by Gerri Hill
The isolated, sleepy little village of Timber Falls—built on the bend of a swift mountain river—swells during the summer months as tourists flock to town to run the river, lured there by the Class V rapids.
Haley Martin used to be what the locals called a “river rat”, back during the days of her college years. Now she owns the Timber Falls Bar and Grill, drawn back to the picturesque village seven years ago after the tragic death of her wife.
Carter, a disgraced LAPD detective, was offered an out—a position on a team of unorthodox FBI agents. After a month of training, she is sent out on her own without a team or a partner.
When the gruesome murder of a college student—a river rat—sends the FBI agent to Timber Falls, Carter has no idea what she’s about to find there. She knows she’s looking for a serial killer that’s preying on tourists. But she has no idea that she might find some peace—and love—along the way.
FROM THE AUTHOR
"For as many times as I’ve been to Colorado, I’ve never been rafting, although it looks like fun. A recent trip there had us standing on the bridge in Pagosa Springs, watching rafts go by on the San Juan River. As often happens, I tried to place the scene in a book. Would it be a romance? A murder mystery? How about both?
My original thoughts on Timber Falls ended up being completely different than how the book turned out. Different characters, different story. All that remained was the river. It ended up having a bigger role in the book than planned…but that’s what happens when you let the story take you places instead of forcing it where you wanted. I hope you’ll enjoy this one! Maybe it’ll give you the itch to try whitewater rafting…without the murders, of course!!"
Rubie C. - This is my first Gerri Hill book and I really enjoyed it. For me it was the perfect romance... sweet, and it moved at a nice pace for me. Hill can write a wonderful mystery/romance story! Her characters are well written and developed. The writing was great and kept me intrigued throughout the entire novel. The story was phenomenal and honestly, I already have her backlist books saved. The mystery was a favorite of mine. I was hooked and didn't want it to end so soon.
Michele R. - With Timber Falls and other mystery/romance books, Gerri Hill is an expert at weaving a gruesome murder story with relevant backstory with an emotionally charged romance. Another element in her writing that Hill has perfected is incorporating characters or mentions of characters from past books into her current book.
There are several mentions about FBI Agents Cameron Ross and Andrea Sullivan's FBI equipped RV (motorhome) from the Hell's Highway and Devil's Rock series. I believe the ending of Timber Falls was intentionally left open to continue the book in a series format similar to this other series. In the meantime, don't miss Timber Falls. I recommend this book to other readers looking for a mystery and a sweet romance.
Ms Hyde - The great thing about Gerri Hill is that she can write a good gruesome murder mystery and a down-to-earth romance with likeable main characters in one book. Add the small-town settings in the mountains and you get a perfect read for a rainy day or any day for that matter. I can't wait for her next book!
Jo R. - There's something so fresh and engaging about Gerri Hills' books. Each book is so different but there is a familiarity to them. I think this is because of the book setting, especially in the last few years, each new book seems to be set in an isolated setting, such as the mountains, isolated villages, or small towns but they always leave me with a familiar feeling that you've been there before, which I absolutely love about her books. It just draws me in.
If you're a fan and have read Gerri Hills' previous books, you'll know what to expect from her writing in her new book. Timber Hills will not disappoint, it is very much worth the read, I've given Timber Hills a 4.6 out of 5.
Della B. - Gerri Hill has proven repeatedly that she knows how to write a murder mystery. Timber Falls is yet another example of this. The serial killer aspect brings a few unexpected twists to the table which only elevates the intense plot. Hill’s writing is superb as she brings you quickly into the story and holds your attention until the end. I would say this is a typical Hill novel but only if you understand ‘typical’ to mean an outstanding story, intriguing characters, beautiful settings, and unparalleled writing.
Queer A. Reviews - Set in the small mountain town of, you guessed it, Timber Falls, this murder mystery/romance contains so many aspects of Hill’s writing style that makes her one of the best in this genre. Hill uses her words to describe the picturesque surroundings so vividly and succinctly, the characters communicate with each other which prevents so much unnecessary angst, and the plot is fresh and exciting. There is romance and cute banter, mystery, and suspense and it all intertwines perfectly so that the reader isn’t left feeling like there is too much of some and not enough of another.
Sam D. - Another great crime story by Hill with a lovely romance as well. These are the things I love.
Anne M. - Ms Hill does not let you down. The characters are developed properly, they seem credible even when acting strangely, and the denouement is satisfying. If you’ve read Ms Hill before you won’t be disappointed and if you haven’t you’re in for a treat as there’s something for everyone in her back catalogue.
Betty H. - I thoroughly enjoyed reading Timber Falls by Gerri Hill. If you love a thrilling murder mystery combined with a heartwarming love story, then read this book.
Abbott F. - This book may well be the best book Gerri Hill has written in years. It has everything needed to keep her readers reading into the wee hours of the morning–a well-written slow-burn romance, strong women characters, the hunt for a serial killer, drama, and a HEA ending.
Stephanie D. - Both characters were great and even the supporting characters were lovable. The writing as usual was on point which makes the book very easy to read and hard to put down. Can't wait for the next one!
“So, listen to this,” Haley said as she scrolled through her phone. “They found a guy stabbed fifty-four times and pretty much hacked to bits. In a motel room in Albuquerque. Can you imagine? A housekeeper comes in and finds that mess?”
“That’s why I’m still single. You can’t trust women.”
“Why would you assume a woman did it? They suspect it was a drug deal gone bad. The motel is apparently a known meeting place for that sort of thing. Besides, I don’t think a woman would have the stomach for that kind of killing.”
Mike shook his head. “Another reason why I got out of the city. People are freaking crazy. I like it just fine up here where my only concern is an occasional fender bender and breaking up drunken fights when the river rats get into it.”
The “up here” was Timber Falls, a little mountain village that stayed alive only because of the tourists who gathered there each summer. River rats, mostly. And the campers and RVers who wanted to get off the beaten path. Timber Falls wasn’t at all accessible, really. Only one road came into town, dead-ending at Main Street before turning into a bumpy forest road that climbed into the mountains. The town was buffered by a high mountain pass on one side—at twelve thousand feet—and a winding road on the other that followed the river and slashed through town. That road—the only road—would take you down to Amber Springs, the closest town with amenities within two hours’ drive in any direction.
Timber Falls had barely a hundred full-time residents, yet during the summer months when the river was swollen, several thousand tourists crowded into town. The one motel as well as the lodge stayed booked into September. The RV parks were packed as were the forest campgrounds in the area. The Timber River flowed through town in cascades of rapids with several nice chutes that could be challenging. Two outfitters ran the river, offering up raft trips all summer long for those who wanted to test their skills on the Class V rapids.
She poured him another cup of coffee. “How long have you been here, Mike? Ten years?”
“Yep. It’ll be ten in July. And you’re what? Seven?”
“This will be my seventh summer, yes. I bought the place in the fall, right after the tourists left. Moved here in January, remember?”
Mike Goodson—Chief Goodson—was her best customer and closest friend in town. When she’d bought the saloon, now officially named the Timber Falls Bar and Grill, he’d been the first one to come by and welcome her to town. Not that she hadn’t already been familiar with it. She’d spent every summer of her college years working on the river. She and Gail.
The front door opened and the bell jingled, signaling a customer. She glanced at the wall clock, not much past six thirty. She opened at six each morning and Mike usually came by then for coffee and sometimes breakfast. It gave them time to visit, which, during tourist season, was about the only free time either of them had. Especially now. Curtis and Molly had left her unexpectedly two weeks ago, heading back to New Mexico to tend to Molly’s ailing mother. That left her alone to work the breakfast crowd—serving as waitress and cook both. She now realized how much she had come to rely on them.
“Good morning,” she called to the young couple who entered. “Pick any table you want. I’ll bring coffee.”
She glanced at Mike. “Time to start my day.”
“I thought you were going to switch up the hours on one of your seasonal workers.”
“I am. CeCe is going to switch from nights in exchange for being off this whole week. She’s got friends in town. So, five more days. I can do it. Sylvia comes in at ten and Rhonda at noon.”
She grabbed the coffeepot and plastered a smile on her face. The couple had chosen a table near the corner window that looked out at both the road in front and the river to the side. It was too early for the rafts to run, but it was still a beautiful sight. Each table had place settings and coffee cups turned upside down—Molly’s doing. It saved them having to juggle cups and coffeepot at once.
The couple, a young man and woman in their late twenties, she guessed, had already turned the cups over. She filled them both. The woman reached for two sugar packets from the basket on the table and the man yawned and grabbed a creamer.
“Are you running the river today?” she asked, reminding herself to make pleasant conversation with the customers, something else Molly had taught her. God, she missed them.
“Yes. Our tour starts at nine. We’re doing the long one.”
“Oh, that’s fun. Dead Man Falls, just outside of town, will have you screaming.”
“That’s what we hear. We put in yesterday just past that, so we missed it,” the woman said. “It was still fun.”
“Well, I hope you have a good time today. Do you need a moment to look over the menu or would you like to order?”
“Oh, give us a little while. I just want to drink my coffee and wake up,” the woman said. “We’re camping. Unfortunately, most of our neighbors are college kids. They didn’t quiet down until about two this morning.”
“Tell the camp hosts. They’ll talk to them. That’s what they’re there for.”
“Yes, I think we will. Thanks.”
She topped off Mike’s cup before putting the coffeepot back on the warmer. “What are you going to have this morning? A taco or a plate?”
“Better make it a taco. Chorizo and egg. I’ll take it with me.”
“Why in a hurry?”
“I haven’t been to my house in weeks. I’m doing laundry this morning before making my rounds.”
“Since Curtis and Molly left, I haven’t been to my house either.”
“You staying in the apartment upstairs?”
“Through this week. Once CeCe changes shifts, she can handle it until about seven. That’s when the breakfast crowd starts rolling in and that’s when I’ll roll in too.”
She went into the kitchen to start his breakfast when his cell rang. She only absently listened to him talk as she cracked two eggs onto the greased griddle. Just as she put the chorizo on, Mike stuck his head inside the kitchen.
“Got to run. No time for breakfast.”
She glanced at him, seeing the ashen look on his face. “What’s wrong?”
“Hell, they…they found a guy dead.”
She paused, spatula in hand. “Dead? They who?”
“That was David, one of the campground hosts. Says it’s a goddamn bloody mess out there.”
“Oh my god. A bear attack?”
“Don’t know.” He pointed at the griddle. “Sorry about that.”
“No problem. I’ll have it myself.” When he turned to leave, she called after him. “Let me know what’s going on.”
Even if her choices for friends wasn’t limited, Mike was still the best. They were probably the youngest two in town—him at forty and she at thirty-three. Youngest of the locals, that is. During tourist season, everyone hired seasonal help, including her. Mostly college students wanting to earn enough money to allow them to stay up here all summer. She was lucky in that regard. The old saloon had four rooms upstairs—a brothel at one time, she’d been told—in addition to the small apartment. Curtis and Molly had lived in the apartment—where she’d been staying this week—but she offered free housing and restaurant meals in exchange for work. Well, not totally an even exchange. She did pay a small salary in addition to the room and board. All four rooms had two twin beds, so she hired eight seasonal workers each summer. Fortunately, they usually returned for two, sometimes three years. Hers was one of the few places in town that could offer housing in addition to a salary.
She mindlessly made the taco, wrapping it up in foil and placing it under the warmer. She would have it later when there was a lull. She looked around the kitchen with a sigh. Hard to believe she’d been here that long—her seventh summer. Even harder to believe that Gail had been gone for eight. Eight years come June.
Sometimes it seemed like only yesterday.
And sometimes a lifetime ago.