My groovy colleague Michele L. recently let me know that William M. Valtos's 2004 book The Rasputin Relic, which she is currently reading, features an abundance of references to Scranton and various locations in both Scranton and Lackawanna County.
Here is a synopsis of The Rasputin Relic from the back of the book:
"A severed hand turns up in a safety deposit box that hasn't been opened in more than 50 years. A note in old Slavonic on the wrapping says that this is the right hand of Rasputin-who was killed in 1916. Yet the hand is perfectly preserved and blood still drips from the wound!
The faithful believe that incorruptible remains-relics-have the power to cure. Yet in this case, those who come into contact with the hand begin to die of an unknown disease, a bizarre series of deaths that puts the chief of police of a small Pennsylvania town into a race against time.
Rasputin was a monk who became an influential adviser to the family of the last Russian Tsar. He was called a man of God with Christ-like healing powers-and also a charlatan and a drunken womanizer. Whatever he was, his is a lasting legend. As Chief Victor Rhostok investigates, he is pulled into a web of Russian mysticism and superstition.
In his search, Rhostok encounters Nicole Baron, a young widow. As he looks for answers in the no-man's land where science confronts religion, she seeks redemption for her sins at the hands of a priest who may be a false prophet. And in her past is the key to the mystery."
I'm not sure if I'm including every single reference from the book--if not, then it's one hell of a sample, if I say so myself.
Page 3: "'My name is Thomas O'Malley,'" he explained in a gentle voice. 'I'm the Lackawanna County coroner.'"
Page 23: "The cluster of golden onion-shaped domes in the middle of the Lackawanna River Valley had delighted Nicole when she first saw them."
Page 54: "'You're talking hundreds of miles of tunnels on nine different levels under the Lackawanna Valley,'" Rhostok explained. "'There's no way they could ever fill them all.'"
"'They filled the ones under Scranton.'"
Page 85: "The way the Scranton Times reported the story..."
Page 95: "The Scranton police didn't provide many details over the phone about the dead man."
Page 96: "His withered right leg, the result of Lackawanna County's last recorded case of polio, stuck out at an odd angle."
Page 154: "They reached the outskirts of Middle Valley, where it blended into an industrial flatland that marked the Scranton city limits."
Page 154: "They drove through the Green Ridge area...They drove through the heart of Scranton, past the old courthouse and its statue of John Mitchell..."
Page 154: "'The University of Scranton?'" she asked. "'That's where we're going?'"
"Ahead of them, a Scranton police car sat blocking the road, its roof lights strobing their red and blue warning."
Page 159: "'Tell you what. You go back down Capouse Avenue, back the way you came, make a left on Spruce, another left in the first alley you come to , which is one-way traffic."
Page 166: "The taxi deposited Nicole in from of the Lackawanna County Building, a red sandstone structure whose lawns were edged with yellow flowers shaded by maple trees."
Page 198: "Robyn Cronin lived in the Green Ridge section of Scranton, an area of historic stone mansions built by the mine owners a century ago."
Page 199: "'It must be the Scranton water in the ice cube,' she explained."
Page 207: "'Coming up on Action News, a devastating fire at the University of Scranton...and a Scranton baseball team ties for second place in the State High School playoffs.'"
Page 207: "'You're looking at live footage from the University of Scranton, where the fire has already consumed the upper floors of the science building.'"
Page 231: "His index fingers was growing numb as he scrolled through similar subcategories on Pennsylvania politics, Lackawanna County history, the latest census data, and dozens of other subjects."
Page 247: "'You're not aware that Nicole Danilovitch was rushed to Scranton Memorial Medical Center yesterday afternoon?'"
Page 247: "'She was found feverish and unconscious on a sidewalk in Scranton.'"
Page 327: "You were given his identity, a Social Security number was issued in his name, and they sent you to the University of Scranton as an undergraduate.'"
To place a hold on The Rasputin Relic, click here.
Thanks again to the awesomely vivacious Michele L. for this reference.