Sampler: The Lost Mine Trail by JJ Rusz
January 20, 2022
Review: Follow Sheriff Clayton Shoot across the mountains and up the narrow, rocky trail to Lost Mine Peak. It is a trip you will remember for a long time.
“It’s a dangerous little county you got here, Sheriff.”
Two brutal crimes a hundred miles apart, one the murder of a controversial singer in a small West Texas town and the other an assault on two journalists in nearby Big Bend National Park.
What might the incidents have in common?
Once again, it’s up to Sheriff Clayton Shoot and Professor Claire Harp to pluck out the heart of this Big Bend Country mystery.
Sampler: The Lost Mine Trail
In all her years—more than seventy now—Ella Danton Nixon had never fainted. Never passed out drunk. And never found herself face-planted on solid rock, dust on her lips. Thank goodness she hadn’t worn a skirt. She felt something like a blanket around her feet.
Ella reached for her hiking stick, but didn’t find it. Instead she fingered the twisted remains of her wire rims. She decided to think this through before trying to get up. Had she tripped and fallen? Her forehead throbbed, but so did the back of her neck. Did she recall a blow? At least her mind was clear. She knew exactly where she was—at the very end of the Lost Mine Trail in Big Bend National Park.
And she recalled exactly what she’d been doing some moments before she blacked out. Squatting behind a prickly pear in a tiny circle of pines and sotol—Ella lost what modesty she had ages ago at Woodstock. She expected to rejoin her husband Barney up the rocky slope where she’d left him among massive boulders at the end of the climb they’d just completed. They’d found the perfect spot to film their final chat, on a safe but precarious-looking ledge facing a stone pediment cracked like it was ready to fall. But why wasn’t Barney with her now? Why wasn’t he helping?
Perhaps he hadn’t missed her yet? She might have blanked out for just seconds. Or perhaps Barney too had been assaulted—if that’s what happened to her. She couldn’t see him now, but she’d wandered a football field away to find a comfortable spot.
Damn. None of this was going as she expected.
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