Calistoga, California-population 5,000-a popular tourist destination located in the most beautiful part of the Napa Valley, a place where people still go to bed at night with their doors unlocked. At least, they used to....When private investigator Sam Bass is hired to look into the savage murder of a young woman, he has no idea of where it will take him. It's a frustrating case, months old and with few leads. Then more bodies are found, and the trail seems to lead back to Sam, himself....     

 Nothing about this case made any sense.

Jay Herndon was just walking out to his truck when Sam pulled up.  After surviving harvest with only a few disasters, then weathering winter, Herndon was decidedly taking it easy.  Another month and harvest would begin to loom again.  Bottling would be upon him before that.  Today, Jay was going home early.  He stopped on the wooden walkway that covered the east and north side of the winery, waiting for Sam to get out of his eight year-old Camaro.

"I'm sorry," he told Sam, "but the winery is closed for the day."

"I'm looking for Jay Herndon," Sam said.

"That would be me."

The field where Lori Deyes' body was found was now planted to Cabernet Franc.  Herndon explained exactly how and where he found the body.  Sam measured out thirteen feet.  A row of grapes grew there now.  He tried to imagine what it must have been; freshly tilled earth, undisturbed except for where she lay.  Lori Deyes had not been a large woman.  With her organs gone she weighed less than one-hundred pounds.  Still, one-hundred pounds of limp, dead weight is never easy to wrestle with.  Whoever had killed Lori had carried her a half-mile and then thrown her thirteen feet out into the field.  Sam wondered how far he could throw one-hundred pounds.

Ten feet, maybe, he thought.  Not thirteen.  No way.

And why had they done it here?  They killed Lori Deyes a full half-mile from this spot, then carried her here.  Sam looked around.  What was so special about this particular place?  They had to carry her down Zinfandel Lane and across Zinfandel bridge.  Anyone driving by would have seen them.  Friday night at midnight was not an unreasonable time for traffic, even out here.  What were they trying to say by doing this?

Sam's eyes searched the area around him in all directions, looking for answers.

He found none.



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