KNIFE RIVER by Baron R Birtcher

KNIFE RIVER by Baron R Birtcher Banner

Synopsis:

KNIFE RIVER by Baron R Birtcher

A sheriff fighting to keep the peace in 1970s Oregon faces a shocking secret from his town’s past, in this crime thriller from the author of Reckoning.

There are rules in the West no matter what era you were born in, and it’s up to lawman Ty Dawson to make sure they’re followed in the valley he calls home. The people living on this unforgiving land keep to themselves and are wary of the modern world’s encroachment into their quiet lives.

So it’s not without some suspicion that Dawson confronts a newcomer to the region: a record producer who has built a music studio in an isolated compound. His latest project is a collaboration with a famous young rock star named Ian Swann, recording and filming his sessions for a movie. An amphitheater for a live show is being built on the land, giving Dawson flashbacks to the violent Altamont concert. Not on his watch.

But even beefed up security can’t stop a disaster that’s been over a decade in the making. All it takes is one horrific case bleeding its way into the present to prove that the good ol’ days spawned a brand of evil no one wants to revisit . . .

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Thriller
Published by: Open Road Media
Publication Date: April 23, 2024
Number of Pages: 338
ISBN: 9781504086523 (ISBN10: 150408652X)
Series: The Sheriff Ty Dawson Crime Thriller Series
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | Goodreads | Open Road Media

Read an excerpt:

Prelude:

FACING WEST

SOME SAY THAT to be born into a thing is to be blind to half of it. Oftentimes, the things we seek and discover for ourselves are those we hold most dear.

Any cattleman will tell you that a ranch is a living thing. Not only the livestock that graze the meadowland, but the blood that nourishes the hungry soil, the trees that inhale the wind, and the rain that carves runnels into the hardpan that, in time, grow into rivers. The Diamond D is no different in that respect, some would even say it was the beating heart of Meriwether County, Oregon.

As both a stockman and the sheriff of this county, I believe this to be true.

But the events that unfolded in the autumn of 1964 cast a cloud across that land. Not just across my ranch, but the entire valley, though they didn’t bear their terrible fruit until nearly a dozen years later, in the spring of 1976. The incidents still haunt me, though others paid a steeper price than I; some with their lives, or the lives of their loved ones, while some forfeit their sanity, and still others with their souls.

That is where this story begins.

 

CHAPTER ONE

LAMBS AND LIONS hold no sway over the springtime here in Meriwether County. Some years it will snow through mid-May, other times the golden sun rides high and bright, and the river flows fast, clear and deep with high-country melt on the first day of March. Most years, it’s both, with Mother Nature keeping her whims to herself until she alone decides to turn them loose upon us.

But this particular Saturday morning was unusually quiet, not even a breath of breeze stirring the leaves of the cottonwoods that grew thick and untamed along the creekbank. I was standing outside on the gallery, sipping my coffee as I leaned on the porch rail, watching my wife, Jesse, hammer the last nail into a birdbox she had made. She must have felt my eyes on her, as she looked up from her work and smiled. A few moments later, she stepped up the stairs to where I stood and kissed me on the cheek, smelling of sawdust and lemongrass tea.

“The bluebirds are back,” she said. “I just saw them.”

“You haven’t lost your knack for building those things.”

“Plenty of practice. You got home late last night.”

I had spent the previous day transporting a man all the way from Lewiston up to the Portland lockup to await his trial. He stood accused of murdering his own wife and young child. It had been a long, depressing day, and by the time I completed the intake paperwork, locked up the substation in Meridian, and finally drove home to the ranch, Jesse was already asleep.

But this morning, everything in her expression seemed overflowing with hope and expectation. Springtime was her season and always had been.

“Want a hand putting that thing up?” I asked.

She replied by handing it to me, together with the hammer.

She watched me hang the birdbox on a post beside the vegetable garden, outside the kitchen window where I knew she’d spend her quiet mornings secretly observing the bluebirds as they built their nest and reared their brood.

“You plan on helping Caleb pick the new cowboys today?” She asked me when I came back inside.

It was the time of year when we hired a few temporary hands for Spring Works, when we’d round-up the cattle and calves from every corner of the ranch; we’d vet, brand and sort the livestock, and mend a perpetual string of breaks in the wire along miles of fenceline before we turned the herd out to the pastures for summer grazing. The Diamond D employed three permanent cowboys in addition to me and old Caleb Wheeler—our foreman for more than three decades—but with 63,000 deeded acres and another 14,000 under a Land Management lease, Spring Works was more work than the five of us could handle in the short span of time required to get it done. Every year a couple dozen hopeful itinerant riders, ropers, rodeo bums and saddle-tramps would answer the call for a temporary employment opportunity, and every year Caleb Wheeler got more riled up about what he viewed as the eroding quality of the contemporary American cowboy. He’d cuss and grump and holler about it, but he’d end up settling on three or four hands he reckoned could help us get the job done with a minimum of aggravation.

“I’m staying out of it this year,” I said, and Jesse grinned. “Figured I’d lay in a cord or two for the woodshed instead, before the weather gets too hot.”

“I saw some deadfall down by Corcoran’s,” she said.

“That’s where I was headed.”

“Make you some lunch to take with you?”

“I don’t intend to be out that long.”

“Good to hear,” she said, and winked at me before she turned, and stepped inside the house.

 

* * *

 

HALF AN HOUR later I was straddling a fallen spruce, angling the chainsaw to buck the trunk into three-foot rounds that I’d later split into quarters with the long-handled axe. The solitary labor, the sweat staining my shirt, and the burn down deep inside my muscles were a welcome balm after the week I’d had, and the air was rife with the smell of pine tar, sap and chain oil. I looked up and caught some movement in the distance, where the BLM forest gave onto an open range already knee deep with wildflowers and whipgrass. I recognized Tom Jenkins’ roping horse moving hellbent-for-leather across the flats, with young Tom leaning across her withers, one hand on the reins and the other holding his hat in place on top of his head. His mount was an admirable animal, a grullo Quarter Horse that stood nearly seventeen hands, fast and thick through the chest. Tom Jenkins handled her well, and he was beelining in my direction like he had something on his mind.

I killed the power on the chainsaw and set it in the bed of the military surplus jeep I use when I do ranch work, stepped over to the fence and took a splash of water from the canteen I’d hung in the shade of a young cedar. I didn’t have to wait long before Tom pulled up in a skidding stop inside a cloud of dust, throwing a cascade of torn earth and pebbles through the barbed strands of the wire.

“Mr. Dawson,” he said and touched a finger to his hat brim, sounding nearly as breathless as his horse. “I was hoping that was you.”

“What are you doing out here all by yourself?” I asked, but suspected I already knew the answer.

When I’d first met Tom Jenkins, he was nothing but a kid with a limp handshake, no eye-contact, and the familiar slope-shouldered gait and posture of the typical aimless teenaged slacker. At that time, he’d been well on his way to serious trouble, the variety and scope of which would have landed him in a six-by-eight jail cell where the other inmates would have eaten him alive.

He is the nephew of my neighbor to the south of me, Snoose Corcoran, whose sister had sent the kid up here from California’s central valley to his uncle’s ranch in southeastern Oregon in hopes of putting some distance between young Tom and his unquestionably poor choices of acquaintances. Ill-equipped to deal with the boy himself, Snoose begged me to take the kid on as a maverick, and I’d reluctantly agreed. After six months working side by side with trail hardened cowboys on the Diamond D young Tom Jenkins’ attitude had been readjusted, straightening both his spine and fortitude. Now, at barely 18 years of age, Tom had assumed the reins of the floundering Corcoran cattle operation from his uncle Snoose, who had been gradually disappearing into a bottle.

“Cow and a calf went missing from my place,” Tom answered. “Fence busted by the westward line, and I figured them two mighta headed for the water.”

My ranch hands ended up nicknaming the kid “Silver,” after he’d astonished us all by stepping up and winning a silver buckle for the Diamond D in the team roping event at the annual rodeo. I knew Tom secretly treasured the handle they’d bestowed, wore it like a medal, but I never spoke it; that was between my men and him.

“Where’s your uncle?” I asked.

His shrug spoke sorrowful volumes.

“So, what set you hightailing over here to see me, son?” I asked. “What’s the trouble? Besides the missing beeves.”

“I was up there on the other side of the tree line,” he said. He twisted sideways in his saddle, took off his hat and gestured with it toward a distant stretch of blue sky. “There was an eagle making low passes over the meadow, so I stopped to watch it for a minute. It was so still and quiet out there, I could hear the eagle calling out while it was gliding on the thermals.”

“You don’t see something like that every day,” I said. “Not even out here in the boondocks.”

“No sir, that’s a fact,” Tom said. “But, while I sat there watching that creature flying, all of a sudden and out of nowhere, a helicopter come buzzing across the ridge, you know the one…”

“Big stone bluff, looks like somebody cut it down the middle with a KA-BAR knife.”

“That’s the one,” he said. “Well, that chopper came in fast, and went straight toward that bird…” The young man’s voice trailed off, his face contorted like he’d encountered a foul odor. “They circled it as it flew, like they were teasing it. Two men inside the—whattaya call it?”

“Cockpit.”

“Yeah, the cockpit. Then they started closing in on him, chasing it. The guy in the passenger seat had a rifle in his hands. I could see the barrel sticking out.”

What Tom was describing to me was not only a despicable and loathsome act, it was a serious crime. The mere harassment of a protected species is a federal offense; hunting and killing one merely for the sick thrill of it was another matter entirely.

“What happened, Tom?”

He swallowed drily, shook his head and looked down at the ground between us.

“He shot that bird right out of the sky, sir,” he said. “That eagle wasn’t even doing nothing, just gliding circles on the wind, and those assholes—sorry, sir—they shot him cold dead.”

I could imagine the creature’s confused and lonely cry as it spiraled down, bleeding, terrified and helpless, to the earth.

“You pretty sure about the location, Tom?”

“About four, five miles thataway, near the bluff, where the river makes that sharp bend to the south.”

“Did you get a look at either of the men?”

“Naw, they were too far away and moving pretty fast. But I got a good look at the whirlybird.”

I asked him for a description of the helicopter, and I knew right away he was referring to a Bell H-13, known to soldiers as a “Sioux.” They’d been in common use as scouting and medical evacuation aircraft by the military. I’d seen them every day when I was stationed in Korea.

“Like the choppers on that TV show?” I asked.

“Yes, sir. Exactly like on M*A*S*H.”

“Big glass bubble on the front? No doors? Looks kinda like a dragonfly?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Did you see any numbers written on it? On the tail? Or maybe on the underside?”

Tom Jenkins pressed his hat back on his head and gazed up at the empty sky beyond the forest, like he could return that beautiful animal to where it rightfully belonged through sheer force of his will. The high peaks beyond the meadow were streaked with deep blue shadows in the sunlight, their cloughs and gorges washed in purple and topped with snow so white it hurt your eyes.

“I’m sorry, sir,” he said. “I don’t remember seeing numbers or anything like that.”

His face took on the aspect of defeat, as though some personal failure had cost the animal its life.

“You did good, Tom. You did the right thing coming to me straight away. There was nothing else you could have done.”

He nodded once, his lips pressed tight, and he leaned down to adjust a stirrup that needed no adjustment.

“You want some help finding your cows?” I asked, thinking he might appreciate the company.

“I can do it, sir, but thank you. I can haze ’em back home on my own.”

“You gotta get eyeballs on the critters first. I can help you, son.”

“Thank you just the same, Mr. Dawson… Sheriff… Hell, I don’t even know what to call you.”

His expression softened for the first time since he’d showed up, a brief and fleeting smile, then his focus drifted far away again.

“Something else, Tom?”

“Just wondering.”

“Wondering what?”

“Do you think you can catch those guys who shot that bird?”

“I’m going to try my damndest.”

His eyes remained fixed on the horizon.

“What’ll happen to ’em if you do?”

I drew a bandana from the back pocket of my jeans, removed my hat, and dried the sweat that had been leaking from beneath the band.

“It’s been against the law to kill an eagle since the 1940s. If you’re not an Indian, you can’t even possess a single feather. If you get caught, you pay a steep fine and then they send you off to jail. If you’re a rancher, you could lose the leases on your land.”

Tom turned his gaze back on me, and I noted for the hundredth time that this young man no longer bore any resemblance to the person he had been on the day he first arrived here from California.

“That punishment don’t seem tough enough,” Tom said. “Not for what I seen ’em do.”

“No, it doesn’t.”

He clucked softly to his horse, and reined her back in the direction from which they’d come.

“I’d better get a move on,” he said.

“Be careful out there, son,” I said to his retreating back, but my words were lost in the distance.

***

Excerpt from KNIFE RIVER by Baron R Birtcher. Copyright 2024 by Baron R Birtcher. Reproduced with permission from Baron R Birtcher. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Baron R Birtcher

Baron Birtcher is the LA TIMES and IMBA BESTSELLING author of the hardboiled Mike Travis series (Roadhouse Blues, Ruby Tuesday, Angels Fall, and Hard Latitudes), the award-winning Ty Dawson series (South California Purples, Fistful Of Rain, Reckoning, and Knife River), as well as the critically-lauded stand-alone, RAIN DOGS.

Baron is a winner of the SILVER FALCHION AWARD, and the WINNER of 2018's Killer Nashville READERS CHOICE AWARD, as well as 2019's BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR for Fistful Of Rain.

He has also had the honor of having been named a finalist for the NERO AWARD, the LEFTY AWARD, the FOREWORD INDIE AWARD, the 2016 BEST BOOK AWARD, the Pacific Northwest's regional SPOTTED OWL AWARD, and the CLAYMORE AWARD.

Baron's writing has been hailed as "The real deal" by Publishers Weekly; "Fast Paced and Engaging" by Booklist; and "Solid, Fluent and Thrilling" by Kirkus.

"YOU WANT TO READ BIRTCHER'S BOOKS, THEN YOU WANT TO LIVE IN THEM"
~ Don Winslow, NYT Bestselling author

"BIRTCHER IS PART POET, PART PHILOSOPHER, AND A CONSUMMATE WRITER"
~ Reed Farrel Coleman, NYT Bestselling author

"REMINISCENT OF THE LATE, GREAT ELMORE LEONARD"
~ Shots Magazine (UK)

Catch Up With Baron R Birtcher:
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Instagram - @baronbirtcher_author
Twitter/X - @BaronBirtcher22

 

 

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Twinkle of Trouble (A Fairy Garden Mystery) by Daryl Wood Gerber


About the Book

Carmel-by-the-Sea garden shop owner Courtney Kelly sees things others can’t—like fairies, and hidden motives for murder . . .

Courtney is delighted when her tiny friend Fiona returns from the fairy realm, appearing at the base of a Cypress tree. When her Ragdoll cat, Pixie, emerges from her own portal—aka the cat door—the three set off for a busy day. Busier than usual, since Courtney has rented a small plot of land at the Flower Farm, where she hopes to grow her own supplies for her fairy-garden business. Plus, the annual Summer Blooms Festival is coming up, and Courtney has booked a booth . . .

But the murder of Courtney’s friend, Genevieve, casts a pall over the festival. Ever since Genevieve sold her floral business, she’d been building a career as an influencer. She was perennially opinionated—but in her new role she’d become surprisingly vicious, dissing local entrepreneurs with nasty posts and unwarranted bad reviews. That’s landed a couple of Courtney’s other friends on the suspect list—including Flower Farm owner Daphne Flores. And when a second victim is discovered, seeds of doubt about Daphne’s innocence sprout in Courtney’s mind. With only a germ of a clue, Courtney will have to overturn every rock to get the dirt on the real killer . . .

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Excerpt

Exhale, CourtneyI was holding my breath the way I did whenever I got too stressed. My father always teased me if he caught me doing it. Take it one task at a time, kitten, he’d say. My unease wasn’t because of the tea I was drinking in my backyard, and it certainly wasn’t because of the lovely twittering of birds. I adored their merry song. No, it was due to the list I was composing of all the things I needed to address in the coming week: the Summer Blooms Festival, multiple fairy garden classes, and hosting the Saturday book club tea at the shop. Sometimes I overscheduled myself. You’d think by now I’d have learned not to. Um, yeah. No.

Suddenly, the base of the cypress tree started to glow and sparkle, and a shimmering fairy portal about six inches wide materialized. Seconds later, Fiona tiptoed through it.

“You’re here!” I exclaimed, leaping from my chair. “You’re alive. You’re okay.” Relief washed over me as I rushed to her. My bare feet and the hem of my pajamas were getting wet from the puddles left by the recent rain, but I didn’t care. “I missed you!” I squealed and scooped her into my hands. I kissed her nose. “Are you all right?”

“Yes.”

Her gossamer wings were intact. Her silver dress and slippers were as clean as a whistle. I’d met my teensy fairy friend over a year ago when I’d opened my fairy garden shop in downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea. I’d believed in fairies as a girl, but I’d lost the ability to see them until that wonderful, fateful day.

“Did your mother chastise you?” I turned her in my hands searching for what, I wasn’t sure. I didn’t think her mother, the queen fairy, would harm her eldest daughter. “Your hair is a different color. It’s silver.”

“I asked for a favor. I was getting tired of the blue. It goes nicely with my outfit, don’t you think?” She grabbed the seams of her skirt and curtsied.

“It’s lovely. Your wings look bigger. Have they grown?”

“Not in a month.” She tittered and billowed them out.

A month. She’d been gone a whole month. Wow, time had flown! Not. Since she’d passed through the fairy portal in mid-May, I’d kept my nose to the grindstone, doing my best not to think about how I’d feel if she never returned from the fairy realm. To distract myself—as if the shop didn’t keep me busy enough—I’d invested in a garden plot, repainted my bedroom, and added more private classes to my weekly roster of fairy garden instruction.

“How I missed the smell of the ocean!” Fiona spiraled into the air, did a pirouette, and alit on my shoulder. “Can we go for a walk on the beach?”

“Of course.” It was Wednesday, but I didn’t have to be at Open Your Imagination as early as usual because Joss, my stalwart assistant, said she had a surprise for me and wanted to open the store on her own.

My Ragdoll cat, Pixie, pushed through her cat door and scampered to us. She rose on her hind legs and meowed to Fiona. Like me, she’d missed her friend dearly. She’d been moping. At home. At work. Every time I tried to soothe her, she would turn heel and bat me with her tail.

Fiona flitted to Pixie’s head and did a toe-heel-kick-step on the flame markings on the cat’s forehead. Pixie mewled merrily and swatted at Fiona, but the little fairy was swift and sailed to a branch of the cypress. From that viewpoint, she said, “The garden looks pretty.”

“Thanks.” After moving in, I’d landscaped it to my liking, adding wisteria, impatiens, and herbs that grew naturally beneath the towering cypress trees. Fairy gardens stood in the four corners of the yard. I’d set a copper fountain featuring a fairy pouring water into a shell at the center near the wicker table where I was having my coffee.

“You’ve planted roses,” she said.

“I did.” Along the paths leading to each of the fairy gardens, I’d planted white floribundas. They boasted peony-shaped flowers with bright, glossy foliage and emitted a fruity aroma with a hint of champagne. “I found them at Flower Farm. The owner, Daphne Flores, sold me fully-grown plants, but she’s renting me a quarter-acre of the farm so I can nurture them from cuttings and transplant them, too.”

Carmel-by-the-Sea was a beautiful town located on the coast of California about two hours south of San Francisco. It was blessed with a moderate climate and populated with some of the most artistic and eco-friendly people in the world. There were lots of farms and ranches as well as wildlife trails and parks. Nearly everyone I knew loved to tinker in their gardens.

“In fact, I’m thinking of cultivating other plants on the quarter-acre, plants that we use in the fairy gardens,” I said. “Hattie suggested I stop outsourcing it and do it for myself.” Hattie Hopewell was president of the Happy Diggers Garden Club. Every member of the club was a regular customer at Open Your Imagination. “Good idea, don’t you think?”

“When will you find time to do everything?”

“You know me. I thrive when tending a garden. Besides, sleep is highly overrated.”

Fiona giggled. “Well, gardening suits you. Your cheeks are rosy. You look very pretty.”

“Tà,” I said, using her native word for thanks.

Fiona fluttered to my cheek and kissed it. “Are you and Brady still, um, happy?”

“Yes. Very.”

Brady, the owner of the Hideaway Café that was located in the courtyard across the street from my shop, was now officially my boyfriend. We had a standing date on Mondays—our days off—and we got together occasionally during the week. He and I met in high school, and when we recently became reacquainted, it felt right to spend more time together. He got me like nobody ever had. Plus, he didn’t make fun of my ability to see fairies.

Fiona said, “Has he, you know, seen her yet?”

“Her?”

“The fairy at the café.”

Last month, we caught sight of a fairy in the vines on the café’s patio. I didn’t know her name; neither did Fiona. She was very shy.

“Not yet.”

I retreated inside, threw on a pair of shorts, an I Love Carmel T-shirt, and sandals, and with Fiona riding on my shoulder, strolled down Ocean Avenue to Carmel Beach, a spectacular arc of pale sand that stretched for close to a mile in length.

 

About the Author


Agatha Award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber is best known for her nationally bestselling mysteries, including the Fairy Garden Mysteries and Cookbook Nook Mysteries. As Avery Aames, she penned the popular Cheese Shop Mysteries. In addition, Daryl writes suspense including the well received The Son’s Secret, Girl on the Run, and the popular Aspen Adams series. Recently Daryl, who loves a challenge, published a Christmas romance, Hope for the Holidays. Fun Tidbit: as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote.” She loves to cook, garden, read, and walk her frisky Goldendoodle. Also she has been known to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. You can learn more on her website: https://darylwoodgerber.com

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April 15 – Maureen's Musings – SPOTLIGHT
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The Gothic Gwyn Mysteries by Judith Sterling


About the Series

When Gwyneth Camm reads specific gothic mysteries, she's literally pulled into the stories. In each case, she must play the heroine’s role and solve the mystery to return to the real world, where she hopes to discover what magic is afoot.


Trip the Light Phantasmic


Gwyneth Camm has just inherited her great-aunt’s house in Salem, Massachusetts, along with an extensive collection of gothic romance novels. As a PhD student who prefers “serious” books, Gwyn has always avoided pulp fiction. Now, in honor of her beloved Aunt Ethel, she gives one of the gothics a try…and promptly falls asleep.

When she wakes, she finds herself inside the story, thrust by forces unknown into the heroine’s role. There’s magic afoot, and the only way back to her own life is to play her part and solve the mystery.

When fiction becomes fact, anything can happen…

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Let No Clan Put Asunder


“It was no small thing to marry into the Donnachaidh clan, and there was nowhere to hide from its past.”

So states the tagline of the gothic mystery Gwyneth Camm discovers out of place—not once, but twice—inside her newly inherited Salem home. Her deceased Aunt Ethel seems determined she read the book, and once again, Gwyn finds herself sucked into a gothic romance, inhabiting the body of its heroine.

This time, she’s a young bride in 1970 on her way to a clifftop castle that harbors secrets, Scottish legacies, hidden malice, and…a vampire? Only by learning the truth can she return to her own life, where yet another puzzle awaits.

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About the Author


Judith Sterling is an award-winning author whose love of history and passion for the paranormal infuse everything she writes. Through gothic cozy mystery (The Gothic Gwyn Mysteries), medieval/time travel romance (The Novels of Ravenwood), and young adult paranormal fantasy (the Guardians of Erin series), she loves to whisk readers away from their troubles and remind them of the hidden magic all around us. Her nonfiction books, written under Judith Marshall, have been translated into multiple languages. She has an MA in linguistics and a BA in history, with a minor in British Studies. Born in that sauna called Florida, she craved cooler climes, and once the travel bug bit, she lived in England, Scotland, Sweden, Wisconsin, Virginia, and on the island of Nantucket. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and their identical twin sons.

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Detective Frank Riley Mysteries by JoAnn Conner


About the Series

Detective Frank Riley is a veteran cop who has his own mysterious past.


Death Song

Someone is murdering employees at a specialty delivery service, and Detective Frank Riley has been assigned the case. Two young women have already been murdered, and Riley is working against the clock to try to stop more murders. The new Medical Examiner is difficult, and when he makes a mistake concerning her personal life, he finds his job in jeopardy. A complicated motive for one of the murders is frustrating, but he has the suspect in jail. Then another employee is murdered! Can the veteran detective solve the case before more people are murdered?

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Coyote Man

Nothing hits hardened Detective Frank Riley like kids in danger. He finds himself embroiled in an ever shifting case to stop these kids from overdosing. In the midst of trying to catch the dealer slipping the drugs to the kids, a woman sitting on the bench in front of the hospital has been shot, but remembers nothing. Dead coyotes start turning up, shot with the same caliber of bullet as the woman. Then two young girls, who have been savagely assaulted, are found half buried in the snow outside the emergency room. What is the connection between these cases? Riley and his partner, Sam Rayburn, are hard pressed to put all the pieces together before there is another victim.

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Cold Dreams

Detective Frank Riley is on a forced vacation and decides to go to a ranch outside of Tucson, Arizona. He is hoping to find peace riding horses, and try to rid himself of the cold dreams haunting his sleep. He sees images of his daughter in his dreams. She has been missing for three years. What is the message? Instead of relaxing, he finds himself in the middle of a horse rustling ring, a drug deal gone bad, and a child trafficking operation. He goes to visit the owner of the ranch in the hospital after he was shot, and sees his daughter out of the window. Can he find her before the crazed woman bent on revenge takes her away again?

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O'Side Undercover

Eighteen year-old Sarinda Rogers heads out for her daily beach run and disappears without a clue. Her father calls on his old friend and one-time Oceanside, California surfer, Detective Frank Riley, to come and help locate Sarinda. Riley takes a leave from his job in Tahoe and begins to follow a trail littered with Aztec coins, a mysterious dying doctor, and murder. The clues lead into Mexico, including a brush with the cartel, only to find Sarinda is in the wind again. Can the experienced detective recover Sarinda in time? The evidence tells him there are others on her trail who want her dead!

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About the Author


JoAnn Conner is a former English and history teacher who has published multiple Western historical fiction and mystery novels. She relies heavily on research to bring her stories to life with intrigue and unexpected details.

She is the author of the popular Detective Frank Riley mystery series. Her Westerns include The Mountain, Heartwood, and Blood on the Timber Trail. JoAnn also recently published a children's poetry book with her eleven year old granddaughter, Eleanor, as the illustrator.

Visit her Author’s page under J. Conner Books on Facebook, LinkedIn, follow her on Instagram or her Amazon Author's page for upcoming events and new arrivals. Email her at jconnerbooks@gmail.com.


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The Kat Lawson Mysteries by Nancy Cole Silverman


About the Series

During the Cold War, the FBI and the CIA sometimes used civilians for undercover work. In the 70s, it wasn't unusual for an attractive flight attendant to pass on a secret message to an agent in the field or for a needle-nosed accountant to review documents that might uncover a crime. So, when Kat Lawson, a disgraced, middle-aged investigative reporter, lost her job due to an office romance that went south, she found herself working for an international travel publication as a reporter and was approached by the FBI to work undercover. Her assignment was to be the most mundane, the passing of messages, never anything dangerous, or so she thought.


The Navigator's Daughter


Getting caught in the middle of an international art theft ring wasn't supposed to be part of the deal Kat Lawson made with her dying father. But when her father receives a mysterious letter informing the former WW2 navigator/bombardier that his downed B-24 has been found and asking him to come to Hungary, Kat suspects this is all part of some senior rip-off scam. Her father insists she go, not only to photograph the final resting place of his plane but also to find the mother and son who risked their lives to rescue him and hid him in a cave beneath an old Roman fortress. Kat's trip uncovers not only the secrets of the cave where her father hid and of those who rescued him, but a secret that will forever change the direction of her life—that is—if she can get home safely.

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Passport to Spy

After losing her job as an investigative reporter for The Phoenix Gazette, Kat Lawson has a new gig. The FBI has asked her to work undercover as a reporter for Travel International to cover Munich, Germany’s festive holiday scene—an excuse to get close to Hans von Hausmann, a very charismatic and popular museum curator suspected of hiding a cache of stolen masterpieces believed to be part of the World’s Largest Art Heist. The job comes with lots of perks: airfare, travel expenses, the opportunity to see the world...and for a seasoned reporter like Kat, nothing she can’t handle. But, when a trusted source is found dead, Kat realizes the tables have been turned. Armed with evidence that will expose a cache of artwork stolen from museums and the homes of wealthy Jews during the 2nd World War, Kat must find a way to avoid being caught by the German Polizie, who have enough evidence to charge her with murder, and those who want her dead to keep their hidden treasures forever secret. The hunter has become the hunted; now, Kat has a target on her back.

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Guest Post

The Birth of Character

I was five years old when my then-boyfriend, a boy my mother was babysitting, decided to haul off and slug me. I can't remember what the offense was. But I do know it resulted in my getting stitches, which to this day has left a scar, not so much beneath my chin where his tiny fist landed, but on my soul. I couldn't believe he had hit me. While this short article might go on and discuss my views on female abuse, it wasn't the action that day that changed my life but a conversation I had later that night with my father that helped me to understand my true strength.

My dad was a gentle sort. He had three daughters, and growing up, I was convinced that all men would be just like him. I found out much later in life that it wasn't true, but again, that's not the point of my blog. What I learned from my father was that a woman's strength came from her ability to outthink her male opponent. My father was a male feminist early on. He believed in my rights and the rights of women long before it became popular to do so. And I've been forever grateful that he inspired me to use the talents I was given to enrich my life.

Like all stories I write, I believe the story picks the writer, and The Kat Lawson Mysteries is one I was born to write. The first book in the series, The Navigator’s Daughter,  is loosely based on my father's experience in the 2nd World War as a navigator bombardier. The creation of the female protagonist, Kat Lawson, was driven by my relationship with my dad growing up. He thought I could do anything I set my mind to, and he was my biggest advocate.

But when I sat down to create Kat Lawson, I struggled to define her. Aside from a daughter on a mission to thank those who had rescued her father, who was she? And when she discovers a secret concerning his past that forever changes her future, what new strengths will she need to go forward?

I'll not reveal the events that led Kat to accept a position with a travel publication as an undercover operative for the FBI, as she has in book 2 of the series Passport to Spy. If that sounds odd, and you're about to roll your eyes....stop! During the Cold War, the FBI, the CIA, and a lot of other three and four-letter snoop organizations used civilians as curriers. Back then, it wasn't unusual for an attractive flight attendant to be asked to deliver a message or a package to an agent in the field.

I needed Kat to be strong. Not unemotional but focused and capable of thinking clearly under stress. Able to multitask while looking cool, calm, and collected. She had to be able to fly below the radar. I wanted her to be feisty, quick-thinking, and creative. Like my father taught me, women don't have to be stronger than men. They merely have to be wilier and outthink them.

 

About the Author


After twenty-five years in news and talk radio, Nancy Cole Silverman retired to write short and long fiction. Her Carol Childs Mysteries features a single mom whose day job as a reporter at an LA radio station often leads to long nights solving crimes. Her Misty Dawn series is centered on an aging Hollywood Psychic to the Stars, who supplements her day-to-day activities as a consultant to the LAPD. Silverman’s newest series, The Kat Lawson Mysteries, is centered on a disgraced investigative reporter who finds herself working for an international travel publication as an undercover agent for the FBI.

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Giveaway


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The Detective Parrott Mystery Series by Saralyn Richard


About the Series

Set in the lush, privileged, and serene Brandywine Valley of Pennsylvania, the last place you'd expect a murder, the series features a young African American detective, an outsider who is undaunted by the fame and wealth of his suspects. Parrott's cases intertwine with his personal life in ways that deepen understandings of both.


MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT

SOMEONE COMES TO THE PARTY WITH MURDER IN HIS HEART AND POISON IN HIS POCKET.

A lavish celebration. A rare poison. A clever plan. A milestone birthday party at a country mansion in Brandywine Valley brings old friends together, all glamorous, wealthy, and politically well-connected. Charismatic playboy, Preston Phillips, brings his trophy wife to the party, unaware that his first love, the woman he jilted at the altar, will be there, enchanting him with her timeless beauty. A snowstorm, an accident, and an illicit rendezvous later, the dynamics crackle with tension.

When Detective Oliver Parrott is charged with solving the untimely killing of one of America's leading financial wizards, he realizes this will be the case to make—or break—his career.

Ingenious and gripping, MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT opens up to readers the opulent world of the ultra-wealthy in Philadelphia and New York—and reveals a killer that only Detective Parrott can catch.

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A PALETTE FOR LOVE AND MURDER


THE SCENERY IS LUSH, THE MANSIONS ARE HUGE, AND THE SECRETS ARE DEEP.

Detective Oliver Parrott's next case takes us to the ancestral home of Blake Allmond, a renowned artist, whose paintings have been stolen from his studio. Before Parrott can get a foothold on the case, Allmond is murdered in his second home in New York's Gramercy Park. It's out of Parrott's jurisdiction, but he believes the two crimes are related, and he's got the itch to work on both. Parrott comes to realize Blake Allmond's life is full of mystery. The theft of the paintings turns into a treasure hunt and search for a killer—and then the investigation becomes personal.

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CRYSTAL BLUE MURDER


METH, MURDER, AND EXPLOSIONS OF THE HEART

In the heart of tranquil Brandywine Valley, Detective Parrott confronts a meth lab explosion, a dismembered corpse, and an intricate trail of secrets that shake up many lives -- including his own. When celebrity hostess Claire Whitman’s renovated barn explodes into flames, Parrott delves into the backgrounds and relationships of all who are affected. Tension from Parrott’s personal life crosses over into the case, and soon secrets, deceptions, and crimes create an even bigger explosion. Third in the Detective Parrott Mystery Series, Crystal Blue Murder explores the complexities of life in a privileged world where many of America’s wealthiest people have their own struggles to bear.

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MURDER OUTSIDE THE BOX


A MATTER OF BIRTH AND DEATH

The serene Brandywine Valley wakes up to a chilling double shock: a baby abandoned on the porch of a caretaker’s cottage, and a young woman found dead on the estate of a billionaire scotch whiskey magnate. Detective Parrott’s instincts tell him the two crimes are connected, but the evidence points him in directions that are both baffling and personal. Parrott searches for answers in high and low places, including his own department. As he races to find the truth about the baby’s origin, he untangles murder clues that implicate people with secrets that even their positions of power and trust can’t protect. Once again, Parrott may have to risk his reputation—and even his life—to uncover the real story.

A compulsive and compelling police procedural with relatable characters who remain in your heart. If you like detectives from Louisa Scarr, Clare Mackintosh, and Michael Connelly, you’ll love Detective Oliver Parrott.

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About the Author


Award-winning author and educator, Saralyn Richard writes about people in settings as diverse as elite country manor houses and disadvantaged urban high schools. She loves beaches, reading, sheepdogs, the arts, libraries, parties, nature, cooking, and connecting with readers.

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Giveaway

The Author is giving away a pdf copy of Epicurean Feasts, the menu and recipes from the elegant dinner party in MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT to everyone who subscribes to her newsletter.



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