Columbus resident Rath publishes first novel

COLUMBUS — Ohio native Charles W. Rath has published his first novel, “In Lieu of Flowers,” a historical murder mystery with a supernatural twist.

When Billy Barnes, founder of the most popular jazz band in Indian Lake, Ohio, is shot dead at a July Fourth riot, everyone in town is wary of calling it a murder. But a bit farther north of Indian Lake, one would-be gumshoe is unconvinced by the coroner’s report of an “accidental bullet wound to the chest.” Anäel has been Billy’s guardian angel for twenty-four years—and, before he can move on to his next assignment, he has vowed to solve the mystery of his beloved ward’s death.

“’In Lieu of Flowers’ is a coming of age story, set in the 1950s, presented in vivid Technicolor,” says Michael Ivey, former commentator for NPR’s “All Things Considered.” Add Bernard and Pat Sweeney, restaurateurs at Sandy Beach Amusement Park, where the novel is partially set: ‘“In Lieu of Flowers’ is an intimate blend of drama, humor, trial, and triumph….Each mention of a place, a person, or a happening reawakens those golden years.”

Raised in Bellefontaine, Ohio, as a teenager Rath was the pianist for a local seven-piece jazz ensemble known as the Swing Kings. While an undergraduate at the University of Notre Dame, Rath played in a quintet headed by world-famous jazz guitarist Gene Bertoncini. Rath retired in 2001 after a successful career as a creative executive in the advertising industry, where he led the account team on Wendy’s famous “Where’s the Beef?” ad campaign and originated the much-loved series of TV commercials starring Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas. He now resides in the Columbus, Ohio area with his wife, Susie.

“My lifelong goal has been to recount my life in the nifty fifties as an aspiring jazz pianist,” says Rath. “Hence, ‘In Lieu of Flowers.’”

“In Lieu of Flowers” is currently available for purchase as an e-book through Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers. For readers in the Columbus area, the book is available in paperback in limited quantities at Gramercy Books, located at 2424 East Main Street in Bexley. For retailers, the book is distributed in paperback by Ingram Content Group. Both retailers and readers can also order paperbacks through the author’s website,