In the bucolic mountain town of Trafalgar, B.C. a young woman is found dead of a heroin overdose, her baby at her side. Marks of restraint indicate that it might not have been an accident. Before the police can discover who killed her, and why, they first have to find out who she was.
As the case becomes increasingly personal for them both, Probationary Constable Molly Smith and Sergeant John Winters are plunged into the strange netherworld of a young woman who didn’t exist and a town that was happy to let her remain that way.
Valley of the Lost is the second in a traditional mystery series featuring Constable Smith, Sergeant Winters, and the town in the shadow of the glacier, Trafalgar, British Columbia.
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Excerpt from VALLEY OF THE LOST
The setting sun had slipped behind the mountains, and in the bottom of the valley, long ago carved out of ancient rock by the swift-moving river, the summer’s night was hot and close. The scent of cedar and pine, decaying undergrowth, rich earth filled the air, and further up the street a pack of young people, sounding as if they’d already hit the bars, laughed at nothing at all.
Lucy Smith, known to everyone as Lucky, stood at the back door of the Trafalgar Women’s Support Center to enjoy a rare moment of peace before walking to her car. It had been a long, hectic day, but a good one, and she was pleased with herself. Today she’d accomplished something. For once, the women seemed to be paying attention to what she’d been trying to teach them.
Lucky drove an ancient Pontiac Firefly. It was parked at the back, in a small gravel clearing chopped out of wild grass and weeds up against the bottom of the mountain. As she unlocked the door car, a soft cry came from the bushes. A cat? Lucky climbed into her car, paying it no further attention. The heat of the day still clung to the worn seats, and as she put the key into the ignition, she rolled down the window to try to catch a bit of a breeze. She was about to turn the key, to start up the engine, when she heard it again.
Definitely not a cat.
How odd. It sounded like a baby.
Lucky reached into the glove compartment and pulled out a flashlight. She flicked the light on as she stepped out of the car, and pointed it into the dense brush beyond the parking area. The thin beam illuminated dead leaves, broken branches, grey and white rocks. A single black sock. A blue can of Kokanee beer shone in the light.
A small yellow package, lying on the ground about ten yards inside the woods.
Lucky tried to focus; the bundle shifted, and cried out.
She pushed her way through the undergrowth, heedless of branches reaching for her face and scratching her bare arms. She dropped to her knees, pushing a sharp stone into her flesh. She shifted to get off the rock, and shone her light into the folds of the yellow blanket. A scrunched up white face blinked back at her, trying to shut out the sudden brightness. Tiny fists waved in the air.
“Oh, my heavens. You poor thing.” Lucky stuffed the flashlight into the elastic waistband of her snort, baggy pants and reached for the baby. “What are you doing out here all by yourself?” She peeled back the blanket. The baby was small, no more than a few months old. He, Lucky guessed it was a he as it was dressed in a blue sleeper, opened his mouth and yelled. He was clean and at first glace appeared to be healthy. His clear eyes were dark blue, his cheeks pink and chubby, his head bald, and his cry lusty.
“We’d better get you inside. They call me Lucky, but you’re the lucky one. Good thing I found you, and not a bear or a cougar. Where’s your mom?”
Lucky gathered the baby into her arms, and stood up. The flashlight dropped to the ground and rolled over, throwing its light deeper into the woods, touching the edges of a dark shape underneath a large red cedar. With a pounding heart, Lucky scooped the flashlight up. She clutched the baby, now screaming with gusto, to her chest and took a few hesitant steps forward.
A woman lay on her back. Her eyes were open wide, but she wasn’t looking at the branches swaying overhead or the stars barely visible trough the thick canopy of branches, leaves and needles. Shifting the baby in her right arm, Lucky crouched down and touched the base of the woman’s neck. Her skin was cold, and nothing moved under Lucky’s shaking fingers.
Constable Molly Smith’s boot slipped in a puddle of vomit. Instinctively her head jerked back to help her keep her balance and the man’s fist connected with her mouth. Her head spun, and she tasted hot sweet blood, but she managed to keep her footing. She ducked in case a second blow was coming. Dave Evans grabbed the man from behind and wrenched his arms back. “That’s enough of that.”
The man was big, about six foot three with the weight to match, and arms bulging with muscle and tattoos. His hair was long, thin, gray, and greasy. The moment Evans touched him, all the aggression fled. “Hey, I’m sorry, buddy. I didn’t mean to hit the lady. It was an accident, right? Can’t we forget all about it?”
“I don’t think so,” Evans said, snapping handcuffs on meaty wrists. “You okay, Constable Smith?”
She touched her lip. Her fingers came away streaked with blood. “No harm done,” she said, inwardly seething. Nothing Evans would like more than to think he’d saved her from the big, bad guy.
Please answer the following question for a chance to win a free copy of VALLEY OF THE LOST. Or, pop in and chat with Vicki!!
If Evans likes to think he’s saved her from the big, bad guy, what does Constable Molly Smith like to think about Evans?