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A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery
BY MARGARET MIZUSHIMA
On a rugged Colorado mountain ridge, Mattie Cobb and her police dog partner Robo make a grisly discovery—and become the targets of a ruthless killer.
Colorado’s Redstone Ridge is a place of extraordinary beauty, but this rugged mountain wilderness harbors a horrifying secret. When a charred body is discovered in a shallow grave on the ridge, officer Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo are called in to spearhead the investigation. But this is no ordinary crime—and it soon becomes clear that Mattie has a close personal connection to the dead man.
Joined by local veterinarian Cole Walker, the pair scours the mountaintop for evidence and makes another gruesome discovery: the skeletonized remains of two adults and a child. And then, the unthinkable happens. Could Mattie become the next victim in the murderer’s deadly game?
A deranged killer torments Mattie with a litany of dark secrets that call into question her very identity. As a towering blaze races across the ridge, Cole and Robo search desperately for her—but time is running out in Margaret Mizushima’s fourth spine-tingling Timber Creek K-9 mystery, Burning Ridge.
Flashing lights from down the street caught Mattie’s eye, and she leaned forward to watch a Timber Creek sheriff’s cruiser pull up and park across the street. Her radar spiked when Deputy Garcia exited the vehicle and sprinted toward the bar. “Garcia must’ve been called to the Watering Hole. I’ll go see if he needs backup.”
Vaguely aware that Stella was speaking to the waitress, Mattie dashed out the door and headed to her SUV. She was still wearing her uniform, but she’d left her utility belt locked in her car, which held some vital peacekeeping equipment. It took seconds to unlock the door, strap on the belt, and zip across the street.
When she cracked open the bar door, raucous cries and shouts greeted her, and she knew she was in for it. Two burly men dressed in western shirts and jeans were pounding their fists into each other’s faces while local citizens cowered against the walls. A small woman, her long black hair worn in a braid down her back, jumped onto one of the men’s backs and rode him like a bronco, boxing his ears while he roared and whirled away trying to shake her off. A third big cowboy with a bushy red beard had grabbed Garcia by the shirtfront and was yelling and shaking a finger in his face.
She radioed dispatch to request help, then pulled her tactical baton from its strap and snapped it into extension, feeling it click into place.
“Sheriff’s department! Halt!” she shouted as the guy with the red beard threw a punch at Garcia’s face. Everyone ignored her, so she dove in and used her baton to whack Redbeard on the muscle at the back of his calf.
Redbeard grabbed his leg, giving Garcia room to twist free and get the upper hand. A roar from behind them made Mattie turn. While the one guy was still fighting with the woman, the other—a tall blond cowboy with a military buzz cut—picked up a chair and hurled it at Mattie. She ducked, and the chair whizzed by before crashing into a table.
He lowered his head and charged. She stood her ground until the last second when she dropped low to the floor, shot forward, and rapped him hard with her baton on the muscle outside of the thigh and above the knee.
During almost eight years of experience on the force, she’d found that old adage to be true: “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” This one crashed down, grabbing his injured thigh as he howled. Though Mattie hadn’t seen her arrive, Stella jumped in to take over, cuffing the guy before he recovered. A quick glance told Mattie that Garcia had twisted Redbeard’s arm behind his back and appeared to have him under control.
The bald man with the woman on his back yelled obscenities while he used his body weight to slam her against the wall. Air wheezed out of her lungs and her eyes glazed over. She released her grip from his neck and slid down the wall until she collapsed onto the floor. The guy bellowed and launched himself toward Mattie.
She stood her ground, intending to use the same tactic. She crouched, but before she could drop low to strike his leg, he used his head to crash into her full steam. She took the blow squarely on her chest. Gasping for air, she clutched her baton as she fell.
She hit the floor on her backside, the big guy on top of her. She drove her left fist into his Adam’s apple, and he reared up, grabbing his throat and giving her those few extra inches she needed. She thwacked her baton as hard as she could on the muscle at the base of his neck. He let out a roar, his breath tainted with the smell of liquor, and pinned her to the floor.
Unable to breathe, she pushed at the guy feebly. She was seeing stars when all of a sudden he flew off her. As her vision cleared, she could see her boss, Chief Deputy Ken Brody, dragging the man away and yelling, “Cobb! Are you okay?”
She struggled to prop herself up on one elbow, filled her poor lungs with enough air to say, “Yeah,” and scanned the room for Garcia. He’d gotten the better of his guy and had him in cuffs.
The bald one glared at Mattie while Brody cuffed him, arrested him for disorderly conduct and criminal mischief, and read him his rights.
As Mattie struggled to regain her feet, the guy spat at her, splattering her boots. “I’ll get you, you bitch.”
“Add assault in the second degree to that one’s charges,” Stella said, as she escorted the man she had cuffed toward the door.
After Deputy Johnson arrived and a large part of Timber Creek’s entire sheriff’s department had loaded the gang of cowboys, including the woman, into the backs of cruisers to drive to the station, Brody returned to where Stella and Mattie stood on the sidewalk.
“Damn, Cobb,” he said in his growly voice as he approached. “If I’d known you were here kickin’ butt and takin’ names, I might not have hurried so fast to get here.”
Mattie rubbed her sternum, where she’d taken the brunt of the head butt. “Could’ve used you sooner, Brody. What took you so long?”
He gave her a half smile. “Do you need medical care, Cobb?”
“Nope. I’ll be okay.”
He looked at Stella. “Shame. Can’t make the assault charge stick.”
She gave Mattie a once over. “If I took a headbutt like that, I’d be heading to the doctor’s office.”
“Cobb’s tough.” Brody started to walk away but turned back. “Where’s your partner? He would’ve made short work of those guys.”
“That’s where we should all be. Damn dog’s smarter than the bunch of us.” Brody laughed as he headed toward his cruiser.
“Do you want me to call the Humane Society to take care of these horses?” Mattie called to him as she gestured toward the illegally parked horse trailer.
“Nah, Garcia will handle it from here.” He got into his vehicle and drove off.
Stella’s face showed her concern. “You took quite a blow, Mattie. Do you feel like going back to eat?”
“I’ll get it to go. I’ll feel like eating later.”
They stepped off the sidewalk and headed toward the diner. “I don’t know why the guy singled out you,” Stella said, “and not Brody for arresting him.”
“He was the one scrapping with the woman. Might be a macho thing.”
“They’ll probably all bond out by tomorrow. Watch your back until you know he’s well out of town.”
Mattie nodded in agreement, though she wasn’t too worried about it. These things were all in a day’s work. No big deal.
Margaret Mizushima is the author of the critically acclaimed Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries. Her books have garnered a Reader’s Favorite gold medal, a TopShelf Indie Book Award nomination, and have been listed as finalists in the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards, the Colorado Book Awards, the International Book Awards, and the Silver Falchion Awards. Margaret serves on the board for the Rocky Mountain chapter of Mystery Writers of America, and she lives in Colorado where she assists her husband with their veterinary practice and Angus cattle herd.
Links to Margaret’s website, blog, books, etc.
Amazon Kindle: https://amzn.to/2NsN9r0
Amazon Hardcover: https://amzn.to/2Qd59Uz
MP3 CD: https://amzn.to/2wV9fYG
Thanks, Margaret, for sharing your book with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!