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Falcon's Bend Case Files, Volume II by Karen Wiesner and Chris Spindler (Mystery: Police Procedural)

Falcon's Bend Case Files, Volume II by Karen Wiesner and Chris Spindler (Mystery: Police Procedural)
 
(2 reviews)  

The second collection of Falcon's Bend Detectives Pete Shasta and Danny Vincent's cases, with Patrol Officer Amber Carfi.

Murder on the Heartstrings: Lieutenant Pete Shasta takes his lovely wife Lisa on a romantic vacation, promising her no mysteries, no crime, and certainly no murder. But, not long after arriving in the middle of a blizzard that has shut down the entire town below the luxurious inn, a body is found stuffed into a janitor's closet. Lisa's only resort is to join her husband in sleuthing so she can get back to her Valentine's Day agenda.

Flashback: In the midst of planning for the birth of his first child, Lieutenant Danny Vincent is called away because a person missing for seven months has suddenly, and suspiciously, dropped back from out of nowhere. Lucinda Staub was thought to be dead. Now that she's returned, her husband Ryan wants nothing to do with her--even seems afraid of her--insisting she'd bested Old Scratch himself down in the swamp. Lucinda claims to have lost her memory…so how did she know how to get home? And why is she back now?

Double Take: Victor Brooks, celebrated artist and owner of The Brooks Gallery in Falcon's Bend, contacts local police about a missing painting. The very next day, two more pieces of art are stolen. Patrol Officers Amber Carfi and Warren Jensen stake out the gallery, hoping to catch an insatiable thief.

Retribution: The subdivision FBPD investigators Pete Shasta and Danny Vincent live in becomes home to a very hot young mama…and their wives Lisa and Melody aren't too happy about all the men in the neighborhood moonlighting as Peeping Toms. But it isn't until the beautiful young woman disappears, leaving her two young children alone, that Lisa realizes crime is firmly afoot.

Up In Smoke: Lieutenant Pete Shasta is struggling to find the perfect Christmas gift for his perfect wife. His agonizing is interrupted when FBPD Dispatch receives a call from the neighbor of a local Christmas tree farm--which has just burned to the ground. Owner Mitchell Ferrara is officially out of business for the holiday season. But was the fire an accident…or the means to cover up evidence of a crime?

Ghost of the Past: After an exhausting day, patrol officer Amber Carfi is looking forward to dinner and going home to the love of her life, Warren Jensen, who's been acting strange and secretive lately. When she stops at a local restaurant for take-out, she's surprised when a woman at the counter pushes a note written on a napkin over to her. The hastily scrawled correspondence says that someone has been following her all day and he's now in the restaurant.

Sixteen years earlier, Ericka Callister gave birth to a baby she didn't want. Young and scared, she wrapped the baby in a pillowcase, then threw him into a dumpster before fleeing. She's about to discover the hard way that mistakes have a way of haunting the guilty no matter how far they run and no matter where they hide.

Print:
ISBN/EAN13: 1922066990 / 9781922066992
Page Count: 404
Trim Size: 5" x 8"

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2 Most useful customer reviews (see all reviews):
Jane Allen Petrick for Readers' Favorite (http://readersfavorite.com/book-review/8666)
Aug 19, 2013
"A deliciously intriguing place to read about, but I won't want to live there." Those were my thoughts as I finished reading the six sagas that comprise the latest 'Falcon's Bend chronicle', "Falcon's Bend Case Files II". A normal life always seems to be just one psychopath away in the tiny Wisconsin town. Valiantly, detectives Pete Shasta and Danny Vincent and their families carry the reader through horrors that pass as every day occurrences in the Falcon's Bend. Authors Karen Wiesner and Chris Spindler do a solid job of stoking and sustaining what I have come to call "the Falcon's Bend Creepies," even when the book's characters are not in Falcon's Bend. The first story, for example, 'Murder on the Heart Strings', finds Pete and Lisa Shasta heading for a romantic Valentine's get-away at an isolated and distant mountain resort. But murder finds them there anyway. Shut in by a blizzard, the spot is so remote that Pete is the only law on the scene, and Lisa finds herself working as her husband's right hand sleuth. You get the picture: Honeymoon Haven Inn morphs into The Orient Express. Meanwhile, back at The Bend, Danny Vincent attempts to hold his nerves together while managing his wife's first pregnancy and a case in which a husband claims his wife has come back from the dead. 'Flashback' emits such an unsettling, bizarre atmosphere I didn't close my shower curtain for two days. On the other hand, 'Up in Smoke' had me laughing throughout all of its wacky fifteen pages. And when the Shastas return to Falcon's Bend from their "relaxing" vacation, Lisa continues to hone her gumshoe skills in 'Retribution'.

Wiesner and Spindler have perfected the fine art of developing characters while not slowing down the plot. For example, in "Double Take", the interaction between Patrol Officers Amber Carfi and Warren Jensen gives us deeper knowledge of their personal lives without diverting off into a romance novel. The couple remain cops focused on the main narrative: finding an insatiable art thief. "Falcon's Bend Case File II" is like a box of six small candies. Each story (with the exception of the one sour ball) is a tasty morsel, just enough, complete and fulfilling. And the wonderful thing about this batch of goodies? When you finish reading them, you can go back and read them again. They are just that good.
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Readers Favorite
Mar 28, 2013
A deliciously intriguing place to read about, but I won't want to live there. Those were my thoughts as I finished reading the six sagas that comprise the latest Falcon's Bend chronicle, FALCON'S BEND CASE FILES, Volume II. Valiantly, detectives Pete Shasta and Danny Vincent and their families carry the reader through horrors that pass as everyday occurrences in the Falcon's Bend. Authors Karen Wiesner and Chris Spindler do a solid job of stoking and sustaining what I have come to call "the Falcon's Bend Creepies", even when the book's characters are not in Falcon's Bend.

The first story, for example, Murder on the Heart Strings, finds Pete and Lisa Shasta heading for a romantic Valentine's getaway at an isolated and distant mountain resort. But murder finds them there anyway. Shut in by a blizzard, the spot is so remote that Pete is the only law on the scene, and Lisa finds herself working as her husband's right hand sleuth. You get the picture: Honeymoon Haven Inn morphs into The Orient Express.

Meanwhile, back at The Bend, Danny Vincent attempts to hold his nerves together while managing his wife's first pregnancy and a case in which a husband claims his wife has come back from the dead. Flashback emits such an unsettling, bizarre atmosphere I didn't close my shower curtain for two days. On the other hand,

Up in Smoke had me laughing throughout all of its wacky fifteen pages. And when the Shastas return to Falcon's Bend from their "relaxing" vacation, Lisa continues to hone her gumshoe skills in Retribution.

Wiesner and Spindler have perfected the fine art of developing characters while not slowing down the plot. For example, in Double Take, the interaction between Patrol Officers Amber Carfi and Warren Jensen gives us deeper knowledge of their personal lives without diverting off into a romance novel. The couple remain cops focused on the main narrative: finding an insatiable art thief.

FALCON'S BEND CASE FILES, Volume II is like a box of six small candies. Each story is a tasty morsel, just enough, complete and fulfilling. And the wonderful thing about this batch of goodies? When you finish reading them, you can go back and read them again. They are just that good.
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Sample Chapter

Murder on the Heartstrings

A Falcon's Bend Series Novella

Winter 2005

Lieutenant Pete Shasta takes his lovely wife Lisa on a romantic vacation, promising her no mysteries, no crime, and certainly no murder. But, not long after arriving in the middle of a blizzard that has shut down the entire town below the luxurious inn, a body is found stuffed into a janitor's closet. Lisa's only resort is to join her husband in sleuthing so she can get back to her Valentine's Day agenda.

"The basis of shame is not some personal mistake of ours, but the ignominy, the humiliation we feel that we must be what we are without any choice in the matter, and that this humiliation is seen by everyone."

~Milan Kundera, Immortality

"Perpetual devotion to what a man calls his business is only to be sustained by perpetual neglect of many other things."

~Robert Louis Stevenson

Chapter One

February 13th

"Each suite has a private, deluxe bath, two-person Jacuzzi, fireplace, daily maid service and a full breakfast. Guest accommodations include a heated, indoor pool, hot tub and sauna, fitness equipment, spa and massage services..."

Pete Shasta felt his beloved wife of five years glance at him from the passenger's seat. Lisa read from the brochure for Honeymoon Haven Inn, a romantic hideaway in the woods in upper northwest Wisconsin that attracted skiers and honeymooners. But he didn't take his gaze from the winter-slick roads.

The blizzard had started slowly that morning until it'd worked itself into a winter squall. By either luck or curse, he'd gotten behind a snowplow a few miles into town. Because Pete was following the plow, the road was in much better condition than those driving before it. That wasn't saying much under the circumstances. The stress of following the vehicle in the blizzard howling around them had him so on-edge, he didn't feel comfortable glancing away from the road ahead for an instant.

"You want a massage, baby, I'm your man," he murmured. They passed another car that had gone off the road, but a police officer had already arrived to help.

Lisa chuckled, continuing to read out loud about the full service restaurant, access to ice fishing, seven miles of cross-country skiing on groomed trails and snowmobile trails. Pete didn't intend to take advantage of anything beyond the privacy of their romantic suite. And maybe room service when they needed re-fueling. If we ever get there.

Just before he passed through a bright orange gate similar to those parks used to close up for the night, the plow turned off the road, leaving him to his own fate. They were almost there now. Slow and steady wins the race.

He was taking Lisa to the luxury resort for her Valentine's Day birthday. He'd timed his annual vacation with the dual holiday. He wasn't fond of travel--especially in a blizzard--so he rarely got far from his home in Falcon's Bend, Wisconsin. He'd worked as a detective on the Falcon's Bend Police Department for almost twelve years. He knew better than to stick around town on vacation days. If he did, one way or another, he'd be called back in. Nope, he was planning on spending the next seven days and nights in the arms of his angel. Crime wouldn't get in the way this time. He'd made certain of that by choosing this secluded spot near the top of the hill, nestled in the trees. Still, he couldn't shake the premonition that he wouldn't escape so easily. He never had before.

The snow coming down in thick, wet clumps was only part of his trepidation. Even the tantalizing memory of the scraps of lace and satin he'd glimpsed in the brown shopping bag before Lisa packed it last night couldn't quell his worries. Grateful as he was that they were nearly there, the road up was steep and treacherous. He could barely see the road leading to it--the snow covered the road and had accumulated several inches. The windshield wipers did a poor job of keeping up with the fierce, blowing snowfall.

"What a beautiful place," Lisa said on a sigh, turning to put one arm over the back of his seat.

He could hear how laidback she sounded--a direct contrast to the tension he felt. He knew she thought that merely arriving here signaled nothing could go wrong and she'd soon have her man away from his mistress. At times, his job did feel that treacherous. When he was solving a mystery, little else could break his concentration. Somehow, Lisa--unlike his first wife--put up with it. Accepted it. Still loved him. Thank you, God.

Soon, he could reward her patience. The woman who always held his heart would have his undivided attention. He could hardly wait.

Only when the chained tires on the car cleared the hill and he pulled up under the reception-overhang of the rustic wood-and-stone structure did the tightness in his chest relax. He glanced around, seeing a large building with an oversized garage door set back from the inn.

When Lisa's fingers slipped into his hair, he looked at her. Her gesture brought back the one thing that had kept him going for the past few weeks. The anticipation of being alone with her, preferably naked, for the next seven days. The state of semi-arousal he'd been in at the mere thought of giving Lisa her birthday gift returned. She leaned close to him, her sienna-colored eyes filled with love and promise.

"Almost two o'clock. We're here earlier than I expected, but it felt like it took forever," he said, grinning sheepishly because he knew she'd sensed his stress.

"Finally."

Her breath was warm and chocolate-scented. He'd given her a giant, heart-shaped box of her favorite candies that morning.

"You're not getting away from me for the next week." A boatload of determination laced her words.

"Thought that was my line."

Pete slid his fingers into her long, silken brown hair, cradling her face in his hand as he did so, and closed the inches between their lips. Semi-arousal turned into full-on need when her mouth opened against his and her tongue touched his. Want her, need her, gotta have her now...

Lisa's car door opened, shocking Pete as the exuberant voice, accompanied with an equally exuberant face, cried, "Welcome, welcome! We are so pleased to have you here at the Honeymoon Haven Inn. I am Felippo Theoclymenus, but you may call me Flip. I will be assisting you during your stay."

The middle-aged bellhop, who might have been Greek or Turkish, put his hand out, his smile reaching megawatt levels. Lisa had no choice but to get out of the car. Pete groaned, but then figured the faster they got checked in, the quicker he could get back to that kiss.

He stepped out while Flip led Lisa to the double doors. He opened one for her, then turned to Pete, bowing. He had a shock of black hair that was sprinkled liberally with gray. His deeply tanned face had numerous moles and dark spots. "If you will allow me, sir, I will park your car and bring in your luggage while you check in."

Muttering his thanks, Pete handed him the keys. At the least, he had to concede that the resort was living up to its promise of luxury. He joined Lisa inside the cozily warm reception area, and together they went to the front desk. The man there with an extravagant moustache that would have done Hercule Poirot proud inclined his dark head to them. "Good afternoon. I'm Stephen Mendez, manager of the Honeymoon Haven Inn. How may I help you?"

Pete told him his name.

"You'll be happy to know your suite is ready for you, Mr. Shasta. I can check you in early."

Pete had figured they'd take longer getting here, with shopping or lingering over lunch, so the three o'clock check-in wouldn't be a problem. He was relieved now that they wouldn't have to wait in the lobby for over an hour.

Lisa walked around the expansive lobby filled with fancy furniture and strange artwork. In the opposite corner away from the front desk was a sitting nook bracketing an immense fireplace with a crackling fire that chased away the chill.

"You have a spa?" Lisa asked while Pete signed the papers Mendez lay before him.

"I must apologize," Mendez said, and Pete noticed then how nervous he looked. His dark eyes darted between the two of them. "Our spa manager called in sick today, so services have been canceled for the day. Additionally, massages must be scheduled in advance." He handed Lisa a form to reserve the masseur. Pete glanced at it to see they offered in-room massages. He didn't like the idea. "Our dining room should open at 3:30. However, our chef and restaurant staff still haven't arrived. I fear the weather is preventing them."

"Aren't blizzards common this time of year up here?" Pete asked. He'd seen something to that effect on the inn's website. There'd been a warning about roads in and out being closed until blizzards were over and the pass could be cleared. At the time, it'd sounded like a benefit to him. Pete remembered the orange gate he'd passed on his way up the steep hill. It was probably what they used to prevent anyone from going up, or down, the hill when conditions were dangerous.

"Yes. That's true. The weather can turn on a dime. If the local law enforcement decides it's no longer safe to travel this way, they'll close the gate on the road here. They'll also stop plowing the roads until the storm abates."

Maybe seeing Lisa glance at the restaurant next to the front desk, Mendez added, "Food service will be minimal should our staff not arrive, but we have contingencies for this situation."

Flip came in, dusting the snow from his head and coat.

Pete turned back to the manager. "You think the roads might close soon?"

"I can't be sure, Mr. Shasta, but we will alert our guests if that happens." Mendez handed him a receipt with two keycards. "Flip will take you to your suite."

With his previous enthusiasm, Flip gathered them and ushered them toward the elevator on the opposite side of the lobby from the front entrance. On the way, he pointed out the observation lounge with huge glass windows that overlooked the forest leading higher up the hill. When they returned to the hall, Pete saw their luggage on a rolling rack next to the elevator, no doubt brought in from the door next to the elevator that led outside the parking shelter.

"You are newlyweds?" he asked, his tone friendly.

"It's my birthday tomorrow," Lisa told him, wrapping her arms around Pete's at the elbow. "Pete surprised me with this romantic getaway."

Flip nodded, smiling like a lunatic, murmuring, "Very good, very good" before he asked whether Pete was on vacation from his job.

"Pete's a police detective. He doesn't get vacations. He escapes."

Flip chuckled heartily.

Pete put his arm around his wife, and she raised an eyebrow at him, a smile on her lips. Together, they entered the elevator with the luggage. Flip rattled on about the weather and Mendez's nervousness about schedules and missing employees. He also mentioned that the couple in the suite on their floor, the Stoddards, had intended to check out on the 15th. The weather would, no doubt, prevent that. "That will please Mr. Stoddard to no end. He is a retired photographer, but seems to have an eye for the younger ladies." Flip waggled thick, salt and pepper eyebrows. "He spends a great deal of time in the observation lounge, to see the view. His poor wife though." Flip shook his head, his face falling. "I suspect that his obsession with the younger women is what makes her so self-conscious. Babs she prefers to be called. She is a beautiful woman in her own right. So sad. So sad. But it is not my place to say anything."

A little uncomfortable with the amount of information this man was giving them concerning total strangers, Pete asked Flip about the absent chef and restaurant staff.

Flip nodded. "It happens here. Somehow, we always get by on minimal staff. There is nothing to worry about, I assure you, sir."

He went on to talk about the guests who'd just arrived today and those they were still expecting. A fashion designer with her New Zealand model boyfriend, a former Olympic skier who'd just married and was coming in for his honeymoon, and a dear old couple celebrating their sixty-third wedding anniversary.

Pete started to worry they wouldn't get rid of the guy easily. And all he wanted was to be alone with Lisa to see where that kiss would take them.

The elevator arrived on the second floor, revealing a plush, navy blue carpet that went well with the lightly stained, wood walls. More weird modern art adorned them.

Muttering to herself, a big, sturdy maid wearing latex gloves appeared in the hall in front of the elevator, entering just after they exited. She wore a navy blue uniform that did nothing for her abundant bosom, waist and sausage legs.

"Odelia," Flip told them with a kind of reluctant relish that told Pete their bellhop knew all, saw all and loved to gossip even as he feigned an unwillingness to talk about what wasn't his business. "Her second shift maid staff has not arrived and she let the first shift go early. With the weather, the new shift may not get through. She is not happy about this."

"Mendez didn't seem sure whether the roads would close."

"Oh, they will, sir. Most definitely. I have seen this weather before. Soon, the roads will close. The gate will close and the plows will cease. It is for safety that they must."

"For how long?"

"As long as the blizzard lasts. The weathermen, they are predicting this one will last several days. Possibly three or four."

Much as he'd been looking forward to secluding himself in a luxurious suite with Lisa, the idea of being stranded wasn't an appealing one to Pete.

Flip opened the door to their suite, one of two on the second floor. The first room in their suite was a huge sitting area with a massive fireplace, plush furniture, stereo, a large television in a closing cabinet, and a full bar. Flip proceeded to bustle around, unloading their luggage, stoking the fire already blazing in the fireplace, talking constantly about lovers and interesting jobs in undiminished enthusiasm. Pete finally tucked a five dollar bill into his pocket and pushed him out the door, all the while he bowed and said, "Very good, Detective. You must call if you need anything."

Pete closed and locked the door. Lisa was grinning when he turned to her. "It'll be cozy," she said while he drew her against him. "Just the two of us. No interruptions."

She was right. His uneasiness was unfounded. When he reached for her and she came without hesitation, he realized that, in his ripe old age of 32, he could think of much worse things than being in an extravagant suite with a huge bed and the most beautiful woman in the world.

They made love with a swiftness that made him chuckle out loud when it was over...but then the sound of loud, angry voices and a door slamming nearby jolted him from his hedonist focus.

"You hear that?"

Lisa reached for him, pulling his mouth back to hers.

Hear what?


Chapter Two

"Now I know what was in that brown shopping bag," Pete murmured when they'd taken the edge off needs that'd been a long time in coming.

And I've been waiting for this getaway too anxiously to be satisfied for long. Lisa chuckled, looking up at him with a mischievous smile. "It's a big bag."

Pete could never be described as a pretty boy with easy charm and confidence around women. It was part of what Lisa loved so much about him, from his endless freckles, red-orange hair, to the way he excelled at tripping over his own tongue. He still did it with her sometimes, seven years after they'd met. His fumbling had made their courtship take longer than she'd wanted. Luckily, she wasn't a woman to sit around waiting for something to come to her. Sometimes his job took over and she barely saw him, but when she compared the way he loved her to those who came before, he always came up so far on top she found herself with no complaints at all.

Pete groaned deep in his throat before he kissed her again. Dear God, she didn't think she'd ever get enough of this man. But her stomach rumbled at that moment, loud and long. She'd been so eager to get here, she'd eaten almost nothing at lunch--other than way too much chocolate. And the restaurant wouldn't open for another hour or so.

A knock made Pete groan again, but not happily. Lisa rose with him and slipped into the warm hotel robe he handed her from the bathroom. He took the other and put it on. Her gaze went to the clock while she knotted the robe. It was nearly two-thirty.

When she sat before the cheerful fire in the sitting room, she wasn't surprised to hear the manager telling Pete that the roads had officially closed. They'd been expecting an older pair and newlyweds--both couples were now stranded in town. "Caring for a handful of guests until the roads can be cleared will be easier anyway," Mr. Mendez murmured almost to himself, twisting and tugging on one corner of his moustache.

"How many other guests made it?" Lisa asked, rising to go to stand next to Pete. She knew there was another couple on this floor, the Stoddards. The roving-eyed retiree and his poor, self-conscious wife Flip had told them about. Apparently the couple was fighting, since they'd heard arguing and a door slam nearby while making love.

"The Stoddards have been here for three days." He pointed to the suite on the other side of the second floor. "They'd planned to leave on the 15th, but that may not be possible now. There's another couple on the third floor..."

"The fashion designer and her New Zealand boyfriend?" Lisa guessed.

"Felippo has been talking again," Mendez said with annoyance. "Yes. They had a single woman with them--the fashion designer's assistant apparently. The three of them arrived about two hours before the two of you."

"So the additional staff never made it?" Lisa guessed.

Mr. Mendez gave a nervous look that vividly portrayed his worry about running the inn basically on his own. "Unfortunately, that's correct. Our chef, wait staff and additional maids are also stranded in town. While our restaurant won't be serving a full menu until our staff can get here, our maid does provide basic meals."

"And the spa?"

"Our masseur will still be providing services throughout your stay. I recommend you go down to the spa for that."

Lisa almost laughed when Pete said the masseur's services wouldn't be needed. Though she'd known he'd be too jealous to let another man massage her and, frankly, the idea of anyone else's hands on her but Pete's wasn't pleasant, she had been looking forward to a facial and any other pampering the spa provided.

"That's probably for the best," Mr. Mendez said to Pete's jealous comment.

His words made little sense to Lisa. Shouldn't he be advising them to take advantage of the amenities the inn offered, especially considering how little extra they would be providing with minimal staff during at least part of their stay?

The manager excused himself, saying he needed to inform the guests on the third floor. Pete looked after him until he'd disappeared into the hall with the elevator.

"Not sure that guy's suited to a job like this. I'm afraid he's gonna have a nervous breakdown." Pete closed the door. He was shaking his head.

"Maybe this is his first week."

"Maybe. Maybe once the roads are cleared, he'll take off and never come back."

Chuckling, Lisa reached for him. He untied the belt around her robe and pushed it off as if it was an affront to his plans.

"Hmm, maybe we can find something to do until dinner is served..." she murmured.

A scream sounded loud and shrill from the hall. In shock, she and Pete whirled toward the suite door. The scream outside became a wail. Hurriedly, Lisa swept up her robe and pulled it back on. Then Pete rushed out of their suite into the hall with her on his heels. He looked toward the crossing hall with the stairwell and elevator on one side, then toward the janitor's closet at the end of the suite hall. Odelia, the muttering maid they'd met on their way out of the elevator, stood in front of the closet. She covered her mouth with her hand and screamed wildly again.

Lisa peered around Pete when he stopped short next to the woman. He swore and Lisa gasped. A young man had been stuffed unceremoniously inside the small space, a massage table lying on top of his body. Lisa could see he was dead.

Taking a deep breath, she stepped back and pinched herself, certain she had to be dreaming. Either she was having a nightmare or her very worst fear about her romantic holiday had come true. Death. It's murder on the heartstrings when you're married to a detective.

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