Wednesday, February 7, 2018

New Release Rapid River Hoax Coming in April!

In our next High Country Mystery, RAPID RIVER HOAX, after being jilted at the altar, McQuede allows Dawson to help him get over his heartache by arranging a river rafting trip.  His relaxing time soon comes to an end when he is asked to follow up on a missing person. 

 Andy, the son of a local man who is known for pulling publicity stunts, has taken a boat out and vanished from the out-of-the-way lodge where he and Dawson are staying. Is his absence another one of his publicity stunts, or has the young man gotten into some real trouble this time?  McQuede can't help but investigate.

To add to his problems, who appears at the lodge but Loris, with his rival Arden Reed in tow? The two of them are trying to find a Sheepeater site hidden in the cliffs above the rapids, and McQuede finds Dawson is trying to beat them to it.

Between trying to find out what happened to Andy and sorting out his love life, McQuede has his work cut out for him.  

This book, the eighth in the series, will be available in April of 2008.

Books in the series:
Murder in Black and White
Whispers of the Stones
Stealer of Horses
The Executioner's Hood
An Icy Death
Crying Woman Bridge
Murder and the Good Old Boys' Club

Thursday, August 3, 2017


Welcome, mystery series readers! All books in our High Country Mystery series, set in Wyoming, are standalones, with a complete mystery and resolution in each novel.  You don't have to have to read them in order.  But since many readers prefer to read a series in chronological order, we have made a list of books in the series from the first to the most current release.  So, feel free to start with Book 1, or jump into the middle and find a story that personally interests you.  The relationships between McQuede and members of the community as well as his ongoing love life changes between books, but that is well-explained in each novel so you won't be left behind no matter which book you choose to start with.  


Sheriff Jeff McQuede becomes suspicious when a robber breaks into the Coal County Museum and steals only one item - a black-and-white class photograph. Under the name Jerome Slade the photographer had printed two ominous words: never graduated.  When a body is unearthed beneath the newly demolished school, McQuede realizes Slade had not left Black Mountain the night of the spring dance. McQuede soon uncovers hidden rivalries between Slade and his classmates. When he discovers that Heather Kenwell and the woman of his dreams, Loris Conner, were rivals for Slade's affection, McQuede fears finding out the truth.  Theft, blackmail, and another brutal killing lead back to photographs taken by Black Mountain's eccentric photographer, Bruce Fenton. While others see an innocent collection, McQuede sees murder in black and white.

 Murder in Black and White is a mystery following Sheriff Jeff McQuede as the most unusual burglary occurs...a riveting old-school style mystery that is as fun as it is entertaining.  - Midwest Book Review

Purchase Link: Murder in Black and White


 Sheriff Jeff McQuede finds 'Bartering Bill' Garr murdered at his rural antique store. Only one item is missing -- a rare artifact believed to be the Pedro Mummy. First discovered in a cave in Wyoming, the Pedro Mummy was reported missing in the 1950s. Dr. Seth Talbot, newly arrived in town, has put out a fifteen-thousand-dollar reward for any information on the mummy, hoping that modern technology will prove his theory that a tiny race of people actually existed: one the Shoshones call the Nimerigar, or Little People. McQuede is astounded to find the mummy in the trunk of Seth Talbot's car. Talbot swears he;s being set up by rival co-workers -- Dr. Arden Reed, in particular -- who plans to benefit from his research. McQuede suspects the theft of the mummy is a red herring used to cover up the true motive for the crime. The closer he comes to the truth, the deeper McQuede is drawn into an elaborate hoax that threatens his career and places him in grave danger.

If you like a mystery with an interesting location as well as colorful characters, this is the one for you. --Reader's Favorite, Jean Brickell 

Purchase Link:  Whispers of the Stones


The famous Carlo painting Stealer of Horses sells for cash in a small Wyoming town and gallery owner Sheldon Spence gives the $200,000 to his wife, who walks over to the bank to make the deposit...and never returns.  A witness claims to have seen a frightened-looking Susan Spence in a battered old Chevy, speeding out of town. And each succeeding clue reveals a different angle on her disappearance. Sheriff Jeff McQuede begins to wonder if this is more than a simple case of kidnapping and robbery. Was Sheldon involved in Susan's disappearance? Or did Susan and a lover fake the scheme, planning to run off with the money they stole from Sheldon? The identity of a victim found shot behind the wheel of the Chevy holds the key to one ominous question: Is Susan Spence a kidnap victim-or is she part of some sinister ploy?

"A tremendous story that is on par with the best mysteries available on the market..."
Nicola Davies for Readers Favorite

Purchase Link:  Stealer of Horses   


An ominous black hood, a murdered judge.   When Sheriff Jeff McQuede finds Durmont's highly respected judge, Phil Grayson, bludgeoned to death in his study, a black executioner's hood shoved over his head, he faces his toughest case yet.  The judge has many enemies, including Darin Keefe, sentenced by Grayson and just released from prison. McQuede soon finds out that Keefe's case is linked to a city scandal that may involve Grayson. Seven years ago the judge's best friend, John Harwood, was believed to have taken a bribe from Keefe Construction and to have committed suicide rather than face conviction.  Had Keefe, taking the fall, left prison intent on revenge?   Or is the the judge's murder the result of a robbery gone wrong? Grayson died surrounded by his fabulous Old West outlaw collection, including a death mask, a famous Peacemaker, and other rare artifacts. The intruder could have been after some unknown item of great value.   Is the judge's murder a simple burglary gone wrong or a case of modern-day vigilante justice?

McQuede is a character that would make anybody feel safe and secure. Barry Dawson, is a good friend but you'd just want to smack him for being careless with his life. The Judge? He, like everyone else, was a mixture of good and bad--the question is, which got him killed?
 Sandra Murphy-- King's River Life Magazine

Purchase Link: The Executioner's Hood


 In the heart of a raging blizzard Sheriff Jeff McQuede discovers a woman frozen to death in her car. At first he believes her death to be an unfortunate accident--until he finds clues that point to cold-blooded murder. Margaret's husband, Arthur, left her in the stalled vehicle to brave the storm and manages to reach Joe Trevino's isolated ranch. The case becomes more complicated because of the recent warehouse robberies at Trevino's store. McQueede finds that Trevino is Margaret Burnell's business partner, and that she has traveled from their Casper store to conduct a company audit. In addition, Margaret has planned to meet with her only child, a run-away daughter she hasn't seen in years. Trevino, the missing daughter, and Arthur Burnell would all profit financially from Margaret's demise. Has a relentless killer tracked and sabotaged the Burnells, or did Arthur simply abandon his wife for his share of the money, leaving her to die an icy death?

I loved the setting in An Icy Death...The cold, brutal Wyoming winter is the perfect setting for a book that you want to curl up in front of the fire with and never stop reading...  I also liked the fact that no one w as ever sure that the murder was really a murder. At first, it appeared to be a tragic accident. ... Was the husband at fault? Or was this a simple act of ugly nature? Nice job!  Janelle Fila --Readers' Favorite

Purchase Link:  An Icy Death 


While returning from Professor Dawson's lecture on haunted places, the last thing Sheriff Jeff McQuede and Dawson expect to encounter is a terrified woman clinging to the railing of Mirabella's Bridge, crying for her lost baby. It looks as if Rae Harris has thrown the infant over the bridge in a fit of despair, but she claims he has been stolen by a ghostly figure she calls Mirabella. Similar to the La Llorona legend Dawson just spoke about, Mirabella was a local pioneer woman who was rumored to have drowned her infant after being abandoned by a lover. At first McQuede believes Rae was driven by madness, but he soon finds evidence that her story may be true, and the perfectly timed kidnapping of her child may be in some way related to lecture attendee and local celebrity, Jim Royce, and his vast fortune.

"My favorite book in the series" 
In a crime that mirrors the haunting legend of Mirabella, a 'crying woman' whose story is a variation of the legend of La Llorona, a babe goes missing and the distraught mother claims a ghost has stolen him away. Despite roadblock after roadblock, Sheriff McQuede doggedly pursues the truth, not believing that a legend has come to life...  Lillie Amman, Reviewer

Purchase Link:  Crying Woman Bridge 


Threatened victim, waiting grave…Sheriff McQuede is called to the cemetery by Ben Ward, a member of Durmont's Good Old Boys' Club. Ward's tombstone, where he plans someday to be buried with his first wife, is vandalized. A menacing date of death, fast approaching, has been drilled into the stone, and splotches of red paint drips over it like blood. Ben Ward and his four partners have sunk vast sums of money into a recreational community, Pleasant Valley Retreat, and this failing project has flamed anger among the investors. As the inscribed date of Ward's death draws nearer, a killer stalks the resort. McQuede must act quickly before a vandal's threats turn into reality.

"An excellent story that starts with a unused tombstone being vandalized. Murder follows as a Ponzi scheme is uncovered by the sheriff on the eve of his wedding. Fans of C.J. Box will enjoy this modern day Western series by a pair of sisters. This was a free review copy in PDF format provided by the authors. I'm looking forward to reading more books in the series as once I started the story was difficult to put down.--5 star Goodreads review-- Fredrick Danysh 

Purchase Link: Murder and the Good Old Boys' Club

A DEAL ON A HANDSHAKE:  A Collection of Seven Jeff McQuede Short Stories

In these seven mysteries Sheriff Jeff McQuede finds himself in the middle of a deal made on a handshake—where the result is murder. Set in the high county of modern-day Wyoming, the deal makers are speculators at an old-time mountain man rendezvous, traders vying over rare Native American pottery, or two family patriarchs pretending to bridge a lifetime of feuding. Throughout McQuede battles his arch-enemy Ruger, who he suspects runs a host of illegal activities, but generally manages to evade McQuede’s traps. In each of these stories McQuede, putting his own life on the line, relentlessly seeks out the dangerous men who have broken trust.

Purchase Link: A Deal on a Handshake

All of our books are available on Kindle, Kindle Unlimited, and as paperbacks through Amazon. 

Look for the eight book in the series, RAPID RIVER HOAX, coming this fall!

Friday, November 11, 2016


We are delighted to announce our new release, the 7th book in the High Country Mystery Series, MURDER AND THE GOOD OLD BOYS' CLUB. Our latest book in the series is now available in paperback, Kindle and is also on Kindle Unlimited.

 Review: “Murder and the Good Old Boys’ Club” is a brilliant new addition to their long list of captivating, clean-reading titles: a who-done-it that leaves readers wondering who did it." Author Stephanie Parker McKean

Threatened victim, waiting grave…Sheriff McQuede is called to the cemetery by Ben Ward, a member of Durmont’s Good Old Boys’ Club. Ward’s tombstone, where he plans someday to be buried with his first wife, is vandalized. A menacing date of death, fast approaching, has been drilled into the stone, and splotches of red paint drips over it like blood. Ben Ward and his four partners have sunk vast sums of money into a recreational community, Pleasant Valley Retreat, and this failing project has flamed anger among the investors. As the inscribed date of Ward’s death draws nearer, a killer stalks the resort. McQuede must act quickly before a vandal’s threats turn into reality.

We want to thank our faithful readers, and for those new to the series, each of our books contains a complete mystery and do not necessarily need to be read in order.  All you need to know is Sheriff McQuede has a long-standing girlfriend, Loris, and a best friend, Barry Dawson, who has a knack for getting in trouble.
These stories are more about human nature, about a good man trying to make the right decision in the often difficult situation of being a sheriff who knows everyone in town.  McQuede often must search his soul for not only a legal answer, but the right one.

Friday, August 7, 2015

How Haunted Bridges and Spooky Legends Became Inspiration for our Mystery Novel Crying Woman Bridge

          The idea for our latest Jeff McQuede mystery, Crying Woman Bridge,  started with a legend, specifically, the legend of La Llorona.  We had first heard about this prominent tale while visiting the Southwest.  The Hispanic stories have several variations, but they all deal with a woman who has sacrificed a child or children by drowning.  She commits this terrible act for the sake of her lover and ends up crazed with regret.  In many retellings of the story, the weeping woman, La Llorona, can be heard along the river’s edge crying Ay mis hijos!  which translates to, Oh, my children!   

          During our research we found that La Llorona wasn’t the only mother weeping for lost children.  Throughout the United States many tales exist about bridges haunted either by weeping women or crying babies.  Another story closer to home also caught our interest, that of Theorosa’s Bridge near Valley Center, Kansas, and Wichita.  Several versions of the Theorosa legend are well-known.  In the oldest version, a baby named Theorosa is stolen by a band of Native Americans, and the mother’s spirit still haunts the creek in search of her lost child.  In a more modern version, Theorosa has an illegitimate child which because of guilt she throws from the bridge.  Later she kills herself by jumping into the river.  In yet another, Theorosa was a witch who was hanged, and her baby drowned in the creek.  “If you say Theorosa, Theorosa, I have your baby,” she will appear and attack you.

                    Our latest High Country Mystery!

          Our story takes place in Wyoming and is a fictional tale with elements of these timeless legends that exist in so many forms.  Sheriff Jeff McQuede and his friend, Professor Dawson, are returning from a lecture Dawson has just given about local haunted places.  He has spoken about one that concerns a local bridge they must pass by, called Crying Woman Bridge, or, by some of the locals, Mirabella’s Bridge.  In this story a young pioneer woman named Mirabella got jilted by her lover and threw her baby over the bridge.  At night it is rumored that you can still hear her cries; if you say her name three times, she will appear and bad things will happen.  McQuede and Dawson are startled to find a modern-day woman standing on the bridge crying for her baby.  Has she thrown the infant into the river in a fit of madness as did the pioneer woman?  McQuede is even more stunned when Rae Harris claims that her baby was stolen--by a woman called Mirabella. 
McQuede discovers the truth through a strange and twisted turn of events which leads to Rae, the woman on the bridge…and a dark secret. 

Further reading: 

Legends of America  Click this link to read one of the more popular versions of the La LLorona Legend. 

Wikipedia: Theorosa's Bridge  Click this link to read variations of the Theorosa Bridge legends. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

An Icy Death: The fifth and latest book in the Jeff McQuede High Country Mystery Series

It’s cold in Wyoming!  Cold enough to freeze to death.  This fact makes An Icy Death the only book we have ever written inspired by the weather.

Jamierodriguez37 Morguefile

In Wyoming the wise never leave home without a thermos of hot coffee, extra food, and blankets.  In winter it’s not uncommon for the temperature to dip to minus seventeen, often with a wind chill factor of thirty below zero.  Because many places still exist where cell phones cease to work and help is almost impossible to summon, blizzards and sudden whiteouts are extremely hazardous. 

An Icy Death opens with Sheriff Jeff McQuede discovering a stalled car on an isolated road far up in the mountains, one that has been closed.  Within the car he finds the frozen body of a middle-aged woman, Margaret Burnell.  The medication, her taped ankle, and footprints in the snow leading away from the car tell the rest of the story--about how she must have died of hypothermia while her husband went for help.  It sounds like a sad but simple story of man vs nature.

Until McQuede discovers that there are enough drugs in her system to cause an overdose, and her death may not have been an accident, after all, only staged to look that way.  It’s McQuede’s job to find out what really happened that snowy night so far from town.  He discovers that Margaret has traveled to Durmont to demand an audit from her business partner concerning the Trivino’s Sporting Goods chain.  In addition she plans to meet with her runaway daughter that she hasn’t seen in years.  Many people come into focus as possible murderers, not least among them her husband, Arthur, who would reap great financial profit from his wife’s death.

Either a relentless killer tracked and sabotaged the Burnells in the heart of a blizzard, or, more likely, Arthur simply abandoned his wife for his share of her vast inheritance.  In any event, Margaret Burnell had been set up to die an icy death.

An Icy Death is available in both Kindle and Paperback.

Thursday, March 12, 2015


Who is Jeff McQuede?

Jeff McQuede, a modern-day sheriff, is a product of the Old West.  He was named for his relative, frontier Sheriff Jeff McQuede, and embodies the qualities that had made him famous.  He often follows the old westerner’s advice: when you think your right, it’s time to step back and take another look.  He also sometimes relies on his lucky paperweight filled with shifting sand to help him concentrate and find the right path. We’ve placed McQuede in the fictional town of Durmont, in a rugged mountain area

Other Major and Reoccurring Characters

The woman McQuede loves, Loris Conner, is curator of the museum in the nearby town of Black Mountain Pass.  Loris isn’t as sold as McQuede on the rough and isolated high country, and intent on her own career, she is thinking about taking the job Arden Reed offers her in Washington  D, C. 

The major characters in the series include McQuede’s very strong and opinionated Aunt Mattie Murdock,  the local villains, Frank Larsh, better known as Ruger, and his pal, Sammy Ratone, Marty Stein, who owns the Shady Lane Motel, Nate Narcu, a Shoshone who runs Nate’s Trading Post, and Professor Barry Dawson who sometimes helps and sometimes hinders McQuede’s investigations.

And then, of course, there's McQuede's loyal companion, a dog named Psy (short for Psychotic), who he took in after the mutt was abandoned at a crime scene.  

The best way to become introduced to this series is through the anthology, A Deal on a  Handshake.  These seven short stories present the characters in action and McQuede’s manner of solving the crimes that occur in Coal County.  

The Books in the Series  

In our five book series, the history and legends of the High Country meet the universal problems of greed, obsessive love, and vengeance.

We spend much time wandering through the mountains, checking out libraries, and talking to the local people.  The first book in the series, which introduces the major characters, was inspired by a photo we found in a museum—beneath one face were the words never graduated.

On one of our trips through Shirley Basin, we became fascinated by the true story of a crew of workmen who found a small mummy in a cave.  We began a careful research of the story and the mystery behind it.  (see the 2/28/2015 post Whispers of the Stones: Book Two in the High Country Mystery Series and the Mysterious Pedro Mummy.)

Book III: Stealer of Horses

This novel grew from word of mouth.  A local told us about a woman who had gone to a small bank to deposit a large sum of money—and both she and the money vanishes.

Judge Phil Grayson is found dead in his study surrounded by his life-time collection of the Old West artifacts.  A hood taken from the collection was shoved over his face.  Was this a simple robbery or a crime of vengeance?

Book V:  An Icy Death

Blizzards abound in the High Country and danger is always present when they occur.  This novel begins with such a storm where a body is found frozen to death in a wrecked car.

We are now working on a sixth novel, one that centers around another intriguing legend.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Whispers of the Stones: Book Two in the High Country Mystery Series and the Mysterious Pedro Mummy 

      When I was living in Laramie, Wyoming, I came across tales of the Pedro Mummy.  According to old newspaper accounts, a tiny mummy was discovered in the 1930s by miners near Shirley Basin.  The mummified remains of a little man only 14 inches tall was found still sitting cross-legged on a stone ledge in a cave. 

There’s no question that the Pedro Mummy actually existed.  It became an object of curiosity and scientific speculation until its disappearance in the 1950s.  It was not a fake.


U (Life time: 1936) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

     The curious little mummy, which was soon nicknamed “Pedro” because he was found in the Pedro Mountains, changed hands several times and was sold and resold.  For a time, it was displayed in a drugstore, then a used car lot, then a cigar shop in Casper.  In the care of Ivan Goodman in the 1950s, the mummy was examined and X-rayed.  It was found the mummy had a definite human rib-cage.

     At the time of the Pedro Mummy’s discovery, it was thought to be the remains of a tiny, ancient little man in his late sixties.  Many people believed that the discovery of the tiny mummy might be proof that the “Little People” of Native American legends actually existed.  The “Little People” are part of the legends and folklore of the Shoshoni, Arapahoe. and many other tribes.  In some tales the tiny men, who remain hidden in caverns and deep in the mountains, are good-natured tricksters, in others they are more mean-spirited and may shoot arrows at their larger counterparts.  In many tales the “Little People” serve as spiritual guides or helpers to lost travelers.

     In the 1980s the original X-rays were carefully studied and scientists indicated that the tiny remains were more likely to be those of a malformed infant who had been left in the cave to die instead of a full-grown man.  The infant might have suffered from anencephaly, which would account for the misshapen head.  But it didn’t explain fully developed rib-cage or reports that the mummy had teeth.  Since the mummy can no longer be found to examine, no one really knows who he was or how he got there.

     The last owner of the mummy was New Yorker Leonard Wadler.  After that, the mummy disappeared from history.  Many articles have appeared about the Pedro Mummy, including stories in the Casper Star Tribune.  Since its disappearance, scientists and collectors have had interest in finding the missing mummy, even offering rewards, so it can be examined.

     All of this caught my interest and after talking it over with my co-author and sister, Loretta, she became interested in the story as well.  We decided to write a mystery starting with the premise: what if some antique dealer actually had the mummy?  What would happen if such an artifact resurfaced?

Loretta with Shirley Basin signs

Loretta and Vickie in Mountains

     In our third Jeff McQuede novel, Whispers of the Stones, Sheriff McQuede investigates such an event.  The details concerning the mummy in this story are as true as we could make them from varying research sources.  The rest, of course, is fiction.

To read more about The Pedro Mummy:

As you read accounts of the Pedro Mummy, you will find many discrepancies, because even in newspapers and journals there are many different accounts of what happened.  When writing our story, we used those dates and sources from what seemed the most reliable references.  Here are some places on the Internet to read more about the Pedro Mummy and the “Little People”.

The Pedro Mummy:

The Little  People:

Whispers of the Stones: A Jeff Mcquede Mystery by Loretta Jackson and Vickie Britton