The Alpine Traitor

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  • Format: Trade Book
  • Copyright: 2009-03-24
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
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Emma Lord is shocked to hear that the Advocate is embroiled in a ruthless takeover bid. Soon, battle lines are drawn and war is declared. Then the first casualty is discovered facedown at the Tall Timber Motel. The victim is Dylan Platte, front man for the buy-out offer Emma turned down cold. Naturally, Emma is a prime suspect. Then it turns out that the dead man has a big surprise for the livingone that involves the glamorous Ginger Roth, a bodacious Alpine newbie who can perform the dumb blonde act in her sleep. Emma's ever-inquisitive House & Home editor, Vida Runkel, plumbs her extensive grapevine, from the Burger Barn to the Venison Inn, determined to connect the dots. But when an Advocate insider is next to take a bullet, Emma and the rest of the Alpiners make it their mission to find a killer.

Author Biography

Mary Daheim is a Seattle native who started spinning stories before she could spell. Daheim has been a journalist, an editor, a public relations consultant, and a freelance writer, but fiction was always her medium of choice. In 1982 she launched a career that is now distinguished by more than forty novels. In 2000, she won the Literary Achievement Award from the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. Daheim lives in Seattle with her husband, David, a retired professor of cinema, English, and literature. The Daheims have three daughters: Barbara, Katherine, and Magdalen.

From the Hardcover edition.


Chapter One

A beautiful blonde with a figure that Venus de Milo would've envied walked into my office, sat down on the other side of my desk, crossed her long legs, removed her big, expensive sunglasses, and offered an appealing smile. "I need your help," she said. "I'm in big trouble."

"What kind of trouble?" I asked.

She ran her tongue over her full, crimson lips. "It's tricky," she said, her voice dropping a notch. "I don't know where to turn." A lilting laugh broke out somewhere in her skimpy red tee's deep cleavage. "You'll probably think I'm an idiot."

Had I been a macho private eye with a gun under my jacket and a fifth of Scotch in the drawer, I might have told her she was this idiot's delight. But since I'm also female, the come-hither act flopped. Indeed, at that moment, I was a middle-aged mother and newspaper publisher in a small town with egg salad on my lower lip.

I grabbed the paper napkin from the Grocery Basket's deli and wiped my mouth. "Sorry," I apologized, the words covering various flaws, including the egg salad, my lack of a flattering response, and not knowing my visitor's name. "We haven't met."

"Oh!" She laughed in a disarming manner. "I'm Ginger Roth. My husband, Josh, and I just moved to Alpine. I love the setting here, with all the mountains and trees. I'm from Phoenix."

"This is quite a change for you," I remarked, resisting the urge to gobble a couple of potato chips and cursing my staff for abandoning The Alpine Advocate office during lunch hour. "How can I help you?"

"Well." This time Ginger's smile was self-deprecating. "A friend of mine asked me to talk to you about your newspaper."

"Okay," I said. "How does that get you in trouble?"

She grew serious. "My friend's getting an M.A. at the University of Arizona in Tucson. She's focusing her thesis on weekly newspapers, so when she found out Josh and I were moving to Alpine, she asked me to talk to the local publisher." Ginger grimaced. "I don't know zip about journalism, so I haven't a clue how to go about it."

"Your friend didn't give you a list of questions or topics?"

Ginger shook her head, the golden, shoulder-length strands glinting in the afternoon light. "She told me to get an introduction first, and see if you'd be willing to cooperate."

I shrugged. "No problem. Find out the specifics, and then we can set up a time to talk about whatever she wants to know. Is she planning to go into the print media when she finishes her degree?"

"I'm not sure," Ginger replied, her green eyes roaming around the low-ceilinged room. "She worked in an art gallery before going to grad school."

"Newspapers are dinosaurs," I pointed out. "Major metropolitan dailies are losing circulation hand over fist. In some ways, small town papers are more viable because they're so localized. I struggle to make ends meet, but owning a newspaper that serves around six thousand readers is better than going out of business in a big city."

"Wow." Ginger didn't sound terribly interested. In fact, she looked bored. "I'll pass that along," she said vaguely, handing me a slip of paper with her cell phone number. "I'd better go. I'll let you know when I've got those questions." She smiled again, not quite so delightfully, and sashayed out of my office, through the newsroom, and, presumably, onto Front Street. I took another bite of my sandwich.

Two minutes later, my House & Home editor, Vida Runkel, tromped into the newsroom and made a beeline to my office cubbyhole.

"Who was that blond girl?" she demanded. "I've never seen her before."


Excerpted from The Alpine Traitor by Mary Daheim
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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