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MURDER OF RAVENS
Gabriel Hawke Series Book 1
BY PATY JAGER
The ancient Indian art of tracking is his greatest strength…
And also his biggest weakness.
Fish and Wildlife State Trooper Gabriel Hawke believes he’s chasing poachers.
However, he comes upon a wildlife biologist standing over a body that is wearing a wolf tracking collar.
He uses master tracker skills taught to him by his Nez Perce grandfather to follow clues on the mountain. Paper trails and the whisper of rumors in the rural community where he works, draws Hawke to a conclusion that he finds bitter.
Arresting his brother-in-law ended his marriage, could solving this murder ruin a friendship?
Hawke had come across dozens of deaths as an Oregon Fish and Wildlife State Trooper. Judging from the bulging, blood-shot eyes, red dotted face, and scratch marks on the neck where the victim had tried to take the collar off, he’d say the man had been strangled. A check of the bolts and the tightness of the collar made him wonder how someone could have wrestled with a man this size to get the collar tightened. The bolts would have had to have been in place. He mimicked the actions it would have taken to put the collar on and then tighten it. Not an easy feat on a man of the victim’s size.
Yet, there was no sign of a struggle. “Accidental or on purpose?” Talking to himself was his custom from spending so many days and hours alone with his horse, mule, and dog.
“What did you say?” Marlene asked.
He felt the pockets for a wallet or identification and noticed the victim’s belt wasn’t latched in its natural hole. It was one hole looser. Had someone else tightened his belt? Or had the belt been the murder weapon and the collar put on after the man was incapacitated? He took a photograph.
A cell phone was in the coat pocket along with a wad of tissues. These were placed in evidence bags. Rolling the body on its side, he scanned the area under the body. The ground appeared more disturbed than from a body lying on it. Tuffs of grass had been unrooted. The retrieval team would look for evidence under the body. He found a wallet in the back pocket of the man’s camo pants. A quick flip revealed a driver’s license. Ernest Cusack, 20456 Elm Loop, Alder, Oregon. The victim was a local.
The wallet was bagged along with coins, a pocket knife, and lip balm found in his front pockets. There didn’t seem to be any other evidence to collect.
Back at the mule, he put all the evidence bags in the pack and pulled out a small tarp. He walked back to the body and placed the tarp over the victim, using rocks to hold it down.
“Now what do we do?” Marlene asked.
Hawke walked over to his horse and started unsaddling the animal. “We wait.”
“You know no one is going to get up here before tomorrow.” She shouldered her pack.
“Put that down. You’ll have to remain until the others get here.” He walked over and slipped her pack off her shoulder. “Make camp. You’re staying here.”
Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 35 novels, 8 novellas, and numerous anthologies of murder mystery and western romance. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Her Shandra Higheagle mystery series has been a runner-up in the RONE Award Mystery category, and a finalist in the Daphne du Maurier. This is what Mysteries Etc says about her Shandra Higheagle mystery series: “Mystery, romance, small town, and Native American heritage combine to make a compelling read.”
Links to Paty’s website, blog, books, etc.
Universal Buy Link: https://www.books2read.com/u/bxZwMP
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