In a previous blog, I touched on real events mimicking those that I’ve created. Last week, I learned about another coincidence that parallels some elements in Diablo’s Shadow. As in my novel, this story is set in Redwood Regional Park, near my parents’ house in the Oakland hills. (See photo.) High above San Francisco Bay, this extensive woodland is part of the environmental “green ring” that surrounds the Bay. Here, endless trails traverse dense forests of redwood, madrone, pine, and eucalyptus trees. The Regional Parks Police use infra-red equipped helicopters to detect vagrants and stalkers, but in their absence, this park becomes a perfect location to dump a body.
My father told me he heard the distinct thumping of a helicopter hovering close by. For weeks, California has been battling horrific wildfires, and with the continued extreme dry and heat, there was a good possibility that another fire had erupted. Dad’s interest was piqued by the lack of smoke plumes, and the helicopter hovering in the same proximity as my fictitious helicopter in Diablo’s Shadow. He had to wait for the Ten O' clock News to find the answer.
As it turns out, the police helicopter on scene was supervising a man convicted on circumstantial evidence of killing his wife, lead officers to where he said he had buried her. Sure enough, the woman’s body was unearthed, right where he pointed. Apparently, the killer, who lived near the park, presumed that he couldn’t be convicted without a body, so he took advantage of the park’s remoteness, and started digging. But as in a scene from a true crime tale, justice prevailed, and the bastard was convicted anyway. I suspect that his leading police to his wife’s grave was part of a plea bargain. After all, why else would his lawyer accompany him? But wouldn’t it be great if they had just tossed a rope over one of those tall pine branches and saved the California taxpayers a lot of money? Better yet, make it a package deal and throw in the lawyer! (Just kidding, Ben.) Sadly, only fiction writers can get away with such things—but that’s the beauty in writing. And that’s also why readers love our novels.
This isn’t the first time that police have found a body in an East Bay regional park, nor will it be the last, but it’s also what makes Redwood Regional Park the perfect setting for Diablo’s Shadow. Of course, the chances of something happening while walking through a park are remote, but none of that matters if you happen to become the next victim. So, the next time you’re trekking through a forest, beware, for the sounds you hear may not be coming from branches clanking in the wind . . . Can you dig it?