Tuesday, November 12, 2019

"Tracking Game"

Margaret Mizushima is the author of the award-winning and internationally published Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries. The latest title in the series is Tracking Game. Active within the writing community, Mizushima serves on the board for the Rocky Mountain chapter of Mystery Writers of America and was elected the 2019-2020 Writer of the Year by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. She lives in Colorado on a small ranch with her veterinarian husband where they raised two daughters and a multitude of animals.

Mizushima applied the Page 69 Test to her new mystery, Tracking Game, and this is what she reported:
From page 69:
“Thanks for your time, Flint,” Mattie said as she handed him back his gloves. Wanting to offer another line of communication, she gave him one of her own cards before saying goodbye.

While she drove away, she checked the rearview mirror, having to look over Robo as he stood staring out the back window. Sure enough, JD came out of the house to stand beside his son, indicating he’d been keeping tabs on what was going on outside his front door.

Stella pulled her seat belt across herself and fastened it. “Was everyone at that dance last night except me?”

“Just about.”

“Did you see Flint there?”

“I can’t say I did. But the place was packed, and we were dancing most of the time before the explosion. I wasn’t really looking for him.”

Stella shot her a sideways glance, eyebrows raised. “So the handsome Dr. Walker was taking up most of your attention, huh?”

Mattie felt her own face begin to flush, like Flint’s. “I was off duty, Detective.”

“Right.” Stella took out a small notebook she carried with her and started recording notes. “What did you think of Flint?”

“I’m not sure. I was about to give him the benefit of the doubt until he lit up when you asked him for an alibi. But that blush could’ve been embarrassment over hooking up with a girl he barely knew.”

“Possibly.” Stella paused her writing and looked out the window. “But we can’t eliminate him yet.”

Mattie thought they shouldn’t underestimate the influence this kid’s dad had on him. “I saw JD step outside to join him when we left. Let’s let him have some time with Flint. Maybe he can get him to come forward with more information before we need to give it another go.”
Page 69 of Tracking Game provides a fair representation of some of the investigative work that Deputy Mattie Cobb and Detective Stella LoSasso do in the book, but it doesn’t show the K-9 action that this episode in the series offers.

The book starts with a bang when an explosion near town interrupts the community dance that Mattie and veterinarian Cole Walker are at, their first public date as a couple in the small mountain town of Timber Creek, Colorado. When they arrive at the scene of a burning van, they find one man dead and another man, who is Cole’s best friend, badly injured. Cole also knows the dead man, an outfitter who has married into a local ranching family.

The character that Mattie and Stella interview on page 69 is the dead man’s employee, Flint Thornton, the son of another rancher who has actively tried to keep his rebellious son in line over the years despite Flint’s run-ins with local law enforcement. And when Robo finds a trace of cocaine behind the door panel of the burnt van, it becomes apparent that the victim’s outfitting business may have been a shell for illegal activity, so Flint is an important person of interest.

Besides investigative work, each episode in the Timber Creek K-9 series brings the reader a story packed with K-9 work, action, and adventure; and Tracking Game is no exception. Soon Mattie and Robo are called at dusk to search the foothills for another victim, and there they have an encounter with an apex predator. It’s too dark to see the big cat clearly, but its growl shakes Mattie to the core. She has heard a cougar before and knows there’s something different about this cat’s roar. Only after she, Cole, and others band together to track down the animal do they discover exactly what it is and why it’s been transported to the Colorado wilderness.

I invite you to join Mattie and Cole in their latest adventure and see why Library Journal has described Tracking Game as, "Compelling and twisty...Fans of Western mysteries as well as those featuring dogs will enjoy this latest entry in the series." Also, Library Reads has named Tracking Game one of their Top 10 Picks for November 2019. Hope to meet you on the page!
Visit Margaret Mizushima's website.

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

My Book, The Movie: Burning Ridge.

The Page 69 Test: Burning Ridge.

Writers Read: Margaret Mizushima.

--Marshal Zeringue