Chained

Chained

by Eileen Brady

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Overview

"Brady's years of experience as a veterinarian supply plenty of amusing stories and helpful hints for animal owners while her complicated heroine investigates a tricky case." —Kirkus Reviews

Everyone in the charming Hudson Valley town of Oak Falls expected Flynn Keegan, their handsome blond "Golden Boy" to make it big in Hollywood. So when veterinarian Kate Turner identifies a bone dug up by one of her dog patients as human, no one thinks back ten years to remember Flynn. Until DNA and a smashed skull prove he was murdered.

With few clues available to the forensic team, the grieving family begs Kate to investigate. His four closest friends plead ignorance. Neighbors and teachers remember the charismatic young man but offer no real help. Meanwhile, Kate is juggling her eccentric house call clients, a silly pot-bellied pig wedding and the sudden re-appearance of an old college boyfriend. Anthropologist Jeremy Engels, who returns like Indiana Jones from an African dig, is eager to rekindle their romance and offer his help. Together, they plan to crash Flynn's high school reunion, a re-creation of his senior prom, and interview his fellow students. Time isn't of the essence with a ten-year-old cold case. Right? Her Gramps is convinced the killer is long gone, just like the illegally captured brown bear she helped save, now roaming free in the woods. But Kate soon discovers that chains of love can be as strong as those made of steel—and some deadly secrets have put her next on the kill list.

Kate Turner, DVM, Mysteries:
Muzzled (Book 1)
Unleashed (Book 2)
Chained (Book 3)
Penned (Book 4)

Praise for Eileen Brady:
"Here is a novel written with exacting authority, along with a frolicking sense of humor about life, animals, and the lengths to which someone will go to right a wrong, all while still maintaining a solid sense of tension and suspense." —JAMES ROLLINS, New York Times bestselling author for Muzzled
"Brady's sophomore effort is an appealing mix of murder and medicine. Kate is an amiable heroine with lots of spunk. Not willing to leave well enough alone, she joins the list of cozy amateur sleuths such as Laura Childs's Theodosia Browning and Jane Cleland's Josie Prescott." —Library Journal for Unleashed
"Veterinarian Brady imbues this page-turner with authentic details about a vet and the critters she treats." —Kirkus Reviews

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781464209550
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 12/05/2017
Series: Kate Turner, DVM, Mysteries Series , #3
Pages: 284
Sales rank: 1,016,339
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Eileen Brady is a veterinarian living in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is a wife and mother of two daughters and often has to chase her six cats and two dogs away from her laptop keyboard. The Kate Turner, DVM Mysteries is her first series.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

I must be out of my mind.

Why I let my receptionist squeeze in a veterinary house call the morning of the wedding, I had no idea. As maid of honor I needed to be dressed and in place for a last-minute rehearsal at one o'clock. Instead of relaxing, I'm in an old pair of scrubs rushing to see a dog with a lump on his back.

I'd graduated from veterinary school with a degree and a massive amount of student loans — about one hundred and fifty thousand dollars' worth. Because of those debts I didn't have the luxury of turning down work. That's how I ended up in New York's beautiful Hudson Valley running the Oak Falls Animal Hospital for absentee owner, Doc Anderson. While Doc enjoyed his round-the-world cruise, I held down the fort. As a relief vet, my job was to make money, not waves. After a bumpy start, things had settled down and I found I enjoyed meeting his pet-loving, and sometimes eccentric, clients. On the downside, as the only veterinarian, I survived on a steady diet of stress, lack of sleep, and frequent helpings of pie.

"Let's go, Mari." My veterinary assistant had run back into the hospital for some last-minute supplies plus her emergency bag of potato chips. I gunned the animal hospital truck engine and draped my stethoscope on the rearview mirror. Eight o'clock Saturday morning in Oak Falls and I was already behind schedule.

"Got it, Doc." Mari slammed the passenger door, pulled on her seat belt, and gave me a thumbs-up. She'd already programmed our destination into the GPS, so with any luck we'd be at our appointment in about forty minutes. In case of delay, however, my maid of honor dress, swathed in plastic, swung back and forth from a hook directly behind me. We zipped along on a two-lane secondary road that paralleled the highway. Flashes of russet and gold foliage punctuated the stands of trees lining the road. Few people ventured out this early on Saturday morning. Even though Halloween was around the corner, today's weather prediction called for sunshine and a high of sixty degrees — a glorious Indian summer day to be enjoyed to the fullest before winter hit.

"Right turn in five hundred feet." I slowed down the battered F-150. Our GPS spoke in a clipped British accent. Whenever I heard it I felt like offering him a cup of tea.

Our appointment was in a very rural area outside of town. Here the homes were separated by several acres, interspersed with farmland. I noticed all the properties along this stretch of road bordered New York State Park land. Dense stands of evergreens reached for the sky, creating puddles of green at the base of the gray-blue Catskill Mountains.

"Destination on the left."

A long gravel driveway dotted with pine trees brought us to a modern log cabin home, complete with soaring roof and oversized glass windows, nestled in a slight valley.

Mari's big brown eyes opened wide. "Very nice."

I had to agree with my technician. This place was stunning.

The builder had cleared a strategic part of the wooded property, exposing the killer mountain view. Off in the distance a narrow dirt road ran parallel to a crumbling stacked stone wall that separated the adjacent fields before it disappeared into the parkland — probably a service access trail of some sort.

I slid the stethoscope out from behind the mirror, retrieved my doctor's bag from the crowded backseat, and followed Mari to the front door.

*
Before I could ring the doorbell we heard a menacing growl from inside. A human eyeball stared at us through a round peephole cut into the massive entry door.

Knowing some people out in the country were a little skittish about strangers appearing on their doorstep, I waved a greeting. "Hi. I'm Dr. Kate Turner from the Oak Falls Animal Hospital." Before I got most of the words out the heavy alder door opened and a slim young woman in jeans and a sweater greeted us over the barking of a large gray and white Malamute.

"Samantha Miller. Come in, please. Stand down, Jack." Obviously well trained, the dog immediately quieted down, although a suspicious rise of hair along his hackles remained.

We pushed past the big dog who was intent on sniffing us and vigorously poking at various private parts through our coats.

"Cut that out, Jack." Samantha held her dog's muzzle for a moment, then let go. An apologetic look rose in his dark doggie eyes. "You have to forgive him. We don't get a lot of visitors." The cozy smell of freshly brewed coffee perked me up. Jack stayed close to his mistress, the top of his head coming up to her waist.

As we moved into the kitchen area I was struck by how beautiful the inside of the cabin was. The ceiling rose to a crazy height, with gigantic peeled logs spanning the entire length of the house from one end to another. A two-sided stacked fieldstone fireplace soared up to the roof. The open kitchen gleamed with stainless steel appliances and polished gray granite. White walls and dark wood floors unified the spaces. A vision of the chipped laminate countertops and old yellowed appliances in my rental apartment flashed into my mind — along with my student loan payment schedule. Oh well, someday.

Mari stood thunderstruck. "Do you live here alone?"

"Only on weekdays. My husband works in the city but he's here late Friday through Monday morning." Samantha didn't seem to resent my assistant's rather personal question. "I work for a software company, so all I need is the Internet and my computer."

I glanced again at the Malamute and observed a clump of fur sticking up along his back. "So, is Jack my patient? He looks pretty healthy." At the sound of his name the handsome dog turned toward me, the black mask of his face expectant.

"Yes, I feel horrible." His owner reached out and immediately Jack nuzzled her hand. "I didn't notice anything until last night when I touched his back right there." She made a gesture toward the spot I'd noted.

"Well, let me take a look." Mari stepped in and held the approximately eighty-five-pound dog while I began my exam. After quickly determining his general health, I started walking my gloved fingers through his thick coat. As soon as I separated the sticky hairs I knew we had a problem.

"He's got a jagged laceration here that's infected."

"Oh, no." His owner sounded guilty.

"Are there any barbed-wire fences around that he could have slipped under?" Malamutes and huskies are breeds notorious for taking off and exploring, often without their owners.

"There's a whole length of it up by the forestry trail leading into the state land. He got away from me a few days ago and disappeared for almost a half an hour. He wouldn't come when I called and I got frantic. Finally, I gave up and decided to call my husband, but that's when I saw him running down the hill toward me."

"I'm going to clean it and start him on an antibiotic. Can you give him pills?"

"No problem, as long as it's in a wad of cream cheese." Her warm smile suggested she'd been down that route with him before.

"Cream cheese? Lucky boy, Jack." His plume-like tail wagged on hearing his name.

With my clipper blade I carefully trimmed around the wound to expose the cut, scrubbed it with betadine solution, and followed with a saline lavage. After I disposed of my gloves I put Jack under house arrest — leash walks only and close observation for any change of mood or odd symptoms. Although tetanus is rare in dogs, it was still on my radar.

"Does it need stitches?"

"It's infected now so we can't suture it. That would trap the bacteria inside and make it worse. It should heal fine in about two weeks and when the fur grows in you won't even be able to find it. I'm going to give him a long-acting shot of an antibiotic to get a jump start on the infection."

"Jack doesn't have any problem growing hair, that's for sure." To prove her point Samantha pulled a tuft of grey fur off her black sweater.

The sturdy guy had been a great patient. He'd barely moved as long as someone scratched his ears.

Our work done, we began to say our good-byes. Mari e-mailed Samantha the wound instructions and scheduled a recheck in one week. Thanks to Jack's cooperation and Mari's efficiency, we were now right on schedule. As I pulled on my coat I asked, "How long have you had him?"

"Since he was a puppy. We named him Jack for Jack London, the writer of Call of the Wild. He's always been adventurous, digging up stuff, and bringing all kinds of things home." She tucked a random strand of dark hair behind her ear. "I think he got hurt while fetching me a present."

"What kind of present?" Mari momentarily put down our laptop to button her coat.

"Let me show you." She walked over to the fireplace and picked something out of a wicker basket by the woodpile. "This is his latest. I guess it's from a deer."

She placed a bone in my hand.

I felt a jolt in my stomach. The bone I held didn't come from a deer. It was human.

My simple house call had suddenly morphed into something way more complicated.

*
After I confessed my suspicions about Jack's present, Samantha freaked and immediately began phoning everyone from 9-1-1 to the local forest rangers. Mari tried to reassure her that the bone probably was from an old Indian burial site. As a local she'd heard of several grisly discoveries made by unsuspecting homeowners. I wasn't so sure.

In my freshman year in college I'd taken several anthropology courses, and even gone on a dig with other students in my class. One of our assignments was to catalogue a cache of bones from a large Native American burial mound.

The arm bone Jack the dog found felt heavy and much thicker than any of the bones I'd handled. My instinct told me this was no ancient artifact.

Who had died and been buried in those deep dark woods?

CHAPTER 2

The bride and groom were a couple of pigs.

"Here Comes the Bride" spilled out from the portable speakers as the bride trotted down the aisle. Lace anklets circled her four hooves while a fluffy white veil attached to a flower-encrusted headband cascaded over large pointed ears. I'd barely made it in time. As Dr. Kate Turner, the official maid of honor, I carried a bouquet of carrots, Swiss chard, and edible nasturtiums. The groom lifted his snout and sniffed appreciatively in my direction.

Yes, I was a member of the wedding party for two potbellied pigs, the real ones who go "oink." I served a dual function — personal veterinarian to the couple and emergency medical support. I'd been told to wear something flowing and romantic. Since that description didn't match anything currently in my closet, I borrowed a vintage flowered chiffon dress from my office manager, Cindy, and stuck sprigs of baby's breath in my hair to make a floral crown. The diverse guests sitting under the white party tent included a parrot, plenty of dogs, two annoyed cats, several snakes draped around their owners' various body parts, and a whole bunch of potbellied piggies. Most of my fellow staff members from Oak Falls Veterinary Hospital were here to lend their support and eat free food. Even our shy kennel boy, Eugene, had shown up and sweetly volunteered to help keep the party area "tidy."

Why were the pigs getting married, you might ask?

The truth — it was a shotgun wedding, their owner joked.

Six little piglets were expected very soon.

*
Accompanying me to the celebration as my friend — and not as a date, as I emphatically reminded him several times — was Oak Falls police officer and pre-law student Luke Gianetti. In his black suit and blue shirt he was undoubtedly the best-looking guy in the place, rivaled only by Angel, the groom, resplendent in his top hat and curled tail.

Nancy Wagner, the owner of the pigs, was the brains behind the party. All proceeds from the publicity surrounding the event would go to local animal charities. One of Nancy's wealthy friends provided her gigantic home overlooking the Hudson River for the affair and a chef acquaintance had offered to cater the event at cost. Everything was lovely, even if Penelope, the bride, ended up eating part of her veil.

Unaccustomed to such high heels I concentrated on not falling over as I walked down the aisle, with the pregnant bride trotting directly behind me, obviously not happy with my slow pace. Straining on her leash, she used her snout to goose me along.

When the ceremony was over and the guests were milling around, I snuck away for a quiet stroll. The Hudson River sparkled in the distance. The freshly mowed grass of the expansive lawn grew lush and green, even this late in the fall. A mild breeze kicked up that green smell of cut grass. I slipped off my party shoes and climbed a small knoll for a better view. At the crest a pitted stone bench rewarded me with a place to sit and a spectacular view of the winding river dotted with sailboats. Mother Nature always puts on a show, if only we take the time to stop and look. Puffy clouds like mounds of whipped cream floated across the blue sky.

"A majestic sight, isn't it?"

Luke had come up behind me while I was feeding part of my bouquet to one of the four-footed guests wandering the fenced-in grounds.

"Absolutely." Another potbellied pig tore the last of the carrots out of my grasp. "Okay, guys. There's no more food." When I waved my empty hands they got the picture. "So, Luke, did you enjoy the ceremony?"

"I was moved."

"Really?" My eyebrows raised in disbelief.

"Literally." Luke pointed to a pig rooting around further down the hill. "That big brown one over there, the one with the polka-dot bow tie, shoved me with his head until I moved over." He proceeded to give me a reenactment, complete with snorting and grunting that made me crack up.

"Well, I worked this morning, so it's time for me to kick back." Music drifted in the air from the party below. I tilted my face up to the sun. "We should enjoy this weather while we can."

"How about getting some lunch and having our own picnic up here?" Luke held out his hand to me.

"That sounds wonderful." When our fingers touched, our eyes locked for a moment. Although our official status was "friends only" there had always been something....

Carefully, I slid my shoes back on, his arm steadying me. Unfortunately my right heel immediately sank into the soft earth.

"Those things aren't meant for this kind of walking," Luke commented as we picked our way down the grassy slope.

"I've got sneakers with me if I need them, along with my emergency bag, in the back of the truck." We reached the bluestone pathway that led back to the main building but I didn't let go of his arm.

"Always prepared." He smiled at me, eyes crinkling in the corner, making him even more attractive than usual. Our off-and-on flirtation flamed into the on position.

"Where are you parked?" We strolled along arm in arm as if we had all the time in the world.

"Almost at the end of the driveway. You?"

"Right near the house. One of the perks of being in the wedding party."

Luke waited while I scraped the caked dirt off my high heels. A wall of climbing roses, their petals fading, lined the pathway to the catering tent.

It felt nice walking alongside him, our arms linked together. Feelings that I didn't like to admit were still hanging around, took me by surprise. Luke and I hadn't seen each other for over a month and those circumstances had been less than pleasant. Today it almost felt as though our platonic friendship might morph into something more. Maybe I finally was ready to trust someone again. Six months had passed since my last romance had crashed and burned and I'd sworn off dating for a while. But a picnic near the river sounded like the perfect way to catch up on things — all kinds of things — and maybe start something new.

Two lookalike young women approached us carrying plates piled with food.

"Hey, Luke," the taller one said, "Want to join us at that table?" She indicated with her chin a picnic table underneath a nearby tree.

"Thanks, Paula, but Dr. Kate has dibs on me." He introduced me to both of them, first Paula, then her sister, Patty.

"Suit yourself," Paula said in a snotty voice. "Why didn't Dina come with you today?" She stared directly at me when she said it.

What? To hide my confusion I gave her a stiff but polite smile.

"She had to work. I texted a picture," he answered.

He was back with his old girlfriend? It took all my willpower not to glare at him. When did he send her this text — while I was walking down the aisle holding my carrot bouquet?

Whatever warm and fuzzy emotions I'd been feeling about Luke disappeared. As soon as the sisters were out of sight I let go of his arm.

"Back with Dina?" I kept my voice deceptively casual.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Chained"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Eileen Brady.
Excerpted by permission of Poisoned Pen Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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