Today I’m thrilled to spotlight a new cozy mystery series by Patrick Kelly called The Mountain View Murder. Get a sneak peak into the story by reading chapter 1 below.
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Guess who cries at Lou Thorpe’s funeral…
No one. His wife, grown children, and best friends all attend the service, but no one sheds a single tear. Poor Lou. He goes out for his morning walk, and a crazed driver knocks him out of life. Crazed? With no car, no driver, and no witnesses, it’s difficult to say. Was it an accident or intentional?
Until that morning, Bill O’Shea is living the dream. After a career of fighting crime in the big city, Bill buys a condo in the beautiful mountain resort community of Wintergreen, Virginia. When he meets his attractive new neighbor, Bill knows his retirement is off to a great start. But then the short-staffed police department asks Bill to help them investigate Thorpe’s death.
Soon, Bill falls into an old routine. Interviewing suspects. Checking alibis. Everyone has a secret to hide, but Bill lacks evidence to tie any of the suspects to the crime. He is missing something–like he has an itch he can’t reach to scratch.
Will Bill and his new friends solve the case, or will the murder of Lou Thorpe remain a mystery forever?
If you love beautiful mountain settings, a charming cast, and intriguing plot twists, you’re going to love this new series!
Clean read: no graphic violence, sex, or strong language.
Author Biography – Patrick Kelly
Award-wining author of The Joe Robbins Thriller Series, Pat has now written The Mountain View Murder, a clean traditional mystery set in the beautiful mountain resort of Wintergreen, Virginia.
Pat is a member of Sisters in Crime — Heart of Texas Chapter. He lives and works with his family in Austin, Texas and Wintergreen, Virginia. When not writing or marketing novels, he can be found hiking the hills of Central Texas or the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Pat is winner of the Beverly Hills Book Award for best thriller (A Siren’s Love) and a silver medalist for the Wishing Shelf Book Awards for adult fiction.
Book Excerpt – Chapter One
In the dead of the summer night, harsh winds blew from the north into the Shenandoah Valley. The cold front passed through Winchester and New Market and Harrisonburg, bringing relief from the steamy July heat that had gripped the valley for weeks. The chilling weather marched through the smaller cities of Staunton and Waynesboro. From Waynesboro, the front spread into a finger valley to the south and then through cornfields and chicken coops. Cows huddled together for warmth. Windows rattled on old farmhouses. The wind hit the east side of the small valley, sang through the forests of oak and hickory and maple, and rolled over the rounded tops of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
At fifteen minutes after three o’clock in the morning in the mountaintop resort community of Wintergreen, a seventy-four-year-old man woke in bed next to his slumbering wife. No more sleep for him that night. Insomnia. Wind whistled through an unlocked window in another room. He rose, stopped briefly in the bathroom, and dressed for his morning walk down to the Mountain Inn. The old man prided himself on maintaining his physical condition long after most of his contemporaries had given up. They were lazy and allowed wine and steaks and desserts to add to their figures year after year until they could no longer enjoy the greatest thrills life had to offer. Though the sun rose early that time of year—before six—he often returned from his exercise in time to make coffee and observe the day’s dawning from his back deck.
The old man exited through the summer home’s front door carrying a flashlight, but he kept it turned off. Even though clouds had rolled in, there was enough ambient light to distinguish the forest from the paved road. He lumbered a quarter mile up Hemlock Drive and crossed Devils Knob Loop into the Westwood Condos. At the end of the parking lot, he cut through the woods on an asphalt trail. Close-set trees snuffed out the remaining light, and he flicked on the flashlight to pick his way through wet spots on the path. He cursed the intermittent showers that had plagued Wintergreen for a week now—they mucked up the golf course roughs and made the greens slow.
He crossed Wintergreen Drive and soon came to the fitness center parking lot. Next to the mail hut on the left, two sports cars with weather covers waited for their owners to return to the mountain. On the right, a lone SUV sat parked under the branches of an oak tree. The shadows were dark, so he couldn’t tell for sure, but the SUV’s outline resembled that of a Honda Pilot.
At the far edge of the lot, the old man cut back onto Wintergreen Drive and began to make his way down the steep decline of that side of the mountain. At that early hour, he was more likely to see a raccoon or an opossum than a passing car; even so, he kept to the left side of the road. A gust of wind rustled leaves on the hardwood trees at his side. The exercise kept his core warm, but his neck and face and hands were exposed to the chill, so he zipped his windbreaker to his chin and tightened the Velcro straps at his wrists.
Back at the parking lot, the Honda Pilot engine turned over, and the headlights illuminated the mail hut. The driver engaged the transmission and pulled out. Then the Honda Pilot turned left on Wintergreen Drive, passed Devils Knob Loop on the right and Blue Ridge Drive on the left, and headed down the hill.
The old man heard a vehicle approaching from a distance. Who could be out this early other than another poor insomniac? Perhaps a worker with an early shift down in the valley? No. Few workers lived up here on the mountain. Maybe a Wintergreen patrol officer making the rounds? Yeah. That was more likely. Headlights appeared behind him, and though he stayed on the safe side of the road, the old man drew comfort from knowing he wore a bright reflective vest.
The engine came closer, disturbing the peaceful darkness of his routine. The old man would be glad when the car was gone. His heart beat faster, and he subconsciously touched his chest. No worries there. Not yet. Not like many of his buddies—high cholesterol, hypertension—who lugged with them everywhere a ticking disaster in waiting.
Headlights swerved into the trees on his left. Why? The vehicle’s engine raced. It was insane to speed down this road, for the shoulders were narrow and the ditches deep. The old man turned to the uphill slope, and the headlights blinded him. He raised a hand to his eyes. The vehicle turned crazily to the other side of the street and then back toward the old man. His heartbeat thrashed in his ears. Signals rushed to his brain, and he clutched his chest. A terrifying noise of screeching tires pierced the air.
The grille of the Honda Pilot struck the old man, and he took flight. His body shot across the ditch toward the forest and hit the thick trunk of an old hickory. A sickening thwack echoed among the trees and down the nearby ski slope. The old man fell to the ground, and blood seeped from his skull onto dead leaves from the prior season.
The Honda rested three feet past where the old man had stood. The driver stepped from the SUV and shined a powerful flashlight into the ditch. Not seeing the old man, the driver stepped off the road and onto the muddy ground. The flashlight panned slowly across the area beyond the ditch until it found the reflective orange of the vest. There he was. A dark and shiny wet patch stained the ground beneath him.
Dead. Definitely dead.
The old man’s face was turned up. His mustache and upper lip had been torn from his face, leaving his mouth open in a sickly grin.
Not so handsome now.
The driver searched the road in both directions. No cars approached, and the driver climbed back into the Honda and drove down the mountain.
Thank you for reading Chapter One of The Mountain View Murder. In Chapter Two, you’ll meet Bill O’Shea, a retired police detective who is drawn into the investigation of a hit and run homicide.
The paperback and Kindle version are available on Amazon now at this link.