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The Perfect Town

Shutter Lake, The Perfect Town, Breakdown, Vicki Hinze

Written by Vicki Hinze

On January 5, 2020

The Perfect Town:  Shutter Lake, CA


Vicki Hinze


The perfect town.  We dream about it.  Fantasize about it.  Work toward getting there, and then on carving our personal niche into it.  We all want to live in the perfect town.


Our views of perfection might vary a little, but on the big issues, we tend to agree.  Such was the case for some of the brightest minds in the country.  And the wealthiest.  And the most innovative and technologically gifted.  This group of founders looked hard but failed to find all they wanted in a community so they came together, designed, created, and built one they could call home.  That town is Shutter Lake, California.


Shutter Lake is a small community nestled in the Sierra-Nevada mountains near Grass Valley.  The air and water are pristine clean. The environment natural, harmonious with and respectful of nature. This collective commitment has netted a town that is energy efficient, self-sustaining and non-reliant on outsiders.


There’s little to no crime, excellent medical facilities, and a weekly newspaper to keep residents advised of community activities such as seasonal festivals and art and music gatherings in the center-square park.  The families fortunate enough to call Shutter Lake home are ones who appreciate standards of excellence set by the founders and are committed to them and to a healthy lifestyle.


Educating their youth is a priority in Shutter Lake.  There’s a charter school with rigorous expectations and an extraordinary devotion of time, energy, and resources to assure students succeed.  To that end, industry leaders and seasoned professionals come in to lecture, counsel, advise and inform students and staff.  That innovative-program commitment, endorsed by the founders and their hand-selected mayor, has netted Shutter Lake coveted Blue Ribbon Awards every single year the school has been in operation.


In a few short years, Shutter Lake has been the recipient of many prestigious awards for being the perfect town, the best place in the world to live.  Architects and engineers have studied it.  Behavioral studies have been done on it.  City Planners have tried to copy it.  But in the end all agree:  there’s only one Shutter Lake, and it’s magnificent and serene and tranquil—it’s perfect.


And then there is a murder.


A founder’s grown daughter, an award-winning and successful business woman in her own right, is killed.  And Shutter Lake’s façade of perfection shatters.


Residents are stunned. Anxious and confused.  How could this happen here?  Why would it happen here?  A killer among them?  When the numbness wears off, residents’ anxiety turns to terror.  Who will be next?


Four everyday women—a cop, a psychologist school principal, a journalist, and a doctor—are no less worried than other residents.  They knew the victim well and, while each of them came to Shutter Lake after traumatic events that redefined their lives, they are also responsible for the welfare and well-being of others. That makes them determined to recapture the calm and safety they’d sought and found in Shutter Lake.  For themselves.  And for the other residents.


But reclamation of any kind always comes at costs.  And these women must pay in ways they’d hoped to avoid forever. To succeed, they must face their deepest and darkest fears.  Only then can they get past the secrets and lies and shattered façade and expose the truth about the dead girl and what she knew that got her killed.


The women discover perfection is as much a façade as a pane of smooth, tinted glass.  Glass breaks.  Shatters. Imperfections become jagged shards.  Some are rough, sharp, some pierce and stab and puncture.  But broken glass, assessed through truthful eyes, can be heated or soldered and made whole.  Not unscarred or changed. Not free of imperfections.  But whole.


Perhaps it is their willingness, no matter how painful, to look into the darkest recesses and shine light on harsh and sometimes ugly truths that makes Shutter Lake become what it professed to be but wasn’t from the start: the perfect town…


* * *


Note to Readers:  There are eight written works set in Shutter Lake, California’s BREAKDOWNsuspense fiction series:  four novels and four short reads.

The novels: Debra Webb’s the dead girl;  Vicki Hinze’s so many secrets; Peggy Webb’s all the lies; Regan Black’s all she knew, releasing every Thursday in October (Amazon exclusive).  The novels are best read in order.

The short reads:  Debra Webb’s no looking back; Vicki Hinze’s her deepest fear; Peggy Webb’s just one look; Regan Black’s trust no oneare available. The short reads can be read in any order.

ENTER this week’s contest for Breakdown Swag!




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