Cover image for Snow kill : a mystery
Snow kill : a mystery
Eslick, Tom.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Aurora, Colo. : Write Way Publishing, [2000]

Physical Description:
288 pages ; 23 cm
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Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Paramedic Chad Duquette and his half-brother, Damon Pill, respond to a hunter shot call one snowy Sunday morning in November in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The routine call turns deadly when Chad finds a semi-automatic in the victim's -- Joseph Rodriquez -hand, and then Glenn Chambers, a friend of Rodriquez's, is gunned down while the paramedics and police are attempting to save Rodriquez's life.When the police try to collect Chambers' body, they can't find it. Then a series of close-call shootings occur for other hunters in the mountains . . . was someone hunting the hunters?Chad becomes intrigued with the murder case and starts investigating on his own. With the help of his girlfriend, Rachel Spires, Chad uncovers a connection between Chambers, Rodriquez, and a vicious cult that uses a pentagram tattooed on the hip as a code. As Chad gets closer to uncovering the mystery, Damon Pill vanishes and the police name Chad as the murderer. Chad struggles to find the real killer before he, too, is put into a snowy grave.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

In the remote backwoods town of Dunston, N.H., EMT Chad Duquette is slowly getting over his wife's death in this so-so whodunit, Eslick's second novel (after Tracked in the Whites). Chad ploughs snow, romances a new lady in his life, sees a shrink when his demons prove too much--and responds to emergency calls, one of which takes him deep into the woods to attend to a hunter with a gunshot wound in the leg. Chad has scarcely patched up the victim, Joseph Rodriguez, when a shot rings out, instantly killing one of the men who led him to the scene, Glenn Chambers. Chad makes it to the hospital with Rodriguez, but Chambers's body disappears, only to turn up elsewhere gutted like a deer. The residents of Dunston fear that the local hunters have suddenly become the hunted. After a schoolgirl addict dies, Chad soon has drug problems of his own: someone plants cocaine in his truck. He has also pocketed the handgun from the scene of the shootings that turns out to be the weapon used to kill Chambers. Now the prime murder suspect, Chad has to go on the run. By any standard, this novel is a less than stellar read, filled with lethargic prose and featuring a hazily defined and unremarkable central character. The solution involves occult worship and generally makes sense, but getting there requires the reader to wade through many pages of hunting and medical detail that, while providing authenticity, contributes very little suspense. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Chapter One     Snow was predicted by early afternoon, and I spent all Sunday morning getting the wood in. The wind had died a bit since last night but was still gusty. The mid-November sky was gun-metal gray. I'd been stacking about an hour when the pager on my belt toned and dispatch requested FAST squad members to respond to a hunter wounded, shot in the leg.     I headed for Damon's house. I pulled into his driveway and gave a good honk on the horn. Damon Pill's my younger stepbrother, son of the woman my father married after my mother died. I was lucky to swim in a different gene pool.     I had to wait a bit for Damon to get himself together. I could see his head bouncing in the windows looking for whatever he couldn't find. When he finally came out of the house, he was dressed in a fireman's full turnout gear. He bumped his head on the side rail getting in the cab and knocked his helmet akilter.     I got on the radio. "Memorial dispatch. This is Eighty-nine R-thirty."     I fiddled with the volume and the radio squelched     I tried again. "Can you repeat location?"     "Back it off," Damon said. "We'll never be able to hear anything."     He reached for it, but I snatched it away. "I know how to work a damn radio."     I adjusted the knob. Then through the static: " ... on the east end of the Turner property near the curve before the interstate.     "What is it?" Damon said. "What's happening?"     "You got the call, didn't you?"     "The message broke up. I'm in a dip and the waves don't get through too good."     "You're in a dip all right."     He ignored my comment and messed with his fire helmet.     Dunston, New Hampshire, has an all-volunteer fire department and FAST (rescue) squad--I'm FAST, Damon's fire--with the protocol that one covers the other. So if you didn't know what the call was for, it was hard to know how to dress. I was still in my work clothes--boots and wool pants.     "Is it a fire?"     "Hunting accident."     His eyes fixed on me. "Shit."     I knew what he was thinking and I didn't like it, either. I hate gunshot wounds. As a medic in Vietnam, I'd seen enough of them.     "Probably some Masshole," Damon said.     I nodded. People around here tend to blame everything on assholes from Massachusetts. Since they can't hunt on Sunday in their own state, they flock up here.     We bounced along the dirt road that led away from his property and onto Route 30. When we hit the highway, I pushed the accelerator to the floor and watched the speedometer wind towards sixty. The sky ahead was angry. Snow swirled in front of the truck.     "What held you up this time?" I asked. "What were you looking for?"     "Weren't looking for nothing."     "Christ, Damon. You've got two trucks sitting in your yard and neither work a hoot. If you'd just fix one of them you could drive yourself to these calls."     "Waiting for parts."     "You're always waiting for parts."     We turned off Route 30 onto 125A. It's about three miles to the Turner property from the intersection.     By the time we arrived at the scene, Lawrence "Bumps" Lebeau, Dunston's police chief, was already there. The blue lights on his cruiser washed over us as we got out of the truck. He was talking to a man on the side of the road dressed in a long wool coat, a green scarf around his neck and something that looked like a crushed stove-pipe hat stuck on his head.     Bumps turned his head at our approach. "Morning, Chad," he said to me.     "What've we got?"     "Well, I don't know yet. I just got here."     I looked at the man with the crazy hat. "Did you make the call?"     He drew himself up straight. His face was ruddy, and he looked like he'd had a snootful. "I did, sir. It's my friend. Shot himself in the leg." He patted his thigh. "Left leg." When he stood up, it looked like the blood had drained out of his face. "I think it's pretty bad."     "How long's he been out there?"     "About an hour I guess."     Already I knew we had trouble. My training preaches the principle of the "golden hour," the time you reasonably have to save a trauma victim. We had already lost valuable minutes. I turned away from him and searched for others on the squad. It looked like Damon and I were first to respond--probably because it was Sunday and people checked their pagers at the church door--if they weren't home with a hangover. As first EMT on the scene, I was in charge of the medical stuff.     "When the pumper comes," I said to Damon, "you get the Stokes litter and put the long board in it. You and whoever else shows follow me and this man." I nodded to him. "What's your name?"     "Glenn Chambers."     "Me and Mr. Chambers."     I put my hand on Bumps' shoulder. He looked up at me, his cheeks littered with acne scars, like he'd been branded with a waffle iron. "You'd better call DHART and put them on standby," I told him. "We may need a chopper."     "You bet," he said.     Because local hospitals like our Memorial couldn't afford trauma units, The Dartmouth-Hitchcock Air Response Team, just a year old, had been created to get critical patients to medical care as fast as possible. Response time to our part of New Hampshire was less than ten minutes from Lebanon, while an ambulance would take a good forty-five minutes over the interstate.     As Bumps went to the cruiser, the pumper showed up. It lumbered to a halt, and I saw Neil Striker driving. Striker was a certified firefighter and also a First Responder. I liked working with him.     I went to the truck. "Get your bag, Neil," I said. "I need your help."     "How far in is this hunter?" he asked.     "About a half hour, I think."     Damon started yelling for the litter, and I got two blankets out of the back of the pumper. I returned to Chambers. He still looked a little pale. If I could get him doing something, it might take his mind off things. "I want you to carry these," I said, handing him the blankets.     He took them from me without saying anything.     "You feeling okay? You think you'll be able to lead us to him?"     He blew out some air and forced a weak smile. "I'm okay." He pointed to the northwest at a pasture perimetered by a stone wall. It ran up a hill to the tree line. "We have to go back up across that field."     Striker joined us. "Let's get going," he said.     I turned to Damon. "You ready?"     By this time, others had shown up and had gathered around the litter. I counted six not including Damon. If we had to carry the hunter out, we would need at least that number, especially in this weather. The litter is as light as it can be, a basket-weave of metal alloy, but with a full grown man aboard it can be pretty unwieldy.     I asked Chambers, "How much does your friend weigh?"     "I don't know. He's pretty big."     "Over six feet?"     "Yeah. Used to play round ball in college. Now he's gone to pot."     We headed across the road and stepped over the stone wall that bordered the field, Striker leading the way. I carried my med kit and Striker lugged an oxygen tank in a pack over his shoulder.     Some people don't like Striker because he's so grumpy, and he scares them because he's big and strong. At just a shade over six feet, he has the girth of an overweight accountant, but the grip of a grizzly. There's a story about the first time he met his ex-wife's father. The father always liked to greet people with a firm handshake. Striker squeezed back. There was a standoff. Striker broke two bones in the man's hand and split the webbing of skin between thumb and forefinger before they called it a draw. The marriage lasted six months.     I checked my watch. Even though it was only a little after noon, it was dark enough to worry about light. The wind had picked up and the snow was getting heavier. It gusted across the field as we walked, a cold, dry snow.     Chambers held the blankets pressed against his chest and struggled up the hill. He puffed like a forge bellows, and we had to stop about fifty yards from the tree line.     "Why don't you give me one of those blankets, Mr. Chambers?" Striker asked.     "No. It's all right. I just need to catch my breath."     I took one from him anyway. "We have to keep going," I said. "Have to find your friend."     "Fucking bastard," Chambers muttered.     "What?"     "Not you. Rodriguez."     "That's his name? The guy who shot himself?"     "I'm going to kill him for putting me through this."     I grabbed the other blanket out of Chambers' hand. "You go ahead and set the pace, Mr. Chambers."     We reached the tree line and hunkered low. My face stung from the wind. I looked back down the hill and spotted Damon with the others coming up with the litter. The whirling snow made them look like walking ghosts.     Striker said, "How much farther?"     Chambers scouted the landscape. "We have to walk that way," he said pointing west. His head spun back. "I think."     "What do you mean, `you think '?" Striker said.     Before Striker could say more, Chambers said, "Yes, over here. I'm sure this is the way."     Striker and I caught up to him and we headed through a stand of birch. The terrain opened up into a selected cut area and we once again had to push against the wind and snow. Chambers reached the edge of the clearing and said, "Through here. Just a few more yards."     We were about to follow when something caught my eye. Farther north up the clear-cut, there was a body slumped on the ground, the lower half still in the woods. It had to be Rodriguez. He probably tried to crawl into the clearing so we could find him easier.     We reached him. He lay face down. He was close to six-six, and I wondered if he would fit in the litter. He was hatless, and the snow that covered his hair gave the odd impression he was wearing a veil.     In his outstretched hand was a pistol. It looked like a semi-automatic of some sort. What the hell was a hunter doing with a pistol?     I found a pair of Latex gloves in the pocket of my jacket and put them on. I uncurled his fingers from around the pistol. I took a pen from my pocket, stuck it through the trigger ring, lifted the pistol out of his hand, and put it in my med kit.     "What's his first name?" I asked Chambers.     Chambers didn't respond. He just stared at Rodriguez.     "I said, what's his first name?"     "Joseph."     I got on my knees and put my head close to Rodriguez's ear. "Joseph, can you hear me? My name's Chad. I'm an EMT and I'm here to help you."     Rodriguez let out a groan. His breath came in short gasps. From what I could tell, his airway wasn't pinched off. He was conscious, but his pale, cool, clammy skin told me he was "shocky." He was dressed like a hunter. His jacket was bright orange and it had a hood.     I opened his jacket and made sure there were no other bleeds. "We have to roll him," I said to Striker. "Spread one of those blankets on the ground by his side. I'll stabilize the head."     While Striker unfolded the blanket, I caught a glimpse of Chambers. He was looking pale again. I said to him, "We could use your help, too."     "Me?"     "You come up here by his shoulders and grab hold of his coat. Striker will get his legs."     "I don't know. I don't think ..."     "Do it!"     When they were in position, I held Rodriguez's head and checked his neck for deformities in his C-spine. It looked okay. "Ready to roll." I said. "On my count. One ... two ... three ..."     Rodriguez groaned again as we turned him. "Okay, now you two take hold of the blanket at the bottom and drag him into the clearing." We moved him about ten yards. We could work on him now without getting hung up in branches and deadfall.     I let Chambers take over my job at the head to keep him busy and told Striker to put the other blanket over Rodriguez and get his oxygen tank. I would also need scissors, gauze, and a trauma dressing from my kit.     I palpated Rodriguez's radial pulse: 86. On the high side--rapid and thready. Then I checked his respirations: 38. He was sucking wind too fast. We had to help him breathe.     "High Flow?" Striker asked.     "We need to bag him. Fifteen liters."     Striker searched his kit for a bag valve mask. This device has a triangular arrangement that fits over the mouth and nose attached to a hollow barrel-shaped piece of plastic. You attach the barrel end to oxygen, place your hand around the middle, and squeeze it every five seconds or so, literally breathing for the patient to get the respirations back to what they should be.     With Striker busy doing that, I finally had a chance to look at the leg wound.     Rodriguez's pant leg was drenched in blood above the knee. Striker handed me scissors and I began cutting from cuff to thigh. I didn't see his rifle nearby--which only made sense since I doubted he would have dragged it out with him. A deer rifle would be a high-velocity .30-06, maybe, or .30/30. You have to think about the weapon involved. In low-velocity firearms, like .22s, the slugs tend to penetrate and bounce off bones, raising all sorts of internal havoc, while the bigger stuff blows right through you, ripping organs and blood vessels.     I finished cutting off his pant leg. I took a look at his lower leg and found the entrance wound, but my biggest concern was where the bullet came out.     The exit wound was large and ugly--it had blown out the back of his thigh. Palpation revealed the bullet probably crashed through his femur, no doubt severing the femoral artery. This man was in deep shit. Bleeding inside and out. I used Striker's oxygen bag as a prop to elevate his leg. I applied direct pressure with a trauma dressing and wrapped gauze around it.     I took his blood pressure: 110 over 45.     Diastolic was in the toilet. The numbers confirmed Rodriguez's biggest problem. His heart was working like a water pump getting down to mud in a cellar hole, and his skin felt like he'd spent the night there. He was hypovolemic--no volume left to pump.     "His eyes are closed," Chambers said, suddenly. "I think he's dead."    "He's not dead," I said. "Keep holding his head straight!"    Chambers let go of Rodriguez's head. "I'm not touching any stiff!" He walked away and stood hugging himself against the cold.     I ignored Chambers and shifted my focus back to Rodriguez. The snow hadn't let up at all and my hands felt numb as I took another blood pressure: 95 over 42.     Chambers said, "I want to get out of here."     "Stay put!" I said.     "But I'm freezing."     "Tough!"     Chambers walked away from me. He was headed down the hill when I saw Damon and his crew coming up to meet us. "Chambers!" I yelled.     He turned to say something, but as he did a shot rang out from behind me. Chambers lurched, then fell hard, like one of those old wall-hung ironing boards that come crashing down if you look at them crooked.    I'd seen it before.    That son of a bitch was dead before he hit the ground. Copyright © 2000 Tom Eslick. All rights reserved.