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Before Deputy Tempe Crabtree saw the evidence of the forest fire, she could smell it. Smoke was heavy in the air and got thicker as she drove up the highway into the mountains. Monday was one of her days off, but when something happened in her jurisdiction she was often the first responder. Her instructions from the sheriff's sub-station in Dennison were to make sure everyone who lived in the path of the fire, which started in the higher elevations of Bear Creek canyon, had obeyed evacuation orders.
As resident deputy of the large but sparsely populated area around the mountain community of Bear Creek, Tempe's job usually consisted of making traffic stops, arresting drunk drivers, solving problems among neighbors, and looking for lost children or cattle. Along with the highway patrol, Tempe was the law in the community, located in the southern Sierra where the foothills grew into mountains.
The last estimate Tempe had heard about the fast moving fire was it covered more than 1100 acres. She was stopped at the staging area by a highway patrolman. She knew him by sight though she couldn't remember his name.
Though his uniform still had sharp creases, large circles of dampness crept from his underarms. Opaque sunglasses covered his eyes. He put both hands on the open window of her Blazer as he bent down to speak to her. "Where're you headed, Deputy?"
"My orders are to check out some of the houses in the path of the fire. Make sure everyone's out."
"Be careful you don't put yourself in danger. It's one fast-moving fire. It's in a rough area where they haven't been able to get any personnel in yet. They're doing lots of water drops. All the roads areclosed from here on up."
"Thanks for the warning. I know some of the folks who may not have received the word yet."
Tempe drove by a private airstrip that had been taken over as the fire command post. Men and equipment, fire engines, water tenders and bulldozers were dispatched from there, as well as truckloads of hand crews.
Leaving her window down, Tempe drove around the traffic cones that blocked the road. She planned to stop first at the Donaldsons', but when she reached their place they were loading horses into a trailer, obviously on their way out.
The higher she drove on the winding road, the darker the sky, the thicker the smoke, and the harder it was to breathe. Gray ash showered her white Blazer. She passed fire trucks and men heading upward to fight the fire. In her heart she was thankful her son, Blair, was already back on the coast for his last year in college or he'd be on the fire lines. Fighting fire had been his first love since the age of sixteen when he began hanging around Bear Creek's fire station.
Tempe stopped at several homes hidden down winding trails or perched on hilltops, surrounded by pine, cedar trees and underbrush. Most homes were deserted, with signs of hurried evacuation.
Loaded pick-up trucks drove down the hill, some pulling horse or cattle trailers, not getting out any too soon from the looks of the black sky and the large amount of raining ash.
She had one more place to check. A beautiful home and separate studio built of sugar pine stood atop a knoll surrounded by chaparral, and a thick pine forest. Tempe had been there once on a domestic abuse call. The owner, a well-known artist, Vanessa Ainsworth, now lived alone since her boyfriend had been served a restraining order. If Vanessa wasn't gone already, Tempe hoped to help her collect her animals and paintings and carry some of them out for her.
When Tempe made the last turn before Vanessa's she halted at a horrifying sight.
Posted February 6, 2010
The wildfire is spreading rapidly down the Sierras threatening communities like Bear Creek. Resident Deputy Tempe Crabtree tries to insure everyone has been evacuated from the nearby foothills to the shelter run by her spouse Pastor Hutch Hutchison. However, firefighters prevent her from continuing near the home of half Tolowa Native American artist Vanessa Ainsworth.
Soon afterward, Tempe learns that a woman and dog died in the inferno near Vanessa's home. However, bullets killed both of them. Detectives Richards and Morrison lead the investigation that is going nowhere as Vanessa's former husband has an air tight alibi so the victim's ex boyfriend remains the top suspect. The cops scornfully send Tempe to Vanessa's hometown of Crescent City where her cousin lives because they assume an Indian to Indian chat will get them information as Tempe is part Yanduchi. Though on a personal level the trip proves fruitful; on an investigative level it goes nowhere though she picks up two stalkers along the way. However, ever since CALLING THE DEAD awakened her skills, Vanessa's spirit visits her. Tempe accompanied by Hutch continues to help the lead detectives, but her second trip is not well received as this the killer stalks her.
This is an exciting police procedural enhanced by a profound look at the historical atrocities towards Native Americans and the current bias of the lead detectives whose overt attitude makes it lucid that they need consideration of others training. The story line is fast-paced as Tempe works the case encouraged by the spirit of Vanessa, learns more about her heritage, and struggles with her relationship with Hutch.
Posted November 24, 2008
Deputy Tempe Crabtree is working to make sure everyone evacuates due to the huge forest fire. By the time she heads to Vanessa Ainsworth's house, the first is too close for her to go further. So she heads back to town to check on her husband, Hutch Hutchinson who is minister of the local church. He has set up a temporary shelter for fire victims. She searches for Vanessa there. <BR/><BR/>She gets called back to Vanessa's house which has been consumed by the fire. A body and a dog are found in the remains. It appears they died in the fire. Vanessa is identified, but it is soon learned that they both died from being shot before the fire arrived.<BR/><BR/>Tempe often has an uphill battle with her work. First because she's a woman, and second because she's part Native American. She is sent to talk with Vanessa's cousin because she is also Native American. She finds herself deeper and deeper in this investigation. Can she discover the identity of the killer without putting herself or others in danger?<BR/><BR/>I really enjoy these books. They are such a fun, fast cozy read. Tempe is a fun character. I enjoy getting to know more about the Native American culture with her. I like the peripheral characters in each of her books, as well as her relationship with Hutch. The location is great, too. The author does a great job of helping me see the place as well as the various characters she comes in contact with.<BR/><BR/>I highly recommend this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 10, 2009
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