KAREN’S KILLER BOOK BENCH: Welcome to Karen’s Killer Book Bench, where readers can discover talented new authors and take a peek inside their wonderful books. This is not an age-filtered site, so all book peeks are PG-13 or better. Come back and visit often. Happy reading!
THE BODY IN THE CATTAILS
A Rose Creek Mystery Book 1
BY CATHERINE DILTS
A burglar shatters big city lawyer Drew Brauner’s confidence in her rash move to a small Oklahoma town. The same night, a frightening visit from a prowler ruins IT expert Callie Garcia’s romantic dinner with her cowboy husband. The women meet at the new Rose Creek Reads book club, seeking distraction from the unsettling events.
Shy chemist Makenzie Selkirk joins them. The hometown girl is a diehard fan of Rose Creek, nestled beside the Ozark foothills. The club is off to a great start, until the shop’s cat makes a horrifying discovery. The book club flier promised readers the chance to discuss novels and make new friends. It didn’t say anything about finding a body.
The autopsy implicates the historic factory where Makenzie works. She jumps into the investigation partly to stop protestors from shutting down Brieswell Pottery Works, and partly to spend time with a handsome deputy. Clues are sparse, until Callie discovers a peculiar number. She invites Shanice Hailey to the club, hoping the university mathematician can break the code. When Callie introduces Shanice to a horse-whisperer, she learns match-making is as tricky as solving a murder.
The new friends play at being detectives, until the mystery becomes deadly serious.
Intro by Catherine:
The Body in the Cattails, book one in my new Rose Creek cozy mystery series, is set in the Ozark foothills of northeast Oklahoma.
The Rose Creek Reads flier promised readers the chance to discuss novels and make new friends. It didn’t say anything about solving a real-life murder. When four women join the book club hosted by a small-town bookshop, their first meeting ends in disaster. At first, the new friends enjoy playing detective, until the mystery hits dangerously close to home.
The plank bore the telltale tread marks of ATV tires. Set across the barbed wire fence, it provided a convenient way to travel from one property to the other.
“Holy cow,” Callie whispered. “I’ll bet that’s how the intruder’s been gettin’ on the ranch.”
“By crossing from the Caine place?” Linda shuddered. “I’m bettin’ Old Man Caine wouldn’t hesitate to blast a trespasser with a shotgun. Let’s stash this board under the willows so the intruder has to work harder at intruding.”
“After we get the runaways back on the ranch.”
Callie approached the mare, while Linda went for the Appy. They must have been too full of lush creek bottom grass to run away. The speckled gelding wore a nylon halter, which Linda grabbed. The mare cooperated with Callie, letting herself be guided with tugs on her mane and gentle pushes on her broad backside.
The operation was tricky, but the women managed to hold the plywood over the strands of barbed wire and coax the two horses back onto Garcia land.
“That wasn’t too bad.” Linda wiped the tail of her cowgirl shirt across her sweaty face.
“We’d better prop this fence up,” Callie said. “Then we can move our horses to a pasture closer to the barn. The Caines might send their animals over to gobble up our good pasture if we leave the fence down.”
“The only tools in my saddle bag are a hoof pick and a Buck knife.”
“We can fix the fence proper tomorrow.”
While they wrestled with fence posts, barbed wire, and whatever junk seemed capable of propping the fence up, cars drove onto the Caine property. Callie knew because she heard a rapper’s harsh words blasting out of a car stereo. Headlights swept across the dark sky from the top of the hill.
“The Caines don’t seem like the rap music types.”
“More like Dueling Banjos?” Linda asked.
Callie stared up the hill a good long time. “I’ve gotta see what’s going on.”
Linda shook her head. “I don’t know.”
“You don’t have to go,” Callie said. “In fact, maybe it’d be better if you stayed with the horses.”
“They’re happy. You’re not going alone.”
Callie stepped carefully across the minefield of rusted bits of unidentifiable farm equipment, a sun-bleached wooden outhouse tipped on its side and half-covered in vines, and a vintage Ford that might have been worth something to a collector, except for the cottonwood growing through where the windshield used to be. She tried not to think about all the cozy dens the junk provided for snakes.
“We’d better check the runaways for injuries when we get them closer to home,” Linda said. “And you and I might need tetanus shots after this is all over.”
The music thumping out of a car’s speakers covered the noise as the women scrambled up the hill. Once past the trash pile, the land was barren.
“I see why the Caine livestock don’t graze down their creekside,” Callie said. “They can’t get past the garbage dump.”
“Up here it looks like ground zero after a nuclear strike,” Linda whispered.
Even the trees seemed thin and weak compared to the springtime vegetation for miles around. Callie took shelter behind a tin outbuilding with a pipe jutting from the roof. Noxious odors permeated the building. She wondered what a meth lab smelled like.
The music abruptly shut off.
At just that moment, Callie’s phone pinged with an incoming text.
Author of the Rock Shop Mystery series and the stand-alone Survive Or Die with Encircle Publications, Catherine Dilts also writes for Annie’s Fiction, contributing books to the Secrets of the Castleton Manor Library series, Annie’s Museum of Mysteries series, and Mackinac Island Knitters series. Her short story Claire’s Cabin appears in the Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine March/April 2023 issue. Annie’s Snow appears in the Pikes Peak Writers anthology, Journey into Possibilities. Available now: The debut novel in her new cozy mystery series Rose Creek: The Body in the Cattails.
Links to Catherine’s websites, blogs, books, #ad etc.:
Thanks, Catherine, for sharing your book with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!