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Authors: Ilona Fridl

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Prime Catch

BOOK: Prime Catch
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Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright

Praise for Ilona Fridl’s Desperate Times Series

Dedication

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

A word about the author...

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Thank you for purchasing this publication of The Wild Rose Press, Inc.

Prime Catch

by

Ilona Fridl

Dangerous Times

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.

Prime Catch

COPYRIGHT © 2013 by Ilona Fridl

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press, Inc. except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

Contact Information: [email protected]

Cover Art by
Rae Monet, Inc. Design

The Wild Rose Press, Inc.

PO Box 708

Adams Basin, NY 14410-0708

Visit us at www.thewildrosepress.com

Publishing History

First Vintage Rose Edition, 2013

Print ISBN 978-1-61217-719-9

Digital ISBN 978-1-61217-905-6

Dangerous Times

Published in the United States of America

Praise for Ilona Fridl’s Desperate Times Series

SILVER SCREEN HEROES
:


Silver Screen Heroes
has it all. Suspense, romance, mystery, history.…I found myself drawn into the story on several levels.”

~Night Owl Romance Reviews Top Pick (4.75 Stars)

“Wow! What a story. It starts off with a bang, or should I say fire, that kept my attention and made me want to read more.…Once I sat down and started reading, I couldn’t stop. I got involved with the characters, related with the situations and felt I was a part of the story.… Read
Silver Screen Heroes
and join the magic of an era long past and feel the miracle of true love. Excellent read!”

~
Marianne Gibson, Between the Lines (4 Stars)

GOLDEN NORTH
:

“Ilona Fridl’s
Golden North
is truly an adventure worth joining. Take an armchair travel opportunity to go to Alaska. This wild state is a wonderful backdrop for such a great novel.”

~Night Owl Reviews Top Pick (4.75 Stars)

BRONZE SKIES
:

“A quick and enjoyable read that drew me in from the first page to the last even without reading the first two books….There was romance, some laughter, lots of angst, and a few tears. There was family, friends, history, battles, casualties, injuries, a stalker, mystery, and suspense. I look forward to reading more books by Fridl in the future.”

~Romancing the Book (4 Roses)

Dedication

To my friends and family.

And to the readers who loved Amos and Sarah

in
Golden North
.

Chapter 1

Juneau, Alaska Territory, 1923

It’s amazing how broken a human body can be when plunged thirty feet onto a cement floor. A dark gel of bloody brains oozed from the split skull, and the rest of the body looked like it was held together only by its clothing. Sheriff Amos Darcy looked away from the ghastly sight when he realized sweat was forming under his mustache and his stomach was threatening to roil. Coroner Elmer Stanton hurried to the body as Amos turned and studied the wooden catwalk with its safety rail hanging at a crazy angle.

He turned to the pasty-faced cannery owner, Peter Anders, who fidgeted next to him. “Mr. Anders, this looks like an unfortunate accident. What makes you think it was anything else?”

Anders handed him a bloodstained envelope. “We found this jammed halfway into his jacket pocket.”

On the front of the envelope was the number three. Amos held it to the light. “Has anyone opened it yet?” At Anders’ shake of his head, Amos tore the end and extracted a folded sheet.

It read:
This is the third cannery bigwig to meet his maker. How many more before the traps are removed?

Amos tucked it back into the envelope. “I need to hold this for evidence. Have two others died because of accidents here?”

The owner ran his fingers through his hair. “No. All the other executives of the plant are intact, as far as I know.”

Elmer and his two helpers were putting the body into a shroud and strapping it onto a stretcher. Amos pointed to the corpse. “Anders, who was he?”

“Edward Thornton, Vice President of Operations.”

“What are these traps mentioned in the note? And was Thornton in charge of yours?”

Anders blew a breath slowly through his lips before he continued, “Yes, he was. The traps are large wooden mazes set on the mouths of the rivers where salmon go to spawn. The fish get trapped and, at times, we can pick up an entire school.”

Amos mopped his forehead with a handkerchief. “Have you had any threats before?”

“Not personally. But we have heard about Eskimos getting angry about the depletion in the number of fish making it upstream.”

Amos waved Elmer over to the conversation. “Elmer, stop at the office when you’re finished. I want a full report of anything you find.”

“Will do, Sheriff.” The coroner followed the stretcher out.

“Mr. Anders, who was in the warehouse when this happened?”

“Ted Carney was. Let me go get him.” Anders returned with a large muscular man in worker’s overalls.

“Mr. Carney?” The man nodded. “Tell me what you saw.”

Carney fiddled with his bandanna and wiped his mouth. “Well, Sheriff, we was loading cans into the crates, ya know, and we hears a loud crack and Mr. Thornton lands on the floor in front of us.”

“Did you see anyone on the catwalk?”

“No, sir. I guess we was all starin’ at Mr. Thornton.”

“Did you hear anything overhead?”

“No, sir.”

“Let me talk to the others who were here with you.”

Carney brought his cohorts in and Amos questioned them, with the same results. Most of them were either too stunned or sickened by the fallen body to notice anything else.

Amos wrote on his pad of paper, then nodded. “Thank you, all.” As the men made their way to the door, he pointed above. “Mr. Anders, take me to the catwalk.”

Peter Anders led Amos into an adjoining hall and up a flight of iron stairs. The door to the catwalk was ajar. “Don’t touch the door!” Amos called as he passed by Anders and stooped to study it. A smear of blood stained the wood underneath the knob. “Do you know if there was anyone in the hall when the accident happened?”

“I can check with the workers.” He started down the steps while Amos went onto the walk.

The four-foot-wide catwalk was constructed of wooden planks, with a three-foot wall on either side. A safety rail was affixed on iron bars coming up through the wall boards. Amos went to inspect the break in the rail. There were splashes of blood on the plank floor.
Seems like Thornton was attacked before he went through that railing.
Amos tested the rail on the other side by leaning hard on it.
Hmm. It would take more than a falling body to break this.
He tested the broken side. The rail board was smooth on two sides and hung turned out on one of the iron posts. A small line of sawdust was trapped between the wall and the floor. Someone had hastily tried to clean it up―
This looks like it’s been sawed through on both sides!
With this development, Amos decided it was premeditated murder.

Anders appeared at the door with another worker. “Sheriff, this is Jake Kennedy. He wants to tell you what he saw.”

Amos readied his notes. “Yes, Mr. Kennedy?”

Kennedy glanced around before he began. “I was wheeling a pallet of cans to the warehouse and came in from the south door. Mr. Thornton was going up the stairs to the catwalk when I saw a man in a long coat and a fedora hurry up after Thornton and follow him through the door.”

“When was this?”

“About an hour ago. Mr. Thornton always inspects the warehouse around the same time.”

“By himself?”

“Yes.”

“Did either of them see you?”

“I don’t think so. Their backs were to me.”

“Then you didn’t see the other man’s face?”

“No. I didn’t really know anything was wrong, then.”

Amos tapped the pencil on his notepad. “Did you notice anything else?”

A light dawned in Kennedy’s eyes. “Yes. Yes, I did. I thought it was strange that he was wearing mukluks and not work boots in the warehouse.”

Amos pulled on his mustache. “Thank you, Mr. Kennedy. If you remember anything else, let me know.”

“Yes, sir. Terrible business, this.” He left as Amos turned to Anders.

“Mr. Anders, along with the note, I want this board as evidence, and don’t fix that rail yet.”

“Anything you say, Sheriff.” Together they wrested the wooden rail off the iron bar.

Amos took leave of Anders and climbed into his patrol car. Heading to the office, he knew he would ask Sarah Lakat to work on the case. His Tlingit woman deputy was a damn good detective.
And if it concerns the Eskimo community, she’ll be an asset.
He smiled slightly and warmed at the thought of working closely with her on a case. Then he brought himself up short.
I’m a bachelor, and I like my life the way it is. Anyway, we already work together. Well, in the same office.
Amos shoved his feelings for Sarah into a far corner of his mind.

Chapter 2

Sarah Lakat waved at Deputy Sam Lindsey as she came in. “Anything going on, Sam?” she asked the handsome young man.

“The sheriff was called to the Polar Star Cannery. Seems there was an accident there.”

Sarah came through the gate to the rear of the office where Sam sat behind his desk. Sliding into her desk chair, she commented, “Sounds interesting.” She flipped her notepad. “At least better than a bicycle theft. That was solved when we discovered the man just forgot which lamp post he had left it shackled to.”

Sam chuckled. “Been mighty quiet around here for a few days.”

Sarah sighed, lining up her report sheet in the cranky typewriter. “Still have to report it.” She stifled a yawn. In the middle of her report, the sheriff banged the door open.

“Lakat, I want to see you in my office as soon as you’re finished.”

She wrapped up the bicycle report and knocked on the sheriff’s door. “You wanted to see me?”

“Come in.”

“What is it?” She closed the door.

“Sit. We have trouble brewing.” He passed her the bloodstained envelope. “What do you make of that?”

She studied the paper. “Looks like somebody has it in for the cannery business.” She gave it back. “Do you know who the first two victims were?”

Amos shook his head. “That’s what I want you to find out. Go to the
Daily Empire
and check their news feed for the past few months on trouble at canneries.” Sarah rose to leave. “Wait a moment. The murderer went out of his way to tell us this was number three and why. I wonder if there was a warning that appeared somewhere before it happened.”

“There could be, if the purpose was to stop the canneries from using the traps. The personal notices section of the newspaper could have had a veiled message. I’ve heard of that happening before.”

Amos jumped up. “I’ll go with you and see if there’s anything suspicious in the Personals.”

The channel fog was lifting in Juneau as they climbed into the patrol car. The April sun filtered down as though shining through layers of cheesecloth. The temperature was in the fifties, but snow still glistened on Mount Juneau and Roberts Peak. Juneau, the territorial capitol, nestled between the mountains and the ocean waters of Gastineau Channel. Sarah took a deep breath of the familiar salty smell of the sea mingled with the tang of oil from the wharfs. It felt good coming out of winter and into the promise of spring.

Amos parked in front of the newspaper building and together with Sarah strode up the steps into the lobby with its ever-present battery of busy typewriters. The wooden half-wall with a gate separated the public from the reporters. Sarah didn’t have any idea how they got work done in such a din.

A man at a large desk in front hurried to the gate. “Can I help you, Sheriff?”

BOOK: Prime Catch
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