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An Aspen Falls Thriller
BY PEG BRANTLEY
When both old and new secrets are uncovered at a burial site, the timetable of a madman moves up…
Jamie Taylor and her human remains detection dog set out to find some bodies buried for more than a decade. They found them—and some new surprises as well. Some families would find closure while others would have their lives ripped apart.
Agent Nicholas Grant becomes embroiled in the case while battling his own demons.
A madman watches from the distance while officials expose his clandestine playground, forcing him to speed up his plans for devastation.
Can a dog handler and a troubled FBI agent stop him before he kills thousands of innocent people?
“For fans of the serial killer genre, RED TIDE is an engaging, well plotted story with characters you won’t forget.” —L.J. Sellers, author of the best-selling Detective Jackson series.
More from Peg Brantley on Red Tide:
When I tell a story what I want to do is provide a few hours of entertainment. Maybe inspire a little discussion about relationships or some other social issue of our time. But mostly? I want to give my readers an escape. Something with a little juice that makes them care and scares them at the same time.
The idea for RED TIDE was sparked by a little news article I read about a photograph that was found in the cell of a prisoner who had died. The photograph wasn’t of a person or an event or anything that could readily be identified. It was just a place. Why would a man in prison keep a picture of something that couldn’t have any meaning to him? Unless it did…
An Aspen Falls Thriller
BY PEG BRANTLEY
Sometimes the dead shouldn’t stay buried.
Jamie Taylor ducked under an aspen branch.
Sometimes the dead needed to be unearthed, exposed, examined, and prayed over.
And sometimes, mulchy, worm-filled graves were not meant to be their final resting places. Places where secrets remained hidden, held fast to rotted flesh and dry bones.
“Never,” Jamie said. “People are not meant to be buried in unmarked, unremembered tombs. Not as long as I have anything to say about it.” She and Gretchen had begun their search in earnest when the golden retriever alerted next to a mountain laurel. There, Jamie found a small, fragile piece of stained cloth. She marked it with a utility flag so the crime lab tech could photograph and bag the bit of evidence, and then she moved on with her dog, spirits high with the promise they’d find what they were looking for soon.
Hours later, physical exhaustion gave way to punchiness, and her certainty flagged to a dull depression. Jamie signaled to Gretchen with a light tug on the lead. “Time for a break.” The golden gave her a look that said, “Not yet,” but Jamie knew Gretchen would go until she could go no further.
“I need some water, my sweet. And you’re getting some even if you don’t consider it a priority.”
Jamie hiked a few feet up and behind the ground they’d already covered and settled onto a flat rock, her supply pack at her feet. She dug out water for the two of them and surveyed the field they’d been searching since early that morning.
Field… more like prairie. She and one other handler were searching a hundred acres of high country meadow. Beautiful. Until you were forced to navigate the rough and rocky terrain hidden beneath the grasses.
They were looking for the body of a forty-two year old woman, missing for over a year. Her husband, finally drunk enough to tell his dirty little secret to a woman he’d met in a bar, said no one would ever find the body. The woman, after thinking about it for a while, became sufficiently terrorized to go to the authorities.
Analeise Reardon deserves a proper burial. She deserves to be prayed over by people who love her. Her parents, and her three children, deserve to have some closure. “And her damned husband deserves to have his arms cut off at his elbows and stuffed up his ass for starters,” she mumbled.
Painful memories of Jamie’s mother’s murder flooded her thoughts and her breaths grew shallow and quick. Her ribs compressed until they felt like strong, bony fingers squeezing inside her chest. Her vision blurred, and instinct—born of deliberate practice—forced her to shake her head to shatter the tension. She pulled a breath deep into her lungs, then forced air out. Inhale. Calm.
This wasn’t the first time Jamie and her dogs had participated in a search for a body as a result of someone who had decided divorce cost too much time, money and trouble. It also wouldn’t be the last. People never failed to disappoint her.
Jamie’s gaze travelled the edge of the field and she found a visual she might never have seen as part of the original search plan. Even Gretchen, working the established scent cone pattern, might not have picked up something that far out of the search area.
“C’mon girl. We’ve got a grave to find.” She stowed the water and tucked her supply pack out of the way on her back. Her soil probe slipped easily from its holder, a sort of magic wand to use on her quest. Gretchen gave her a look that in a teenager would have involved rolled eyes and stood, ready to get back to work.
Jamie keyed a number into her cell. “It’s me. I’ve got an anomaly. Grasses.” She recorded her present coordinates on the handheld GPS she’d splurged on last summer and began the hike over to the area she’d spotted where the grass grew lush in comparison to nearby vegetation.
The path she took brought her back to the primary search area, then up again, almost fifty yards. Sure enough, a small area of prairie grass was growing thicker and darker and higher than anything else around it. Before she could sink her probe all the way into the earth to create the first breathing hole, Gretchen dropped to the ground. Full alert.
Nearby the song of a meadowlark filled the mountain air.
Sometimes, with a little help, the dead don’t stay buried.
A Colorado native, Peg Brantley and her husband make their home southeast of Denver, sharing it over time with the occasional pair of mallard ducks and their babies, snapping turtles, peacocks, assorted other birds, foxes, a deer named Cedric, and a bichon named McKenzie.
With the intent to lend her stories credibility, Peg is a graduate of the Aurora Citizens’ Police Academy, attended the Writers’ Police Academy, has interviewed crime scene investigators, FBI agents, human trafficking experts, obtained her Concealed Carry Permit, studied diverse topics from arson dogs to Santeria, and hunted down real life locations that show up in her stories.
At this very minute (well, not this very minute) she’s busy turning her standalone books into two separate series because that’s what her readers want.
Peg’s third book, The Sacrifice, was a finalist for two 2014 Colorado literary awards.
From Peg: I love hearing from readers. You make my day when you take the time to contact me, and I make every effort to respond. When you leave a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, or some other place readers gather, you help someone decide whether or not to give me a try. I treasure every one of your words.
Links to Peg’s website, blog, books, etc.
**SPECIAL GIVEAWAY**: Peg is giving away a copy (paperback or Kindle ebook or audiobook, winner’s choice) of RED TIDE, an Aspen Falls Thriller by Peg Brantley. Comment on her **Author Peek** Interview or Karen’s Killer Book Bench blogs for a chance to win. Thank you, Peg, for sharing your story with us.
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!