Wednesday, March 8, 2023

"Standing Dead"

Margaret Mizushima writes the award winning and internationally published Timber Creek K-9 Mysteries. She serves as past president of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and was elected 2019 Writer of the Year by Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. She and her husband recently moved from Colorado, where they raised two daughters and a multitude of animals, to a home in the Pacific Northwest.

Mizushima applied the Page 69 Test to her new mystery, Standing Dead, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“You can use the satellite phone,” McCoy said, handing it over to her from the front seat before opening his door to leave.

“I’ll stay with Mattie,” Stella said.

As she retrieved Julia’s cell phone number from her list of contacts, Mattie realized that having a bodyguard with her at all times had begun. She plugged the number into the sat phone and listened to the sounds as it made a connection. The fear in Mattie’s chest circled and tightened as the call forwarded to Julia’s voice mail, forcing her to leave a message asking her sister to return her call as soon as possible.


Though the sun remained hidden behind the jagged horizon, dim light and an orange glow from the east offered the promise of sunrise. Sheriff McCoy had gathered the campers, telling them he had an update for them, while Mattie and Robo stood at the edge of the lot, downwind from the group. Mist from her breath wafted on the breeze.

A little over a year ago, during their first investigation as partners, Mattie had realized that Robo had cataloged the scent of the bad guy at the crime scene, though she didn’t come to this conclusion until much later. If she’d been more diligent and read his signals better, she would have had a feel for the killer much sooner than she had.

She wished she could have Robo sniff everyone in the campground, but that type of search would be illegal. She would have to settle for watching his body language to see if he reacted to anyone with intense interest. Observations of a dog’s body language would never stand up in court, but it gave a K-9 officer information that could be valuable in putting together a case and finding evidence that would be admissible.

Glenna Dalton was standing with Sheriff McCoy in front of an audience of about twenty- five people, all dressed in outdoor gear, many with arms crossed over their chests, gloved hands tucked under their armpits. Glenna had brought her dog Moose with her, a Rhodesian ridgeback that partnered with her just like Robo with Mattie. The ridge of hair along Moose’s spine grew forward instead of back, standing out against the deep red color of his coat.
Page 69 of Standing Dead represents Mattie’s relationship with her K-9 partner Robo and her growing fear about her sister’s safety pretty well. What it doesn’t show is how this case has become personal since the victim of the homicide they are investigating is her stepfather, and a killer is holding her mother captive. Mattie’s sister also becomes a hostage, so page 69 also foreshadows the action that comes a bit later in the book.

Standing Dead is eighth in the Timber Creek K-9 series, but the mystery in this book stands alone. New York Times bestselling author Deborah Crombie has this to say about this episode: "Standing Dead is a roller coaster of tension from the first page--I literally couldn't put it down. Mizushima gives us wonderfully drawn characters along with a cracking good plot and realistic law enforcement details. A highlight for me is the protagonist's relationship with Robo, her K-9 partner. Highly recommended."

I invite you to join Mattie, Robo, and Cole in this adventure set in the winter-chilled mountains of Colorado.
Visit Margaret Mizushima's websiteTwitter perch, and Facebook and Instagram pages.

The Page 69 Test: Burning Ridge.

The Page 69 Test: Tracking Game.

The Page 69 Test: Hanging Falls.

The Page 69 Test: Striking Range.

--Marshal Zeringue