Former Sentinel journalist publishes mystery novel

The cover of “Time Capsule” by Marshall Scott Shields, a former reporter with The Parkersburg Sentinel. It is his first book.

PARKERSBURG — A writer from Fairmont who worked for The Parkersburg Sentinel in the early 1970s has published his first mystery novel.

“Time Capsule” by Marshall Scott Shields is a fictional story involving two newspaper reporters and a decades-old secret they uncover by accident.

“It’s the story of a reporter who plants a tree in his own backyard and digs up something he wasn’t expecting to find — a time capsule buried by middle school students nearly 40 years before,” Shields said. “Opening the box unlocks a mystery that Rob Covington and his wife Jennie are determined to solve.”

The contents of the box also lead to three individuals who share dark secrets from their childhood that haunt them as adults, and whose lives become intertwined in a way that none of them could have ever seen coming.

“Time Capsule” was published by High Peaks Publishing through Kindle Direct and is available in paperback and e-book formats from Amazon.com. A link also is on the High Peaks site at http://highpeakspublishing.com/.

The paperback is $12.95 and the eBook is $8.99 on Amazon.com. Signed books are available by emailing a mailing address to ShieldsBooks2018@gmail.com, he said.

Time Capsule is filled with twists and surprises, secrets and lies, instincts and doubts and mystery and murder, all revolving around a cryptic clue unearthed by accident 62 years before its time, he said. Along the way, Shields shares events and introduces characters drawn from his years working for newspapers in Grafton, Parkersburg and Morgantown, and Hagerstown, Md.

“None of the characters are real, of course, but many of the events in the book were inspired by things that happened and actual people I worked with over my years as a reporter, sports writer and editor,” Shields said. “These friends and co-workers helped me craft a narrative that, while fiction, bears a ring of authenticity and truth.”

Time Capsule is the first of a planned series of books to be published under the Covington Mystery name and featuring the title characters. Shields has also written a stand-alone novel that he hopes to publish in the near future.

Shields is a graduate of Fairmont Senior High School and Fairmont State University where he studied English and journalism. He was a reporter and regional editor for The Parkersburg Sentinel from 1973-1976.

More information about the book is available at https://marshallscottshieldsbooks.blogspot.com or by following “Books by M. Scott Shields” on Facebook.

Shields got the idea while he was planting a tree at a new house he and his wife bought.

“I wondered what would happen if someone was digging in his yard, found a time capsule, opened it and discovered clues to a mystery inside. Being a writer for many years, I decided to write a book based on that idea,” he said. “I made the characters newspaper reporters because I had been one myself, and I wanted to write about something I knew. The story involves two reporters’ quest to solve a cold case mystery.”

Several of the newspaper stories included in the book were inspired by actual events and actual people, he said.

“The actual people did not necessarily do what the fictional characters did in the book, and I wouldn’t want to give that impression,” he said. “I can tell you that I once left a job by walking out of my office, telling a receptionist I’d be right back and then simply driving away. I did that because the staff had a custom of pranking people on their last day on the job, and I wanted to avoid that scene at all costs. I have a character doing that exact same thing in the book.”

The book is subtitled “A Covington Mystery” because the main characters are a husband and wife whose last name is Covington, Shields said.

“I have written two more books with them as main characters, so it’s a way of branding the series to create interest,” Shields said. “I hope that readers will like the characters and the story I have created and be eager to buy the other books when they come out.”

Shields is unsure when the next book will be published. “Time Capsule” has been out for about a month.

Shields is a retired public relations manager for Monongahela Power. He was a journalist for 13 years and a freelance communications consultant for another 10 years.