False Findings: A Rockfish Island Mystery: III by J.C. Fuller

About the Book

Dark deeds, intended to remain hidden beneath the cold waters bordering the island, have surfaced, shocking the small community and casting a dark shadow over its residents.

Confronted with a blood-speckled rowboat and a waterlogged corpse, Sheriff Lane is desperate for answers, some of which can only be found on the mainland.

Faced with limited resources and her lone deputy following another lead, Lane turns to Park Ranger, Philip Russell, who is more than eager to help investigate the mysterious homicide.

The pair piece their findings together while trying to separate gossip from the truth and answer the most pressing of questions: Whose body was pulled from the icy waters, and who, in their tight-knit community, put it there?

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A full moon, unveiled from its dark castings, shimmered down upon the salted waters and the old dock jetting from the island’s shore. The dock itself, beaten and worn, bore the white peaking waves of a riled ocean, its encrusted pilings standing firm against the tumultuous tide. Beside it, held captive by a rusty cleat, was its lone companion, a rowboat, the wooden counterpart, pulling and surging against the old dock, much like an undecided lover.

Hollow and thudding footsteps, sudden upon the pier, resonated, the hour past midnight, pounding heavily upon the wooden slats, the dock no longer abandoned. The white rowboat at once sinking further into the water under the unexpected weight of a passenger.

Quick, deft hands, unburdened from their heavy load, untied the small skiff from its slip, hastily throwing into the bow its weather-worn line, the rope, landing haphazardly against the cargo lying limp on the timber floor.

Pushed away from the dock’s fender, the rowboat, oars dipping in and out of the sea-foamed waves, slipped silently away while grunts of exertion, marking time with the oars rattling inside their rings, sounded above the splash of the blades being driven into the dark.

The rower, eyeing the distance from the pier, abruptly lifted the poles from the ocean, the waves crashing against the small boat, bitter cold water slopping over the side.

Was this far enough out? Or rather, deep enough?

The oars were pulled in.

Time was a factor.

Visible from the secluded pier under the moon’s spotlight, the rowboat now buoyed over the tempestuous water, swaying precariously, side to side, struggling to carry the load. At its stern was a large man, whose dark outline stood stark against the lit horizon, hesitation clearly visible in his stance, a wooden oar held high above his head.

As if sensing the delay, impatient waves splashed against the gunwales sloshing up and over the side, daring him to continue. The moment of indecision passed and the oar came crashing down, the blade cutting into flesh and bone.

Overhead, reaching and stretching, grasping sky in mass momentum, dark clouds moved steadily with the wind, touching the moon and overcoming its brilliance, its glorious radiance engulfed and swallowed whole. The absence leaving the dark deeds upon the water hidden from view.

The crunch of bone was sickening.

The man tugged on the oar, the wooden blade causing an unpleasant sound as he wrenched it free from the corpse at his feet. With a deep breath, he brandished the oar into the air once more, bringing it down hard, a loud THACK sounding across the water.

The oar was brought down again.

With more effort on each descent, he wielded the weapon into the air, a cascading spray of red following the arch of the upward blade before the downward fall, each sinking hit sounding denser and wetter than the prior.

He was going to be sick.

With a final pitch, the oar broke in his hand, the blade fastening tight into the bloody mass. It was more than he could take. He lurched to the edge of the boat and fell hard on his knees, heaving over the side.

His stomach emptied.

Pushing back, his labored breaths visible vapor upon the winter air, he sagged down onto the wooden seat, exhausted, the small rowboat, in return, rocking dangerously, threatening to topple him over.

Instinctively, he grabbed the sides to steady his balance, leaving bloody handprints on the gunnels, stark against the aged whiteboards.

The exertion of driving the oar down with all his force and trying to keep his balance in the small boat had worn him out, not to mention the deed of killing itself.

There was still so much more to do.

Wearily climbing to his feet, he worked the oar free, tossing the cracked pole to the floor. He then reached down and began to undress the body, his hands untying the worn winter boots, wrenching them off, thick woolen socks with them, shakily dropping the pair to the floor. He then lumbered to the waist, undoing the button and zipper, tiredly tugging and pulling each leg free. He moved up to the chest, lucky the shirt was a button-down, a heavy flannel, and paused at the last item, deciding to leave the underwear on.

There had to be some decency in death.


About the Author

J.C. Fuller is the author of The Rockfish Island Mystery series. A lover of all things mystery, especially thrillers and whodunits, she is excited to share her imagination with her readers and is currently working on expanding the series. She lives in Washington state and is a nature lover, enjoying the outdoors with her family whenever possible, and lives at home with her two faithful companion dogs, who also keep her feet warm when she's writing. Please enjoy Black Bear Alibi (Book 1), The Push (Book 2), and False Findings (Book 3).

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  1. This so sounds like my kind of read and one that I would love to read this winter season.
    heather hgtempaddy