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.