October arrives in Moose County on the heels of a long drought, and the citizens of Pickax worry about wildfires.
Their fears are realized in an unexpected manner, with a case of arson-and the shooting of a volunteer fire-watcher as he is reporting the blaze. The crime wave continues as the president of the curling club is pushed to his death down a flight of stairs, and it's up to Qwilleran & Co. to sniff out the rat who is responsible for it all.
It was late October, and Moose County, 400 miles north of everywhere, was in danger of being wiped off the map. In the grip of a record-breaking drought, towns and farms and forests could be reduced to ashes overnightgiven a single spark and a high wind. Volunteer firefighters were on round-the-clock alert, and the congregations of fourteen churches prayed for snow. Not rain. Snow! Winter always began with a three-day blizzard, called the Big One, that buried everything under snow drifting to ten feet. So the good folk of Moose County waxed their snow shovels, bought antifreeze and earmuffs, stockpiled bottled water and flashlight batteriesand prayed.
Late one evening, in a condominium northeast of Pickax City, the county seat, a cat sat on a windowsill, stretching his neck, raising his nose, and sniffing. The man watching him thought, He smells a skunk. They had recently moved to the wooded area with its new sights, new sounds, new smells.
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Newcomers usually don't stay long in remove Lockdubh, Scotland, but artist Effie Garrard settles in and apart from being a dreamer and a little odd, seems to be fine. Then she's found dead, an apparent suicide, but police constable Hamish Macbeth feels in his bones it is murder - but is he too distracted by his own personal affairs to see ...
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