Dead Mountain (Nora Kelly, 4)
Two fraternity brothers taking a drunken joyride after too much Captain Morgan Spiced Rum crash their Jeep in the mountains of New Mexico on a freezing winter night. With no cell service available, they manage to find a cave to spend the night. Unfortunately for them they discover several other things as well. Besides ancient petroglyphs and a body resting in a prehistoric burial site which needs to be returned to ancestral lands, there’s also the remains of two students who went missing 15 years ago in a case code named “Dead Mountain.”
The students were among a group of eight experienced mountaineers who for some reason became so afraid that they fled their tent half naked into a raging blizzard. The bodies of some had been found but now one remains missing.
What happened that night so long ago and where is the missing student? With the case reopened, the services of archaeologist Nora Kelly and FBI Agent Corrie Swanson are called into action. Solving a cold case from so long ago is never easy, but the investigation is confounded by other issues as well. The parents of the deceased students believe there’s a cover-up going on and are actively protesting and Nora’s brother, Skip, has gotten into a tussle with a bombastic and media-seeking sheriff who is up for re-election, and now Skip is charged with attempted murder.
As Nora and Corrie continue investigating, they realize there are many long-buried secrets tied to the disappearance of the students and outside forces working against them to keep those secrets well hidden and now that the case is reopened, their own lives may be in jeopardy as well.
“As Corrie moved farther and farther down the passage, she began to feel like a character from some dreadful Twilight Zone episode: trapped in an endless tunnel of concrete, destined to walk down it forever and ever. . . .“
“Why are we whispering?” Nora answered with a short laugh. “There’s no one here.”
Corrie snorted. “You’re right. Only the dead…”
Soon after they discover the body of the last missing student.
“It took a moment for Corrie to pull herself together and examine the scene. A man lay on the bed, hands folded across his breast, looking more like a corpse laid out for viewing.”
But the two women were wrong about only the dead being nearby. Isolated in the frigid landscape of the mountains where the tragic deaths had occurred all those years ago, their investigation has led Swanson and Kelly to the truth and directly into the path of a group of men desperate to keep them from revealing it.