At a Luxury Resort, Dead Customers are Bad for Business…
Valerie Inglewood just landed her dream job. She’s the second woman ever selected to the elite Strikeforce Investigation Team out of Denver, Colorado. Can Val crack her first case before she becomes the next victim? Is her new love interest a calculating killer after all?
She’s partnered with the legendary Charlene Brockworth, the first woman ever selected to the team. Can Val live up to Charlene’s exacting standards and reputation, or will she fall flat on her face and wind up scrubbing toilets back at the Alleycat Boarding House? She’s about to find out – Valerie doesn’t even have time to put her pictures on her desk before she and Charlene get called up to investigate a mysterious murder at the elite Mackenzie Hunting Lodge in the remote Rocky Mountains. The Lodge holds an eclectic mix of eccentric personalities, some of whom are up to activities more sinister than hunting.
The case takes an ominous turn when Charlene goes missing under suspicious circumstances and Val finds herself thrust into the lead.
And to make matters worse, she can’t deny the attraction she feels whenever she interviews the prime suspect, the Lodge’s blue-eyed maintenance man, and local heartthrob, Jeff Everson.
Targeted Age Group:: 16 – 65+
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 2 – PG
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I like action books, and I like murder mysteries – so combining them seemed obvious. This is the first book of a series of 5 – the first two are out now and the others will follow over the next two months. I really enjoyed creating Valerie's life – she is a great role model for girls who want to be more than 'a traditional female'!
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I usually get a plot idea, sit down to capture it, and have the characters almost create themselves as I do. these books were no different.
Valerie Inglewood held her rifle out of the dirt and crawled behind the bunker. She wedged the rifle into her shoulder and took careful aim at the man hiding behind the bush. The crackle of gunfire echoed from the other side of the woods and set her nerves on edge. Were her comrades alive over there? She couldn’t think about them right now. She steadied her breathing and inched her finger closer to the trigger.
The man jumped three feet into the air when she pulled the trigger. Her rifle jammed against her shoulder, but she ignored the pain and steadied her weapon. The man whirled around, but before he could get his own weapon into position, Valerie fired again. The shot hit in square in the chest, and he toppled backward into the dirt.
Valerie choked on the dust when she slithered forward and crouched over his prostrate form. Yes, he was well and truly dead. She caught sight of a string of camouflaged shapes slipping through the trees. Were they her friends, or were they enemies?
All at once, an air horn sounded behind her. She sat back on her heels and poked the man on the ground in the ribs.
“That’s the bell. You can get up now.”
He sat up and spat dust out of his mouth. Then he pushed his goggles back on his head. “That was some fine shooting, Val. I didn’t even see you there.”
“Of course you didn’t see me, Rex,” Valerie teased. “You were too busy scratching your backside.”
He laughed. Giant orange spatters dotted his chest and back. “You always were a crack stalker.”
They stood up together and slapped each other on the back. Then they strolled back across the course to the locker room. Valerie hung up her fatigues and helmet and set her rifle in the locker.
“Do you have any plans for dinner tonight?”
“None that I know of,” Valerie replied.
Rex started to say something else when a tall woman with flaming red hair hanging down her back stepped into the locker room. Snake skin cowboy boots showed under the hems of her tight blue jeans.
“Charlene Brockworth!” Rex obviously knew her….
Charlene shook Valerie’s hand. “In the flesh. Sorry to interrupt your session, but you’re coming with me. We have a case to investigate.”
Valerie glanced around the locker room. “Right now? I’ve got a debrief with my team. I can't miss that.”
“No time like the present.” Charlene waved her hand toward the door. “We’ve got a suspicious electrocution at the Mackenzie Hunting Lodge.”
“But that’s all the way up near the Wyoming state line,” Valerie replied.
“That’s right.” Charlene held the door open. “So we better get going. We’ve got a long drive ahead of us.”
Valerie exchanged glances with Rex, but Charlene was already out the door and around the corner out of sight. Valerie grabbed her duffel bag and hurried after her. Charlene led the way to the parking lot.
Before Valerie could say anything, she found herself buckled into the passenger seat of a trim sedan, hurtling down the highway heading north, out of Denver. Charlene gripped the steering wheel in a choke hold. She shot Valerie a wry grin. “Welcome to Strikeforce.”
Valerie hooted. “That’s some welcome. I never even knew I was selected to the team, and now I'm on my way north to solve my first case with Charlene Brockworth.”
“Is that so bad?” Charlene asked.
“Are you kidding?” Valerie asked. “I dreamed of this job all the way through the Academy. I worked my tail off to earn the top spot in my class so I’d have a chance to try out for this position. The Strikeforce Investigation Team is the most elite law enforcement unit in the western United States. I heard three hundred people applied for this job.”
“That’s true,” Charlene replied. “And I interviewed every single one of them.”
Valerie’s head whipped around. “You interviewed them? You didn’t interview me.”
“I didn’t have to interview you,” Charlene replied. “I could tell from your application form that you would get the job. I let Harvey Wilkins interview you instead so I could watch your try-out.”
Valerie shook her head. “I would have given everything I had if I’d known you were watching me.”
Charlene laughed. “That’s exactly why I didn’t want you to know I was watching. My reputation precedes me, and I didn’t want to muddy the process by showing my hand. No one knew this position was for my partner”
“I wish I had known,” Valerie murmured.
“What would you have done differently?” Charlene asked. “You beat fifty of the best applicants in the hundred-meter sprint, and you out-shot them all on the rifle range. You trampled them all in your written essay, and you tested higher than all of them on your investigation assay. You’re only the second woman selected to the team, after me. How could you have improved on that if you’d known you were going to be my partner?”
“I don’t know,” Valerie replied, “but I would have done it. I would have fallen over myself to impress you.”
Charlene grinned. “You already impressed me, so you can stop trying now. You got the job, and now you’re my partner. We’re on our first case together, so now you can impress me with your field skills.”
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