Blood Country

Blood Country

3.7 66
by Mary Logue
     
 

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This first in a series launch introduces Claire Watkins, a deputy sheriff for the Pepin County Police Department. Claire, a former Minneapolis police detective, and her 10-year-old daughter Meg fled the Twin Cities after her husband, Steve, also a cop, was killed.

When Landers Anderson--an elderly neighbor who befriended Claire and Meg--dies of a heart attack

Overview

This first in a series launch introduces Claire Watkins, a deputy sheriff for the Pepin County Police Department. Claire, a former Minneapolis police detective, and her 10-year-old daughter Meg fled the Twin Cities after her husband, Steve, also a cop, was killed.

When Landers Anderson--an elderly neighbor who befriended Claire and Meg--dies of a heart attack after being sideswiped with a shovel, Claire determines to find the culprit. This involves delving into Landers's family history and investigating the machinations of a right-wing group, Homeowners of America, that is buying up property to build an environmentally unsound development.

At the same time, Meg fearfully admits to Claire that she saw the man who killed Steve. Claire contacts her former partner, Det. Bruce Jacobs, and prods him into accelerating the investigation into Steve's death.

Editorial Reviews

Toby Bromberg
Crackling suspense, secrets from the past and a touch of romance make Blood Country a fantastic read. In addition to the exciting main storyline, there are several excellent subplots. Blood Country is superlative entertainment.
Romantic Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Set in the scenic bluff country along the Mississippi River of western Wisconsin, this first in a series launch introduces Claire Watkins, a deputy sheriff for the Pepin County Police Department. Claire, a former Minneapolis police detective, and her 10-year-old daughter Meg fled the Twin Cities after her husband, Steve, also a cop, was killed. When Landers Anderson, an elderly neighbor who befriended Claire and Meg, dies of a heart attack after being sideswiped with a shovel, Claire determines to find the culprit. This involves delving into Landers's family history and investigating the machinations of a right-wing group, Homeowners of America, that is buying up property to build an environmentally unsound development. At the same time, Meg fearfully admits to Claire that she saw the man who killed Steve. Claire contacts her former partner, Det. Bruce Jacobs, and prods him into accelerating the investigation into Steve's death. The murderer, who has a mysterious police informant, tries to kidnap Meg but instead grabs Claire's pregnant sister Bridget, who gets away. Meanwhile, Claire's complex relationship with Bruce (they slept together once, he carries a torch for her, she's not sure she's ready) is challenged by her attraction to a neighbor, Rich Haggard. While the Anderson case has a satisfying solution, the mystery surrounding Steve's murder concludes with a killer most readers will have identified long before he's revealed. Although the plot development is heavy-handed and the dialogue often stilted, Logue has created some appealing characters in an attractive, offbeat setting. (Nov.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
In this new series start, Claire Watkins, a deputy sheriff in Fort St. Antoine, WI, investigates the murder of her next-door neighbor, a pleasant, aging gardener with no apparent enemies. When she encounters the man's bitter brother and community controversy surrounding a new townhouse development, however, she begins to think otherwise. Then, too, there's the hit-and-run driver who killed Claire's husband a year ago and may be tracking her daughter--who just happened to witness the incident. Surly suspects, small-town surroundings, and solid prose make this a welcome addition to most collections. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781440532962
Publisher:
F+W Media
Publication date:
07/29/2011
Series:
Claire Watkins Series , #1
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
72,378
File size:
342 KB

Read an Excerpt



Chapter One


As Claire stepped out of her house into the fading sunlight of an early-April day, she looked back over the roof. The bluff rose up into the pale blue sky like the walls of a fortress. One of the reasons she had bought this old farmhouse was that it had that protection. The bluff was formed when limestone that had been carved away in the ancient bed of the Mississippi River. Its sides were covered with prickly red cedar, slashes of birch, black walnuts, and oak.

    Meg, her ten-year-old daughter, tugged at her jacket. "Mom, I'm going to run over to Ramah's. She's standing at her door. I'll be right back."

    "Yes, go ahead."

    "But watch me, Mom. Watch me until I get there."

    "Of course I'll watch you." She ruffled Meg's hair and sent her on her way. Her darling daughter. Probably the most important reason they had moved down to Fort St. Antoine. Meg had been afraid in their old house in St. Paul.

    The two of them had lived in Fort St. Antoine for nearly nine months. The town was about an hour and a half southeast of the Twin Cities, nestled between the shore of Lake Pepin and the surrounding limestone bluffs. It was situated halfway down a natural lake that had formed in the Mississippi River. The town was named after a French fort that had been built in the eighteenth century, although little of the fort remained. The town had peaked around 1910 with a population of 730, having both a railroad station and a ferry. Neither existed now. Where the town had once been a vital transportation center for the farmers in thesurrounding area, it was now just a pleasant day-trip destination for tourists from the Twin Cities. The current population was around 180.

    She pulled her eyes down from the bluffs and watched Meg wave from Ramah's doorway. Ramah was an older woman who watched Meg for an hour or two when she got home from school.

    Claire saw that her other neighbor, Landers Anderson, was sitting out in his garden, so she walked over to chat. "What's up?" she yelled at him as she got closer.

    "Pondering," he told her. He sat smiling up at her, his wisps of white hair sticking out from under a green-plaid tam and an old Green Bay Packers sweatshirt mugged over his belly.

    "Good thing to do on a night like this."

    "Yes, finally winter is letting loose of us. A fine day. It makes me wonder how many more springs I'll see."

    "Oh, I'm afraid you'll be around for a while."

    "Keeping an eye on you." Landers patted the chair next to him.

    "I can only sit for a moment. Meg and I have a big night planned. We rented a video, and we're making popcorn. Since I don't work tomorrow, we thought we'd have a little party. Would you like to join us?"

    "No, thanks." He lifted up the tam on his head and plopped it back down, making his white hair fly out at the sides. "I've got a good book going."

    "What are you reading?"

    Landers laughed silently, his head bobbing up and down as if on a gentle spring, and then told her. "The Yearling. Seeing all the deer this year, I remembered that book that I read as a boy. Took it out from the library. It's still good." He paused, then asked, "How's Meg doing at school?"

    "She has her ups and downs. Last few days, she has seemed upset about something, but when I ask her, she says it's nothing."

    "Meg thinks a lot. It always makes everyday life a little harder when you do it with full consciousness."

    Looking at Landers, Claire was surprised by how much she loved this old man. He had been such a help to her when they had first moved down. Cups of tea when she was tired from stripping wallpaper, water when their well pipes burst, a telephone before the phone company put theirs in, and a shoulder to cry on when she felt alone and disheartened and didn't want Meg to know. He was one of those rare people who had taken growing old as a chance to reflect on both his life and others and, in doing so, had grown wise. A simple sentence from him often put the wrangled mess of her life in perspective.

    He cleared his throat and folded his hands. She knew this meant he was ready to make a pronouncement. "Someone called me up and wanted to buy my house."

    "Oh, what did you tell them?" Claire felt her heart stop. She couldn't bear to think of Landers moving away. He was so much a part of this place that she was sure the sun wouldn't shine as much if he were gone.

    "Hey, "I'm no dummy. I asked him how much he'd give me."

    "Did he tell you?"

    "Sure. He said a hundred and fifty thousand. For the house and the land."

    Claire was surprised. Landers had quite a nice parcel of land, but the price seemed exorbitant. She had bought her house and one acre of land for forty thousand a year ago. She knew that property values down along the lake were rising much faster than the stock market, but the offer still surprised her. "Wow."

    "That's what I thought too. Wow. But I didn't say it. So then he offered a little more. I told him I'd sell over my dead body, and that might not be too far off. He told me the offer would only be good for a short period of time. I wonder if it has anything to do with that new development they are thinking of putting in down here. People get so greedy when there's a little money to be had."

    "Are you considering selling?"

    "Not really. I don't need the money. But sometimes I do think I should move to one of those senior apartments. Then I wouldn't have to go fussing around in the garden all the time."

    This comment made Claire feel better. Landers loved his garden. She didn't think he could live without one. She saw Meg was running down the road and stood up to go.

    "You ready to get your hands dirty tomorrow?" he asked her.

    "You bet." They had a date to work on his garden. "I'll see you in the morning."

    "Don't arrest anyone tonight," he said, and chuckled at his own joke.


LANDERS ANDERSON PICKED up a handful of black soil and squeezed it. The earth formed a soft ball in his hand, like crumbly pie dough. He leaned back on his heels and smiled. Spring filled him with glee. There was no other way to think about it. Anticipation of all that was to come, all the green that would burst out of the ground, all the color that would swirl out of the green. Buds and flowers and leaves spurting out of this black goop he had created. He looked up into the fading blue sky and, in this his eighty-first year, was glad for spring to be here again.

    He dropped the dirt ball back onto the garden bed and straightened up. Standing took an effort, joints rubbing together like tools left out in the rain. He wasn't supposed to be out here in his garden. Or rather, he wasn't supposed to be working in his garden, according to the doctor at the Mayo Clinic. Triple bypass surgery ten years ago had not cured him, only pushed the problem off. Although the doctor was a somber man, he had waxed eloquent for a moment when he declared that Landers' heart and arteries were shot, describing his heart as "one of the worst traffic jams I've ever seen." Landers laughed at the description but hadn't been pleased by the prescriptions: no heavy lifting, hardly any walking, lots of tiny pills always handy.

    But the way he looked at it, this effort of living, either you enjoyed it or you might as well dig your own grave. He had given up tennis, then he had given up golf, but he'd be goddamned if he'd give up puttering in his own garden. It would hurt him every day to see it neglected and Landers was persuaded that this pain would do him more harm than a few moments of shoveling, a little extra effort bent over weeding.

    Besides, he was asking for help. Claire would come over tomorrow morning and help him uncover all his beds and stir up his compost heap and put some manure on the gardens. He could trust her to do it well. Of course, he would watch her and direct her. She didn't know much about gardening, but she was learning, and she had the love of it. She knew that you needed to touch the soil, get your hands dirty, run fingertips over flowertops, pinch the leaves, clip the branches, deadhead the old blooms. The gardening seemed to be good for her, calmed her down. She was so jumpy. Must be hard to be a cop. He looked up again at the sky and was thankful she had moved in next door.

    The light was fading. He could see the blue leak out of the sky, the gray trees around him lose the little green they had in buds. He wiped his hands on his pants and was turning to go into the house when he saw what he had been looking for. Bending forward so quickly he almost toppled over, he caught himself on the fence and then leaned in closer. Yes. Oh, yes, it was the first spear of the new tulips he had planted last fall. Tulipa greigii. Small frilly plants with purple-striped leaves, long-lived, hardly like what one thinks a tulip to be. All winter he had been looking forward to watching their leaves shoot out of the ground and then the swell of bloom and finally the red blossom. They would probably last more years than he would. He reached over and touched the tip of the new shoot. Then he heard a sound, the gate creaking. He had been caught. Again, he stood and felt unsteady.

    As he turned to face his visitor, he heard a whistle in the air and then saw something coming at him. He tried to make it what it wasn't—the wing of a blackbird, a tree branch falling, something natural and explainable—and then the shovel hit him.


THEY WATCHED BLACK BEAUTY, and at the end Meg told her that it was her very favorite movie in the whole world.

    "But last week I thought Charlotte's Web was your most favorite movie."

    "Oh, Mom."

    Claire wrapped an arm around her. "Oh, Meg. It's time for bed."

    "But it's only eight-thirty. I don't have to go to bed until nine."

    "I'm exhausted. So that means you have to go to bed. You can read for a while, though."

    Claire followed her up the stairs and tucked her into bed. She kissed her daughter on the forehead and said a silent prayer to carry her safely through the night. Meg turned the light on by the side of the bed and propped herself up on her pillow. Claire stood in the doorway and gazed at her for a moment. Meg was caught in a pool of light, her dark hair shining. Her eyelashes dipped over her eyes, reading. A beautiful child.

    Claire turned into the darkness of the hallway, glad again that they had moved to this quiet community where the most violent act she would do in a day was to bend and pull a weed from the ground. She hoped it would stay that way.

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Blood Country 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 66 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the plot and learning about each character. Towards the middle of the story it became very predictable. The spelling errors were horrible though and that bothered me a bit. Usually I can skim right over errors but this story was just so full of them it was extremely hard to miss.
FigmentTB More than 1 year ago
The characters were well developed, most of the relationships were believable. The plot was given away early in the story, I liked the author, but the editing was horrible. I will read the next book in the series, but if the editing doesn't improve I may not continue after that. (How do you get fece for the word face repeatedly?)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting story, though definitely predictable. I enjoyed the characters and plot line. I would read more by this author. The editing errors are definitely distracting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
all the typos, poor grammar and wrong words (i.e. throughout the book face was spelled fece - BIG difference!), and bad punctuation were distracting. The story was pretty good although I knew who the bad guy was right away. It was interesting to keep reading and find out how she found out and what she did about it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked this book enough to seek out the rest of the series. Character development made up for any predictability of the plot. Being familiar with the local, I loved how the area was described perfectly. I have to agree with others, though, that spelling errors trhroughout the book were very distracting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think the author has promise. A lot of editing errors but the storyline was interesting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I buy and read a book based upon the review and the sample.In this case the reviews were not that high and the sample sounded ok. I read the book, I enjoyed it. The author did an ok job with the storyline and the characters, thats about all I can say. I will read another one of her books, depending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The plot was good, characters developed well
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good sunday afternoon book
dd28 More than 1 year ago
Good story although somewhat predictable. Strong character development. Would read more by this author. Highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
twists, turns and a surprise ending. great read will look for more by this author
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it however the editor really should have spell checked lots of errors
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was not repetitive at all. I enjoyed this book and would follow this Series on Claire Watkins. (dw)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
tuffelman More than 1 year ago
My Green Bay, Wisconsin based Mystery Book Club selected this book for our August read. Partly because it takes place in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and the main character is a female police officer. It offered all that is good in a mystery/suspense novel without lots of blood and gore. The characters were an interesting and varied group ranging from very good and brave to disturbed and evil. After finishing it I was eager to move on to book 2 in this series by Mary Logue
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good story but the grammar and spelling nazis need to give it a rest. I found no errors in my book. If these anal retentive nazis would just let go and read for enjoyments sake instead of grading the book,, they wouldnt find such irritants in the book. The story was entertaining and a good mystery.
bmamca36 More than 1 year ago
This is the first book that I read by Mary Logue and enjoyed it enough to look forward to reading more of her work. It was well written and moved smoothly through out the book. There were many twists and turns which were sometimes predictable but not always. Well worth reading.
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Loved this book! Great mystery with a touch of romance.