Campfire Catastrophe by Ami Diane

Campfire Catastrophe

Campfire Catastrophe by Ami Diane (A Traveling Town Mystery, Book 7)
English | 2020 | Mystery/Thriller | ePUB | 2.7 MB

Ami grew up in the Pacific Northwest where her love of books was fed during the rainy season–so, most of the year. She enjoys drinking coffee, running, perusing books at Good Will, learning languages, and reading (naturally).

When camping, the last thing Ella Barton wants is s’more murder.
Ella and her friends volunteer to help a local youth organization for a weekend camping trip. As expected, letting her crazy friend Flo anywhere near fire and children proves to be a disastrous combination.
But something scarier lurks in the woods. Is it a stranded dinosaur?
Fleeing for safety, they come face-to-face with this new predator. And it’s not a reptile.
Hunkered in the caves until the danger passes, Ella stumbles upon Paleolithic paintings and a grisly discovery. The sole person capable of returning them home has been attacked. And his final words could keep the town stranded forever.
To find his killer, Ella and her trouble-making friends retrace the victim’s last movements and dig up a nearly two-decades-old unsolved death. Are they related?
To find answers, the Keystone Gators must do what they do best: trespass, blow things up, and put their noses where they don’t belong.

ELLA BARTON STOOD in a clearing in the middle of the Keystone Forest. She inhaled the scent of pine, fir, spruce, and dirt, trying very hard to ignore the litany of curses floating over from a nearby tent.

“Yep, nothing like the great outdoors.”

Flo planted her hands on her hips and aimed a well-placed kick at the tent. Her under-developed muscles caused the green canvas to do nothing more than flutter. “I’m just gonna set it on fire.”

“Yes, that’ll make for a great sleeping experience.”

The tent hung limply, listing to one side. Flo stooped over a stake and wrestled with the rope. Before Ella could finish saying, “You’re doing it wrong,” the rope had already coiled tightly around Flo’s arm in a python grip.

Flo’s face turned a dangerous shade of red, and her foul mouth released another chorus of expletives that would’ve made a trucker blush. Ella smiled at their audience: six kids, ranging in age from eight to sixteen. They stood gaping at Flo in her tower of hair and thick, coke-bottle glasses.

“Don’t worry, kids. She has this condition called Tourette syndrome.” Ella’s smile remained fixed as she said through gritted teeth, “Hey, Bride of Frankenstein. Take a break. You’re scaring the kids.”

“This rope’s knotted…” Flo grunted, then let out a frustrated growl. The next utterances out of her mouth were words even Ella, a linguist, had never heard.

Ella had to speak loudly to drown her out. “Hey, kids, why don’t you go play in the forest or something? I think I saw a pinecone over there. Should be fun to toss around.”

“Horatio doesn’t want them wandering off,” Wink called out beside a perfectly erect tent.

“What the—when did you put that up?” Last Ella had looked, the diner owner had been unfurling the canvas. “Hey, Flo. See that?” Ella pointed. “That’s what it’s supposed to look like.”

“Eat my knickers, Poodle Head.” The rope cutting off circulation to her arm had, somehow, extended to her legs, ensnaring them, as well.

“If you’re going to insult me, do it right. The phrase is, ‘eat my shorts’. And that’s such an outdated burn, I regret telling it to you. What is this, the 1990s? Hey, Flo, Bart Simpson called, and he wants his catch phrase back.” Since no one laughed, she made her own rimshot sound effect.

The army green canvas of Wink’s tent rippled in a gentle breeze, proudly, as if to show off how unlike Flo’s tent it was. This was a proper tent. Even Chester, darting about the diner owner’s feet, chittered his approval before ducking inside.

For the occasion, Wink had dressed the squirrel in a scout uniform, reminiscent of the ones worn by Boy Scouts and the surrounding Firefly troop. As to her own attire, Wink had chosen a particularly loud velour tracksuit, one she’d promised Ella she’d never wear again.

Ella wondered if there was a covert way to “accidentally” throw the outfit into the campfire later. At least hunters could spot that fluorescent green fabric prancing through the woods from miles away.

Having finished a full circle around Wink’s tent, surveying it, Ella rubbed her hands together, eager to finish setting up. “Alright, where’s the rest of it?”

“The rest of what?” Wink asked.

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