Tell Tail Clues

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For Ohio native Dr. Ashley Hart, life as the new veterinarian in Aspen Falls, Colorado, is the cat’s meow. Even running errands on a snowy November day is a fun task when accompanied by her best friend in town, dog groomer Holly Kipp. However, an ordinary shopping trip leads Ashley and Holly to an unsettling experience on the side of the road when they encounter a dying stranger—and the man spends his final breaths uttering a nonsensical phrase that makes his demise appear quite suspicious.

The mystery man’s worrisome passing is only the start for Ashley, who returns home to find a litter of kittens left on her front porch in a basket with an encrypted flash drive hidden inside. Despite knowing that curiosity killed the cat, Ashley can’t help but try to unravel the odd clues that keep piling up. As her impromptu investigation progresses, Ashley learns that she’s more tied to the dead man and the source of the kittens than she could have guessed ... and her close proximity to both puts her in the crosshairs of a killer.

Just when Ashley thinks she’s making headway on the case, unexpected revelations blindside her, leading her to second guess her suspicions. Struggling to find the connection between a high-class dog breeder, high-end souvenirs, and high-tech software, she finds herself in more than one potentially fatal situation. Can she solve her multiple mysteries before she uses up all nine of her lives? 

The Characters

Social butterfly and owner of the Mountain Goat Coffee Company, 50-year-old Melanie Lyons always seems to know the latest town gossip. Her coffee shop is located next door to the Happy Tails Veterinary Clinic and she befriends Ashley immediately, always eager to discuss her small herd of goats and two pet Barnevelder chickens, Butch and Cassidy.

With a degree in acting and a penchant for drama, Melanie sings in the church choir and often volunteers to be in the town’s Old West reenactments and other festivals. But Ashley detects another kind of acting going on . . . Melanie lives next door to the horse farm where the trainer Bruce Peterson was found dead in a stall, and she seems to know more about it than she’s telling.

A member of one of the town’s oldest families, Bruce was a kind man, dedicated to his job, and one who genuinely cared about the well-being of the horses he worked with. He was loved by all—or so it seemed. But when Ashley discovers evidence that his death was no accident, a cloud of suspicion settles over the town of Aspen Falls. Who would want the talented horse trainer dead? As it turns out, Bruce had a few secrets of his own. Ashley must unleash the truth and catch a thoroughbred killer before the culprit sets his sights on her.

38-year-old Cole Hawke is a U.S. Park Ranger in the White River National Forest. His friends would describe him as good-natured, dependable, and smart, and some would even say he’s one of Aspen Falls most eligible bachelors. An avid cross-country skier and mountain biker, he loves the great outdoors and spends as much time in it as possible, both on the job and off. He’s a member of the In CaHOOTS Bird Watchers club, and he often takes the unofficial lead on the hikes.

Cole is open to a serious romance but he hasn’t found the right woman—until Ashley moves to town. She has a beautiful smile and a spark he can’t resist, but he worries about her getting mixed up in the murder of local trainer, Bruce Peterson.

38-year-old veterinarian Dr. Ashley Hart is always up for a challenge. Smart, bighearted, and driven, she jumps at the chance to open her own practice in Aspen Falls. She’s thrilled that the residents have chosen her to be their veterinarian, and she looks forward to the adventures she and her Dalmatian, Max, will have in their new home. What she doesn’t expect, however, is the menagerie of mysteries that await them in the charming mountain town.

Independent and spunky, 32-year-old Holly Kipp grew up in Gilmore Creek, Colorado, a sleepy town located about an hour away from Aspen Falls. She’s always loved animals and decided to marry her passion for pets with her desire to open her own pet grooming business. 3 Alarm Fur is a full-service pet salon located in the town’s old firehouse, across the hall from Ashley’s clinic, and Holly and Ashley hit it off immediately. Holly enjoys a good conspiracy theory and is always ready to lend a sleuthing hand. She is also a member of the Bookaru Book Club and she never misses a meeting if they’re reading a mystery novel.