The Plattsford Sun, Special Edition

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Most Valuable Victim

 

Cover Art: Rural Sprawl

There's a murdered woman in the washroom, a collapsed roof on the Plattsford Arena, and crime in the woods; not the best time for Gloria's mother-in-law to visit.

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Gloria's maternity leave has begun, finally, but with complications: an ongoing criminal investigation will keep her behind her desk for yet another week, and her mother-in-law's visit is already trying her patience, and her energy. However, there's always time for a musical interlude, thanks to her husband, violinist Tony Lambertů

"You look wonderful tonight," Tony remarked softly as he guided the comfortable car home late Saturday evening. "You were by far the best-dressed, pregnant person in the concert hall."

In the back seat, his mother sniffed. "Why, thank you, dear," Gloria replied with a playful squeeze to his thigh. "I noticed three other pregnant people. Is there an epidemic in the symphony this year?" she teased.

"Seems so. Perhaps you can blame my choice of sensuous music for the string sextet. French Baroque is highly favored among the chamber music set, and the Rameau was quite popular."

"La musique de la chambre, definitely," Gloria mistranslated. "And look at the result! French Baroque music is so voluptuous, and you're right; the Rameau piece was particularly sensuous."

"And ahead of its time, too, if you listen to Rameau with Ravel in mind..." he stared through the windshield, where the high beams picked up movement in the distance. "What's that in the road?"

"Dogs?" Gloria braced herself against the dashboard as he slowed suddenly. "Or coyotes. What are they doing?"

"Gloria is a heroine to believe in. She's real...fiercely independent, stubborn, tough and annoying, yet loving and loyal...
"The plot of MVV is complex, the pace is taut, and the characters believable. It's a great, page-turning read."

Dee Lloyd,
Award-winning author of "Out of Her Dreams"

The animals scattered as the car drew nearer. Tony pulled up before a large mound in the centre of the road, hit the emergency flashers, and stepped out of the car. He peered into the darkness as the headlights of another vehicle approached from the opposite direction. The other vehicle slowed, and pulled to the shoulder. It was an OPP cruiser. The officer who stepped out looked like a huge bear in an orange vest with fluorescent "X" on the front and back, dark parka and wide-brimmed hat.

"We got a call from a motorist saying that there's something in the road," remarked the officer. "Looks like you found it too, Mr. Lambert."

"Constable Stoker?" Gloria recognized the voice, and struggled out of the other side of the car, sliding as she stepped close to the steep ditch. "There were two or three dogs around it when we got here. It's not... oh, God, it's not a body, is it?"

Constable Brian Stoker shone his powerful flashlight over the heap. "Yes, it's a body, of sorts. What I expected to find. A deer, or what's left of one."

"Hit by a car?" She stepped closer, grabbing Tony for support as the mangled mess took shape. "Ugh. The dogs must have been hungry."

"No," he stepped nearer and studied the remains, thoughtfully. "Not hit by a car, and not pulled down by coyotes or wolves, or even dogs. This one's been shot, bled, skinned, gutted, and butchered. This is all that's left."

Gloria stared down at the grim remains. "You mean--"

"It's the third such carcass we've found this week in this area. Poachers have been hard at work this winter."

"Tony..." Mrs. Lambert called out of the car window. "What's wrong?" "Why haven't I heard of this?" Gloria demanded. "It hasn't shown up on the regular police reports."

"Likely because Inspector Gray and Sergeant Jones don't want to let the people know they're onto them," Stoker replied. "And I guess it isn't your worry anymore, is it?"

"Not my worry?" Gloria exploded. "It's no secret when the evidence is lying on the highway, threatening to cause an accident. I'll ask Inspector Gray about it on Monday."

"You'll ask him?" Tony turned to face her. "I thought you were finished work."

"What is going on out here?" Barbara Lambert's voice cut across the chilly breeze as she came striding across the beam of headlights, white hair and white coat giving her the appearance of a ghostly night spirit. "For heaven's sake, Tony." She pushed him aside before he could effectively block her view, and stared down at the bloody bones and grinning head of the dismembered animal. "Oh, for the love of..."

"Mrs. Lambert? Tony, grab her." Gloria warned.

Tony reached out. Constable Stoker beat him to it, extending a long arm around the woman's midriff as her knees gave way. She crumpled, moaning, against the orange vest.

   
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Rural Sprawl Book Cover Dog In A Manger Cover Art Muddied Waters Cover Art
One Woman's Poison Most Valuable Victim Most Valuable Victim

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