New mystery novel dedicated to the life and styles of North Fork

Darby Patterson
Darby Patterson

Readers of the recently released book The Song of Jackass Creek: A Mystery Novel may notice a few visible similarities between the fictional characters and North Fork residents.

While most of the names have been changed for this literary piece, which is dedicated to North Fork (renamed Redbud) and its citizens, author Darby Patterson said the personalities ring true.

“I intend for the story to impart the value of lifestyles and beliefs: from families embedded in the culture of forestry to the watchdogs of our environment, from Native Americans sentenced to life on marginalized rancherias to the business owners, large and small, who sustain our small towns,” Patterson wrote.

It’s the story of an award-winning journalist’s move to a small town newspaper in Redbud, population 386. After a body is discovered in Jackass Creek, investigative reporter, Jesse, becomes involved with the citizenry as they cope with the loss, deal with ongoing conflict between logging operations and environmentalists, and witness one of their own - a young area Native American - accused of the brutal murder.

With a 25-year career in journalism, Patterson, herself an award-winning journalist and former publisher of a Central California newspaper, has interviewed scores of Mountain Area ranchers, teachers, grandmothers, tribal elders, bartenders and loggers, and her book The Song of Jackass Creek grew out of those interviews.

“I could never get my experience of that small town (North Fork) out of my heart and mind,” Patterson explained. “It was the people and the culture, the uniqueness of being a part of such a close knit community and all its complexities and, at the same time, the wish of most people to have a simple rural life. It was a privilege to be a part of it.”

A North Fork resident for about six years in the early 1980s, Patterson currently lives in Fair Oaks.

She has authored several books, including:, The Catnapping Caper, a mystery book for young readers; and Clan MacLaren, Legends, Lands and Lore, a nonfiction book on Scottish History.

The Song of Jackass Creek, at $14.99, is available for purchase on Amazon or at