A family vacation to California’s Sacramento River Delta area, where the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers flow into San Francisco Bay, turns into another complicated murder case for the detective couple to solve. Roger is hired to find missing show dogs that have been stolen from their registered owners. Meanwhile, Roger and Suzanne’s nanny and au pair, Bruce, finds the body of a former navy SEAL he served with in the Middle East, and becomes the only suspect in a murder case. Drug dealers, motorcycle gangs, corrupt cops, kidnapped dogs, and the unique geography and history of the delta are all weaved into the plot of this suspenseful thriller. Available from Amazon in e-book or paperback versions and from Kindle Unlimited.
Targeted Age Group:: Adult, Young adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
The roots for this novel go back a long time. The Sacramento River Delta is a 20-minute drive from our home and a very different place than our usual suburban surroundings. We’ve spent a good bit of time visiting various Delta locations—for example, we train our German shorthaired pointers at Hastings Island, our older son was married at Grand Island, and Isleton’s Crawdad Festival, Bogle Winery and The Old Sugar Mill are fun locations to visit when we’re entertaining friends and tourists. I’ve been looking for an excuse to use the region as a setting for a Roger and Suzanne mystery for quite a while.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The main characters are mostly regulars from the Roger and Suzanne mystery series, with a few key newcomers added to fit the setting and plot.
Chapter 1. The 911 call: Bruce finds a body
Bruce drove into Rio Vista, a picturesque small town bisected by a bridge spanning the wide Sacramento River, which called itself the gateway to the Sacramento River Delta region of Northern California. He parked his borrowed pickup truck immediately after turning off Main Street, California state route 12. He found himself on a short residential street that ended at the levee holding back the waters of the Sacramento River. The highway bridge crossing the river was clearly visible to his right. The houses and lots were small, but well maintained, in this working-class neighborhood. Everybody seemed to be at work this morning; he was the only one visible on the otherwise empty street.
Once he’d turned off his truck’s engine, the street itself was quiet. The only noises Bruce could hear were from traffic on the bridge, a steady mix of cars, big-rig trucks, many of which downshifted and double clutched as they came to the ramp leading on to the bridge, and big motorcycles with minimal mufflers. A slim wiry man in his early thirties, he walked over to the address he was seeking and climbed the steps onto a wide porch that defined the front of the house.
Bruce immediately found Buddy Cruickshank’s body on the porch, lying on his side in a pool of blood underneath an old-fashioned sofa hanging from a gray metal rack suspended by chains at both of its ends. Dark red blood, still fresh and wet, contrasted starkly with the green-painted stucco of the walls and the light brown stain of the wooden fence surrounding the porch.
Buddy hadn’t changed much since they’d served together in the Middle East wars. He looked older and somewhat dissipated, but it had been a long time since Bruce had seen him. Pre-mortem, he’d needed a shave and more attention to his personal appearance to lose the impression of looking seedy and being more than a little desperate. Post-mortem, Cruickshank had obviously been hit more than once on the back of his head with the proverbial blunt instrument.
Taking care not to disturb the crime scene, Bruce checked that the victim was dead before carefully looking around to make sure nobody else was nearby and calling 911 to report the crime.
The author is a Professor at the University of California's Medical School at Davis, near Sacramento in Northern California. Jerry writes fast paced “tweener” mystery books (tough mystery stories that follow the cozy conventions of no graphic sex and no bad words), published on Amazon Kindle. Jerry and his wife Elaine breed prize-winning German shorthaired pointer dogs; Elaine provides technical advice for Jerry’s dog-related novels as well as editing for all of the books.
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