Pete is hiking in the Shenandoah Valley with his friend Ceci when they run into a fellow hiker who suddenly goes into a pain-wracked seizure. As he writhes in agony, Pete notices a glider soaring overhead that suddenly nosedives into the valley … and that fast, they’re locked into a murder investigation.
Mark the Hiker, it turns out, is an empath, and just before the glider came into view, he experienced the same pain the pilot felt as she convulsed and died before the glider hit the ground. He’s sequestered himself in a shack high on a Virginia mountain to avoid this type of incident, but his abilities haven’t diminished, despite his refusal to acknowledge them. Pete guides Mark to his boss, Vivian, at the New Age store Valley Visions, who teaches Mark how to shield himself, equipping him with the power to track down a variety of nefarious operators in the tiny valley town of Back Mosby, as well as tangle with Ceci’s sister Gwen, a local police officer determined to debunk Mark’s abilities. Pete attaches himself to Mark as his roommate and fellow detective, despite the empath’s obvious reluctance, and narrates their journey in a funny and endearing millennial voice that earns not only Mark’s trust, but that of the reader.
Although the premise seems far-fetched, readers will be hooked not only by the story, but by Alive’s vivid characters and unusual approach to a typical murder mystery. Recent news of abusive parents and the battle against opioid abuse gives Murder Feels Awful a freshness and relativity that renders it credible.