Recently named best book of the year in the mystery/thriller genre by the Maryland Writers’ Association, Frank Hopkins’s ‘Abandoned Homes: Vietnam Revenge Murders’ has some pretty significant ties to Delmarva. We were able to have some Q&A time with Frank, but before you read on, if you haven’t read the suspense/thriller yet, here’s the gist:
U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War ended in 1975 when the U.S. abandoned its embassy in Saigon. However, the hate developed during the war years, especially at major universities, continued. Proponents of the war, fierce opponents of communism, acted during the war years to remove potential traitors from our society. Those against the war continued their opposition, begun in the 1960s, culminating in the riots and student killings at major universities, including Kent, Maryland and Wisconsin.
Paul O’Hare, a retired history professor, uncovered a long-hidden domestic impact of the Vietnam War thirty-five years after the war ended when he finds a skeleton in the crawl space of an abandoned home in southern Delaware. The Delaware State Police investigation team, headed by Detective Margaret Hoffman, discovers two more skeletons and the quest for a serial killer begins.
Hoffman soon discovers the three skeletons had been graduate students at the University of Maryland during the 1970s as had Paul O’Hare. He soon becomes a major suspect. Eventually the State Police clear him and he begins a romantic relationship with Detective Hoffman that includes conflicts between his anti-war sentiments and her experience as a Marine veteran.
The search for a serial killer reveals a complex web of interrelated former students, a crusading newspaper reporter, and CIA agents and double agents, in this fast-paced suspense novel.
Here's what Frank had to say about this awesome novel (and more)...
What spurred the writing of Abandoned Homes: Vietnam Revenge Murders?
Since our involvement in Vietnam ended in 1975, I wrote the book to educate those born after 1965, or under 53. They have no appreciation for the impact of a large war. It is important for our political future for citizens to learn about the past follies of war-loving politicians – Vietnam and Iraq 2.
Why does it take place in Delaware?
Delaware is a perfect setting for a mystery/thriller novel. Its proximity to the major urban centers of Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD, Philadelphia, PA, and New Jersey is a great source of vacating or retiring characters for a novel. The topography provides settings for disposing of bodies under water, buried on farms, or in abandoned homes. Anyone who lives in Sussex County or is a recurring visitor cannot help notice the abandoned homes spread throughout the state, which are perfect locations for hiding corpses. Since I live in Sussex I know the geographical setting and can easily write about it.
Where in Southern Delaware are the skeletons found?
The skeletons are found throughout Southern Delaware. The first two are found in a rural area near Gumboro in Southwestern Sussex County.
Are you from (or currently live in) the DE beach area?
I have been visiting the Delaware beach area since 1980. I purchased a home and moved to Ocean View, DE in 2001. I am active in the Rehoboth Beach Writers Guild, the Eastern Shore Writers Association and the Berlin chapter of the Maryland Writers Association. I participate in writer’s critique groups in the MWA and the ESWA. In addition to writing I play golf and tennis, sail on the Chesapeake Bay, ski, travel and enjoy the ocean and inland bays of southern Delaware.
What are you working on now?
My current writing includes developing a sequel to Abandoned Homes: Vietnam Revenge Murders and writing short stories for my next short story collection. The new novel continues the adventures of Detective Margaret Hoffman and retired professor Paul O’Hare who met in the first novel. In this book they marry and investigate a massive embezzlement at a large Delaware credit card company. The book is set in Delaware and Greece, where the recently married couple spends their honeymoon. My short stories continue my adventures in writing humorous stories with a twist, initially presented in the short story collection First Time, which the Delaware Press Association awarded second place for a collection by a single author in their 2017 Communications Contest.
If you’d like to find out more about this novel, check out Frank’s interview on the ‘So, What’s Your Story’ podcast here, and for more info on Frank himself, take a gander at his website and stay up-to-date on upcoming signings and releases on his Facebook page.