Book III of the Winnebago County Series
A man phones the Winnebago County Sheriff's Department, frantically reporting his brother is armed with a large dagger and on his way to the county to sacrifice himself. Sergeant Corinne Aleckson takes the call, learning the alarming reasons behind the young man's death wish. When the department investigates, they plunge into the alleged criminal activities of a hidden cult, and disturbing cover-up of an old closed-case shooting death. The cult members have everything to lose and will do whatever it takes to prevent the truth coming to light. But will they find An Altar by the River in time to save the young man's life?
An Altar by the River skillfully blends elements of mystery, horror and detective fiction in a suspenseful clash of good and evil that will keep readers turning pages to the end.-Christopher Valen, author of White Tomb and The Black Minute
"Another riveting look at what happens when true evil meets "good guy" detectives Corky Aleckson and Smoke Dawes. Husom's colorful characters and small town Minnesota setting are the prefect backdrop for her compelling mysteries. Christine is an expert at weaving in details and clues in just the right doses to keep you wondering until the very last moment."-Sherrie Hansen, author of Night and Day, Stormy Weather, and Water Lily
Smoke knocked on Alden Armstrong’s door frame to alert him. He stepped in first and I was aclose second.AN ALTAR BY THE RIVER
Alden Armstrong’s name suited him well. His large, strong arms, extended from broad shoulders. He was a big guy. Well over six feet, perhaps two hundred and fifty pounds. Brown hair, sprinkled with gray, cut military style. Armstrong was seated at his desk. He looked up, and seemed to take us both of in with one glance.
“Lieutenant, got a minute?” Smoke asked.
He raised his right hand then waved. “Sure, have a seat.”
Smoke and I slid onto the two chairs on the visitor side of Armstrong’s desk.
“Question on a case?” he asked.
“Good guess. An old case. Harlan Manthes.”
A storm cloud crossed Armstrong’s face and forced his eyes partially closed.
Armstrong stood, nearly brushing me as he passed by, and closed his office door. I hazarded a quick peek at Smoke. His expression was unreadable.
Armstrong sunk back into his chair, failing to mask his agitation. “That is an old case.”
“Tell us about it.” Smoke slipped into his interview mode.
I was the appointed note taker.
“Not much to tell. Tragic accident. Four friends deer hunting, Manthes got in the line of fire.”
“From three different guys?”
Armstrong shrugged. “They were trying to flush out deer. According to the men who were with Manthes, they said he got ahead of them and didn’t realize it. He stepped into a clearing and they shot.”
“That’s why God invented blaze orange,” Smoke said.
“I was the first one on the scene. Manthes was not wearing orange. I asked the others about it, and they said he had an orange hat on, but must have lost it when he got separated from the group. They seemed pretty upset, shooting their friend in the back.”
“The back?” I asked.
“Two big, twelve gauge shotgun slug holes.”
“They all have twelve gauge shotguns?”
“As I recall.”
Smoke studied Armstrong for some seconds. “Anything else?”
“Not that I can think of. Pretty cut and dried.” Armstrong grabbed onto the arms of his chair and his knuckles whitened.
Smoke slid to the edge of his chair. “What are you not telling us?”
“I don’t know--”
“Alden, you got up and shut the damn door when we asked about the case. Why would you do that? It’s an old case. A closed case. Look at you. You look like you’re ready to jump out of your skin. What are you hiding?”
Armstrong’s face flushed. “Nothing--”
Smoke leaned forward and laid his arm on the desk, not far from Armstrong’s chest. “Even a rookie can tell you’re lying, Armstrong. Spill it.”
“If you are so forthcoming, maybe you can tell us where you hid the report on this so called accident.” Smoke’s complexion darkened to a brown tone of red.
“Sergeant, do I look like I feel like playing games here?” Smoke didn’t give me time to answer.
“Where did you put the damn reports?” He half stood, grabbed a piece of Armstrong’s shirt, and tugged.
As shocked as I was Smoke to see manhandling a superior officer, my fleeting thought was, Armstrong is going to cry.
“Let go. I’ll tell you everything.”