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Wilderness guide Crystal Rainey leads a group of college students to a private campground amidst the awe-inspiring Olympic Rain Forest. The excursion is ruined when the charming hostess Roxie is discovered standing over the land owner’s body, murder weapon in hand.
Enlisted to investigate the crime to absolve her friend, Crystal descends on the quiet city of Forks to find loggers, developers, and eco-protesters circling the property, intent on either exploiting or protecting the bastion of old-growth forest. The list of suspects is intimidating. Can Crystal find answers in a community determined to keep her in the dark?
Character Guest Post
Hey everyone, I’m Crystal’s co-worker Suzy Hawkins. Crystal and I are a dynamic duo when on assignments together. I rock-climbed and summited mountains before I could drive, and can thrive in nature, no matter the condition. However, that’s not all the job calls for. We also need to educate our clients on the excursions while keeping them entertained, and that’s where I kinda suck, but only because people make me want to punch them as a general rule. Crystal isn’t very experienced at outdoor guide activities, but she’s a people person, and does all the hand-holding while I demonstrate the fun stuff we get to do.
I know everyone wants to hear about Crystal’s adventures, but she’s actually busy solving a murder. I’ll bring you up to speed on how the sleuthing is going, but it’s anyone’s guess when life will return to what passes for normal for us wilderness guides.
On our last outing, our friend, the camp hostess Roxie, was thrown in the slammer for the death of her boss, the one and only Frederick Baranhof, wealthy owner of the unique wilderness properties where we host our excursions. If you knew Roxie at all, you’d know there was no way she did it.
Besides, there are a ton of other suspects the police ignored that need investigating, all who want to exploit the old-growth forest on the property.
I wanted to accuse people of committing the murder and wait for a confession. My plan was met with skepticism, so we haven’t put it into action.
Crystal, though? First, she broke into a logging company’s job shack to investigate whether they were behind the death. After being run off the property by the rifle-toting owner, she didn’t back down. She cooked up a new scheme, and imitated a newspaper reporter to score an interview with a wealthy developer who also had her eyes on Baranhof’s property. I got to witness first hand how clever Crystal is when she worked the woman for information. She had the developer buying her story hook, line, and sinker. For a little while, anyway. When that woman figured out we were frauds, she was six types of furious. Still, I thought it was excessive to call the cops to kick us off her property. We would have just left…if she asked nicely.
Duty called, and I had to cut out to host an overnight hiking trip on the coast. By the time I got back, Crystal greeted me with one heck of a story. Turns out, she’d been arrested for stalking the developer and spent the night in freakin’ jail. This girl makes my determination to climb Mount Rainier look like a passing fancy, even if she could do with a permanent babysitter to keep her out of trouble.
Crystal thinks we’re close to the truth, but close doesn’t count when it comes to solving a murder. We’re going to have to continue taking risks to get to the bottom of this.
About the Author
Award-winning author ML Erdahl lives amidst the trees of the Pacific Northwest, where he pens humorous cozy mystery novels set in the wilderness he has spent his lifetime exploring. The only thing slowing him down is when his adorable rescue dogs, Skip and Daisy, demand to be pet and cuddled on his lap while he types. When he’s not working away in front of a computer, you can find him gardening, hiking, or grumbling to his wife, Emily, about the perpetual Northwest winter rain that prevents him from going outside.