyche and plunge him into depression. Once again, Richard does what he does: he drives himself to the point of exhaustion and obsesses on the case. Richard is not brilliant, certainly not as brilliant as his wife, but he is persistent. It is his one strength.
Jill Carter, supermom and pole star
     Jill is adept at handling her various roles; professor, wife and mother, mentor to two young friends, as well as accountant and manager for the Carter's fledgling canoe rental business. Ambivalent about her husband's job, she wishes she could feel the unqualified support and pride that her friend Katreen has for her own cop husband. Don't think for a moment, however, that Jill and Richard have grown apart. They are closer than ever. They will need to be.
Mirabelle Carter, two-year-old who is learning to manipulate her doting father.
Shug Shively, Ron Guidry, and Carl Hoag (see above).
Scott Berman, Deputy sheriff from Ripley County who heads up the drug task force. He is a man after Richard's own heart, who wants to make a difference. He sees law enforcement as a calling.
Katreen Berman, Scott's wife and mother to their son Scotty. The diminutive woman is a stay-at-home mom. Unlike Jill, she has no reservations about her husband's occupation. 
Drew Pollard, insurance adjuster and computer whiz. Extremely bright police wannabe who is a friend of the Bermans and an unpaid consultant for the task force.
Roger Gowen, suspected drug importer and "wholesaler." He owns a slew of vending and video machine businesses along with convenience stores and truck stops. Because of the large amounts of cash his businesses take in, he is suspected of money laundering for even "heavier hitters."
Marion Steiner, Arkansas resident who used lottery jackpot money to realize his lifelong dream of running his own newspaper, a scandal sheet called The Wilderness Voice. His accusations of police corruption cause no end of consternation. He dubs the sniper "The King Snake."
Gaile Bonnett, Ripley County deputy and former girlfriend of Roger Gowen.
Tony Kincaid, Ripley County deputy carrying on an affair with Gaile Bonnett.


Call Her Sabine
Richard Carter, Hawthorn County deputy and nominal criminalist.
       Two unrelated women drown in mysterious circumstances in separate places. There seems no connection. When a coed goes missing during her morning jog, Richard gradually becomes convinced that she has either been kidnapped or killed. Trying to pin down the last day she was seen and interviewing her known acquaintances, Richard encounters a motley of odd-ball characters.
Jill Carter, life partner and love of Richard's life.
       She is the rock and sustainer of the family, the repository of good sense. She manages her husband's obsessive/compulsive investigation, and even plays a part in his investigation.
Mirabelle Carter, their precocious three-year-old daughter.
Charlie Fouts, athletic coed from Blue Creek Community College last seen on her morning jog.
      She is being held by an unseen person whom she calls "The Freak." As Richard investigates the circumstances of her disappearance, Charlie conducts her own investigation from the inside, beginning, like Richard, with a reconstruction of her morning jog.
Shug Shively, Ron Guidry, Clarence Greer, Carl Hoag, Shane and Raven Sanders (see above)
Mavis Parish, Charlie's former roommate and close friend. She reports Charlie's disappearance
Sharon Kent, woman found drowned in Saeger Pond
Bryan Sutton, former boyfriend of Charlie Fouts. They recently broke up
Clint Hastings, classmate of Charlie Fouts
Brad Clarke, art professor at BC College
Cyrus Hopewell, physics professor at BC.
       Using data from a weather monitoring station he runs, he helps Richard determine a time line for Charlie Fouts' jog on the morning she disappeared. He is destined to play a role in Road Shrines.

Robin Steward, owner of Perfect Details, a self-described antique replicater.
Tink Johnson, eccentric veterinarian. Both Sharon Kent and Charlie Fouts worked for him and his wife Blossom


Richard Carter, Hawthorn County criminalist (see above). He becomes obsessed with his job and tends to take Jill for granted. He has always had trouble maintaining balance in his life.
Jill Carter, Richard's life partner (see above). She is determined to keep him grounded and involved in his family. Sometimes there is tension.
Mirabelle Carter, their four-year-old daughter who begins to show the ill effects of her parents' arguments.
Sheriff Shug Shively, Deputy Ron Guidry, Doc Carl Hoag, Coroner Clarence Greer (see above)
Shane and Raven Sanders, informal members of the Carter family. They live with and work for the Carters
Hiram Stout, murder victim found by a teenage deer hunter. Younger son and financial manager of the powerful Stout family, old settlers and what passes for landed gentry in Hawthorn County
Margret Stout, found murdered along with her father Hiram
Cyrus Stout, Patriarch of the Stout family. Political enemy of Shug's. He wants vengeance for his murdered son, and worries that Richard is not capable of discovering the murderer
Berlin Stout, Hiram's brother and Cyrus' creature. He is a State Senator
Marilou Stout, mousy wife of Berlin. She is not up to the task of being a Stout
Harrison Stout, son of Berlin and grandson of Cyrus. He is the spoiled scion of the family
Julie Varner, daughter of Cyrus. She is a typical example of the Stout women, that is, the polar opposite of the Stout men
Paul Haggett, a sort of apprentice deputy working in the Hawthorn County Sheriff's office.
Steve Preslar, Sawmill worker and redneck. (see Above in Secret Song)
Deputy Robert del Valle, investigator for Miller County Sheriff's Department
Dale Craft, Rainbow boy tortured to death and hanged in the woods.
Road Shrines

Richard Carter, Hawthorn County criminalist (see above). When the feds come to townm he gets frozen out of the hunt for The Gardener. Instead, he tries to find a missing runaway. His qualifications as a criminalist are mocked by the media that descends upon Blue Creek. Being what he is (persistent and obsessive instead of brilliant), he continues to work his own investigation of the serial killings.
Jill Carter, Richard's life partner (see above). She fully supports Richard, being both horrified by both the details of the crimes and the national media's treatment of her husband. She is Richard's pole star and the rock of his existence.
Mirabelle Carter, their five-year-old daughter who knows more about the world her father is immersed in than her parents want her to. His little girl is growing up too quickly for Richard.
Sheriff Shug Shively, Deputy Ron Guidry, Doc Carl Hoag, Coroner Clarence Greer (see above)
Shane and Raven Sanders, informal members of the Carter family. They live with and work for the Carters
LaVana Jaco, missing Hawthorn County girl with a history of being a runaway.
Myra Jaco, LaVana's mother
Bert Corcyra, Runs a landscaping business, Myra's employer.
Nelda Corcyra, Bert's wife and a field rep for an organization to help bright and talented but financially disadvantaged girls.
Charice (Woodie) Koeltz, deputy from Osage County in central Missouri, green, but intelligent. She assists Richard in his investigation of the missing girl. Richard's treatment of her (he is protective and condescending at times), irritates the hell out of her. It is a learning experience for both of them.
Lindsey McNeil, Senator's daught kidnapped from a tribal store near Wounded Knee nearly 20 years earlier. The first victim of "The Gardener."
Billy Harris, aka "The Thrall Master." The 20 year-old leader of a Goth group comprised of three teenage girls, and the would-be master of missing LaVana Jaco.
Dagon, Baala, Malagora, three Goth girls in the group that LaVana flirted with joining before she disappeared.
Lou Clancy, law service owner who "found" a necklace belonging to a girl whose body was unearthed in a shallow grave at a local cemetery. The last of a series of victims brought back to Hawthorn County by "The Gardener."
Cyrus Hopewell, young physics professor at Blue Creek Community College whose class field trip leads to the discovery of numerous victims of The Gardener.

Cold Fury

Ron Guidry, Hawthorn County deputy, formerly a New Orleans PD investigator.
       Events both professional and private have made what used to be home not a good place to be. The Louisiana native claims to be a Cajun, although only his name would lead one to believe it. Perpetually in the sheriff's dog house, he chafes at being assigned routine tasks instead of real investigation. When one of the "routine" cases turns out to be a frozen man with no identification, he gets his chance. However, as all things seem to turn out for Guidry, the case goes sideways.
Richard Carter, Hawthorn County criminalist (see above).
       While Guidry tries to pin down who "The Popsickle" is and how he came to be found naked in a frigid vacation home, he is assigned the task of bringing in an army deserter, a task he has little taste for. Then, a more urgent task arises. While retracing Guidry's investigation, he stumbles into a DEA operation.
Jill Carter, Richard's life partner and Ron Guidry's friend (see above).
       She teaches at the community college, runs their canoe rental business, raises their precocious daughter, and anchors the family. Beautiful and intelligent, she is Richard's rock. He once saved her life, and she constantly saves his.
Mirabelle Carter, their six-year-old daughter who it is becoming increasingly difficult to "talk around."
       Some day she will learn the true story of how her parents came together. Richard dreads the day.

Sheriff Shug Shively, Doc Carl Hoag, Coroner Clarence Greer (see above)
Shane and Raven Sanders, informal members of the Carter family. They live with and work for the Carters.
Shannon Salyer, Guidry's part-time live-in girlfriend.
       She is also a prostitute who makes no excuses for her disreputable lifestyle.
Louis McFadden, owner of a reefer service (refrigerated trailer) in Sikeston in the Missouri Bootheal.
       He is suspected of importing drugs in partnership with Roger Gowen (see below).
Roger Gowen, Poplar Bluff businessman who owns many cash-only businesses throughout the area.
       He is believed to be involved in wholesaling illegal drugs as well as money laundering for heavy hitters.
Ordway, narc working for the drug task force run by DEA agent Steve Glass.
Steve Glass, DEA field agent in charge of SEMO drug taskforce.
Hal Tanner, FBI special agent, friend and mentor of Richard Carter.
Henry Holbert, deserter who ran instead of accepting his third deployment to the Middle East.
       Richard is tasked with bringing him in.
Charles Lambert, aka Jimmy Lambet,
        He is "The Popsickle," an employee of McFadden's whom Guidry found frozen to death in a Hawthorn County vacation cabin.
Darrell Phipps, A traveling salesman, and the second "Popsickle."

The Daughter

Richard Carter, Hawthorn County criminalist (see above).