By Joel Jurrens
Mystery/Crime, 297 Page
Cover Art by Richard Stroud
Playboy billionaire Dyslin Coakler and his porn star girlfriend are famous for their Friday night sex parties at their mansion on the north end of Burgess Lake. When a wealthy regular partygoer is found floating in the lake with a single stab wound, the suspects start popping up like cards from a gambler’s sleeve. Is the woman a victim of sex games that went too far? Or did a jealous girlfriend of one of the woman’s local boy toys seek revenge?
The storm came out of nowhere. One minute the sky sparkled with stars and a moment later a dark curtain of clouds crept across it and blotted them out. On the far side of the lake a streak of lightning flashed, snaking down at the water in a crooked white streak. A few seconds later, thunder shook the air. As if the cage restraining it had been smashed, an enraged wind stormed across the lake. In an instant the lake’s walleye chop became a fury of whitecaps with foaming waves engulfing each other.
Caught by the sudden wind, the boat swung sharply to starboard, and waves splashed over its side. The boat’s automatic bilge pump kicked in with a low hum for a few seconds before shutting off again.
Straightening the boat with an expert hand on the motor’s tiller, he thought he heard the tornado sirens go off in the town of Burgess. He listened for a moment, but didn’t hear them again. It wouldn’t have made any difference. He couldn’t stop now.
The cold wind mixed with the smell of impending rain made him shiver. The waves were scary-high. The boat came off the top of one and banged down in the trough between the waves, the propeller growling between crashes as it lost contact with the water and flailed in the air. With each bounce of the boat, water sprayed him. In a moment his soaked shirt dripped water onto his pants, soaking them, too. Rain gear lay snug and dry in the center storage compartment, but he didn’t have time to dig it out. He turned his shoulder to the waves and adjusted the motor’s trim to try to smooth out the ride. It didn’t help. The lake tossed the boat around like a gorilla swatting at a tennis ball.
This is trouble, he thought. The weather report had said a chance of thunderstorms when he checked it in the afternoon. Normally he would have looked at the weather radar before coming out, but he didn’t have the luxury of time. If he could have seen the lake clearly, he knew he would have been scared to death. But he couldn’t see more than a few feet in any direction, except occasionally the lights on shore peeking at him from the darkness as he crested a wave, and disappearing as he came down off of it. Running without lights, he could actually see better not having to fight their glare than if they had been on, but still he couldn’t see. He navigated by watching the lighted screen on his GPS/fish finder.
The contour lines on his fish finder showed Lone Goose Bar fast approaching. He changed his course and headed out over deeper water. With these waves he’d rip out the motor’s lower unit if he tried to cross the shallow bar.When the boat had passed the bar, he angled back toward Five-mile Bar. The thick clouds overhead abruptly shut down his GPS as it lost contact with the satellites. Running just by the map of the lake he had in his head and the small compass beside his seat, he watched the depth line on his fish finder as it fell away.