Create, Pitch, Sell


Mystery Novel

Blackmailed for murder, unable to prove his innocence, a man involves a small town sheriff in his plan for revenge.

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Featuring Sheriff Josh Wolfe of the Backwoods Justice Trilogy


On a hot night in July a young woman named Summer is murdered. She'll be found one month later by two roofers, her lifeless eyes staring at the moldy interior of a rundown tool shed. The men responsible for her being there are two unlikely partners in crime, each with something to prove. One is the cowardly son of a decorated police officer. The other is a bully with a violent history. High on drugs and alcohol, neither knows who dealt the deathblow. Fearing a confrontation, one of them agrees to pay the other for his vow of silence. But as time goes by, a hard life takes its toll on him. In order to put an end to the blackmail he'd have to take a risk. A risk that could easily backfire. Driven by hate and anger, he writes an anonymous letter to the sheriff.

Chapter 1
Stripped down to their underwear and socks, the two men walked into the chilly, snake infested waters of White River swatting mosquitoes every step of the way. Moving slowly through a shallow, rocky area with only their head and shoulders above the surface, they stayed close to the bank using their hands to feel around under submerged boulders. A half a mile or so upstream from where they had slung the rest of their clothing over a tree branch, the man in the lead, twenty-seven-year-old Kevin Rayland, took a deep breath, and dove under the water.

More than happy to play the role of spotter, Jasper Monroe kept a watchful eye out for game wardens who don’t care the practice of noodling has been legal in Missouri for quite a while. Since most flathead catfish are on the nest when they’re noodled, wildlife fanatics continue to argue that too many eggs are being destroyed, and this ridiculous and dangerous style of fishing must end.

They weren’t there to hand-fish. Not today. If they get caught, not tomorrow, either.

Kevin shot up out of the water, gasping for air. Swiped a hand down his face. “Found one.”

Jasper got behind him, and tucked his hands under Kevin’s arms to help him keep his balance while he twisted sideways to put his leg in the catfish hole. “Yep, it’s empty.” Jasper let go. Kevin fell backward, scraping his knee. Went under again trying to gain his footing. Angrily smacked the water with the side of his hand.

“Take it easy. Don’t be stirring up any damn leeches.” Jasper broke off a sturdy twig full of stiff brown leaves, stabbed the end in the ground above the hole to mark the spot. Piled rocks around the base for added support. “Let’s get this over with.”

In the waning daylight the men trudged back to their starting point, on guard for venomous snakes swimming about. “Good thing it rained,” Kevin whispered. “It turned the water brown. Maybe they won’t see us coming.” He shuddered, knowing how easy it would be to encounter snakes or beavers that have taken over abandoned holes. A sock won’t prevent sharp teeth or fangs from sinking into his flesh. Snapping turtles can also inflict a lot of misery by biting off a finger or two.

When they reached the rocky shoal, Jasper remained in the water. “Go on, get her.” Focused on the lengthening shadows in the surrounding woods he thought he saw movement. He leaned in, squinted his eyes, then pulled back. “Hurry the hell up,” he said in a low tone.

Kevin ran over to the boulder where they’d hidden the twenty-something ticket taker. He grasped her by her wrists, dragged her to the water’s edge. Jasper took hold of her hands, pulled her headfirst into the water. Kevin jumped in, reached under and found her feet. Her long hair flowed across her face like corn-yellow seaweed stems. The water washed blood from her wounds and marked her passing, as they floated her to the hole in the riverbank.

Jasper crossed her arms over her bare chest then pressed down hard, pushing her under. Banged her head against the rocky wall several times trying to find the opening.

“What’re you doing?”

“I don’t think she’s going to fit.”

“Sure she will. You’re just too chickenshit to duck under and do it the right way.”

“Oh yeah?” Jasper went down, and worked her head and shoulders into the mouth of the hole. Shoved her in as far as she’d go. Jumped up and sucked in a lungful of air. “There’s not enough room for her feet.” He glanced at the concave bank of the meandering river. “I don’t see anything we can use to cover her with.”

“So what? It’d take one hell of a drought for the water to recede enough for someone to see her feet sticking out of there. That could be many years from now. I don’t see the little waterfall up ahead going dry any time soon. Besides, it won’t be long before critters start feasting on her.”

“Whatever. Frickin’ knowitall. C’mon, it’s getting dark. I sure as hell don’t want to be in here when it is. I could use a smoke and a beer, anyway. If we hurry, we’ll have time to stop by Roadhouse Redd before the fireworks begin.”

Jasper raced ahead.

Kevin stood still waiting for the ripples to subside. He looked intently at the muddy water trying to see through it. Tried to imagine lying in that dark hole for all of eternity. Tried to remember exactly why Jasper thought they should remove her clothes. Tried to remember where they stashed them. He felt sorry for her. Just a little. What was her name? Carly? Charley? He shook his head in disdain. What woman goes off with two guys she’d just met? Harley, was it?

Screw it. It isn’t my fault why she tripped and fell down.

Copyright 2013-2016 Sharon A. Austin All Rights Reserved.