Saturday, September 15, 2018

"Burning Ridge"

Margaret Mizushima is the author of the Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries, featuring Deputy Mattie Cobb, her canine partner Robo, and veterinarian Cole Walker. Her books include Killing Trail, Stalking Ground, and Hunting Hour and have been named finalists in the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards, the Colorado Book Awards, the International Book Awards, and the Silver Falchion Awards. Mizushima spent her childhood years on a cattle ranch before receiving a master’s degree in speech pathology and then practicing as a speech therapist with a neurological communication disorders specialty. She colors her fiction with life experiences such as being a vet’s wife and training search and rescue dogs. She lives on a small farm in Colorado where she and her husband have raised two daughters and a multitude of animals.

Mizushima applied the Page 69 Test to her latest mystery, Burning Ridge, and reported the following:
Leading up to this page, Deputy Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo have found a charred body in the mountain wilderness outside of Timber Creek. Raised in foster care, Mattie yearns for the security and comfort of family, yet can’t quite trust falling in love. Veterinarian Cole Walker is recently divorced after his wife left him and their daughters (ages nine and six), and though he’s aware of a growing love for Mattie, he’s not certain that he and his kids are ready for him to start a new relationship.

On page 69, Mattie, Cole, and Robo have come down from the mountains where they’ve been investigating a murder and are having dinner with Cole’s daughters, Angela and Sophie. Riley is a teen that Mattie met in her high school Just Say No class. Since Riley is new to town and her father works two jobs, she’s often at loose ends after school, so Mattie brought her to dinner hoping she would befriend Cole’s kids. Shortly after this page, Riley’s dad becomes a suspect.

Here’s the excerpt:
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Cole murmured.

“Our mom lives in Denver,” Sophie chimed in, as if that counted for something.

Riley nodded at her, and Mattie realized that in the minds of kids, maybe it did.

“After Mom died, Dad seemed in a hurry to move out here. I don’t know why he picked Timber Creek. It seemed like we had a lot more money back in L.A., and he didn’t have to work as much.”

That statement tweaked Mattie’s attention. Whenever anyone mentioned a lot of money, her mind shot straight to the drug trade. Occupational hazard. “What did your dad do in L.A.?”

Riley averted her eyes. “I don’t know really. Something to do with business. Like selling and trading on eBay, but not that. Just something like it.”

Her answer didn’t satisfy Mattie’s curiosity, but she decided to let it go. “I’d better take you home soon, Riley. You girls have school tomorrow. Maybe we should help Mrs. Gibbs clean up and get ready to leave.”

“Oh, come now. I can clean up the kitchen me own self.” The housekeeper’s Irish brogue colored her words. She glanced at Sophie whose face was etched with disappointment. “Why don’t you all go to the clinic to see the new coop and those chickens before you leave?”

Sophie jumped from her chair, gathering Riley’s dishes with her own to carry to the sink. “There’s three of them. Chicken Little is the smallest one, and there’s Tootie and Buck. We thought Buck was a boy, but it looks like he’s a girl. Dad and I built their chicken house.” She looked at her sister. “You’ll come with us, won’t you, Angie?”
Though page 69 represents one of the themes in Burning Ridge as well as the series—family and all the forms it might take—it isn’t a representation of the tone, setting, or action contained within the book. Publishers Weekly has described those characteristics with this quote: “…well-developed interpersonal relationships, awe-inspiring landscape descriptions, and some excruciatingly vivid action.” Page 69 is pretty tame for a book described with those terms.
Visit Margaret Mizushima's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Margaret Mizushima & Hannah, Bertie, Lily and Tess.

My Book, The Movie: Burning Ridge.

Writers Read: Margaret Mizushima.

--Marshal Zeringue