In book two of the Rock Shop Mystery series, amateur sleuth Morgan Iverson digs into gemstone prospecting to solve a Stone Cold Case. Even though Morgan lost her husband over two years ago, she and her adult children are only now finding healing. Morgan unravels a cold case while learning to live her life again.
Morgan needs to learn enough geology to keep the family rock shop in business, but a field trip ends in disaster when she falls down a gulley. Suddenly the only knowledge she needs is how to survive a night in the mountains. Finding shelter, Morgan stumbles onto a Sasquatch look-alike, and worse, human remains.
The bones are Carlee Kruger’s. Sixteen years ago, the prom queen vanished from the small
Colorado mountain town. Carlee’s mother Gerda, an alcoholic auto mechanic, asks Morgan to investigate her daughter’s death. Morgan realizes Gerda may never recover unless she learns what happened to Carlee. When newspaper editor Kurt Willard offers to help, he seems as interested in Morgan as in the cold case. Morgan is not sure she is ready for romance.
When Morgan finds a rare fossil gemstone where she discovered Carlee’s remains, word leaks out to the prospecting community, sparking a dangerous treasure hunt. As Morgan and Kurt follow clues as convoluted as the coils on a fossilized ammonite, they suspect the person who knows what happened sixteen years ago will do anything to keep the truth buried.
Cracking branches sounded from the far bank of the creek. Morgan pushed the pack aside and peeked through the shredded strips of tarp, hoping to see Search and Rescue.
A dog barked once. A human voice muttered something that seemed to quiet the dog. Morgan strained to see through the gloom, but the sun had dropped behind the mountain, and gently falling rain muted what remained of the light. The noise of movement in the brush stopped. A step crunched in the rocky soil. Not a dog’s paw. A boot.
If Trevin or one of her classmates had found the dugout, surely they would call her name, not sneak up from the side. Through the curtain of misty raindrops, she glimpsed a bizarre combination of homeless person and mountain man, dressed in canvas, leather, and fur, creeping closer to the dugout. Definitely not one of her classmates. The dark form of the dog followed.
This had to be how Sasquatch sightings started.
Morgan edged deeper inside the dugout, groping for her pack. Footsteps crunched toward the entrance. Morgan took another step backward. Her heel landed on something hard, twisting her ankle despite her firmly laced hiking boot. She threw her arms out as she stumbled, her hands grasping nothing but spider web as she fell onto the hard packed dirt floor.
The footsteps stopped. Morgan watched the shredded tarp, knowing Big Foot had to have heard the racket of her tripping and falling. If not that, surely he could hear her raspy, panicked breathing. Silence settled over the forest. Morgan began to wonder whether he was still out there. Maybe the pounding of her heart had drowned out the sound of him leaving.
When she couldn’t bear sitting motionless any longer, her body aching with tension, she rolled slowly to her hands and knees. Her right hand planted firmly on the object that had tripped her. A blanket neatly covered the mound. If she had to spend the night here, at least she had a way to keep warm. She pushed herself to her feet. As she tugged the blanket up, a cracked leather hiking boot tipped to one side. Morgan squinted in the dim light. An aspen branch seemed to extend from the bottom of a jeans leg to the boot.
That can’t be right, Morgan thought. Why would someone put clothes on sticks?
Her mind stumbled through several explanations until the obvious answer slammed home. The rips and holes in the tattered jeans revealed bone.
To Catherine Dilts, rock shops are like geodes – both contain amazing treasures hidden inside their plain-as-dirt exteriors. Catherine caught mountain fever after a childhood vacation in
. Determined to give up her flat–lander ways, she moved from Oklahoma to Colorado. Her husband, a Colorado native, proposed to her as they hiked Barr Trail on Pikes Peak. Catherine works as an environmental scientist, and plays at heirloom vegetable gardening, camping, and fishing. Her short stories appear in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. In her spare time, she attempts to lure wild donkeys to her property in the mountains. Rocky Mountain National Park
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