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The copperhead
club story

​Stella Jasper, a self-centered, free-spending socialite in suburban McLean, Virginia, is jolted into reality when her husband, a well-connected Washington lobbyist, abruptly disappears and leaves her cash-strapped, snubbed by her friends, and under investigation by the FBI. Angered and on her own, she slips away incognito and follows his trail to a small town in the Kentucky mountains, where she meets ​B. J. Matson, a local man who has been a lifelong loner. Together, they unexpectedly play a behind-the-scenes role in solving a mystery that fuels a major scandal in the White House and throws the presidential election campaign into disarray. Set in Washington, D.C. and rural Kentucky, the book provides a vivid portrayal of characters
in both places.

Names and places  in
THE COPPERHEAD CLUB are fictional.

The Knobs is a physiographic region that forms a horseshoe around Kentucky’s Bluegrass. It consists of hundreds of isolated, small, steep sloping, cone-shaped ‘hills” called monadnocks. Monadnocks, or erosional remnants, were originally part of the Mississippi Plateau but were separated over time by erosion.

The hills of kentucky

THE COPPERHEAD CLUB is partially set in The Knobs of Kentucky. This hand-drawn map denotes where major events in the story take place, and provides a sense of the rough terrain. The picture below is an example of the type of knob seen from the Matson property.

The copperhead area 

Recall in Chapter 2, on that unusually warm day in January, after B.J. returns home from hiking up the knob behind his house.

About the poem

Bill's poem, “Sweetlick Knob” describes an actual knob located near William Neikirk’s hometown; however, in the novel, the word “sweetlick” takes on a meaning of its own.

Sweet Lick Knob 

As I sit alone atop Sweet Lick Knob,

Birds sing a lilting tune of joy,

As the earth spins gently to face the sun,

Teasing me with the first glimpse,

Of its fiery brilliance;

The peace here is overpowering,

A paradise land for a poet.

Deer roam and wildflowers bloom,

Spreading the sweet smell of spring,

As the river flows quietly below,

And fish splash here, there, everywhere,

As they play nature’s mighty tune.

Here in a place called home.


But I know beyond these horizons,

People hate and maim and murder,

And go to war, killing and plundering,

Over ancient feuds about land and race,

And beyond that brilliant blue sky,

I know that stars explode, galaxies collide,

And black holes suck up matter,

Planets as large as Jupiter,

Or like our precious earth,

Like these beautiful hills,

And meteors streak dangerously through space

Until one day—

One day—


But for now I sit here alone,

Listening to nature’s symphony of majesty,

As happy sounds of children awakening,

Accompany the serenade,

In the little town below.

Once extinct, an eagle flies overhead,

Searching for food for its young ones,

And I ponder God, I ponder God,

And I ask God why there can’t be peace

Like this everywhere?

The peace you feel atop Sweet Lick Knob,

Here on a warm morning in June.


Chapter 26

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