The Four Corners Mysteries -- Synopses

Hal Weathers is the free-spirited Dean of Natural Sciences at Frémont State University in Durango, Colorado, and life is good, except for two problems. First, someone killed his star chemistry professor, in his laboratory right on campus, no less, after filling his nose up with cocaine. To make matters worse, the suspect list includes Weathers’ boss, Provost John Martin, and Professor Linda Harmon, chair of the chemistry department.


Weathers finds a silver lining, however, when it becomes clear that Lieutenant Annette Trieri, head of the investigations unit of the Durango Police Department, seems as interested in him as he is in her.


But this mutual interest is misunderstood by whoever killed the professor, because now they are trying to kill Weathers, and, for good measure, Trieri as well. Together, the couple manages to stay alive while unraveling the chemistry professor’s murder and uncovering a second, more sinister killing to which Weathers is also connected. Campus politics and drug money are a lethal combination in The Dean’s Murders.


Back

A damsel in distress, lying on the railroad tracks, already dead. A missing Stradivarius violin, entangled on the black market with centuries-old Native American artifacts. A network news reporter murdered in bizarre circumstances. A community music festival disrupted because of it all. A university official tangled up in the whole thing.


And, because the school year is starting, lurid headlines, worried parents, and headaches galore for Dean Harold Weathers and Police Lieutenant Annette Trieri.


In this second Four Corners Mystery, Durango is once again confounded by sinister activities and murder. It’s up to the region’s best investigator, with help from her academic sidekick, to sort it all out. In the process, she finds herself in Santa Fe, where the chile is too hot, and in mortal danger on a mountainside, where the rain is too cold. Classical Villainy challenges her instincts and fortitude.


Back

After years overseas working on ethically questionable projects for the three-letter agencies in Washington, and then more years working as a New York cop on drug enforcement in the ghetto, Mac MacQuarrie has moved to South Florida and settled into a comfortable retirement by taking up wordworking as a hobby. He's settled, at least, until one of his old agency contacts tracks him down and recruits him for a state-side job.


Someone, it appears, has gone to the trouble of assembling a list of the locations of all of the nation's Special Nuclear Material—the stuff of nuclear weapons—and to make matters worse the list seems to have been copied and sent to people whose sympathies lie with al-Qaeda. Mac's long experience with operations in the Middle East makes him a natural, so he's lured out of retirement by the prospect of easy money and a little excitement.


But when the list gets put to use and enough radionuclides are stolen to create an atomic bomb—or, perhaps worse, several dirty bombs—Mac finds himself involved in something more than he bargained for.


Meanwhile, he also finds himself involved with a Miami Beach hooker he's met on the case. She's finally ready for a career change, but her pimps won't take kindly to the loss of the income she generates. In helping her out, Mac discovers his career skills are useful for more than just advancing U.S. government policy overseas.


Back

In the this Four Corners Mystery, Durango, Colorado police investigator Annette Trieri joins the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and is promptly faced with a multi-state serial killer. Someone, it seems, has been bumping off people around the Four Corners, bumping them off in apparently unrelated circumstances and leaving no clues.


A trust-funder in Santa Fe is shot in the throat with a cross-bow; a hunting rifle fells a National Parks employee at Natural Bridges in southeastern Utah with a shot to the head; east of Durango, a car explodes, interrupting forever a couple's vacation; a graduate student in Flagstaff is beheaded; up by Grand Junction a logger is run off the road. Then a lumber mill in Utah is torched, an obvious case of arson as indicated by a cryptic note that says "You've been SCREW’d." And to top it all off, someone tries to gun down the President.


As the mystery deepens, Annette’s favorite Dean, Hal Weathers, is pulled into the morass as people in his college emerge as suspects. Together, Annette and Hal concoct a plan to unveil the culprits and to bring about the downfall of a band of neo-Nazis who are trying to consolidate their “patriotism” movement.


Back

What? A serial killer who decapitates his victims, then displays the heads on roadside fence-posts?


What century is this, anyway?


But it's real, and the lonely back roads of Southwestern Colorado will never be the same.


After the third victim is discovered, the Governor calls in Colorado Bureau of Investigation detective Annette Trieri, and she has some catching up to do. More heads turn up, and the pressure mounts to find the killer. But the crime scenes reveal nothing, the victims have little in common, and the locations are hundreds of miles apart.


Annette's investigative team at the CBI provides background, and her footwork leads her to a dealer in antique armaments and a kendo master who lives for the way of the sword. A radical feminist group at Frémont State University voices sympathy for the killer, even offers to assist. The mayor of a small mountain town disappears. The Governor is beside himself.


Ultimately, it's up to Annette and her academic husband, Dean Hal Weathers, to assemble the puzzle pieces and find the killer who has a Head for Murder.


Back

Four Corners sleuth Annette Trieri doesn't want it to happen, but it does anyway: she gets sucked into the investigation of a mysterious death in the Arizona desert, a death that hits close to home because the victim graduated from Frémont State University, where Annette's husband is Dean of Natural Sciences.


And it's one of his students who's dead. With her newly minted PhD and a prestigious post-doctoral appointment at the Ecological Archive Research Center near Tucson, Melody Witherspoon has a bright future, bright, that is, until her body turns up half-buried in the Center's research greenhouse.


Everything looks neat and clean when the local sheriff, preoccupied with re-election, takes the low road and arrests an undocumented worker from Mexico—case closed. Or is it? Annette can see that there is more to the story, and her investigation takes her places that Melody's family and friends in the small community of Durango just don't want to know about. Corruption in the sheriff's office, a stalker among Melody's co-workers, and academic politics also confuse the issue.


Back

Sanford Gentworthy Livingston III –he’d like it a lot if you’ll call him Sandy – has crafted himself an idyllic bachelor existence in Santa Fe: he has money, a nice house on a hillside, two hot cars and an even hotter girlfriend, and a job that’s like a hobby.


But something’s missing. Sandy’s not sure what it is, but something’s definitely missing.


And if it weren’t for the dead hiker – whose death looks more and more like homicide – maybe he could figure it all out. But when the famous Senator calls on him for help and then the prime suspect is murdered almost in front on him, Sandy’s distractions multiply, and suddenly whatever is missing from his life takes a back seat to his trip down a trail of death.


Back

Colorado's Fraser Valley struggles with the usual problems of the scenic high country— too much development, too little water, culture clashes— but normally it's a peaceable community preoccupied with skiing the deep powder and making ends meet.


Then the Colorado Bureau of Investigation's Annette Trieri moves in and dead bodies start turning up. A developer who thrives on controversy, a muck-raking writer, and a community leader all die under circumstances that at first look innocent. But inconsistencies pique Annette's suspicion, and she finds that they're all tied to water in general and the Front-Range Associated Water Board in particular, predators from across the mountains with designs on the valley's future.


Ultimately, she's able to bring to justice the parties responsible for Developing Murder.


Back

Piracy, at least in U.S. waters, just isn’t supposed to happen in this day and age, and especially not as an interruption to an otherwise placid vacation in the South Florida sunshine. When it does, Annette Trieri’s connections to the victims suck her into a far more wide-ranging and sinister plot that threatens to unleash its deadly consequences onto the unsuspecting population of Florida’s Gold Coast.


With the help of agents from the Coast Guard Investigative Service and Naval Counterintelligence, and her co-conspirator in Nuclear Family, Mac MacQuarrie, Annette pursues the international weapons smugglers behind the plot and, in the process, must choose between her by-the-rules approach and Mac’s less conventional methods.


Back

Drought in the Colorado high country—it happens, and wildfires follow. But when a wildfire in a high mountain valley kills two dozen campers, Annette Trieri’s role as the Colorado Bureau of Investigation liaison to the sheriff of Grand County takes on a new urgency. And when it emerges that the victims are guest workers from Mexico, the social conflicts between local residents and those guests come into focus.


Was it arson—and therefore mass murder? How could a fire that hot develop at such an elevation and spread so fast? What really happened up there in el Valle del Muerte?


Annette has to bring to bear all of her resources to reveal the true secret of the Valley of Death.


Back

Recreation in the mountains can be exhilarating and, potentially, dangerous, so it's no surprise when the occasional accidents happen, even fatal accidents. But is this one really an accident?


In Climate for Murder, Colorado Bureau of Investigation's Annette Trieri becomes enmeshed in a puzzling investigation concerning what turns out not to be an accident, and, worse, what turns out to be a rabbit hole of intrigue and revenge. When the U.S. Marshals Service Witness Security Program people become involved, she knows it's far, far more serious than the supposed "accident" that started it all.


With her usual creative thinking and ability to bend rules, Annette discovers the links among those involved and applies her brand of justice to a complex and dangerous situation.


Back

An Estes Park philanthropist with a decidedly shady past is found half-eaten on a mountainside, but it’s obvious that it was no accident. Then, a couple of days later, it starts to rain and doesn’t stop, raining so hard and so long that the little mountain town is inundated and, because of road closures, almost cut off from the rest of the world. And in the middle of it all, Mac MacQuarrie, retired spook, is caught up in a web of deception as, using unconventional and not altogether kosher techniques, he unravels the sadistic plot that got someone devoured alive.


With the actual Estes Park flood of September, 2013 as a central character, Wet Work interweaves the plight of the town with the aftermath of a fictional murder conspiracy to create a spell-binding tale of intrigue.


Back

Road trip! Mac MacQuarrie and Samantha Winslow, transplanted from flat, humid, green Florida, decide to explore the Rocky Mountain West’s mountains and deserts to relax and recover from the Front Range flood they recently endured. But hiding in the slick-rock country of Utah are unexpected challenges that are anything but relaxing.


Sex-trafficking kidnappers, industrial-grade drug laboratories, and a shadowy group of domestic terrorists turn their vacation into the kind of adventure that no one needs to deal with.


Back

Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis): elegantly beautiful, sweetly aromatic…and deadly. What do you do when you find yourself living among them? You die, or you figure out how to escape.


As William White’s teen-age years approach, events conspire to make him realize that his future living among the Lilies will not be nearly as fun and carefree as his boyhood has been. In fact, he’s not sure he’ll even have a future at all, given the sinister nature of the community and what’s been happening to its other boys.


So he makes plans to escape from the only world he’s ever known, and, on succeeding, finds himself in small-town central New Mexico, where the streets are dusty, the food is spicy, and the outside world is a new challenge for him.


Still, his formidable education provides him with skills that make him indispensable to the U.S. Army’s needs in the mid ninteen-forties. As those needs evolve, Will’s abilities continue to prove valuable, giving him a place in the events surrounding the historic physics experiment that eventually won World War II and putting him at the center of one of the oldest mysteries of the early U.S. Southwest.


Back