Dead Man’s Carve
“There’s nothing wooden about Dead Man’s Carve. Roberts mingles a sparkling, unique voice with a great old-fashioned mystery.”Wendy Lyn WatsonMysteries a la ModePet Boutique Mysteries (as Annie Knox)
Rilee Dust isn’t your typical wood carver, she’s young and making a go of it in the small village of Tickle Creek, Oregon. She’s also the only one in town who isn’t determined to get rid of her strip club neighbor. Everyone else, however, is ready to evict the Girls, Girls, Girls.
When a dog adopts her and turns her life upside down, Rilee’s not so sure it’s a good thing. Especially when he leads her to a moose, a military man and a dead body. Because the moose kicked her butt, the man saved her life and the dead body is one of her customers.
Now Rilee’s smack dab in the middle of all the small town politics with a killer on the loose who has an ax to grind. And Rilee just may be the next victim to have her name carved in stone.
“Bogart!” I yelled, frantically circling and trying to locate the direction of his cries. “Bogart…Heeere!” Catching a glimpse of movement to my right I ran toward the commotion.
An eighty pound black and brown Boxer flew through the air in my direction. Ears cutting through the wind, his eyes looked crazed and his jowls flapped as he cried out in fear. The cause of his flight … an eight hundred pound Moose who was pissed off and raising cane. Or in this case raising Bogart with her nose. He landed on his feet — like a colt trying to stand for the first time — legs splitting, chest smacking the earthen floor.
None of that stopped his feet from moving. Bogart was back in the race of his life as the irate cow charged after him.
“Oh, crap.” My stomach dropped as I realized she wasn’t done with her assault, and I was the much larger target as Bogart led her straight to me. I turned and ran, with Bogart hot on my heels. The sound of the cow’s breath filled my head. The distance closed between us. Zigzagging through the trees, I couldn’t outrun her. Nor could I out-maneuver her. I just hoped she’d get tired and realized we weren’t a threat.
Unfortunately, she didn’t feel the same way.
Rilee Dust hasn’t left the town of Tickle Creek in almost three years. She’s a wood carver who owns her own store, which is located in the downstairs portion of her home. She has just finished carving a bride and groom wedding topper for the groom-to-be, Ryan, as a gift for his future wife. As Ryan and his best man, Steve, leave her store, Steve convinces him to visit Woody’s, a strip club within walking distance of her place. The place is an eyesore, in more ways than one, for the area shop owners. Everyone would like to see it go.
She can’t believe that a nice guy like Ryan would visit a strip club, but she is distracted by a big dog, which has a run-in with Rilee’s porcupine, Patty. She allows the dog to stay the night, even though she’s not sure how her significant other will feel about it.
The next morning, the dog, now named Bogart, has an unfortunate encounter with a moose, who charges after Rilee, and she nearly drowns in the creek. She’s rescued by a handsome stranger, a wounded veteran named Stone, who carries her home and sets the local gossips’ tongues wagging. He’s handsome, mysterious, and the first man to make her heart skip a beat since her fiancé died in a fire, trying to save the parents of Ryan’s bride-to-be. When Rilee returns to the creek to retrieve the jacket Stone took off of her, Bogart brings her the groom wedding topper, and leads her to the body of Ryan on the train tracks.
The police decide that Ryan’s death was accidental, but she doesn’t believe that. Ryan is not the first man to die after going into the strip club, which is why Stone is there. Max, the first man, saved Stone’s life during the war, and he doesn’t believe Max’s death was an accident, either. Together, they begin to investigate the two deaths, as more strange incidents happen that seem to involve the strip club.
When she’s not investigating, she teaches a carving class with her father, and they have a class full of characters, including Peggy, a lively older woman who sets her sights on Rilee’s dad; Bernard, the nerdy local pharmacist; and Tommy, the big gentle giant who is the bouncer from the strip club.
Rilee isn’t the only one who believes Tommy’s place of employment is at the center of all their troubles. Mayor Bob, who runs the bookstore on the other side of Rilee, has set up surveillance cameras on the club, the other businesses, and the parking lot. When he decides to confide in Rilee and Stone, he is brutally attacked before he can tell them anything.
When a body turns up in her garage, and she finds her own carving knife hidden in her car, Rilee realizes she’s getting close to the truth. But when the truth is finally revealed, she finds herself facing her greatest fear. Will she be able to survive or will a killer go free?
I wanted to read this book because my father is a carver, and I enjoy watching him work. Ms. Roberts does a wonderful job of sharing Rilee’s pain at the loss of the love of her life, and the struggle to move on. The picture she paints of Tickle Creek was so vivid, I swear I could hear the creek roaring in my backyard. My favorite character by far is Peggy. She is a pip, and I hope I’m just as lively at that age. It’s a good story that is well-written, and kept me guessing until the end. I cannot wait to read the next one!
Three career paths resonated for Kym during her early childhood: a detective, an investigative reporter, and…a nun. Being a nun, however, dropped by the wayside when she became aware of boys—they were the spice of life she couldn’t deny.
In high school her path was forged when she took her first job at a dry cleaners and met every cop in town, especially the lone female police officer in patrol. From that point on there was no stopping Kym’s pursuit of a career in law enforcement—even if she had to duct tape rolls of coins to her waist to meet the weight requirements to be hired.
Kym followed her dream and became a detective that fulfilled her desire to be an investigative reporter, with one extra perk—a badge. Promoted to sergeant Kym spent the majority of her career in SVU. She retired from the job reluctantly when her husband drug her kicking and screaming to another state, but writing continued to call her name, at least in her head.