Friday Sampler: Wildfire by Scott Bury

Scott Bury is beginning a new mystery series with Wildfire, featuring the smart and passionate Tara Rezeck.

Wildfires swept across California wine country in 2017, destroying thousands of homes and businesses and killing dozens of people. Law school grad and single mother Tara Rezeck finds herself in the middle of the catastrophe.

When she returns to her job after evacuating, she finds her employer’s body in the ashes.

The question that challenges her brains and her legal training is: was it an accident? Or was his body burned to hide evidence of murder?

The Sampler

The vineyard

Once she had finished organizing the DaSilvas’ papers, Tara decided to do some work for Paul Rondeau. He said to keep an eye open, so I’ll look around. 

It’s called “snooping.” So I’ll snoop.

She went past the winery, where she could hear Mark’s and Amy’s voices through the open door. Her eyes went to the place in the weeds where she had found the bracelet as she passed the remains of the garage. Maybe I should advise Veronica to get someone to start taking this away, cleaning it up.

Past the garage, to the open gate into the vineyard. It’s funny that I haven’t gone into the vineyard since I’ve arrived here. Not since that first time when Roberto showed me around.

Maybe I could get him here to show me some more.

Focus, Tara. Keep your eyes open, and your attention on what you see. And hear.

Yes, conscience.

The sun shone hot on her right shoulder, but the air was not as hot as the day before. The radio weather reports promised rain in the next week, but still the fires burned in Napa and Sonoma.

I should have brought some water, though. It’s still dry and hot. 

She followed the dirt road traversing the slope. Here and there, water sprayed from the irrigation system. She avoided muddy spots on the road. Ruts would become deep puddles when the promised rain finally came.

Uphill of the road, the vines hung limp and dry. Tara saw no grapes on them. That must be where the harvest is done. The chardonnay and sauvignon grapes.

Downslope, though, dark purple clusters bent the vines. The leaves looked healthier. I guess that Roberto is still irrigating them.

She could see tire tracks in the dirt road. Is that a clue? Could the police tell something by analyzing tire treads? Or is that just in TV shows?

The road began to climb higher, even though it went more or less straight ahead. As she approached a ridge, she saw a low wire fence with wooden posts, running between two parallel rows of gray-leaved trees. A closed gate crossed the dirt road, bearing a brightly painted sign that read “Harris Estates.” Tire tracks led to the gate, and when she got closer she could see they continued beyond it.

No lock on the gate. I wonder how old those tire tracks are.

Maybe the same picking crew works on both estates, and the fence is more to show the boundary than to keep anyone out. Have to ask Roberto about that. 

Beyond the gate, the land sloped down again, with more rows of grapevines. In the distance, Tara thought she could see a truck and people. A picking crew?

Closer, though, a large patch of the vineyard was dark grey. Black branches twisted along the ground like tortured skeletal fingers.

Tara turned and looked back along the road that curved gently between dry, but green rows of vines. It must be more than 200 yards between the burned part of the Harris vineyard to the other side of Rocky Creek’s.

How could burning embers blow all that way to set the garage on fire, but miss everything in between? 

Something else to talk to Roberto about. In addition to why he lied about the bracelet. 

About Scott Bury:

After a 30-year career as a journalist and editor, Scott Bury published a children’s story and a story that bridged the genres of paranormal occult fiction and espionage thriller. Since then, he has published 12 novels and novellas without regard to staying in any one genre: fantasy, satire, mysteries, thrillers, and biography.

In 2012, he published his first novel, the historical magic realism bestseller The Bones of the Earth. His next book, One Shade of Red, was a satire of a bestseller with a similar title.

From 2014 to 2017, he published the Eastern Front Trilogy, the true story of a Canadian drafted into the Soviet Red Army in 1941, and how he survived the Second World War.

He wrote four novellas for Toby Neal’s Lei Crime Kindle World; Jet: Stealth for Russell Blake’s Jet Kindle World, and two for Emily Kimelman’s Sydney Rye Kindle World.

Please click HERE to find Wildfire on Amazon.

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