The Mountain Mystery Series
The Road the Lavender
3rd PLACE WINNER IN THE MYSTERY/SUSPENSE/THRILLER GENRE, ROCKY MOUNTAIN FICTION WRITERS, 2019 COLORADO GOLD WRITING CONTEST
a mystery novel of 100,000 words by D.P benjamin
My novel places ANNE SCRIPTOR, a dedicated young student of archaeology, at the center of a deadly treasure hunt. Russian mobsters have offered millions to possess a rare prehistoric arrowhead which Anne’s unscrupulous university professor, DR. ARNOLD CLARK, seeks to sell to the highest bidder.
When Dr. Clark upsets his Russians buyers, they threaten to kill him and he must improvise a plan to smuggle the arrowhead out of town. Aware the Russians are closing in and without Anne’s knowledge, he hides the arrowhead in a nondescript toolbox. Then he entrusts the toolbox and eleven others to Anne and uses the pretext of a university geocaching assignment to dispatch her to western Colorado with instructions to place the boxes in remote locations. After the artifact has been safely hidden, Clark plans to slip away to follow Anne and retrieve the treasure.
Unaware of her professor’s scheme, Anne hikes through wilderness terrain to hide her caches. Alone in the Colorado mountains, she’s overwhelmed by persistent memories of her abusive father. Battling unwelcome thoughts, she reaches the small town of Lavender where things go awry.
Mysterious strangers follow her until they die in unexplained explosions. Local characters take an unwholesome interest in her and DIAK HODELL, a sinister German, lurks in the shadows watching her every move. Seeking allies, she accepts help from TRINIDAD SANDS, a local man who owns the lavender farm which is the source of the town’s name. The two share a budding romance until she grows to distrust the handsome stranger.
Suspicious of Trinidad’s motives, haunted by childhood memories, and driven by a sense of loyalty to her professor, Anne flees from Lavender and embarks alone on a harrowing journey to retrieve the cached boxes only to be pursued by the relentless German and a growing posse of local and federal law officers.
A Lavender Wedding
A mystery novel of 100,000 words by d.p. benjamin
ANNE SCRIPTOR forms a working partnership with TRINIDAD SANDS by joining his investigative team. six months later the handsome detective proposes marriage and Anne says yes. The working couple is already busy investigating the unsolved murder of Esau Koller, a prolific author and local celebrity, But the wedding isn’t going to plan itself. so the bride-to-be travels from the small town of lavender to Glenwood Springs in order to audition a wedding band and tie up loose ends in the Koller case. The band is awful and the loose ends refuse to be tethered. After a frustrating day, with little accomplished, anne seeks to relax in the warm embrace of the colorado mountain town’s famous hot springs pool.
EXCERPT FROM MANUSCRIPT
She closed her eyes and sought to clear her mind.
It was late and she was the sole occupant of the sprawling mountain complex. The main pool, where she had just finished swimming laps, was about half a block long and, although the open water was reputed to be maintained at a constant 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the night air had grown chilly and she halted her circuits at twenty. Now she was sitting in the smaller and much warmer therapy pool, languishing in the heat and steam as water jets caressed her tired shoulders. In fifteen minutes it would be 10 o’clock—closing time and she was certain the staff would be glad to be rid of their final customer.
Anne sighed. She should be making wedding plans. But, instead of compiling a guest list and planning a reception, her thoughts kept returning to the fantastic events of the past twenty-four hours. The case was a troubling one: a dead mother and three daughters missing—how deep did this sordid tale go? She was lost in speculation until a nearby voice jolted her back to the present.
“My daughter needs your help.”
“Pardon,” Anne said as she reached back to turn off the jets.
“She needs your help,” the voice repeated.
Anne pushed away from the pool wall and turned in the shallow water until she could make out the figure of a woman standing on the deck above her. She tried to study the face, but the mist was thick and she couldn’t read the features.
“Mrs. Koller?” Anne ventured the name of the woman she knew to be dead.
“Of course.” The woman’s reply was raspy, perhaps intentionally disguised. It was a deep sound, almost animal in tone.
“And how do you suggest…?”
“Just stop,” the woman interrupted as the night wind shifted and she seemed to disappear in the enveloping steam. “You need to stop.”
Feeling the need for distance, Anne pivoted and swam further from the wall. Then she turned to tread water and stared into the mist for some sign of movement, but the phantom had vanished.
A mystery novel of 100,000 words by d.p. benjamin
excerpt from manuscript
The visiting Chinese geologists were masquerading as fossil hunters. Their secret mission to search for rare earth minerals had brought them to the wilds of Colorado and they were convinced they need protection.
Despite representing a brutal Communist regime and despite their shadowy roles as covert agents with clandestine intentions, the thought of their journey to the decadent West had filled them with dread. Their selective viewing of Hollywood films along with daily news accounts of mass-shootings had convinced them that all Americans were gun-crazy. And, if America was an unruly nation filled with pistol-packing varmints, it seemed logical to the nervous Chinese that they would encounter particular danger in the wilds of Colorado which they believed to be a wholly isolated and completely lawless frontier.
Their secret search for an isolated deposit of rare and valuable minerals meant they would be exploring miles of remote mountain terrain—a journey which their imaginations enlarged into a perilous trek through hostile territory. So they had been momentarily stunned to learn that their journey would not include the services of a well-armed platoon. But their fears were instantly allayed when they met JEREMIAH SPURGE and understood that this huge man was to be their assigned transporter and formidable protector.
So Spurge was on the job and it was just ANNE SCRIPTOR’s luck that she was left alone to neutralize the giant bodyguard. Lying prone fifty yards away, she struggled to get comfortable with the rifle and its awkward sling. Remembering how much she hated guns, she was certain that the recoil would be unpleasant and she imagined the telescopic sight slamming into her eyeball. But TRINIDAD and the others were depending on her. There would only be time for one shot and she had to make it count.
A mystery novel by d.p. benjamin
CONCEPTUAL STAGE ONLY
It may be time for my husband and wife detectives, TRINIDAD and ANNE SANDS, to leave Lavender. I envision the catalyst for their departure to be an unsolved murder perpetrated by a notorious villain who was earlier presumed dead.