Down the Rabbit Hole- The End by Paty Jager

Oliver Ensley was picked up and brought in for questioning. Scott tried his best to get the man to talk, but he stonewalled and kept repeating he wanted to call his lawyer. They had no choice but to allow him to make the call. They didn’t have any evidence against him, other than hearsay.

In the Sheriff’s office, Scott paced back and forth. “We have to find Tommy Joe and get him to talk. He’s the only one who can give us the information to make Ensley talk.”

“Are you sure it is Ensley and not Tommy Joe who killed Forseth?” the sheriff asked.

Scott stopped and stared at the sheriff. “What do you know about Tommy Joe? Everyone else seems to think he wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

“He isn’t the simple man he portrays.” Sheriff Quinn tossed a file to the edge of his desk nearest Scott. “Take a look.”

The file was on Raymond Forseth, the victim. His family and business. Thomas Joseph Forseth was Raymond’s brother and second in line in the investing company.

Scott shook his head. “I don’t understand. I was under the impression Tommy Joe, Thomas Joseph, was here for many years. And no one said he was a Forseth.”

“He never gave a last name. And he has been in and out of here for years. I believe he was prospecting to find what he finally found, that tunnel with gold. His brother always did business on sure things. Go talk to Raymond’s secretary and wife. In the meantime, we’ll be keeping a look out for Tommy Joe.”

Scott left the office and returned to his desk. He called Mrs. Forseth first. She said, that at the death of her husband the business would go to her brother-in-law, Thomas. After adding that to his notes, he called the business and talked with Raymond’s secretary.

“Oh yes, those two brothers would get into it all the time. Thomas felt they needed to take more chances, and Raymond always made sure he had the information necessary to make an intelligent decision.”

“What will happen to the company now that Raymond is gone?” Scott asked.

“Thomas will take over, and who knows what will happen.” The woman sniffed. “I’ll be retiring. I won’t work for that man.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Raley.” He started to hang up and said, “Do you have any idea where I might find Thomas?”

“He has a cabin in the Sierras.” She rattled off the address and hung up.

Scott told dispatch to send three cars to the address and bring Thomas to the Sheriff’s Office.

He decided to have a better look at the photos and forensics. Staring at the photos, a thought struck him. Scott strode down the hall to the interview room, stopping at the door. “Is Ensley alone in there?”

The deputy standing guard nodded.

“Good. If his lawyer shows up, try to stall him.” Scott entered the room.

“Where’s my lawyer?” Ensley asked. He was a bald-headed man with broad shoulders and a permanent scowl.

“I don’t know. But I have some questions for you. Who did you work for? Raymond or Thomas?” Scott settled into the seat across the table from Ensley.

“What do you mean?” The man seemed to be perplexed. “I’m the builder for Forseth Development.”

“I know that. But were you working for Raymond or Thomas?”

The man shook his head. “I don’t know any Thomas.”

“Okay, let me rephrase it. Did you work for Tommy Joe?”

“The smelly old prospector? No.” The man laughed. “That’s a good one. He doesn’t have a nickel to rub between his fingers.”

“But you told him you’d take care of Raymond the other night at The Lone Wolf Restaurant.” Scott watched him.

“Yeah. He wanted to make sure that Raymond looked at the survey stakes and made sure the land Tommy Joe claimed wasn’t on our development. Tommy Joe was worried he was encroaching and didn’t want to get started digging and have Raymond take it away from him.” The man sounded sincere.

Scott studied him. “That’s all he wanted to know?”

“Yeah.” Ensley pursed his lips as if in thought. “When I talked to Raymond about it, he asked me where Tommy Joe lived. I gave him directions to that camp of his.” His eyes widened. “Wait a minute. You think Tommy Joe killed Raymond!”

#

While waiting for the deputies to bring Tommy Joe in, Scott received a call from the state forensics. “What did you find?” he asked the forensic technician.

“The victim was killed by a blow to the head after having been in a fight. We noted the bruises and scrapes consistent with fighting.”

“And the evidence recovered at the crime scene?” Scott asked. He hoped it was good news for Dela’s grandfather.

“The blood on the donkey was that of the victim’s. The animal had been used to move the body. The mining equipment you sent from the camp was tested. A shovel had the victim’s blood on the spade end and was consistent with the head wound. Your suspect’s prints were on the handle.”

Deputy Jones stuck his head in the room. “They’re bringing him in,”

Scott stood at the door of the county station watching Tommy Joe, dressed in slacks, a fancy shirt, and shiny leather shoes, be led into the station. The man glared at everyone. Gone were the whiskers, the longish hair, and the stench. He smelled of two-hundred-dollar cologne.

Relieved the right man was in custody, Scott called Dela.

“Hello?” the woman questioned, answering the phone.

“It’s Detective Harper. We have the person responsible for Forseth’s murder in jail. I’m pleased to tell you, it’s not your grandfather.”

###

Have you figured out which character could show up in a mystery series of their own?

Image from Depositphotos

Down the Rabbit Hole part 4 by Paty Jager

The deputies arrived in two vehicles. Scott instructed one deputy to take Dela back to the casino and the cufflink to the Sheriff’s department.

He and Deputy Jones entered the tunnel. They traveled close to a quarter of a mile when they found the end of the tunnel and what looked like gold ore. He pocketed a piece to be examined.

It was growing dark when they exited. If the GPS was accurate, the ore and end of the tunnel were on the edge of the victim’s property.

“I don’t think Tommy Joe would have killed over gold. He’s spent his whole life looking for it. Kind of a hobby,” Deputy Jones said.

“You know Tommy Joe?”

“Anyone who’s lived here more than a year knows Tommy Joe.” The deputy gave him a stare that said, ‘where have you been working?’

Scott had arrived in the area and started his job as Deputy with Amador County eighteen months ago. This was his first encounter with Tommy Joe.

“Enlighten me,” he said, as they walked back to their vehicles.

“Tommy Joe lives simple. You saw his tent and camp.”

“But does he live that way because he wants to or because he has to?” Scott asked.

The deputy stopped. “I always thought because he wanted to. He’s always happy.”

#

Scott shook his head and climbed into his SUV. Tommy Joe was high on his list of suspects. He called in an All Points on the man. He’d get some sleep and be at the casino bright and early to talk to the hostess and waitress.

The yeasty scent of rising donuts and sweet icings had started Scott’s stomach rumbling as he walked by Margaret’s Café in the casino. He glanced in and spotted Dela sitting in a corner booth. He changed course and approached the table behind a man carrying a plate with a maple bar and a cup of coffee. After the man placed the two on the table, Scott stepped around him and sat in the booth. “I’ll have the same.”

The man glanced between the two.

“It’s okay Jerry, he’s not here to arrest me,” Dela said, picking up her coffee.

Scott laughed. “She’s right.”

Jerry nodded and disappeared.

“How did you find me? This isn’t the Lone Wolf.” Her eyelids were half shut as she sipped the coffee and looked at him over the rim of the cup.

“I wasn’t looking for you. I expected you to be tucked in bed after missing sleep yesterday.”

Jerry reappeared with another cup of coffee and a plate with a maple bar. He walked away, and Dela picked up her bar.

“I figured you’d be coming in to talk with Tina and Ruth. I planned to be at the restaurant when all of you arrived.” She yawned before taking a bite.

“I’d say after missing your sleep yesterday and working all night, you better let me drive you home.” He sipped his coffee, watching her.

A myriad of emotions flexed the corners of her mouth as she swallowed and stared at him. “Why? Do you think I don’t have a friend who would give me a ride home?”

He held up his hands. “I didn’t say you didn’t. I just wanted to make sure you made it home without an accident. Safety is a Police Officer’s main goal.” Setting his cup down, he picked up the pastry and ate, not saying another word. When he’d finished, he asked, “What time will the hostess and waitress arrive?”

She nodded to the door. “They’ll be coming in here before they check in. It’s kind of the hangout of employees either before or after their shifts.”

“Is that the real reason you were sitting here? To talk to them before I did?” Now he was wondering if she was interfering with his investigation. And why?

“I was sitting here to detain them if you were late.” She took another bite of her maple bar and chewed, her brown eyes daring him to think otherwise.

The more he was around this woman the more intriguing he found her.

She sat up. “There’s Tina.”

A tall thin woman in her fifties walked through the door.

“Tina, come have a seat with us. Detective Harper has some questions for you,” Dela said, patting the seat beside her.

The older woman studied him for several minutes before sliding onto the bench beside Dela, making her slide around toward him. “Why do you need to talk to me? I haven’t done anything wrong.”

“It’s nothing you did. I’m hoping you can remember who Mr. Forseth had dinner with the other night, and what they were talking about.”

Jerry appeared from the back with a cinnamon twist and cup of coffee for Tina.

“Thanks Jerry. Hey, bring out Ruth’s usual, too, please.”

The man nodded and retreated.

Tina raised her hand and waved. Another woman, this one a bit younger with bright red hair, walked toward the booth. She scooted in beside Tina, who made the introductions.

Dela shifted closer to him, but still remained closer to the women. He wondered if it was to show solidarity with the women or avoid being close to him.

 Scott repeated what he’d said to Tina. “Do you remember waiting on Mr. Forseth two nights ago?”

Tina’s nose wrinkled. “I always remember when Tommy Joe comes around. I have to spray the booth to get rid of his body odor.”

“Tommy Joe? Is that who Forseth was having dinner with?” Scott asked.

Ruth shook her head. “Mr. Forseth had dinner with Mr. Ensley. When Mr. Forseth left, Tommy Joe sat down with Ensley.”

“Did you, by any chance, hear what they were talking about?” Scott pulled out his notepad and wrote this information down.

“Bits and pieces. Ensley lowered his voice when I’d walk up, but you know Tommy Joe…he would just keep on talking as if I wasn’t standing there.” Tina folded a paper napkin. “Seemed to me there was mention of gold, boundaries, and Ensley said he’d take care of Forseth.” Her eyes widened as she stared at Dela. “Do you think he killed Mr. Forseth?”

Scott had to give Dela credit. She just shrugged and said, “I don’t know. But I’m sure Detective Harper will know what to do with this information.” She twisted her neck and stared at him.

“I never believed Elwin killed Mr. Forseth,” Tina said.

“Me either,” added Ruth.

Dela smiled. “Detective Harper didn’t have to hold Grandfather on the murder charge. But he’s still in trouble for removing the rabbits from Caswell Park.”

Tina laughed. “You know, only he would have thought to use an animal to get the building stopped.”

Scott grinned. “Thank you for the information ladies. Come on, Dela, I’ll drive you home.”

The woman blushed as he slid out of the booth and offered her a hand to help her slide out his side.

Continuing next week…

Down the Rabbit Hole part 3 by Paty Jager

An hour after Dela said she knew where to find Tommy Joe, Scott was navigating his county SUV over rough terrain. “You’re sure he lives out here?”

“There it is!” Dela pointed to the right.

 He caught a glimpse of an old army tent before they dipped into another washout.

Scott weaved his vehicle between the chaparral, releasing the earthy musk of the plant and bouncing over rocks.

They rolled over a knoll and there was the camp. He felt as if they’d walked into an old newspaper ad for the gold rush of 1849. Not a single item looked less than a hundred years old.

Dela slipped out of the SUV and walked toward the banked fire ring. “Tommy Joe? Tommy Joe, it’s Dela Alvaro.”

Scott hurried to her side. She was a civilian he shouldn’t have brought along. But after bouncing over all the ground they did, he’d realized he would have never found the place on his own.

He watched the woman bend at her waist and feel the fire. “Cold.”

She straightened and scanned the area. “He was at Grandfather’s this morning. I saw him.” Dela listened. “I don’t hear his old burro either.”

“According to what Chief Dickson learned, Tommy Joe found the body when he was bringing the burro to your grandfather.” Scott grasped a pick and studied the pointed end. “This looks like it’s been used recently. See how shiny the half inch of the tip is?”

“I don’t doubt it’s been used. That’s all Tommy Joe does. He wanders around digging, looking for gold.” Dela walked over to the tent.

Scott hurried in front of her. He grabbed the edge of the flap and flipped it back. Only the stench of unwashed body, bedding, and supplies were inside.

“Maybe he’s out digging.” Scott strode alongside the tent, his gaze on the ground. “This looks like a trail.” He led the way along the path.

They came to a small gulch that had once held a stream. The trail went down into the stream bed.

“Do you think he’s working this dried-up stream bed?” Dela asked.

 “We won’t know until we look.”

Scott started down the five-foot incline. He glanced up at Dela. The July sun was hotter down in the gulley without a wisp of air stirring. He couldn’t read what she was thinking behind the sunglasses she wore. Making her navigate down the slope if she couldn’t, didn’t set right with him, but he was uncomfortable leaving her alone.

“Need a hand?” he offered, holding a hand up to her.

She looked down at him, then raised her head a fraction and pointed. “Down there about thirty feet, I saw something shiny.” Grasping his hand, she kept her gaze on a spot down the gulley. She slid one foot down into the dry stream bed while the other gave her motion.

Scott held onto her hand as they continued down the dried bed.

“There.” She pointed to what looked like a miniature train track disappearing into a tunnel in the side of the gulley.

“I’ll be damned.” Scott pulled out his phone. He took photos of the gulley and the opening before flipping on the flashlight app on the phone. Entering the tunnel, with the woman behind him, he bent over at the waist and walked about twenty feet into the cool, musty earth.

“I wonder how far it goes?” Dela murmured.

“We don’t have the equipment to find out. We need to find Tommy Joe and ask him why he was calling the victim.” Scott motioned to the woman to back out.

Once they were standing out in the sunshine, blinking at the bright light and replacing their sunglasses, Scott nodded up the stream bed. “Let’s go back to the camp and see if we can figure out where to find Tommy Joe.”

“We should have kept going to see if the tunnel went into the development.” Dela leaned on a rock in the side of the embankment.

“How close to the development is this stream bed?” Scott pulled out his phone and tried to get a signal. It was no use.

“I’d say less than fifty yards.”

“Really? That close?” He had an idea this tunnel may have something to do with the murder. Proving it could be a different matter. Maybe he did need to go back in and see how far the tunnel went. Scott studied Dela. Did he dare leave her out here alone? If Tommy Joe returned and he was the murderer, he might want to keep the tunnel a secret.

Instead of reentering the tunnel, he decided to call in backup. That meant going back to his vehicle and using the radio.

“I think it could be even closer,” Dela said, staring at the streambed.

“We’re going back to my vehicle. I’ll call in a couple more deputies.”

This could be what Tommy Joe was calling the investor about. He’d discovered gold on the building site and wanted to…what? Stop the building so no one discovered his mine?

Dela slid off the rock she’d been sitting on and walked over to a spot two feet in front of him. She bent at the waist. “Look!” The woman pointed at a space between two rocks.

Scott knelt and studied the area she’d indicated. Something shiny nestled between the two rocks. He took photos with his phone. Dela handed him a tissue. He picked up the silver piece of men’s jewelry. It was a cufflink monogramed with a F. The victim had been missing both cufflinks.

He shoved the piece of jewelry into a pocket. He hadn’t expected to find evidence. All of his equipment was in his vehicle.

“You need to get that to the Sheriff’s Office,” Dela said, hurrying ahead of him as fast as she could with the one less cooperative leg.

Scott passed her and held out a hand to help her up the five-foot embankment where the trail left the stream bed.

“Thanks.” Her tone sounded as if he’d just insulted her.

“Hey, you’d have helped me if you’d been the first to the top,” Scott said, wondering what branch of the military she’d been in.

“Yeah, sure,” she muttered.

At the vehicle, Scott started the engine to get the air conditioner going.

After bagging and tagging the cufflink, he grabbed the radio and asked for assistance at their location.

“Now what happens?” Dela asked.

“We sit in the cool vehicle and wait for assistance.” Scott shifted sideways. “What branch of the military were you in?”

She gave him a look that might have quelled a weaker man. “Marines.”

Continuing next week…

Down the Rabbit Hole part 2 by Paty Jager

The casino wasn’t large, but it sustained the Miwok tribal members and helped out the community. When Scott first arrived in this county, he’d been surprised at the atmosphere, cleanliness, and how the tribe gave so much to the local organizations.

He garnered a few smiles, and some wary looks, when he entered the casino wearing a green polo shirt with the county emblem and his weapon on his belt.

“Hey, Detective. Dela told me you’d be coming.” A man the age of their suspect walked up to him. “You’re early. Did someone call in a robbery?” The man guffawed at his joke.

“No, no robbery. Do you work the main entrance weekdays?” If the man worked the door, he would see who came and went.

“I’m here from ten in the morning till six at night. I valet park and give directions.” The man smiled, showing two missing teeth on the right side of his mouth.

“When was the last time you saw Mr. Forseth leave the casino?”

The older man scratched his cheek. “Yesterday. He was talking on his phone and walked right out to the parking lot, not even returning my greeting.”

“Did he come back?”

“Not that I know of.” The man studied him.

“Can you remember exactly what time he left?”

“It was about noon. A group of ladies come in from Sacramento talking about getting lunch first.” The man walked toward the casino floor. “Why are you interested in Mr. Forseth? Did something happen to him?”

“Why would you say that?” Scott fell into step beside the valet as they navigated through the slot machines. Only a tenth of the machines were being used at this time of day.

“The last time Elwin was in here, he talked about knowing a way to stop Forseth from desecrating sacred ground.”

Scott stopped the man by grasping his arm. “Dr. Elwin Drake? He threatened Forseth?”

“No, he wouldn’t harm anyone, he’s a healing man.” The valet said with conviction, leading him to a door at the far side of the gaming floor. “Go up them stairs, and you’ll be in the security room.”

“Thanks.”

Scott walked through the door and climbed the stairs. At the top, he spotted the young woman, Dela Alvaro, sitting in front of a monitor. A hallway was on the screen.

“Ms. Alvaro, are you looking at the surveillance tapes without me?” He grabbed the nearest chair and rolled it over beside the woman.

He’d startled her. She spun the chair and came face to face with him.

“Either call me Dela or Alvaro, I’m not used to being called Ms.,” she said, visually pulling herself together. “I thought I’d get everything setup and ready for you.”

He could tell by the blush of her cheeks she’d already been looking through the tapes. “Have you found anything interesting?” Scott pulled out his notepad, slapping it onto the desk in front of him and watching the screen.

 “Not in the hallway. But my boss also said to take a look at this tape when I told him about Forseth and what we were looking for.” She started with a tape timestamped the night before last.

“Why did you start here?”

 “Forseth had an argument with Ensley, his builder, in the High Limit Room night before last.” Dela glanced at him. “My boss thought it might be important.”

A punch of a button and the High Limit Room came onto the screen.

They couldn’t hear what was being said, but the body language said it all.

“Wow! Those two both look like they’d like to rip each other’s head off.” Dela said.

Scott continued to watch as Forseth turned to walk away. Ensley grabbed the investor’s arm, spinning him back around. Forseth took a swing at Ensley, landing a solid blow to the builder’s jaw. Hatred flashed in the builder’s eyes before floor security hauled the two men off.

“What happened to them after this?” Scott asked.

“My boss said Forseth went up to his suite and Ensley stormed out of the casino.”

Scott stared at the screen as Dela removed the video they’d just looked at and pushed the surveillance tape of the hallway outside the victim’s room back in. “There was a lot of time between when he left and when he was killed.”

“Do you know what time Forseth died?” Dela asked. “I checked his key card. After Vinnie saw him leave, Forseth didn’t return to his room.”

Scott studied her. Did he give her information? Her grandfather was a suspect, though he was beginning to think the man had been set up. “Eight P.M. give or take an hour either way.”

“Then Grandfather couldn’t have killed him.” Dela turned her gaze on him, triumph sparking in her eyes.

Scott decided to take the bait. “Why not?”

“I was on the phone with my cousin at eight and she said her brother had taken some goodies over to Grandfather.”

“Write down their names and numbers.” Scott slid his notepad over in front of the woman.

She pulled out her cell phone and scrolled through her contacts. When she had the names and numbers written down, she pushed the pad back to him. “You should check on Ensley’s alibi.”

“I will.” Scott studied the woman. She had dark circles under her eyes.

His cell phone buzzed. “Harper.”

“This is Sanchez. I’ve nailed down all the people who called or were called by the victim.”

Scott set his notepad on the desk. “Let me have them.”

“Oliver Ensley, he’s the builder for the victim. A restaurant, The Lone Wolfe, it’s—”

“I know where it’s at. Anyone else?” Scott knew the restaurant was at the casino. He’d go there and see who might have had dinner with the victim.

“No one else. But he received a call on his cell phone from the concierge around five-thirty last night. You would have thought they would have called his room phone.”

“Yes, you would. Thanks.” Scott ended the call and glanced at Dela. “Are you available to help me make inquiries in the casino?” He knew having her along would get him more cooperation from the staff.

“Yes, I’m not even supposed to be here until tonight.” She shut down the computer and stood.

Scott nodded to the door leading to the stairs. When she hesitated, he said, “We can take an elevator.”

The woman glared at him. “I can take the stairs. Who are we talking to?”

“I need to question the concierge and see why the Lone Wolf Restaurant called the victim.”

Dela moved ahead of him out the door, but hung back, waiting for him to take the stairs.

Not wanting to make her nervous or self-conscious, he walked down, ignoring the odd cadence of her steps.

Scott filled Dela in on what information they needed from the concierge.

“Hi Reggie,” she said, walking up to the small desk where a man about her age sat.

“What are you doing here this time of day?” he asked.

“Detective Harper has some questions for you.” She stepped to the side.

Scott opened up his notepad. “Who was working here last night around five-thirty?”

Reggie glanced at Dela who gave him a nod. “It was me. I don’t get off until six. Why?”

“Why did you call Mr. Forseth’s cell phone?” Scott studied the man as he thought back to the evening before.

“I didn’t. I wouldn’t even know his cell phone.” He thought some more and snapped his fingers. “That must be who Tommy Joe called. He came in and asked if he could use the phone.”

“You didn’t ask him who he was calling?” Dela asked, moving toward the man as if to apprehend him.

The man took a step back. “No. It was Tommy Joe. I figured anyone he’d call would be local. He’d said something about his burro not feeling well. I thought maybe he was calling your grandfather.”

“Did he make more than one call?” Scott asked.

Reggie shook his head. “No. Just the one.”

Scott flipped back to the page where his investigation notes started and circled Tommy Joe. “Thank you.” He motioned for Dela to move away from the desk. “Take me to The Lone Wolf Restaurant, please.”

“I saw you write that down in your book. They were probably confirming a reservation.”

“Exactly.” Scott hoped to find out who the reservation was with.

After talking to the manager, they learned the hostess who worked that night and the waitress who waited on the table were off and wouldn’t be back until the next day.

“If you want to know why Tommy Joe called Mr. Forseth, you could go ask him,” Dela said. “But you won’t find him by an address.”

“I suppose you know where he lives?” Scott asked.

“It’s out in the middle of chaparral, rocks, and gold mining country.”

Taking the woman was against protocol, but it would save time having her guide him to the prospector’s residence.

Continuing next week…

photo source: Depositphoto

Down the Rabbit Hole by Paty Jager

This is the beginning of a short story I wrote for a contest.

A cage of rabbits nibbled on grass beside the prone body. Hands and arms reached out in front; toes pointed the opposite direction. The position led Amador County Detective Scott Harper to believe the body had been dragged a distance. How far, he wasn’t sure. But the perimeter of the search was endless on the Rancheria.

“Do you know what those rabbits are? They’re the rare Riparian Brush Rabbits from Caswell Park,” Floyd Dickson, Chief of the Jackson Rancheria Police Department said, pointing at the animals. “Elwin has to be the one responsible for these rabbits showing up at the housing development going in next to the Rancheria. This Forseth found out and came here. And look what happened to him.” The chief stared in the direction his two officers had escorted Elwin Drake.

The man in custody was a retired veterinarian, a Miwok elder, and one of the most vocal protestors on this thousand-acre Indian Reservation.

“Who called the body in?” Scott asked, continuing to process the body and area.

“Elwin called it in after Tommy Joe, an older gentleman who considers himself a prospector, showed up to have his donkey looked at.” The chief cursed.

“You that skeptical of the vet or of this Tommy Joe?” Scott asked, glancing at the chief.

The tribal officer had his gaze set on a woman around the age of thirty who strode their direction. Her gait was uneven, but it was closing the space between them. “Neither.”

“Don’t let anyone other than law enforcement back here,” Scott said and returned to taking photos and collecting evidence.

“That’s Elwin’s granddaughter. She works at the casino.” The chief met the woman about twenty feet from the crime scene.

Scott would have preferred the officer had met her further away, but the woman had been intent on getting close.

 “What are you doing here, Dela? This is a crime scene.” Chief Dickson stopped the woman.

“I came to see if Grandfather had any luck healing a bird I brought him Tuesday.”

Scott caught a glimpse of her peering over the chief’s stout shoulder, trying to see what was going on.

“How could you lead Grandfather out of here in handcuffs? He wouldn’t hurt anyone.”

“It doesn’t matter what I think. All that matters, is the fact that your grandfather has vocally protested Forseth’s housing development, and now, the man’s body is found on Elwin’s property next to stolen rare rabbits that have appeared at the building site.”

“You know Grandfather. He is too smart to leave the body here.”

Scott stood and walked over to the conversation. “So, you do believe your grandfather capable of murder?”

The woman turned her steely brown eyes on him. “No! Don’t turn my words around. I’m only pointing out my grandfather isn’t this stupid.” She pointed to the body. “How did he die?”

“I can’t tell you that. This is a crime scene. You need to go on to work.” Scott pivoted and headed back to the body. He didn’t need relatives of the possible murderer hanging around mucking things up.

He’d gone three steps when the woman said, “He was staying at the casino. I can go pull surveillance tapes and find out who came to see him.”

He spun back around. “How can you get surveillance tapes?” From her nice build and face, he presumed would be pretty if the scowl and anger in her eyes were gone, Scott had thought she worked as a waitress.

“I’m second in command for security at the casino.” Her eyes held a challenge.

Did she think he didn’t believe her? “I see.” He studied her. Would she show him all of the tapes even if her grandfather was found visiting the deceased?

“I’m going to be here another two hours.” He glanced at his watch. “I’ll meet you at the casino in three hours—at noon. We’ll have a closer time of death, and you can pull the tapes I ask for.”

The woman nodded. “That will give me time for a cat nap and a shower. Ask Vinnie at the door to call me when you get to the casino.”

The woman smiled at the chief, strode to the back of the house, and disappeared.

“She was in a bombing in Iraq. Lost her left leg,” the chief said. “Damn shame. She would have made an excellent deputy.”

Scott pulled his gaze from the retreating woman. He’d wondered about the awkward stride. Now he understood her pushing back and being adamant about her grandfather’s innocence. She believed in justice.

Continued next week….

Where is Summer Going?

Thinking about how much I still need to get done and this is the last month of summer, I’m glad Covid cancelled my conferences! I know, I shouldn’t say things like that, but I figured my year, after conference cancellations would be filled with more down time. Instead, I feel like I am just as far behind as I would have been had I gone to conferences and judged at county fairs, like I normally do in the summer.

George saying “Hi”

Between animals, family, and writing, I have been so busy, I can’t believe we just entered the 8th month of the year.

August. For us, usually, the last summer month. Come September we have one week of hot weather then it starts tapering off in heat and light to where we are ready for the cool weather, long nights, and less work. 😉

This summer, I’ve written a book and a novella and if all goes well another book will have been written by the end of August. We’ll see. I will be busy the end of this week and most of next week with little writing getting done.

My 15th book in the Shandra Higheagle Mysteries released., Capricious Demise has a unique murder method and a surprise ending. So far the reviewers are liking it. Here is the info and cover:

Capricious Demise

Book 15

Shandra Higheagle Mystery Series

Vengeance…Envy…Murder

Shandra Higheagle’s deceased Grandmother enters Shandra’s dream, showing her two lost children. Her grandmother never comes to her dreams unless there is a murder to solve. But whose? The children? Or someone related to them?

Ryan is called out to a suicide, that isn’t. While contacting next of kin, he finds the victim’s husband also murdered and their two children missing.

Using her dreams, Shandra helps locate the missing twins whom they take into their home as foster children. The hunt for the reason the parents were murdered becomes urgent when the children reveal they may have seen the killer.

Universal buy link: https://books2read.com/u/b6ZJOA

I should have another release to tell you about when I blog again. Yes, it has been a busy summer!

Never a Dull Moment

All my life, I’ve lived rural. The one thing about living rural, you have animals and chores to deal with every day. Those are never boring. This morning as I maneuvered the wheelbarrow into the corral with the calves hay, one tried to push it with his head, another was trying to eat the hay, one was licking my arm with his scratchy tongue and the fourth one ran circles around us, bucking and kicking.

A couple of calves and George

Then the horses needed fed. That required two wheelbarrow loads of grass hay in the run where they stay during the day and a forkful for George in the corner so the horses didn’t bother him.

Water troughs were filled and I wandered to the shop to check to make sure the cats had water and food.

Momma kitty and her 2 sons- Cautious and Curious

Once the animals were taken care of, there were flowers in pots to be watered and my raised vegetable beds to check.

We have started building a small pasture for the calves. Once it’s done, I’ll no longer have to take them hay but they will still get grain twice a day.

After the chores are finished, I come in the house, do household chores, and then sit down at my computer and write until noon.

I fix lunch for hubby, give myself a break until one, then get back on the computer unless hubby needs my help with something.

Then there is dinner and the evening chores. And in between I like to ride my horse, walk the hills and take pictures, and sew.

Jan and Patty

I don’t know how anyone can be bored, ever!

Welcome to the Lillian’s Legacy Blog Tour and Giveaway!

Today, I’m sharing my blog with a friend and author, Carmen Peone.

Lillian’s Legacy is the final book in the Gardner Sibling Trilogy.

Lillian Gardner, a healer in the making using natural medicines, is certain she is the black sheep of the family. In an attempt to prove she is of value, she sets off into the wilds of Eastern Washington and Indian Territory with Doctor Mali Maddox, an elderly Welsh female physician whose husband has recently passed away. She hopes to marry her knowledge of herbal remedies learned from her mother and an Indian healer with new ways of western medicine. Will Lillian discover her true calling? Will she be respected as a female physician in training?

Book Launch Fun Facts:

Doctor Maddox introduces Lillian to an unusual medical instrument.

Have you ever listened to your heartbeat through a stethoscope? When I began researching Lillian’s Legacy, I knew the female Welsh medical doctor would not be using a binaural stethoscope in 1875. But I wasn’t sure what she would be using, so I did some research and came across… Read More Here

Carmen picked Maddox, or Madog, from her Welsh heritage for the female physician’s surname. The healer mentors Lillian as she finds her way around the medical field. Learn More Here

Learn more about the trilogy…

Hannah’s Journey

Delbert’s Weir

What are readers saying about Lillian’s Legacy?

“Ms Peone’s development of diverse and captivating characters adds depth to her writing and grabs the reader’s imagination in compelling and riveting ways.”

“I absolutely love the historical bits of the story because you are given a sense of what life was truly like back in those times.”

“I love this story. I would follow Lillian anywhere, into her next book if there is one. She is a sweet, brave, good-hearted, well-developed character. The writing is lively and detailed. I could see, hear, smell, and feel the land.”

Comment below for a chance to win a copy of Lillian’s Legacy.

The winner will be draw on July 20th and can choose between a Kindle eBook or signed softcover copy.

Award-winning author Carmen Peone lives with her tribal husband, Joe, on the Colville Confederated Indian Reservation in Northeast Washington. She gathered cultural knowledge from family and elders and studied the language and various cultural traditions and legends under the late Marguerite Ensminger. She is a horse and photography enthusiast. With a degree in abnormal psychology, the thought of writing never entered her mind, until she married her husband and they moved to the reservation after college. She came to love the people and their heritage and desires to create a legacy for her family.

Lillian’s Legacy and the Gardner Siblings include a Literary Guide.

This is great for summer fun, homeschool learning,and historical knowledge in the classroom.

Find Out More Here

Purchase Lillian’s Legacy today on

Amazon

Add to Goodreads

Carmen loves to hear from readers. Follow her online at:

Website and Blog | Facebook | TwitterInstagram | Pinterest

Photos to Covers

I find the best feature on my cell phone is the camera. I usually have the phone with me every time I step outside or go on trips.

That means I always have a camera. I enjoy taking photographs of nature. A billowy cloud can have so many colors and textures in it that I want a photo. The blue of the sky can capture my attention. The way the grass is leaning in the wind. Dust swirling or hiding the hill across the valley. A lizard, snake, horse, cat, bird.

Taken at the Oregon Coast

I can find many things to photograph. Buildings, rocks, hills, fence posts. If I see something unique, I want to capture it.

When I go places to research settings for my books, I take a ton of pictures hoping one will work for a cover of the book. When I am researching, I also take along the camera featured at the beginning of the post. Using the photo I pick, my cover designer then places the added elements the story needs.

Waterfall in Maui

I used a photo I took while in Kauai, Hawaii for the cover of Abstract Casualty. We, my cover designer and I, are currently working on the cover for Capricious Demise. I’ve scanned through all my photos and have found a couple that might work and have given her some ideas of some that can be purchased.

My photo with bird added

On the Gabriel Hawke novel covers, we add the animal that is in the title of the book. And maybe take liberty of adding a trail sign that wasn’t in the photo but adds to the “story” the cover tells. This was Murder of Ravens. The cover for Mouse Trail Ends the cover designer took a photo of mouse prints in the dirt and added a backpack and mouse. Rattlesnake Brother is produced from two photos I purchased. The steps of a courthouse and a rattlesnake. My jet boat trip on the Snake River doing research for Chattering Blue Jay gave me many photos to choose from. Once I decided which one, my cover designer add a blue jay to the photo in a realistic way. And Fox Goes Hunting, the cover photo is a photo I took while in Iceland. It is of the Krysuvik boiling pools. I purchased a photo of an Arctic Fox that my cover designer inserted in the photo.

Sometimes finding the right cover art can be as much work as writing the book. Don’t be me started on coming up with a good title!