Murder in New Mexico: A Cottonwood Springs Cozy Mystery
Cold case murder investigations are a lot harder to solve than current murder cases. Particularly when the murder occurred over fifteen years ago.
But when a friend asks Brigid to investigate a cold case for her in New Mexico, Brigid feels she has to at least try. What she hadn't taken into consideration were old grudges, a small town that kept secrets, and people who were willing to commit hate crimes to keep those secrets.Join Brigid and Jett, her 125-pound Newfoundland dog, as they try to find the long-ago killer. But not so long ago that the threat of her discovering the identity of the killer makes her a present-day target.Dogs, recipes, and page-turning action all come together in Murder in New Mexico, the 15th book in the Cottonwood Springs Cozy Mystery Series by a USA Today Bestselling Author.
Release date: May 29, 2021
Print pages: 209
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Murder in New Mexico: A Cottonwood Springs Cozy Mystery
The day was sliding into late afternoon in Sleeping Rock, New Mexico. The sky was cloudless and blue in a way that just looking up at it made a person get lost in its depths. The temperatures weren’t too high yet, and it was a perfect day. Things had been working out well for them recently, and they were in high spirits. Good weather was key when it came to following someone for any length of time. And it was so much easier when it was a beautiful day.
And if someone happened to spot them while they were sitting in their car, it was easy to pretend they were just out enjoying the weather. That was a little harder to pull off in the rain or cold, but when the weather was beautiful, someone sitting in a car wasn’t the first thing that usually caught people’s attention.
It was starting to get warm in New Mexico at this time of year. The mornings were usually pleasant, but often it got very warm by mid-day. As the sun began to dip behind the nearby trees, they could feel sweat running down the small of their back as they waited outside Kerri Shepard’s office. Shifting slightly, they tried to let the air get to their back. They’d been sitting in the car for a while now, and they were ready for a chance to stretch their legs, and they sure could use the bathroom.
They’d been following Kerri Shepard at a distance ever since they’d heard she planned to start digging into the death of Oliver Chase again. It was something she was prone to do off and on, and at this point, it was really getting on their nerves. Just when they thought they could relax and finally rest easy, knowing they’d gotten away with it, she’d start looking into it again. Why couldn’t she just leave well enough alone? The rest of the town certainly had.
But Kerri was like a dog with a bone, unwilling to give it up until she saw it through, and they were getting tired of it. Sometimes her interest was fleeting, because she had too many clients at work to do anything about it. She was a busy woman with a full plate and other things often had to take priority. Hopefully this time it would be the same.
It had been almost fifteen years since they’d killed Oliver on that rocky riverbank late at night under a mostly full moon, but they still often saw his face when they closed their eyes. The way his eyes changed as the light left his eyes had stayed with them. That night had changed them forever, and it had taken some time for them to move past what they’d done.
It had been a good feeling to finally be able to breathe easy without the weight of those consequences hanging over them like a guillotine. Even though they didn’t feel fully responsible for his death, that didn’t make it any easier to live with. Things had been so out of control that night. And now, it seemed they might need to take matters into their own hands to keep their secret buried.
But first, they needed to determine if there was any real threat in Kerri’s poking around. That’s why they were sitting in a parked car across from her law office. They needed to find out just how real the threat was to them and their way of life. It was getting to be somewhat of a routine for them. Normally they’d just have to watch her for a short time to figure out if she was too busy to really be a threat to them, but there had been a few times they’d had to covertly get involved in order to stop her. This time they wanted to be ahead of the game.
It had been very easy to get a small listening device and plant it in her office when she wasn’t looking. Just a brief stop in her office and a bit of sleight of hand that served as a distraction, and they’d been able to put it in place. They’d bought it online, and it had been shipped right to their door.
Depending on how effective it proved to be, they might start doing it with other people around town. Those people might not have been involved with the Oliver Chase case, but that didn’t mean they couldn’t find out other information from people that might prove to be beneficial. The possibilities were endless with the device.
Kerri emerged from her office, her black hair shining in the sunlight as she strode out the door. The building had a stucco facade and large windows that looked right into the offices of Kerri and the other lawyers in the firm. Kerri hurried towards the curb and over to where her car was parked.
Wide dark sunglasses covered most of her face, but they knew without a doubt it was her, if by nothing else, just the way she carried herself. As if she were untouchable. Oh, how wrong she was. No one was untouchable, especially when someone else could find out their secrets.
Kerri pulled out her cell phone as she walked towards her car and began talking into it. They cursed the fact they didn’t know what she was saying. So far, she hadn’t said much in her office, at least nothing that helped them in this situation. And much to their chagrin, she didn’t seem to take private calls in her office.
They desperately wanted to know if they were in any real danger because of her poking around again in the Oliver Chase case, and so far, nothing that they had seen or heard had given them a clear picture. If they knew one way or the other, then they could get on with their life. Instead, they were stuck following her around, reduced to petty snooping.
Kerri had pushed to find out what had really happened to Oliver for over a decade, claiming it was part of what had led her to be a lawyer in the first place. But they couldn’t allow her to dig up their secret, because they stood to lose so much.
They were fairly certain they had all their bases covered, but they also knew there could always be one small thing that they’d missed. Some random piece of evidence could bring everything down. They didn’t know what they may have missed, so they were always concerned when anyone looked too closely at the case. That’s why it was so important for them to always watch their back, and just that name, Oliver Chase, made their pulse quicken.
Kerri stopped at her car door and paused, as if thinking. Tossing her hands in the air, she turned and hurried back towards her office, apparently having forgotten something. Turning up the volume on their headphones, they listened closely to see if they could hear anything worthwhile once she was in her office. Maybe this was their chance to finally learn something about the case. Holding their breath, they listened intently.
“That’s right, I need the room reserved in the name of Brigid Olsen. She’ll be bringing a dog with her. A large Newfoundland.” Silence. “That’s right, charge the card I gave you and any extras she may want.” Kerri stopped talking again, and this time it sounded as though she was going through her desk in search of something.
“No, I’m not sure how long she’ll be staying. It may be a week or more. Yes, you can call me then. Great, thanks.” The headphones became quiet again, and they scribbled down the name Brigid Olsen and wrote “plus dog.”
They needed to find out who this person was and why she was coming to Sleeping Rock, of all places. They wondered idly if her dog was a service dog and that’s why she needed him. Perhaps she was just a friend of Kerri’s.
“Hey, Brigid,” Kerri’s voice said in the headphones.
Their hand froze, not moving as they listened intently.
“Your reservation is all set. I’ll send you the address to the place in just a few. Yes, they know Jett is coming.”
They added the name Jett next to what they’d written down. They wondered if that was the dog’s name and if the dog might be a problem as well.
“I’m excited to have you come down and help me with this,” Kerri continued. “I know you can crack this cold case and help me lock up the killer once and for all. Whoever it is, I’m sure you can at least point me in their direction. I’ll give you more details when you get here.
“There’s a lot to go over, so it will be easier to lay it all out, face to face. Yes, I’ll see you soon. Okay, bye.” She hung up and a short time later re-emerged from her office, carrying a small bag that must have been her reason for going back into the office.
The sad thing was, they actually liked Kerri. She was a good lawyer and a good person, but she was forcing their hand. There was no way they could be caught and tried for killing Oliver. It just couldn’t happen, even if it meant dealing with Kerri themselves. They knew it wasn’t an ideal situation, but they also knew sometimes it took doing things you didn’t want to do in order to get where you needed to be.
They watched as she returned to her car and got in it. They couldn’t hear her now, but still they watched, hoping to learn more about her. That way if they needed to use this information, they’d have the ammunition ready and waiting. Kerri adjusted her mirror and began to mess with her hair before touching up her makeup.
They sighed and shifted in their seat, impatient for her to just get moving. A short time later, she pulled out into traffic, heading away from them. They figured she was probably going home.
Backing out of the parking space, they went in the opposite direction. There were things to do and preparations to be made. Kerri was obviously up to something again. They had to find out who this Brigid Olsen was and why she was coming here for an extended amount of time.
Hopefully, it was for other business, and not to help Kerri dig up the past again. If they had to, they’d deal with her too, because there was no way they could turn back now. They were in too deep, and keeping this a secret the whole time had taken some serious effort. All they could do was to keep pushing forward. They knew they really had no other choice.
And there wasn’t much they wouldn’t do to protect their way of life, such as it was. Even if it meant doing things, they weren’t proud of and becoming someone that they really weren’t. After all, in the grand scheme of things, what was another person’s blood? Once your hands had become dirty, they’d never wash clean again, anyway. It left a stain that would last forever, and that was true even if they were the only one who could see the stain.
They turned onto the side road that they knew almost by heart now. This was the long way around to Kerri Shepard’s house. Every time they’d followed her after she left work this was the route they’d taken, so they’d pass her just as she was getting home.
Then a quick drive by the house ensured that they knew where she was. They didn’t want to tail her, because she was too smart for that. This way it looked like them driving by was just a part of their regular routine.
They had to find a way to get to Kerri, because if she didn’t stop looking for Oliver’s murderer, they had no choice but to make her stop. And there was only one way they knew how to do that.
Once they were past her house, they headed towards home. They needed to work out a plan and do a little digging. This Brigid person might not be that big of a deal, and they could be worrying about nothing. After all, Kerri could be bringing her to Sleeping Rock for a completely different reason that they hadn’t even considered.
But if Brigid was coming to look into Oliver Chase’s death, it was going to force their hand. They would have no choice but to do something about Kerri and Brigid, too, if it came to that. The years had made them ruthless and cunning when it came to keeping their secret. They’d become like a dragon guarding its treasure for far too long to give it up now. There was no way they would allow anything to upset their way of life.
No matter what they had to do to keep it.
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