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On a sunny summer afternoon, in a quiet neighborhood, a five-year-old girl is abducted in broad daylight. Recently, there’s been an alarming uptick in stranger abductions in the United States. After shooting a serial killer breaking into his home, Deputy District Attorney Tim McAndrews is put on suspension pending an investigation. He and his new wife, the lovely Daniela St. Clair, decide to escape to her mountain house at a ski resort to relax. Before they can leave, Tim’s lifelong friends, Medical Examiner Kathy Hope and Detective Scott Renton, bring him a child abuse case to review. Twin boys were dumped in front of Seattle’s Children’s Hospital and have died from extensive abuse. The circumstances are so horrific that Tim can’t put them out of his mind despite being on suspension. After a day of skiing at Schweitzer Mountain, Tim is drawn into intrigue when a four-year-old girl is kidnapped in the resort’s parking area. A chase ensues. Tim rescues the child, but the perpetrator escapes. As Tim reviews the evidence, with the sheriff’s department and the FBI, they discover a similar clue ties this case to several others. Pieces of rainbow-colored duct tape have been found at each crime scene, leading law enforcement to believe they are chasing down a child trafficking ring and increasing the urgency. Can they arrest the villains and rescue the children before they are shipped off to places unknown and before more evil can befall them?

A man riding a snowmobile in deep powder snow

2024 Maxy Awards Mystery & Crime Winning Novel.

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Chapter 1


The little girl was the one they’d ordered. Her light brown hair bounced around her sweet face in spiral curls. Her taupe skin and big brown eyes, framed by thick black lashes, revealed her biracial heritage. Five years old and as perfect as a collector’s doll in her pink dress, lacy palepink tights, and white patent leather shoes. He matched her to the picture they’d sent to his phone.He didn’t know what they did with the children once they had them. He couldn’t allow himself to venture down that path. He’d made a bargain with the crooked prosecutor that day three years ago, and he was out of jail and free if he lived up to his end. Besides, he was paid big money and easy money, so he did it. Sometimes the bounty would be up to $100,000 per child, especially for a special order like today’s. His girlfriend enjoyed all the gifts, dinners out, and perks his employment brought them. He decided to think of that instead. The darling little girl rode her fuschia bicycle up the sidewalk. Sparkly silver tasselsfluttered out from the handlebar grips as she pedaled in his direction. Transfixed for a moment, he watched through the van’s open window. She approached him slowly, wobbling a little, under the brilliant green canopy of maple trees. The summer breeze picked up the scent of roses from a garden on its way from the west to the east. He glanced up to see her foster mother meandering toward the house, chatting happily on her cell phone. Distracted just enough, as if playing her role perfectly, he thought. Turning the ignition fob, he started the van’s engine and let it idle. Slowly, he stepped out of the driver’s side and made his way quickly, quietly, to the back of the van and opened the double doors. Earlier that morning, he’d sprayed the hinges with WD-40 so they wouldn’t make a sound.The child rode past him, not even acknowledging his presence. She focused intently on keeping her balance. It made him chuckle, and briefly, the image of his daughter at that age flashed through his mind. Quickly, he pushed it away. Carefully circling at the intersection, she steered her way back toward her mom. The woman had turned her back and was now yelling at the person on the other end of her call. He could hear the sharpness in her voice even at this distance.The foster mother was still engaged in her heated discussion. Only now, a boxwood hedge obstructed a clear view of the sidewalk. When the little girl was directly across from him, 4he snatched her off her bicycle, smoothing the measure of chloroform-soaked cotton over her nose and mouth with rainbow-colored duct tape. Her eyes wide with fear, she tried to scream. But the drug only took seconds to start its magic and rendered her unconscious. He had his method down pat. Though she slumped like a dead weight against his chest, to him, she was light as a feather. The riderless pink bike, still upright, faltered for a foot or so before toppling onto its side in the grass of a neighbor’s manicured lawn. He carefully tossed the little girl onto the clean mattress and pillows in the back of the van and pressed the doors shut. His partner waiting insidewould take care of the rest. He couldn’t deliver damaged goods. He glanced around cautiously,making certain that no one had seen, careful not to call any attention to himself. Mom still had her back to him.Days earlier, he’d walked the neighborhood searching for security cameras. He’d parked as far away as he could from the two he’d noticed.Swiftly, he jumped into the driver’s seat. Pulling away from the curb in one seamlessmaneuver, he made a U-turn and drove in the opposite direction. From time to time, he glimpsed into his rearview mirror to see if the mother had discovered her daughter was gone. When finally she did, he’d put too much distance between them for her to notice the van or see his license plate

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