Kendall's quest to find the answers leads her into a frightening labyrinth of events and she must risk her life to expose the shattering secrets that threaten to destroy the lives of everyone involved.
About the Author:
Ms. Nobel is elated with the early success of Deadly Sanctuary the first book in her Arizona mystery series based on the town of Wickenburg and featuring feisty red-haired reporter Kendall O'Dell. In June of this year, the Arizona Book Publishing Association voted Deadly Sanctuary Best Mystery of 1999. The second book in the series, The Devil's Cradle is set near Bisbee in southern Arizona and she is now working on the third.
Ms. Nobel enjoys giving her presentation, "The Timeless Fascination of the Whodunit," at bookstores, libraries, schools, reading discussion groups and clubs. In this discussion, she examines the unique construction of this popular genre, and delves into the major components that are crucial to the development of a successful mystery story.
Ms. Nobel is a member of the Arizona Center for the Book, Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. She currently resides in Phoenix, AZ with her husband and eight cats.
Read an Excerpt
The Devil's Cradle
A Kendall O'Dell Mystery
By Sylvia Nobel
Nite Owl BooksCopyright © 2000 Sylvia Nobel
All rights reserved.
There it was again. That feeling. Gnawing at my insides. Disturbing my train of thought. Hard as I tried, I couldn't shake the growing sense of agitation.
Wedged behind my desk in the small newspaper office, the phone jammed against my ear, I fidgeted in the chair and stared longingly out the smudged window at the cottonwood trees tossing in the sultry August wind that swept across the desert floor every afternoon. In the distance, mountains of hazy purple, crowned with thunderheads taunting the promise of rain, beckoned to me. Massaging the ache in my neck, I tried to refocus my attention to the matter at hand. The disembodied voice droning on and on at the other end of the line was beginning to tax my patience.
I sighed inwardly. Might as well give the feeling a name. Restlessness. I was restless and bored. And trapped. I wondered, not for the first time, if I hadn't made another one of my colossal blunders of judgement. I seemed to do well in the mistake department.
"Ah hem!" I tuned out the prattling in my ear and glanced at the doorway. Our receptionist, Ginger King, was planted there for the second time since lunch. The look of suppressed excitement on her freckled face, combined with hand gestures that rivaled a navy signalman, left little doubt that she intended to capture my attention this time.
"It's your brother, Patrick, calling from Pittsburgh again," she called in a loud whisper, "and I don't think he's gonna take no for an answer this time."
I cupped my hand over the receiver. "Ask him if I can call him back. Markham Bainbridge is on the line and he's mad as a wet hen." I paused. "Make that a rooster."
She grinned at my little joke, but remained firm. "You can't. He's fixin' to catch a plane right shortly and says he's got something real important to tell ya."
My heart jolted. Uh oh. The rush of anxiety must have shown on my face because she took a quick step forward. "Now, dumplin', don't wet your drawers or nothin'," she soothed. "Your family's all hunky-dory, but he told me he's got a heap o' news that'll make your day and then some."
My innate curiosity got the best of me. I pressed my hand tighter on the mouthpiece. "Tell him to hang on."
She flashed a hundred-watt grin and gave me an enthusiastic thumbs-up before turning to leave.
Laughter gathered in my throat. Ginger was such a delight. Quirky. Bubbly. Always upbeat. What would I do without her?
"Miss O'Dell, are you listening to me?" Mr. Bainbridge's testy voice crackled in my ear.
"Ahhh, yes, yes, I heard you," I fibbed, straining to remember what he'd said last. "We're extremely sorry for the misstatement attributed to you and there will be a retraction in Saturday's paper."
"Page one?" he goaded.
"Page one. And sorry again for the mix up." Before he could utter another syllable, I punched the blinking button. "Patrick? This had better be good."
"Keep your shirt on, Sis," he chuckled. "How's it going? You settling into your new duties okay?"
"I guess. Being an editor is certainly no picnic. No wait, it's a headache and a half."
His laugh was sympathetic. "You sound just like Dad. He always said reporting in the field was a lot more fun than pushing papers and dealing with all the other crap. But listen, I've come across a story you may find interesting," he announced, a reflective note entering his voice. "You in the market for a scoop?"
"Are you kidding?" I swiped the list of problem calls away and grabbed my notepad. In the background, I could hear the din of airport noise as I waited for him to begin.
"I'll make this short and sweet, because we're boarding pretty soon. Okay, here's what I know. Margie's second cousin has a girlfriend at her college and her name is ..." He paused as if he were reading something. "Angela. Yeah, Angela Martin. Anyway, this girl's mother passed away last March and she's been living kind of hand-to- mouth working nights and going to school and then, whammo, out of the blue she gets this really weird letter last week from some doctor she's never heard of from out there in Arizona."
I tightened the grip on my pen. "Explain really weird."
"You're gonna love this," he said, raising his voice over the clamor. "The guy claims he knew her mother, Rita, a long time ago and that Angela isn't really Angela."
"You lost me."
"This doctor — Orcutt's his name — claims her mom gave her a fake identity."
"Angela says she doesn't have a clue, and she's also been under the impression her father died when she was a little kid. Well, guess what? He actually just passed away a couple of weeks ago and here's the corker. She's the sole heiress to some old mining town out there."
"Yeah. A whole town."
"Well, that might be no big deal. There are a lot of played-out mines in this state. Are you talking about a ghost town?"
"No, no. The doctor lives there and apparently mining engineers have discovered a huge new vein of gold. Angela could end up being a very rich young woman."
"Now this is starting to get good. Tell me more." I scribbled furiously as he fed me additional information.
When he was finished, I blew out a low whistle. "Pat, this is great stuff. But, why are you torturing me with this gem? I can't do it justice from here. The story ought to be covered by someone there in Pittsburgh."
"But, Kendall, the girl is coming out your way."
"Here? To Arizona?"
"Yeah, silly. Why do you think I called you?"
A spark of anticipation warmed me. "Well, why didn't you say so? When?"
"The beginning of next week, I think."
"That soon?" My mind began to work feverishly.
"Yeah. Margie's helping her book a flight into Tucson."
"She's supposed to see her mother's lawyer there. Angela said Dr. Orcutt was going to phone her later this week with more details. Oh, listen, Margie told her you'd arrange to have someone meet her at the airport and kind of show her the ropes. Was that okay?"
That was so like my sister-in-law to forge ahead without bothering to check with the parties involved. "Not really. Tucson is a four-hour drive from here and I'm pretty short-handed right now ... but I'll tell you what, if you fly her into Phoenix, I'll do my best to meet her plane. After that, I don't know. Is she renting a car?"
"Oops. I forgot to tell you something important. This girl is an epileptic so, she's not allowed to drive. Listen, Sis," he said in a distracted tone. "I have to go now."
"Wait, wait, wait. Just one more thing. Is this girl in agreement? I mean, before I go out on a limb, how do I know she'll consent to let me write this story?"
"You don't. I'm just passing along the information Margie gave me," he said cheerfully. "I guess it will be up to you to convince her."
"You're such a dear," I replied dryly. "How long will she be staying?"
"Don't know that either. I'll call you Sunday when I get back from Atlanta."
By the time I'd thanked him and cradled the phone, my spirits were going through the roof. For the first time in weeks my doldrums completely vanished.
Re-reading the notes, my thoughts leapfrogged over each other until the barest glimmer of an idea began to form. It was illogical. It was unrealistic. But as the concept grew in scope, so did the list of obstacles confronting me.
I jumped up and paced the cluttered room, lamenting my decision to take the reins as editor of the Castle Valley Sun. It had seemed like a great idea seven weeks ago, but the naked truth was, it wasn't fun. And every fiber of my being screamed out for me to get back to what I liked best — investigative reporting. I loved it, I needed it and I could feel clear down to my bone marrow that this was going to be one hell of a good story. The solution was simple enough, I thought, slumping behind the desk once more. All I had to do was find someone to take my place in six days.
The cracked-vinyl chair gave a protesting squeak when I swung around to stare dejectedly out the window as if somehow I expected to find the answer to my dilemma amid the shimmering heat waves rising from the asphalt parking lot.
"Flapdoodle," I complained aloud, borrowing Ginger's favorite phrase. "Double flapdoodle!"
"Double Flapdoodle?" inquired a voice behind me. "Now that sounds mighty serious."
Startled, I looked around to see Tally slouching in the doorway. Before I could answer, he strode in, his boots clicking smartly against the bare concrete floor still awaiting new carpet. He turned the wooden chair in front of my desk around and straddled it. As always, his nearness made my pulse rate pick up considerably.
"You look like you're carrying the weight of the world on those pretty shoulders. What's up, boss?" He laid his hand out and I slid mine into it.
"Oh ... this and that. And quit calling me boss," I chided with mock severity.
He grinned and pushed his Stetson away from his forehead. "Anything I can do?"
For a moment, I said nothing, just rejoiced in the feel of his fingers closing around my own and the look of genuine affection emanating from his dark eyes.
I'd fallen in love with this quiet, easy-going man the first time I'd laid eyes on him. He'd demonstrated admirably that his feelings were mutual, but even so, we'd come to the conclusion independently that since we'd only known each other barely three months, and each had less-than-successful marriages behind us, it would be unwise to rush things even though Ginger was already working up a list of caterers and busily compiling a guest file.
"Come on, Kendall," he persisted, giving my hand a gentle squeeze. "I can tell something's bugging you."
I sighed deeply. "Oh, Tally, I've got myself boxed into a corner and I don't know how to get myself out."
Traces of a smile brushed his mouth. "Now why do I find that hard to believe?"
I knew he was teasing, but his breeziness exacerbated my already souring mood. I pulled my hand away. "Easy for you to say. You're not stuck in this ... this dull, gray jail cell ten hours a day," I retorted, gesturing impatiently at the pictureless, posterless walls, bared in preparation for painters who'd yet to make an appearance.
"Well now," he said, tipping his hat back far enough to reveal a few dark curls, "correct me if I'm wrong, but I could have sworn I heard you say something about looking forward to a nice, cozy desk job. Something ... mmmmm ... a bit more sedate than your last assignment. Something about having a job description that didn't include the words ..." he paused, looking pensive, then raised one hand to stretch invisible words in the air, "possible life-threatening situations may be included ..."
I made a face at him. "Okay. Okay. So I was wrong. Sitting around here is giving me a colossal case of cabin fever." I smacked my palm on the desk for emphasis and Tally just grinned at me, seemingly unaffected by my theatrics.
"This doesn't have anything to do with the phone call from your brother, does it?" he asked quietly.
I stared at him. "How did you know about that?" His bland expression and small shrug said it all. "Oh. Ginger, of course. What was I thinking?" As much as I adored my fun-loving friend, her insatiable penchant for gossip drove me to distraction.
"So," he continued, "I'll consider that a yes and ask you again, what's wrong?"
I pointed to my notes. "I'm bursting to follow up on this." As I excitedly reiterated Patrick's story, he seemed only mildly attentive and when I'd finished he said, "Well, it sounds kind of interesting, but nothing to get all riled up about."
"Kind of interesting?" I leaped to my feet once again. "Don't you see what an incredible human interest story this is? Think about it. Here's a young woman who has spent her whole life believing she's someone else. Why did her mother lie to her? Why was she never told that her father was alive all this time? Up until she received notice a few weeks ago, that is," I added, my mind creating wondrous possibilities as I paced from one end of the room to another. Suddenly, I pulled up short. "Where is this place, Morgan's Folly?"
Tally rubbed his chin, frowning in thought. "I think it's down near Bisbee. Not far from the Mexican border." He looked around the room. "Tugg used to keep a topographical map in here. Where is it?"
I crossed the room and rummaged around behind one of the scarred bookcases piled high with past issues of the Sun. "Here it is," I said at length, pulling it out along with a half dozen enormous dust bunnies.
Tally blew off the layer of grime and laid the map flat on the desk. "Morgan's Folly," he said, tapping the paper with his forefinger. "And now that you mention it, I remember reading something about it last spring, right around the time you started here." He stared into space a few seconds, looking hopeful, then blank. "Sorry," he said, shaking his head. "I can't think of what it was right now, but it'll come to me."
"It doesn't matter anyway," I said with a disheartened sigh. "There's no way I can get away to do this story. Even entertaining the possibility is an exercise in futility."
I fixed him with a look of incredulity. "Who's going to take my place? Jim? He's the only full time reporter we've got until I can fill the vacancy. And so far, I haven't had much luck. Even with the new capital, the new equipment coming and," I brandished my hand about, "this old place finally getting a facelift, applicants haven't been exactly stampeding in the door."
"I thought we had an ad running in the Phoenix paper."
"We do, but only a handful of people have even called. All I can figure is that experienced reporters don't want to work for some dinky tabloid that only publishes twice a week. And let's face it, Castle Valley isn't exactly a Mecca of hot breaking news topics."
He edged me a wry grin. "Oh, I think you've already proven that theory wrong."
Remembering the excitement and danger of my first, and what proved to be my last really compelling assignment, gave me a momentary rush. "It was pretty exciting, huh?" I glanced at the cast still encasing his injured arm and then we exchanged a solemn look as the memory of that stormy day in June hung between us.
"Come here," he growled, drawing me close to his lean body. Snuggling happily against his soft cotton shirt, I wrapped my arms around his waist. My lips found his automatically and for a few minutes the irritations of the day faded into insignificance.
"Mmmmm," I murmured, nuzzling his neck, breathing in the masculine, outdoorsy scent of him. "Why don't you come over to the house tonight for dinner and then we can watch the moonrise over Castle Rock."
"Best invitation I've had all day," he replied huskily, dipping his head to extract another kiss from me, his hands gently massaging my back and neck. When we finally drew apart, his sensuous lips broke into that crooked grin I loved so much. "Feel better?"
"Yeah. I guess."
My half-hearted response snuffed out the fiery glow in his eyes. He dropped his arms to his side. "So, what are you saying? That nothing is going to make you happy unless you and only you get to follow up on this story?"
He was right. Perhaps I was overreacting, but the yearning inside me was so strong, it was almost a physical pain. I looked away. "There's no point in discussing it further. We don't have enough support staff, so there's not a chance in hell I could do it anyway. And that's that." I knew I sounded like a petulant child, but I couldn't seem to stop myself.
He grasped my shoulders hard. "You're about as subtle as a loaded freight train. Listen, you know I'd help you out if I could, but if you'll recall, you assigned me to cover the Cardinal's training camp in Flagstaff next week. And after that, you know I was planning to go down to San Pedro and buy that stallion I told you about."
"Thanks for depressing me further." At the look of displeasure clouding his face, I regretted my words instantly. When? When would I ever learn to keep my big mouth shut?
He gave me a long, level stare. Unlike me, he seemed to be mentally counting to ten before speaking. "What's wrong with giving Morton Tuggs a call? He and Mary got home from their cruise last week."
I shot him a look of disbelief, remembering Tugg's final words before he'd left. 'Can't do it anymore, Kendall,' he'd said to me. 'The damn job's too short on fun and too long on stress.' "Tugg? What makes you think he'd be willing to sub for me?"
"How long will it take you to get the story?"
"I'm not sure. A week, maybe. And who knows, this girl may not want a nosy reporter delving into her private family history."
"Even if he did agree, I'd never get past Mary," I reminded him ungraciously.
Excerpted from The Devil's Cradle by Sylvia Nobel. Copyright © 2000 Sylvia Nobel. Excerpted by permission of Nite Owl Books.
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.
What People are Saying About This
It's a winner! The second mystery in the Kendall O'Dell series is full of intriguing characters, sultry summer atmosphere, and a myriad of plot twists and turns that will leave you guessing until the end.
Kim Garza, Librarian, Tempe Public Library, AZ
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I got this eBook because it was free and what a WONDERFUL surprise! The story was so exciting that I couldn't put it down and finished in less than 2 days. As a youth, I enjoyed Nancy Drew books and this book reminded me a little of that style. At the end of each chapter, the author left the reader with a cliff hanger which makes it hard for me to stop reading. The plot and characters are interesting and you will be wondering how it will end until the very end... HAPPY READING!
It was great! She writes without using lenghty adjectives and keeps the suspense right up to the end. She ties everything together well and, well, I just couldn't put it down. Every chapter leads you right into the next. It was awesome. She is very talented; a breath of fresh air. I read all three books in succession. I like that her main character continues in the each book. I look forward to her next one. Buy it! You won't be sorry.
An intense rollercoaster ride of emotions! A real page turner. You cannot put it down! Run do not Walk to buy Dark Moon Rising! Keep up the great writing Ms. Nobel!
This is one of the best books I read in a long time. Fast paced, well written, great story. Clean language and no uncomfortable sex scenes. The story keeps you guessing until the end. I found this book for free, now I will go read the entire series.
Action packed ending. Unexpected twists and turns. A good read!
I have read #1/#2 of the Kendall O'Dell series......I just wanted to keep reading and reading......these are great books. I have all of the Syliva Nobel books marked and am looking foward to reading every one of her books. Thank You D.Savoie
When I started this book I wasn't sure rhat it was for me. I stayed with it though and I'm glad I did as the story took off. I thought that I had the mytery solved with about 100 pages left, but it took a few turns I didn't anticipate. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
For those of you who have had a nook for a long time a few years ago BN offered the first one for free as well. Thanks BN for keeping the series going on free fridays.
By far one of the best books I have read in a very long time! It is one of those books you can't put down. It done with such great writing, doesn't have lots of nonsense just to fill the pages. I just now read there is one before it, and I plan to purchase it, no matter the cost. There is NO WAY to figure out "who done it". It has an ending you just will not believe!
The writing was unimpressive, and the book dragged on and on. Could have made a decent short story. But this is way too long and way too forced to be enjoyable.
I do like these Kendall O'dell books, I have read two so far. I like the premise of the books as well as the characters and the logical thought processes. The Arizona setting is fun. The predicaments are different. Both books were fun, quick reads. One thing that does bother me is a smart female heroine doing dumb things along the way. It is one thing if a person is instantly thrust into a situation through no fault of their own, but going in wearing blinders? Danger Will Robinson, don't do that! The fact that Ms. Kendall is not an Arizona native can help forgive some of her self made predicaments.
The story line was good but the book draaaaged!!! I would have enjoyed it much more had the book been much shorter. It had too much filler!!
But not my cup of tea. Author may want to edit out her use of the phrase "Plus that".
Interesting story line but the author over described every last little detail. It was overkill.
This book was free. I didnt really like it, Main character was not very open with emotion the book was written like a reporter would write a story. i know she was a reporter but i wasnt expecting the whole book to be written as it was. Overall the book it self was interesting. i skimmed most of it because i didnt like the over details of unimportant facts. it was a decent book.
I saw this was free and got it expecting it would be like any other free book--flat, short, and boring. This was the exact opposite! It was 300 pages of fast pace, heart racing goodness. And Im not gunna lie--at first there were so many suspects and confusing back stories that I almost gave up, but this book kept me enthralled. It was amazing and had you questioning everyone and yet... Oh, and the ending threw me for a loop! I literally gasped. It was my first mystery. Please, please get this book. If you enjoy a good mystery you will love it.
I was intrigued by the premise of this book -- a young woman inheriting a mining ghost town from family she never knew she had. I like a good mystery and was interested to see how this one developed. Unfortunately, I found myself disappointed almost from page 1 with a set-up that felt contrived and characters that felt more like caricatures. As a former journalist who has worked as a reporter and an editor for 2 small town papers, I was put off by what I felt to be a completely unrealistic depiction. A small paper with a secretary, two reporters, an editor and a sports guy is almost identical to the newspapers I worked for and in no way could we even remotely afford to send reporters all over the state to cover stories, especially for a week or so at a time. I found the main character to be unlikable. She is a journalist who claims to be objective and yet all she did was make judgments -- in most cases unfavorable -- about every single person and situation she encountered. Because a character was elderly, the protagonist assumed she was senile without even meeting her; another character had epilepsy so the protagonist assumed she was mentally ill. In my current job, I serve several people who have epilepsy and I found such a depiction to be very insulting. The protagonist talked about this same character who had epilepsy as being a friend but then kept saying that she felt the girl was annoying, insane and childish! She didn't really show any friendly thoughts towards the girl, in my opinion, just moments when she felt sorry for her. I realize a protagonist does not always have to be likable, and I am happy to read about such a character -- if the story is a good one. However, for me, while the premise of this book was promising, the story failed to deliver; the execution just felt contrived and forced for the most part due to what I feel was poor character development. The ending was only mildly surprising as most of it was obvious for a good part of the book. I would not recommend this book -- unless you have time you want to waste.
This was a great book. I almost hated to see it end! It definitely kept my attention.
I was pleasantly surprised. I got it because it was free, but I simply couldn't stop reading! It's a really good book!
I read this over this past weekend and it much better than "The Dead Politicans Society."
I was introduced to the Kendell O'Dell series through Nook's Free Friday offer. I enjoyed the first book and couldn't wait to read "The Devil's Cradle". I was not disappointed. The story held my interest to the end. After finishing this book i went on to read the 3rd and 4th of this series. I only wish that there were more . If you like mysteries I would highly recommend this series. They are very easy to read and held my interest to the end.
I made the mistake of starting this book late in the evening and could not put it down. The only thing that saved me from being up all night was that my Nook ran out of power! I am fast becoming a huge fan of this series.