Toby wouldn’t look up. “Where’d they take him?” he asked slowly.

“They took him to a special doctor who studies dead people. This doctor knows how to look for clues about who killed him,” answered Mercy.

“A medical examiner.” Toby finally looked at her again. “Like on CSI.”

“That’s right. We want to know who did this to Ned. That’s why we’re going back to look for clues at his house. But we won’t know if the killer stole something. I bet you would notice if something was gone.”

Toby had started to shake his head as she talked. “I don’t want to go back.”

Mercy saw Truman’s fingers grip Toby’s shoulder a little tighter. “That’s fine, Toby. But please consider it. We could really use your help to figure out what happened.”

Lucas tapped on the office door and brought in the coffees. “Sheriff Rhodes is back.”

“We’re almost done,” answered Truman. He looked at Eddie and Mercy. “Anything else for Toby?”

“Not now,” said Mercy. “If we have more questions, can we talk with you again, Toby?”


Truman walked him out of the office.

Eddie leaned close to Mercy. “What do you think?”

“He’s a good witness if we ask the right questions.”

“I agree. I don’t know if he saw anything helpful, though.” Eddie glanced at his notes. “We’ve got Leighton Underwood to follow up on and a random vehicle that stopped by one day. I think we need to talk with more of Ned’s cronies.”

“Ned’s cronies meet at the John Deere place at five a.m.,” said Truman as he reappeared.

“Does Leighton Underwood meet there too?” asked Eddie.


Mercy looked at Eddie, trying to weigh priorities. They needed to stay on Ned’s case because it was fresh, but they had a lot of catching up to do on the other two deaths. She was torn.

“Where can I rent a car?” Eddie asked Truman. “I think we need another set of wheels so we can split up and cover more ground.”

Why didn’t I think of that?

“I can have someone run you back to Bend for a rental if you’d like. That’d save some time,” suggested Truman. At Eddie’s nod he hollered down the hall. “Lucas! Get Gibson back to the station. I’ve got an errand for him.”

Truman looked at Mercy. “What’s your plan?”

“I’d like to talk to Leighton Underwood. Now.”


FBI Special Agent Mercy Kilpatrick followed Truman in her black Tahoe as he led the way to Leighton Underwood’s home.

Even though Leighton was a neighbor of Ned Fahey’s, the route to his home was in a completely different direction. There was no fast way to get there, and Truman suspected Leighton liked it that way.

Remembering Toby Cox’s comparison of Mercy to young Kaylie at the coffee shop, Truman told his phone to dial a number and listened to it ring as he drove. As soon as Toby had mentioned Kaylie, Truman realized why he felt as if he’d seen Mercy before. On the basis of looks, the FBI agent could be Kaylie’s mother. And since they both were named Kilpatrick, Truman had a strong suspicion that she was. He’d heard Levi Kilpatrick’s wife had left him and his baby girl years ago. Now it looked as if she was back in town.

But as an FBI agent?

One woman would know the full story.

“Hello?” Ina Smythe’s frail voice sounded in his car.

“Hi, Ina, it’s Truman.”

“Enunciate clearly, son. It sounds like you’re in a tin can.”

“Sorry about that, I’m in the car. I only have a minute, Ina, but I wanted to ask you about Levi Kilpatrick. What can you tell me about his wife who left?”

Truman had relied on Ina Smythe to help smooth his way into Eagle’s Nest. She’d sat at the front desk in the police station for forty years before retiring six months before Truman was hired. She was the one who’d reached out and told him about the police chief opening. “No one else wants it, Truman. They’ll have to consider an outsider, and you know how that could turn out. You’re sort of a familiar face around here, you’ve got the necessary experience, and we know your uncle Jefferson can pull some weight with the town council. What do you think about moving to Eagle’s Nest permanently?”

He’d been ready for a change.

Ina coughed three times, and it echoed in his vehicle before she answered his question. “Deirdre? She wasn’t his wife. She never married him, although he pushed for it. She took off for southern California somewhere when that little girl was one and left the baby with Levi. Her parents fought to get custody, but the court awarded it to Levi. Darn good decision. Her parents were too full of themselves, and I was glad when they moved not long after that. I don’t know if they keep in touch with their granddaughter or not.”

The name “Deirdre” made Truman deflate. Had she changed her name? If not, where did Mercy Kilpatrick fit in? She had to be a cousin of some sort; there was no denying her resemblance to Kaylie Kilpatrick. But the Kilpatricks had never mentioned any cousins in his presence.

“Does the name Mercy Kilpatrick mean anything to you?” Truman asked.

“Mercy? Mercy Kilpatrick? Where on earth did you hear about her?”

“Then you do know her.” His curiosity shot off the charts.


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