As far as sleepy little towns go, it was a perfect picture of torpor‐ early to bed, slow to rise, and wont to hibernate through the cold dark winter‐ nestled snug in a little valley between the mountains. And then the murders began.
The first to go was the local high school Latin teacher. She was found after her car went over a bank and wrapped itself around a tree. At first, it was thought to be a simple accident. After all, the roads were windy and deer frequently darted out of the woods causing quite a few wrecks on dark nights.
The second, Heath Owen, was the owner of a small brew pub who was found amongst the stainless steel mash tanks. He had suffered a blunt force trauma with severe cranial hemorrhaging. It appeared that he had slipped on the recently hosed-down floor and bashed his skull open on the lip of a tank. The authorities ruled it an accidental death.
It wasn’t until the third body turned up a week later that deputy sheriff, Cheryl Meyerhoffer, started thinking there might be something more to these “freak” accidents.
It was a bright, frigid October morning; the kind when one might look outside and contemplate going for a walk but decide against it because it looked too cold. Cheryl was in the middle of her first cup of coffee, half-dressed in her uniform, and debating whether she should sneak out onto the porch for a cigarette when her phone started ringing. She sighed heavily and took another swallow of coffee before answering.
“Charlie, it’s too early for you to be calling me. I’ll be at the office in an hour,” she said as she went to the counter and picked up a half-eaten piece of toast.
“I know Cheryl,” said the voice on the other end. “You know I wouldn’t bother you if I didn’t have to, but... we got a body down at Chester Farms you need to see before you come in.”
Chester Farms was just on the edge of town. It was a little artisan operation that drew in the swanky folks from across the mountain and tourists that drove past. They sold canned goods, specialty meats and sausages, and the like. Chester, the owner, was a retired lawyer and didn’t need the money. He was also eighty-three years old.
“Chester? The old coot finally kicked off, huh? What do they need me for?” Cheryl asked.
“It’s not Chester,” replied Charlie. “It’s his granddaughter.”
Chester’s granddaughter was the belle of Fairview. At 23 years old, she held the most pageant titles, appeared in more local TV commercials, and was known by just about everyone in the county. She also had quite the head for business. While her parents were busy running the family store, she was building a horse empire. She started with one she received as a gift for her fourteenth birthday‐ trained it, groomed it, and bred it. With good genes and the right connections, she put herself through school at U.C. Davis, then returned home and put that education to work. Her death would make headlines.
“Be there in twenty,” snapped Cheryl and she hung up.