Friday, November 11, 2016

NEW RELEASE: MURDER AND THE GOOD OLD BOYS' CLUB

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.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

MEET JEFF MCQUEDE, SHERIFF OF COAL COUNTY, WYOMING

Meet Jeff McQuede, the sheriff of Coal County, Wyoming, a modern-day sheriff with old-time values.  Like his family namesake, the old frontier lawman, he always looks for the right answer and never settles for the easy one.  He often follows his predecessor’s advice: When you think you’re right, it’s time to step back and take another look. 

So where did the idea for Jeff McQuede and his world come from?  As sisters, we have spent many summers wandering through the Rocky and Big Horn Mountains and the small towns of Wyoming.  We have explored in depth places like Laramie (where Vickie lived for fifteen years), Meeteetse, Thermopolis, the Old West town of Rawlins, and the beautiful mountain ranges around Jackson Hole and Dubois.  We became intrigued with local stories, such as the ghostly tales of the La Llorona legend that we used in Crying Woman Bridge.  In Whispers of the Stones we wrote an account based on what facts we could gather about the Pedro Mummy, found in the Shirley Basin, and its connection with the Native American legend of the Little People.  Our love for history prompted a concern with the idea of vigilante justice, as shown in The Executioner’s Hood.

The High Country Mystery series began in a little out-of-the way museum where we were intrigued by a class photo with the words never graduated scrawled across the face of a handsome young man.  Murder in Black and White introduces the town and setting we imagined and peopled with a list of characters very real to us, folks very similar to the ones we have met in our treks through Wyoming.  Many of these characters are had their beginning in our McQuede short story anthology, A Deal on a Handshake.

First of all in the High County Mystery Series you encounter our sheriff--everyone counts on good, loveable Jeff McQuede to be strong and dependable all of the time, yet in reality, he’s sometimes vulnerable and always human--in particular where Loris Conner, the woman he loves, is concerned.  McQuede lives in a small house in Durmont with his shaggy yellow dog, Psy, (short for Psychotic) who was abandoned at a crime scene and who demands his full-time loyalty and attention.

Reoccurring characters live in the nearby towns of Durmont and Black Mountain Pass--  the sheriff’s domineering Aunt Mattie; Nate Narcu, the Shoshone who runs the trading post; and McQuede’s good friend Barry Dawson, a professor who has a humorous knack for getting into trouble.  At the office, he relies on his deputy, Sid Carlisle, who unlike McQuede is precise and fastidious, and also his lucky paperweight filled with shifting sands that help him concentrate and find the right path.

Themes spring from the rugged Wyoming setting, like in An Icy Death, or from our examination of the gray line between right and wrong.  All of them center around the motives and actions of local people, sometimes criminals like Ruger and Sammy Ratone, who are a blend of good and bad. 

We have in most of our over fifty novels used a female lead, often an archeologist, so we never thought we’d be writing about a kindly, slightly overweight, loveable sheriff.  But it makes sense for what we want to do with this series.  Jeff McQuede is a man trying to hold to the old-fashioned Code of the West sense of honor in a world that is constantly changing.  These values are the ones we were brought up with and champion.  In our books you won’t find explicit sex scenes or violence.  What you will find are stories about genuine people trying to do the best they can, people who fall short, who at times are pushed over the edge by anger, greed, or revenge into a desperate situation. And there in the midst of all the action you’ll find Jeff McQuede, trying to make the best of it, searching for not only a legal answer but a 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

ALL ABOUT THE HIGH COUNTRY MYSTERY SERIES AND WYOMING SHERIFF JEFF MCQUEDE

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.

   
THE PEDRO MUMMY



Uhttp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/86/The_San_Pedro_Mountain_Mummy.jpgnknown (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






Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sneak Preview of Cover of An Icy Death

We're delighted to announce our fifth and latest book in the Jeff McQuede Mystery Series, An Icy Death, will be published soon in print and as an ebook. 

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?