Cold Dawn (Black Falls Series #3)

Cold Dawn (Black Falls Series #3)

by Carla Neggers

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780778328247
Publisher: MIRA Books
Publication date: 10/26/2010
Series: Black Falls Series , #3
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 673,796
Product dimensions: 6.98(w) x 11.80(h) x 0.97(d)

About the Author

Carla Neggers is the New York Times bestselling author of the Sharpe and Donovan series featuring Boston-based FBI agents Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan and the Swift River Valley series set in small-town New England. With many bestsellers to her credit, Carla and her husband divide their time between their hilltop home in Vermont, their kids' places in Boston and various inns, hotels and hideaways on their travels, frequently to Ireland. Learn more at

Read an Excerpt

Black Falls, Vermont—late February

Nick Martini rolled out of the four-poster bed in his spacious room in an older part of Black Falls Lodge and turned on a light on his bedside table. He glanced at the clock radio.


"Hell," he said, tempted to crawl back under the down comforter.

Instead he stood up on a thick, brightly colored carpet—yellow sunflowers against a blue background—on the pine-board floor and walked over to the double windows, their cream-colored drapes pulled tightly shut against the Vermont cold.

He'd arrived after dark last night. It'd still be dark out now.

He opened the drapes, anyway.

Yep. Dark.

He felt the below-freezing outside air seep through the windows but left the drapes open. In Southern California, he'd be asleep. Even in northern New England, with the three-hour time difference, he should be asleep. After his long flight yesterday and his drive from a small airport an hour north of the lodge, he'd almost turned around and found somewhere else to spend the night.

He'd always expected he'd check out Black Falls, Vermont, at some point, but it wasn't his ten-year friendship with Sean Cameron, his business partner and fellow smoke jumper in California, that had finally brought him East to the Green Mountains and Cameron country.

It was a serial arsonist. A killer.

And it was Sean's sister, Rose.

Nick looked over at the bed with its posts and pictured Rose in his bed in Beverly Hills eight months ago, her skin glowing in the aftermath of their lovemaking. She'd caught him staring at her and had pulled the sheet over her nakedness, as if only realizing just then what a huge mistake she'd made.

He raked a hand through his hair and bolted for the bathroom, with its gleaming porcelain and chrome and its soft, ultrawhite towels. He turned on the shower and tore open a bar of Vermont-made goat's milk soap while he waited for the water to heat up. He climbed in, stood under the stream of water as hot as he could stand and told himself he still could turn back.

He didn't have to see anyone else in Black Falls.

He didn't have to see Rose.

For ten years he'd fought wildfires, and for six years he'd served on a navy submarine. He'd faced dangers and hardships, and he'd seen people die—he'd come close to death himself. He'd always done his best and acted honorably, even when he'd screwed up.

Until Rose Cameron.

As he shut off the shower and reached for a towel, he could taste her mouth, feel her breasts under his palms, hear her soft cries as she'd climaxed under him, clawing at him, sobbing his name.

They'd known exactly what they were doing that night.


Nick toweled off and got dressed in the warmest clothes he'd packed. He doubted he'd pass for a Vermont mountain man, but he didn't care. He headed out to the hall, shutting his door quietly behind him and taking the stairs down to the lobby. The lodge, long owned and operated by the Cameron family, hadn't seemed crowded when he'd arrived at nine o'clock last night. From what he'd learned from Sean over the years, it drew its biggest crowds in the warm-weather months.

Just as well, considering the spate of violence the town had experienced since the fall.

Since last spring, really.

A brochure tacked open on a bulletin board in the lobby listed daily winter activities. Nick could take his pick of such diversions as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, arts and crafts, yoga, nature walks and dance lessons. He wouldn't lack for things to do, except he wasn't at the lodge for fun.

A fire was already crackling in the stone fireplace just down from the front desk, where A. J. Cameron, the flinty eldest of the four Cameron siblings, stood, still in his canvas jacket. His blue eyes and the hard set of his jaw reminded Nick of Rose. She'd said Sean was the charmer of the family.

It definitely wasn't A.J.

Or her, for that matter.

"Coffee's available," A.J. said. "Breakfast doesn't start until six."

"That's fine. I thought I'd head over to the Whit-taker estate. Sean mentioned Rose has been training her search-and-rescue dog out there one or two mornings a week." Nick tried to sound matter-of-fact instead of like a man who'd impulsively slept with the Cameron brothers' baby sister at a vulnerable moment in her life. "He says she's an early bird."

A.J. unzipped his jacket. Unlike his two younger brothers, he'd lived in Vermont his entire life. So had Rose, but as a search management consultant and member of an expert disaster search-and-rescue team, she traveled frequently.

Her eldest brother frowned. "I suppose you want to see for yourself where Sean nearly got himself killed last month."

"Yes," Nick said carefully, settling on an incomplete answer. "I'm up. Might as well get moving."

A.J. didn't relax, but he didn't look suspicious, either. "I take it you know Rose from her trips out to California."

"We've run into each other a few times when she's stopped in to see Sean."

That was Nick's rehearsed answer, and he thought he delivered it reasonably well.

The Cameron blue eyes narrowed. Nick understood A.J.'s scrutiny. For eighteen months, quiet, cerebral Lowell Whittaker had run a network of paid killers, putting people who wanted someone killed together with people willing to do the killing. During that time, he and his wife, Vivian, had bought a country home in Black Falls.

Now they both were under arrest—Lowell on serious, multiple charges for his role as a murderous mastermind; Vivian, for attempted murder. She was cooperating with authorities to get the charges reduced. Her husband wasn't cooperating with anyone, including, apparently, his own lawyers, who were urging him to turn over any information he had on his killers, his clients and their victims and potential victims.

Among Lowell Whittaker's past victims was Drew Cameron, the seventy-seven-year-old father of A.J., Elijah, Sean and Rose Cameron, killed last April after he'd come too close to figuring out the Black Falls newcomer wasn't the gentleman farmer he pretended to be.

At first, Drew Cameron's death in an early-spring snowstorm had appeared to be accidental. By November, everyone knew better. He'd been murdered—deliberately left to die of exposure—by two of Lowell Whittaker's assassins, both now dead themselves.

In between April and November, Rose Cameron had turned up in Los Angeles to lead a training session.

And now here I am, Nick thought.

A.J. tilted his head back. "You want to tell me what you're doing in Vermont?"

"Curiosity," Nick said with a smile.

A.J. didn't press him further and gave Nick direct ions. And why not? Why shouldn't any of the Camerons trust him with their sister?

No reason. None at all.

"I have no regrets about last night," Rose had told him that morning in June. "I just want to go home to Vermont and pretend it never happened. I won't say anything to anyone. I hope you won't, either."

Nick had promised her he'd keep his mouth shut.

He thanked A.J. for the directions and went out into the frigid mountain air. His jacket, boots and gloves weren't rated for temperatures in the low teens, but they'd have to do. The sky was lightening, Cameron Mountain looming across the quiet road that ran along a ridge above the village of Black Falls. The Camerons' mountain resort consisted of the main lodge, cottages, a shop, a recreational building and several hundred acres of picturesque meadows and woods that hooked up with public land, offering guests an extensive network of trails for hiking, mountain biking and backcountry skiing.

Another time, Nick thought.

His rented car started on the first try. Given the winter conditions and mountain roads, he'd gone with all-wheel drive. He followed the ridge past a line of bare maple trees to an intersection that A.J. had described as Harper Four Corners. A former early nineteenth-century tavern Sean owned was on one corner. Across from it was an old cemetery, its rectangular slabs of granite tombstones etched against the predawn sky. A white-steepled church occupied the corner across from the cemetery. On the fourth corner was a crumbling barn.

Sean had tried to explain his hometown of Black Falls, but Nick could see for himself as he turned up past the tavern and old barn, onto Cameron Mountain Road. He knew Rose's house was up here somewhere.

She lived a totally different life from his in Southern California.

Eventually the road wound its way to a shallow, rock-strewn river, frozen and snow-covered in the Vermont winter cold. He came to a sprawling, boarded-up farmhouse on an open hilltop above the river. It had partially burned in January when Lowell Whittaker had set off a bomb, hoping to kill his wife and a local stonemason he was trying to frame. His wife had figured out what was going on, saved herself and left Bowie O'Rourke, the stonemason, to die in the fire. Sean had saved O'Rourke. Vivian Whittaker now insisted she'd been in shock. The truth was, she'd wanted her husband to get away with murder.

Just not her murder.

Nick had seen pictures of the Whittakers. They looked like an ordinary, upper-class couple.

He pulled into an icy but plowed turnaround and parked next to a black Volvo sedan. It wasn't Rose's. He didn't know as much about her as he should, given their brief, intense love affair—never mind that she was Sean's sister—but he did know she drove a Jeep.

So who owned the Volvo?

He grimaced as he got out of his car. What if she were meeting some guy here and just didn't want her brothers to know? The prying eyes of a small town and all that. He hadn't seen or even been in touch with Rose in eight months. He couldn't expect her to keep her life on hold, especially since she was pretending their night together had never happened.

He wasn't. He hadn't spoken of it and wouldn't, but he wasn't about to pretend it had never happened. He wanted to remember every second of making love to her, even if it had been a mistake.

A big one.

Nick hunched his shoulders against a cold breeze and headed onto a shoveled walk that led to a small stone house that he knew, from Sean's descriptions, was the Whittakers' guesthouse. He noticed footprints in the blanket of white on the slope up to the main farmhouse. He didn't much feel like a trek through knee-deep snow. All he needed was to trip and end up having Rose Cameron and her search-and-rescue dog come find him.

He stepped into one of the prints, a clump of wet snow falling into his boot. Served him right, he thought, and followed the prints, which looked relatively fresh, to the edge of the woods above the river. He figured he could always forget this whole thing, backtrack to his car and go have pancakes at the lodge, but he continued up toward the farmhouse.

The breeze stirred again as he crested the hill.

He smelled smoke in the air and went still.

The smell was distinct, unmistakable and recent. Nick was positive it wasn't the residue of the January fire that had almost killed two people and burned down the place.

He dipped past a white pine and squinted up at the gray clapboard farmhouse. The sunrise glowed on the horizon, its deep pink color spreading across the sky.

Something was wrong. Badly wrong.


Nick moved faster through the snow.

Rose Cameron paused on the shoveled walk up to the farmhouse that had been built in the 1920s by a New Yorker with a romantic view of Vermont. Too expensive for Black Falls residents, it had always been owned by out-of-staters, but none, she thought, quite like the despicable Lowell and Vivian Whittaker.

But Rose didn't want to think about them and shifted her attention to Ranger, her eight-year-old golden retriever, as he ran into the snow along the edge of the walk. He looked good, she thought. Healthy and agile, not as stiff as earlier in the winter. Taking the time to concentrate on training was paying off. She'd parked her Jeep in the main driveway, and he'd jumped out, as eager as a puppy.

She smiled as she watched the vibrant fuchsia and purples of dawn melt into the early-morning sky. The cold weather didn't faze her.

Customer Reviews

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Cold Dawn 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 76 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Carla Neggers just gets better and better. The latest in the Black Falls novels centers on Rose Cameron and Nick Martini as they strive to uncover a murderer by fire in the Vermont town, and discover the depths of their own relationship. All of Neggers hallmarks are here, strong relationships authentically depicted, exciting, tense plotting, well timed moments of humor and one of the strongest prose styles anywhere. The characters come alive and their background in prior books just makes them more compelling. Reading this one made me want to go back and start them all over again. A real triumph of a book!
dhaupt More than 1 year ago
Black Falls Vermont has seen more than it's share of tragedy especially for the Cameron family. Rose Cameron lost her dad and almost lost her brother Elijah in the same week last year during which time she turned to smoke jumper and her brother Sean's business partner Nick Martini, was it a mistake or a minute of temporary insanity like she tells herself. Nick Martini has been around the Camerons enough over the years to know when to butt in and when not to. Well there's still someone out there even after the Lowells' assassin ring was either rounded up or killed causing havoc in the small tourist town of Black Falls and Nick has taken it upon himself to leave his LA home and head north to see what he can find out. He tells himself it's to help a friend and his family in need and not because he wants to see Rose Cameron again. The people of Black Falls aren't as clueless as they seem because they all see something between Nick and Rose even if the couple are too stubborn to admit it to themselves. Ms. Neggers the author of many best selling novels gives us a bird's eye view of a crime spree in a picturesque New England town from the view point of one family and how it effects them and those they love. She does this with plots that could be found by the best conspiracy theorist or in any crime drama. She solves her crimes amongst the towering pines and charming setting of Vermont complete with snowy scenes and in this episode of the series Maple sapping, with a rustic lodge and remote cabins thrown in for more atmosphere. The reader will find themselves transported there by way of her detailed and expressive narrative. Her characters are well established and imperative to the tale and I like how we get to catch up on prior stars of the series to see how they're getting along. Her romance is intense and strewn with unseen entanglements that would make the meek run, but her protagonists have more moxie than most, but she'll keep you guessing to the very end to see if this couple get's their Happy Ending. Her love scenes are steamy and sensual, yet descriptive without being crass. This novel reads well as a stand a lone but to get all the preceding happenings I suggest reading them all. This novel will appeal to all lovers of romantic suspense or outdoors adventure novels. If you like Lisa Gardner or Lisa Jackson you will love Carla Neggers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
By far the best book from this series, but unfortunately it would be difficult to read without finishing the first two beforehand. Cold Pursuit is tolerable, but Cold River is kind of awful (the reviews pretty accurately describe why). I might not go as far to say that this particular book is worth having to go through the other two first, but I would say that of the many Carla Neggers books I've read this was one of my favorites. Read the other two quickly, or try your best to just read this one but definitely be prepared to get a little confused if you do.
Tamara Dobias More than 1 year ago
Before I bought this book, I read a lot of the reviews & most said this could be read as a "stand alone".... that I wouldn't need to read the first 2 books in the series to get this one...but there is an awful lot of backstory that I missed by not doing so. It was hard to follow along with all the characters stories. There were constant references to things that had happened to them in the past that I had no idea about. I would say you DEFINITELY need to read the other 2 first!
AAR More than 1 year ago
COLD DAWN by Carla Neggers is a romantic suspense set in present day Black Falls,Vermont. It is the third in "Black Falls" series (#1 Cold Pursuit,#2 Cold River) but can be read as a stand alone.It is well written,with a intriguing plot,characters that will charm your pants off and keep you on the edge of your seat. It has danger, romance,passion,murder,adventure,suspense,tragedy,FBI,smoke jumpers,search and rescue,unhealed wounds,healing, finding love,diabolical killer,what else do you need? The characters some are from both of the other books in the series. The Cameron's,the Harpers,the Neal's,an ex-NAVY SEAL,an ex-reporter and of course Nick,the best friend of the Cameron's. Nick, is handsome,rugged,a millionaire, a smoke jumper,business partners with Rose's brother,Sean,out of find who killed his friend,an arson investigator earlier in the series and slept with Rose one time in California. Rose,is beautiful,a loner, a search and rescue expert,the younger sister of the Cameron's,slept with Nick in California,made some mistakes, and finds a dead body(burnt) of someone she knows. Together Nick and Rose fight their growing attraction to each other and try to find a serial arsonist/killer. This is a fast paced,action packed,high action thriller with romantic suspense that will leave you wanting more.I would recommend this book especially if you enjoy sparks between the hero and heroine,diabolical,ruthless,sociopath killer who fits into the crowd.This book was received from Net Galley for review and details can be found at MIRA Books,a trademark of Harlequin and My Book Addiction and More.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ms. Neggers is rapidly becoming my favorite author -- the setting of Black Falls and the search and rescue heroine (Rose), are my favorite parts of this newest release from Carla Neggers. I couldn't put it down! Don't miss this exciting read!
harstan More than 1 year ago
During a training exercise with her dog Ranger, search-and- rescue expert Rose Cameron finds a burnt body in a shed. The victim appears to be Derek Cutshaw though his body is beyond visual recognition. The evidence points to a serial killer as several victims found burned to death have been discovered. California based smokejumper Nick Martini is the business partner of Rose's brother Sean (see Cold River). He and Rose shared a one night stand in Beverly Hills eight months ago that still shakes both of them. He follows the trail of a homicide arsonist to Black Falls, Vermont where Rose is. Though attracted to each other and angry over their one evening tryst, the couple puts off their personal war to concentrate on bringing down a psychopath. The latest Cameron family Green Mountain State thriller is an exciting entry that once again proves murder even by fire is served "cold". The key to the strong story line is that the lead couple, in spite of their attraction leading to falling in love, knows the Cold Pursuit of the diabolical killer must come before their personal desires. Carla Neggers provides another strong investigative mystery. Harriet Klausner
train_lady 6 days ago
A slow, steady walk to the solution of the mystery. I give it 5 stars for the writing. The style is reminiscent of the Jesse Stone TV series. Maybe it's a New England thing. I give it 4 stars for plot. There was very little action through the book. There were too many characters to keep track of. This is the first book I've read by this author. Perhaps if I'd read the first two in the series, it might have been easier to keep track of all the characters. I will say the character development was good. I thought the book could easily have been shortened by 100 pages. At least the author kept me guessing who the serial arsonist was until the very end. One thing for sure: this book will not leave you breathless.
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