Murder beside the Salish Sea

Book Cover: Murder beside the Salish Sea
Editions:Paperback - first edition: $ 10.00
ISBN: 978-0692291153
Size: 5.00 x 8.00 in
Pages: 184
Kindle: $ 3.99
Pages: 184

Just as Brock Harker starts having trouble dealing with the 85 missions he’s flown, he gets reassigned home when they want to rotate him out of combat duty. But that doesn’t mean he’s out of the war. Home is the only clue to finding his wife Amy even if he hadn’t heard from her since before Pearl Harbor. After all he was in China with the Flying Tigers when the war started and she’s half Japanese. Coming home, even to find her, isn’t a pleasant thought though. He was thrown out for even announcing he was engaged. There are only more questions when his wife ends up in the only place she should never be. Home with the man that threw him out. Then, when they find his father dead after an argument, he’s considered a prime suspect. No one is who they seem to be as the clues unravel and more bodies pile up. Finding his wife turns out to be the least of his worries now as everything he knows about home comes into question. Even his father. More than murder hides in the mist.

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The dreams started almost immediately in his exhaustion after 4 years of war. Years away, with the war on, it might as well have been a lifetime. Deaths for a lifetime filled only weeks. Going home, suddenly there was a childhood toy in his mind; it felt like another had played with it instead of him. Images of summers long gone smiled back at him, and Brock felt like throwing the pictures against the wall, if only they were real. A half full bottle of whiskey last drunk by his father sat on a table by the sofa. The woosh of bombs ripping through the air heading to their target filled his ears, destroying the world he once knew.

“We’re coming close sir, you want to take over to land?”

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With a start Brock woke to the wind coming off the bay, rattling the windows, water streaming down the curved glass of the B-17. The dreams came to him awake as much as at night. A world he had bombed into destruction, dark nights blacked out from retaliation only brought to his shattered calm that there was nothing left. Life as he knew it was gone. The clouds, turbulent and grey, gave some peace though. It made a poor day for bombing. The sea below him ran into the Cascade Mountains with an impressive show. Islands fell like gems from a necklace into the bay. Hundreds of them from rocks to massive land masses filled his view. 20 miles from Canada and right on the Ocean. Well, the straits that led out to the ocean. The straits of Juan de Fuca, Georgia, and Puget Sound all ran around Vancouver Island out to the Pacific. Bellingham Bay was directly below. Banking the plane, Brock approached the airfield on the north edge of Bellingham, Washington, and he was home.

Climbing out of the cockpit, the silence was shattered.

“Colonel Harker, welcome to Bellingham airfield. I’m Captain Stephens. I have your quarters prepared. I don’t know quite what to do, a colonel serving under me, never happened before. If they had said a guest I’d understand, but...” Stephens just kept going. “I’ve been hoping since I received word you were coming if you’d give the men here some lessons, they’re all just out of school pilots that are getting hours. I know they’ll be pulled out soon and sent to combat. We can’t get a better instructor, 7 months with the Flying Tigers, 85 missions with the 8th Air Force over Europe. Pardon my asking but why on earth would they send a fighting ace up in a bomber?”

Brock let out a sigh; he just wanted silence. “Because, unlike most recruits, I could actually fly a plane when I joined up. My father was a pilot in WW1 with the Lafayette Flying Corps, already had me when he went over and my mother chucked him out for a myriad of offenses he supposedly committed. I could dog fight when I was 10. Only thing the man ever did for me.”

“Supposed offenses, sir?”

Brock just frowned. “She wanted a divorce, but no one does that. So she said why not join up and fly, since that’s all he seemed to want to do. Surprised everyone by surviving and she was stuck with him.”

“And the Flying Tigers? Is it true you have the Order of the Cloud and Banner from the Chinese?”

He just wanted to go to sleep and not dream. “Couldn’t pass up the money they were offering.”

Stephens should have been in films, a character actor sort. You knew who he was the minute he walked on stage; he was the good to a fault guy that was seeing the heroine before she met the film’s star and she dumped him.  “No I suppose not. What about after?”

“I was trained as a bomber by the Air Corps. That’s what they put me back into. When the Tiger program was closed down in ’42, I arrived back just in time to head to England and do a few runs before they loaned us out to the 12th in North Africa. Then Doolittle took me back last year when he reorganized.  We’ve stopped operations over Germany. They were delivering food to the Netherlands as I took off. It’s a ground fight now. All up to how long it takes to capture Berlin.” The Russians that had been taking Berlin were making good progress, but the snippets of information getting out weren’t good. Raping, stealing, killing people that might have had nothing to do with the fighting. There was ending the war, and there was just terror. After the word of concentration camps being found and their horrors, though, it was hard to show much mercy. Still he could hope there was humanity left, hard as it was to imagine after 7 years of the world tearing itself apart.

Stephens opened the door, letting him into the offices. “I’m sure we’ll benefit from your experience.” He poured him a cup of coffee.

“I’m on leave. If you need a plane ferried, tell me, but give me a couple weeks before you plan any training if it’s not required. I haven’t slept well in weeks.”

“Yes, of course. Have you heard anything about Japan?”

Brock could only shake his head. His wife’s own family wanted to kill whoever came to stop them from killing whoever got in their way. People she’d never met, never knew. They gave her blood and America gave her everything else. “Just that it will be a bloody mess. It could be years longer.”

“Kingfisher!” Stephens called and a man appeared quickly. “Can you show the Colonel to his quarters?”

“Yes sir.”

“I don’t suppose I could borrow a car,” Brock asked.

Stephens narrowed his eyes. “They dissuade use of vehicles for sightseeing. Gas rations.”

“If you had read his file, sir, you’d have seen he is from here. They have a house down on Chuckanut Bay,” Kingfisher answered.

“Really?”

He just wanted sleep. “That’s why I requested here. I haven’t been back since before the war started—as you know, I was in China when Pearl Harbor was attacked.”

Stephens waved him away. “Yes, have Sullivan drive him. I can’t leave the car overnight, but we can get you out there at least.”

“Thank you.”

Out in the office, Kingfisher looked up at him from his desk. He was Indian of some sort, not local; he knew enough Salish to recognize them. “Are you staying there your whole leave?”

“You might want to keep the room open for me. I was thrown out, and I don’t know if I will be again.”

“Yes sir. It’s there if you need it. If you’re gone from base though I would need to get you some ration coupons, or it will be a rather lean leave.”

“It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve thrown a crab pot to survive; how about we see how I fare with the old man first. I might be back on the first bus I can catch at this point.”

Kingfisher just let out a knowing grin. “Yes, sir. Over a woman was it?”

He should have been dead so many times. Six times wounded, while men nearby died or were maimed. But the wound that hurt most was Amy vanishing. Half Japanese women had to watch themselves; she’d lived inside the exclusion zone, even going to college there. Amy, the smiling face from a life that was gone. Life that was going to plan until Pearl Harbor happened. China to Europe as fast as they could get him there, he’d never even had a chance to stop and find out what happened to her. Her letters just stopped, the letters he sent unanswered. His father hadn’t approved and threw him out. That was the money he couldn’t pass up in China, money to support a wife. “Isn’t it always?”

When her brother came to stay summers during college, Tom Harker hadn’t cared, but the minute Brock and Amy got close, all hell had broken loose. Amaya Kobayashi was not for marrying. His father was a racist sod that didn’t like her blood alone; the woman took after her mother, and it was hard to tell she was half Japanese. As American as anyone whose family had been in the country for centuries. It wasn’t just Tom hating Amy. Bigot or not, he was a hateful man. Brock’s mother and father had hardly talked while being in the same house. It wasn’t a joke that she had championed him joining up for WW1, hoping he wouldn’t come back. A volunteer even before the Americans joined the fight. A weak heart never should have killed her; she was far too strong a character. She was gone before he ever met Harry, let alone Amy. Now Brock had thousands in the bank and nothing more; he couldn’t find the one person he loved, that loved him. The only link to finding out if she chucked him over or was in a camp with all the rest or even dead was a bloody old man that hated him.

COLLAPSE

Chanticleer Reviews finalist for Murder and Mayhem Contest 2014

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