The Nugget that Spurred THE BARTERED BODY by J.R. Lindermuth

After retiring from my former job as a newspaper editor I began writing a weekly column for the paper on local history. This fit in well with the new post I accepted as librarian of our county historical society where I assist patrons with genealogy and research. I didn't realize at the time it would also provide grist for writing fiction.

As I browse through old copies of our paper and those of surrounding communities in search of material for the column I'm constantly stumbling on bountiful sources of ideas for my stories. I make copies or jot down notes on these ideas for further consideration.

Sometimes the idea will lead directly to formation of a story. Just as often mulling on one of these nuggets will take me off on a tangent and the completed story will have scant relation to the original source.

One of these nuggets inspired my latest novel, The Bartered Body.

In 1876 a band of counterfeiters attempted to steal Abraham Lincoln's body from his tomb in Springfield, Illinois, and hold it as ransom for the release of their master engraver from jail. Their plot failed and the perpetrators joined the engraver behind bars.

Reflecting on this case led me to consider how a less prominent politician might react to theft of the remains of a person important to his family. One thing led to another and, thus, was born the plot for the third novel in the Sheriff Sylvester Tilghman series.


Why would thieves steal the body of a dead woman?

That’s the most challenging question yet to be faced by Sylvester Tilghman, the third of his family to serve as sheriff of Arahpot, Jordan County, Pennsylvania, in the waning days of the 19th century.
And it’s not just any body but that of Mrs. Arbuckle, Nathan Zimmerman’s late mother-in-law. Zimmerman is burgess of Arahpot and Tilghman’s boss, which puts more than a little pressure on the sheriff to solve the crime in a hurry.

Syl’s investigation is complicated by the arrival in town of a former flame who threatens his relationship with his sweetheart Lydia Longlow; clashes with his old enemy, former burgess McLean Ruppenthal; a string of armed robberies, and a record snowstorm that shuts down train traffic, cuts off telegraph service and freezes cattle in the fields.

It will take all of Syl’s skills and the help of his deputy and friends to untangle the various threads and bring the criminals to justice.

The Bartered Body is available in print and electronic formats from the publisher:

And other fine booksellers.

Biography: A retired newspaper editor/writer, J. R. Lindermuth is the author of 18 novels and a non-fiction regional history. He is now librarian of his county historical society and a frequent contributor of articles and short stories to a variety of magazines. He is a member of International Thriller Writers and is a past vice president of the Short Mystery Fiction Society. Additional information on his books and writing is available at


jrlindermuth said…
Thanks for providing this opportunity to talk about my book Marilyn.

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