Title/Author: Bait and Snitch (Ponderosa Pines Cozy Mystery Series Book 4) / ReGina Welling & Erin Lynn
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Date of publish: May 2016
Ponderosa Pines used to be the safest place on earth.
Lately, though, EV Torrence and Chloe LaRue are wondering if their once-sleepy town has caught a ride in a handbasket–with a one-way ticket to someplace hot! When visiting attorney Stacey Hawthorne is brutally attacked, EV and Chloe launch into a new investigation–one that will expose several of their neighbor’s deepest secrets.
One of those neighbors has a past, and it’s about to come back to haunt the whole town.
Ponderosa Pines seems like a happening place to live. EV and Chloe, her partner in crime (solving) have their hands full. What I enjoyed about this sleuthing duo was the acceptance by family and friends that these ladies are nosy by nature and rather than spend useless time trying to hinder them, they are instead encouraged. The ongoing bet with their law enforcement beaus over who can find the most information is hilarity at its finest.
There is plenty going on in this small town with a new baby on the way, tourists descending on the town, a new business opening up and a decades old feud heating up and I really appreciated how all the sub plots added to the story rather than distracted as is often the case when the story isn’t focused on the investigation.
This book had a real feel of catching up with old friends, which is interesting given that this series is new to me. That said, while it was obvious that much has happened in Ponderosa Pines, this book was quite enjoyable as a stand alone except I would have enjoyed a little more explanation about Nate’s situation. That is simply a reason to track down the previous books and catch up.
I received this book in exchange for an honest review.
Hoping against hope that she would have enough bars to make a call— something that was never a given in the more rural areas of the state— Stacey called her insurance company to arrange a tow. The sympathetic, but less than helpful voice on the other end informed her it would be at least a day, maybe two given the storm, before anyone would come for her car. Stacey contemplated dialing 9-1-1 and, instead, searched her phone for Alicia’s number. After seven rings, she hung up. There was one other number to try, then she would just have to give in and make the trek into town. No answer. Where was everyone? Shouldn’t they be at home by now, huddled up with a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk? Stacey had never understood the mentality of stocking up on those particular items before a storm, but now envied those who were now warm, dry, and prepared.
Given the horror stories of people dying in their cars while snow covered the exhaust to direct carbon monoxide back into the vehicle, staying here in the warmth generated by her heater was not an option. Good thing she had at least worn warm clothing. Judging everything else would be safe for a day or two, she pocketed her cell phone and wallet, and was reaching forward to switch off the ignition when she heard a knock right next to her head. Stacey breathed a sigh of relief at the unexpected rescue.
Condensation coated the inside of the window, making it difficult to see the face looking in at her. The relief from seconds before disappeared as a rush of foreboding whispered over Stacey, making her shiver. A dark country road might not be the best place for meeting new people. She left the car running and keyed the window down.
“Are you hurt?” The man’s face was half covered by a hat pulled down low over his eyes and a collar he’d turned up against the wind.
“I’m fine. I’ve already called for a tow truck.” It wasn’t a lie, even if one would not be coming anytime soon.
“You’ll have a long wait.” His voice sounded familiar to her even though she couldn’t see enough of his face to put a name to it. “I’m surprised you had cell service out here. Why don’t you let me give you a ride, Ms. Hawthorne?”
Her name falling from his lips sent an instant chill through Stacey. Trained to observe and remember details in even the most trying circumstances, she knew for a fact that she had not mentioned her name.
“Who are you? I never told you my name.”
He leaned in closer and Stacey gasped as her dome light illuminated his face. “You. How did you find me?”
“People who really want to hide don’t just move back home. Where’s Alicia? Or whatever she’s calling herself these days.”
“How did you find out about her?”
“You’d be surprised how much information you can get out of a cop on the take. Tell me where she is.”
“I can’t do that.” Fear turned Stacey’s bones to liquid ice.
“Oh, but you will. Now get out of the car.” He pulled the door open and when she didn’t immediately exit, yanked her out into the snow, hands pulling cruelly at her hair. “Don’t fight me on this.” His order had the opposite effect. Stacey went into wildcat mode, kicking and clawing at him. She landed a solid elbow to his face. Blood welled out of his nose to drip onto the pristine white snow. Shock slackened his hold on her long enough to give her a clear shot at kicking him in the misters. At the last minute he swiveled, and the kick went wide.
When he pulled the gun out of his pocket, Stacey went instantly still, a new level of fear calling a surge of adrenaline into her veins.
“I don’t want to have to shoot you, Ms. Hawthorne. That would be messy. So tell me where to find Alicia.”
The temptation to do just that rose to pull at her, while her desire to protect Alicia did the same. He took a step forward and she felt the cold, hard steel slide through her hair, nudge hard against her temple.
“Tell me where she is.”
Living alone in the city and working for the DA were both good reasons to take a few self-defense classes. Remembering her training, Stacey ignored the sound of her heart hammering in her ears and, moving as quickly as she could, raised her hand to push the gun back toward him. The element of surprise Raoul preached at every class ticked through her brain: never pull a gun toward you, because the reflex on the trigger could make it go off; pushing it straight back gave the best chance for disarming an attacker, or buying some time, anyway.
It worked, too. Grunting in surprise, he dropped the gun. Stacey went limp and fell to the ground. She fumbled for the weapon, but instead of turning it on him— the odds against him retaking control were too high— she whipped it as far as she could into the darkness and falling snow.
The cloud of white flakes muffled his angry growl. They grappled furiously until his hands settled on her throat.
“Where is she?”
Eyes wide, Stacey shook her head. There was just enough light coming from the car to let her see the set lines on his face through the shifting curtain of swirling snow. If she gave him what he wanted, Alicia was dead. Worse, the look in his eye said Alicia wouldn’t be the only one. She clamped her lips closed and shook her head; he responded with a frustrated shake, and she could feel something hard— probably a rock— tap against the back of her head.
“Tell me.” He went from cold calculation to hot fury in the blink of an eye. His hands tightened on her throat, his body pressed her further into whatever lay beneath the snow.
It was too late for her now and she knew it. The world grayed around the edges and then went black.
Bait & Snitch (Ponderosa Pines Cozy Mystery Series) Book 4 (Kindle Locations 183-251).
ReGina Welling is the author of the Psychic Seasons series and co-author of the Ponderosa Pines series written with her lovely daughter, Erin Lynn. She has recently moved back to Maine where she was raised in a small town with certain similarities to Ponderosa Pines–one that felt like an extended family.
Author Links: Website / Facebook / Twitter
Erin Lynn is the co-author of the Ponderosa Pines series.After living in Syracuse, NY for 8 years, she recently returned to the middle of nowhere, Maine with the intention of hibernating, writing lots of books and turning a neglected house into a beautiful home.
Author Links: Website / Facebook
For more about these authors see Lian Asks 5 Questions with ReGina Welling and Erin Lynn
Ponderosa Pines Cozy Mysteries
Ponderosa Pines Series Books 1-3
Cat Killed A Rat (Ponderosa Pines Cozy Mystery Series) (Volume 1)
Crafting Disorder (Ponderosa Pines Cozy Mystery Series Book 2)
Caught in the Frame (Ponderosa Pines Cozy Mystery Series Book 3)
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This is a new author and series to me. Would enjoy reading about Ponderosa Pines.
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