Introducing book one of Paty Jager's Gabriel Hawke series.
The ancient Indian art of tracking is his greatest strength . . . And his biggest weakness.
Fish and Wildlife State Trooper Gabriel Hawke believes he’s chasing poachers. However, he comes upon a wildlife biologist standing over a body that is wearing a wolf tracking collar.
He uses master tracker skills taught to him by his Nez Perce grandfather to follow clues on the mountain. Paper trails and the whisper of rumors in the rural community where he works, draws Hawke to a conclusion that he finds bitter.
Arresting his brother-in-law ended his marriage, could solving this murder ruin a friendship?
In the author's words . . .
Coming up with the character Gabriel Hawke and placing him in Wallowa County as a Fish and Wildlife State Trooper seemed like the most logical thing to me. He is a descendant of the Nez Perce band that summered and wintered in Wallowa County; the rural area where I grew up. His being law enforcement over the land that was his forefathers seemed like a great way for him to not only fulfill his life but to also give homage to his people.
I spent a day riding with a Fish and Wildlife State Trooper to learn all about what they dealt with on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis. Because the county is so big, but a small population, there are only 5 troopers who work long shifts to keep the wildlife safe but the people safe as well. They not only do their Fish and Wildlife job of making sure no one is poaching or trespassing and have the correct permits and licenses, they also have to do their trooper job of stopping speeders and reckless drivers, helping with disputes, and car wrecks. They have a lot to deal with.
And to make things even more intense, I made Hawke a Master Tracker, not only a nod to his heritage but to make him able to go to other places to teach and to track. That way not all the murders will happen in the county with a small population. ;)
The only problem is his tenacity and eye for detail that makes him a Master Tracker also tend to draw him into murder investigations. He can't let a trail go once he gets started and when he is first on the scene of a murder, he has to follow it to the end.
And while he states he is a confirmed bachelor and loves it after a divorce early in his career as a trooper, he has two women who are giving him fits. One he considers a friend and one he is trying to think only friendly thoughts about.
I would have to say that showcasing the county where I grew up with a Native American character is what I like best about this series I'm writing. But it is the characters and animals I've populated these books with that make writing each book a joy.
Enjoy a sneak peek from Murder of Ravens
by Paty Jager
Hawke had come across dozens of deaths as an Oregon Fish and Wildlife State Trooper. Judging from the bulging, blood-shot eyes, red dotted face, and scratch marks on the neck where the victim had tried to take the collar off, he’d say the man had been strangled. A check of the bolts and the tightness of the collar made him wonder how someone could have wrestled with a man this size to get the collar tightened. The bolts would have had to have been in place. He mimicked the actions it would have taken to put the collar on and then tighten it. Not an easy feat on a man of the victim’s size.
Yet, there was no sign of a struggle. “Accidental or on purpose?” Talking to himself was his custom from spending so many days and hours alone with his horse, mule, and dog.
“What did you say?” Marlene asked.
He felt the pockets for a wallet or identification and noticed the victim’s belt wasn’t latched in its natural hole. It was one hole looser. Had someone else tightened his belt? Or had the belt been the murder weapon and the collar put on after the man was incapacitated? He took a photograph. A cell phone was in the coat pocket along with a wad of tissues. These were placed in evidence bags. Rolling the body on its side, he scanned the area under the body. The ground appeared more disturbed than from a body lying on it. Tuffs of grass had been unrooted. The retrieval team would look for evidence under the body. He found a wallet in the back pocket of the man’s camo pants. A quick flip revealed a driver’s license. Ernest Cusack, 20456 Elm Loop, Alder, Oregon. The victim was a local.
The wallet was bagged along with coins, a pocket knife, and lip balm found in his front pockets. There didn’t seem to be any other evidence to collect.
Back at the mule, he put all the evidence bags in the pack and pulled out a small tarp. He walked back to the body and placed the tarp over the victim, using rocks to hold it down.
“Now what do we do?” Marlene asked.
Hawke walked over to his horse and started unsaddling the animal. “We wait.”
“You know no one is going to get up here before tomorrow.” She shouldered her pack.
“Put that down. You’ll have to remain until the others get here.” He walked over and slipped her pack off her shoulder. “Make camp. You’re staying here.”
End of Excerpt
Copyright © by Paty Jager
Learn more by visiting the author's website. MURDER OF RAVENS released January 2019.
Meet the Author
Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 37 novels, 8 novellas, and numerous anthologies of murder mystery and western romance. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters.This is what Books a Plenty Book Reviews has to say about the Gabriel Hawke series: "The blend of nature tracking, clues, and the animals makes for a fascinating mystery that is hard to put down."
Murder of Ravens by Paty Jager
Heat Level: 1
Language Level: 2
Violence Level: 3
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