While hosting out-of-town guests at her Georgia home, Dreamwalker Baxley Powell is called upon to help investigate a suspicious fire. One of her guests, close friend and fellow dreamwalker Deputy Sam Mayes, accompanies her to the scene.
A meth cook is dead, and when Baxley visits her beyond the Veil of Life, she determines that the woman was murdered. Baxley pities Mandy Patterson, a single mother with aspirations for her teenage son Doodle. Unconcerned about the death of a criminal, the authorities pursue the drug-supply chain angle. Baxley worries about Doodle and vows to find out who killed his mother.
As the case grows more baffling, Baxley struggles against her attraction to Sam. Although her husband is missing and declared dead, she does not feel free to love again until she is sure of his fate.
Two suspects have the strongest motive, but Baxley has reason to believe they are pawns in a deeper game. And unless she can stop them, the world will never be the same.
Wayne turned from the fire chief. “Virg and Ronnie, you guys go next door and find out who lived here.”
“Hold up,” Ronnie said. “I already know. The Pig Woman.”
Wayne shook his head. “What?”
“The Pig Woman. Jerk next door must’ve filed half a dozen complaints about her blasted pigs.”
“The woman with the pot bellied pigs?”
“That’s the one.”
“What’s her name?”
Wayne studied the ground a moment. “It’s coming back to me now. Mandy’s pigs turned up their noses at their pig-chow dinners, escaped under the fence, and got into the dog-food bag on the neighbor’s back porch. The guy nearly had an aneurism telling you about it, right?”
“Yep. Good ole Ricky Dixon. He’s wound tight, that’s for sure. If his wife wasn’t bedridden, he’d be a permanent bachelor because no woman would put up with his sh—, uh, stuff.”
“Head over there anyway. I want a statement from him about what he may have heard or seen. I want to know where those pigs are. Take Powell with you so I know if he’s lying.”
He was sending me away from the scene? I didn’t want him to think I couldn’t do my job. I pushed away from Mayes’ protective arm. “I can do it,” I said. “I needed a moment to prepare for seeing the body.”
Wayne snorted. “Sometimes I forget you’re a chick, Powell, but I can read you like a fast-food menu. This is the best use of your time. Dixon is important. He’s either a witness or a suspect, and I need your take on what he says.”
His words didn’t ring quite true. My spine stiffened. “I said I can do it.”
“Sure you can, but Mayes is a cop. He’s seen burn victims before. He’ll assist me because he wants in on the case. With the fire department’s approval, I’ll collect one or two personal items belonging to the victim, and you can go inside the place once we remove the corpse. Right now, I need you next door with my guys.”
Crap. I was being sent away on the “B” team. Simultaneously, Mayes had been promoted from spectator to “A” team. Good ole boy networks never died.
Though my pride smarted, I couldn’t deny I was glad to be granted a respite on the viewing. Wayne was doing me a favor, so I should hush and be gracious about it.
“Virg, let’s get that statement stat,” the sheriff said.
“Roger that, boss man.” Virg cocked his head at me. “You ready?”
I nodded and gathered my thoughts. I might not like being sent away, but I would do my assignment. As a police consultant, I needed to let my abilities be tasked however the sheriff deemed fit. Didn’t matter about the temporary demotion, I’d do my job. I would get justice for this victim.
“If this guy doesn’t cooperate, I’ll light him up with my Taser,” Virg announced as we trudged down the dirt road to the neighbor’s home.
Ronnie laughed, an affable giggle with a sinister twist. “Go git ’em, Virg.”
Having been on the wrong end of Virg’s Taser before, I didn’t wish that experience on anyone. “You will not. The object is to gather information, not have this man sue the sheriff’s office. If he won’t talk to you, I want a crack at him.”
“No way he’s gonna talk to you. I’m telling you. This man’s crazier than a sprayed roach.”