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Fiction Police Procedural

Closing Time

A Stonechild and Rouleau Mystery

by (author) Brenda Chapman

Dundurn Press
Initial publish date
Mar 2020
Police Procedural, Women Sleuths, Native American & Aboriginal
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Mar 2020
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2020
    List Price

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Secrets abound at a northern Ontario lodge when a teenage employee is murdered.

It’s late summer and a restless Officer Kala Stonechild has taken her foster niece, Dawn, on a canoe trip at Pine Hollow Lodge in the wilderness north of Sault Ste. Marie. But the getaway turns deadly when a teenage girl goes missing on her way home from an evening shift at the lodge’s restaurant.

After the girl’s body is found between the lodge and the nearby town of Searchmont, Stonechild reluctantly agrees to help with the investigation. She’s teamed with Clark Harrison, an officer she worked with during her last posting in northwestern Ontario. As the investigation heats up, Stonechild’s past threatens the close bonds she’s forged back home. Will she return to her life in Kingston, or will the rekindling of an old relationship lure her away for good?

About the author

Brenda Chapman grew up in Terrace Bay, Ontario, near the border of Minnesota. She has a BA in English from Lakehead University and a B.Ed from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Brenda taught reading and language arts to children and adults for nearly fifteen years before entering the federal government to work as a writer/editor. She is currently working as a senior communications advisor in Ottawa, Ontario. Chapman began her fiction career with children’s fiction. Running Scared (Napoleon, 2004) was her first YA novel featuring Jennifer Bannon. She then went on to pen three more in the series. Hiding in Hawk’s Creek (2006) was shortlisted for the 2007 Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for Children. Where Trouble Leads, set in the Georgian Bay wilderness, was published in 2007. Trail of Secrets (2009) was the final instalment in the series. In Winter’s Grip is her first mystery for adults.

Brenda Chapman's profile page

Excerpt: Closing Time: A Stonechild and Rouleau Mystery (by (author) Brenda Chapman)

Chapter One

The jagged line of pine and balsam trees cast spindly black fingers onto the beach. Rachel knew that the shadows would stretch into a solid line of darkness within the hour. She turned her face away from the path through the woods where he would come and looked out across the lake. She was cold. The mist had seeped under her skin and dampened her hair so that it hung lank and heavy down her back. The chill had worked its way up her spine and into her limbs from the rock she?d been sitting on for the past hour. She knew that she should give up and go home, but the light would hold another fifteen minutes or so. After that, she?d have no choice but to leave. The woods were too thick and eerie to stumble through in complete darkness. As it was, her mother would be pacing and working herself into a lather wondering why she was so late.

The lies were getting harder to pull off.

He?d promised to meet her. Rubbed the knuckles of his hand up and down her cheek when he?d said it. She?d let her eyes drop deliberately, slowly, suggestively to his groin, and he?d laughed when he cupped her chin and lifted her face upwards. “Don?t start what we can?t finish,” he?d said. Rachel shivered, remembering the huskiness in his voice. She?d stared up into his eyes, unblinking, unreadable, and she?d felt powerful at being able to unleash this animal passion in him. They were like characters in a romance novel, only for real.

Sometimes she didn?t recognize herself. She?d turned inside out to please him and this need to see him was with her all the time. It was as if she were thirsty and only getting sips that made her thirstier. He was like a drug she?d die without. She had moments of self-reflection when she wondered if she should have ever started down this road, but every time they were together, the doubts disappeared.

Her eyes scanned the western horizon. The sun was a glowing half-circle seeming to sink into the sea. She knew this to be an optical illusion. The earth's daily rotation around the sun was causing the shades of peach and golden light that radiated across the still water, soon to be swallowed up by mauve and the darkest shade of purple. She?d studied the planets the year before in grade ten science class. The days were getting shorter by two minutes every day and the nights were cooler than even a week ago.

She closed her eyes and remembered the morning he?d put both hands on the wall, one on either side of her head, before leaning in to kiss her. Her heart had been pounding so hard in her chest she?d wondered if she was having a heart attack. He knew that she had a boyfriend named Darryl Kelly, but he hadn?t cared. After they made love for the first time, she hadn?t cared about Darryl Kelly either. The funny thing was that Darryl still was waiting around like an annoying lovesick puppy while she could barely remember why she?d gone out with him in the first place.

There was a lull in the wind, and she sensed him behind her before she heard his feet leaping across the rocks. He was a tall, dark shape coming toward her but his eyes glinted in the half-gloom. She stood to meet him, arms wrapped around herself for warmth. He jumped from the rock below, straightened from a crouch less than a foot away from her, and then she was enclosed in his strong arms, their bodies pressed tightly against each other as if they belonged together.
“I?d almost given up on you,” she said before his mouth was on hers, cutting off her breath in a deep kiss that would have brought her to her knees if he hadn?t kept a firm hand at her waist.

“Let's get out of here,” he said when they broke apart. “Out of the cold at least.”

He didn?t tell her why he was late. She knew better than to ask and put pressure on him. Instinctively, she sensed that he kept coming back to her because she made no demands. She let him lead her away from the rocks and sea. The wind whipped her damp hair and blew through her woollen sweater. She stumbled when her foot touched the hard-packed sand. She thought she saw a movement in the trees and strained her eyes to peer into the shadows. Her hand tugged on his arm. “Is someone there?” she asked.

He stopped and looked in the direction of her finger. His voice sounded irritated, as if she was making up obstacles to put off his pleasure. “Who?d be out here this time of day? I don?t see anything.”

“I guess I imagined it.” Surely I?m not being followed, too?

She set aside the uneasy feeling and sagged against him as they crossed the stretch of beach and entered the wood. Her desire flamed once they were in the shelter of the trees. She wanted to announce her love for him to the world. She?d suggested going away together the last time they?d met, thinking he wanted the same. He?d caressed her cheek and said it was too soon. She had two more years of high school and had only just turned sixteen. Her parents would need time to come around, to give their blessing. They might force her to give him up. He had a lot to lose, too. He?d argued for secrecy and she?d promised to stay silent until they agreed to take the next step.

She stopped beside a pine tree and pulled on his arm. He turned and she twisted her fingers through his hair. He pushed her back against the tree and his hand snaked under her shirt to grab her breast.

“Are you sure?” he asked, lifting his face from hers to look her in the eyes. “This isn?t the most comfortable of places.”

Her voice came out a panting command, “Don?t stop.”

“Good answer.”

She could see his smile before he leaned in to kiss her. She whispered “I love you” as his lips reached hers and felt him hesitate momentarily before his hand was pulling down her zipper and wrenching her jeans and underwear down her legs until she could kick them off. She bit back a yelp of pain when the weight of him pushed her hard against the tree, the rough bark scraping her back. He eased off and she adjusted her back into a better position, pulling him closer to her until they were one. He liked her to close her eyes when he was inside her, but this time she kept them open. His eyes were shut tight and his breath came in pants and grunts as he slid in and out of her. She couldn?t mistake the emotion on his face. He wanted this … he needed her. He couldn?t live without her either. She only had to be patient and give him the space to realize they didn?t have to wait any longer to start their lives together in a new town. She?d have enough money soon to get them started while he looked for another job. It would work. There really could be a happily ever after.

All she had to do was close her eyes and dream.

Editorial Reviews

A slow burn mystery that expertly weaves together several viewpoints in a way that will thoroughly engage your mind as you read.

Frank Zafir, author of the River City series

Complex and filled with menace, Brenda Chapman’s tale of sex, lies, and betrayal will keep you up at night.

Barbara Fradkin, author of the Amanda Doucette mysteries

Series fans who have followed the evolving relationship between Stonechild and Rouleau will be just as interested in what fate has in store for the duo as in unraveling the fair-play plot. New readers will want to go back to the beginning.

Publishers Weekly

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