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by Marilyn Meredith
Calling the Dead
By Marilyn Meredith
Tempe Crabtree is the resident deputy of Bear Creek, a small
mountain community in the southern Sierra. Her continuing
interest in the spiritual side of her heritage often causes
unrest in her marriage to her minister husband.
In Calling the Dead, Deputy Tempe Crabtree investigates a
murder that looks like death from natural causes, and a suicide
that looks like murder. Putting her job on the line, she investigates
the murder on her own time and without permission from her
superiors. Jeopardizing her marriage, she uses Native American
ways to call back the dead to learn the truth about the suicide.
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Romantic Times, 3 Stars
"In this chapter of the Tempe Crabtree series, the heroine solves not one but two mysteries. The use of Native American methods to communicate with a departed spirit provides an especially haunting
"I found myself fascinated by Tempe's search, both in the real world as a deputy, and in the spiritual world of her heritage. I was also fascinated by how her husband, a minister, came to both understand and appreciate how the spiritual aspects of her heritage mirrored his own beliefs.
CALLING THE DEAD is a thoroughly satisfying read, and Tempe Crabtree is a fully realized character."
–Book Reviews@My Space.com/wpadmirer
“…An intriguing mystery…delivering suspense and folklore
about Native Americans.”
"Calling The Dead is the first of the Tempe Crabtree
books that I have read but it certainly won't be the last one I
read. I have already made a list of Tempe Crabtree to pick up when
Reviewed by Patricia Reid.
The whole review can be read at: http://www.bestsellersworld.com/reviews/meredith-calling_the_dead.htm
"...The Native American legends included add something
special to this story. Tempe and her husband, Hutch, come across
as warm, caring people who live in a small mountain town. If you
like mysteries which include Native Americans and their beliefs,
you’ll most likely enjoy this novel."
-- Kaye Trout - October 11, 2006
"...The latest Crabtree police procedural is a excellent
police procedural in which the hero investigates two cases that
could cost her job even if she proves to be right. Ironically, in
the Arthur scenario, Tempe tries to prove murder when natural cause
has been ruled; in the Doreen inquiry, she tries to prove suicide
when murder is the official position. Readers will enjoy this delightful
investigative mystery starring an intrepid heroine seeking justice
for the dead and the living."
-- Harriet Klausner
"...It is always refreshing to find a clean book that
is not watered down and has a message, but is not preachy. Those
are two things you can depend on with Marilyn Meredith. Tempe is
an engaging heroine who has developed in a multi-faceted manner
since her introduction, and is someone readers will want to continue
–Amanda Killgore, Huntress Review
"...What I like the most about the Tempe Crabtree
series is that you don’t have to read them in order in order to
understand what’s happening. The Calling the Death by Marilyn Meredith,
the latest in the series refers to what Tempe Crabtree has to do
in order to solve one of the two deaths she ends up investigating..."
-- Gerri Balter, Uncle Edgar Bookstore
LIM'-IK AND AHL'WUT MAKE THE MOUNTAINS
In the beginning, Tro'qhil, the white-necked Eagle, made the
world. It was covered with water. From the mud at the bottom of
the water, he made the land and all of the old-time bird and animal
There were no mountains at first. They were made by Lim'ik, the
Prairie Falcon, and Alh'wut, the Crow. Lim'ik was given the charge
of building the mountains.
Tro'quil gave Lim'ik and Ahl'wut the same amount of mud. First they
carried the mud to the South and began building the mountains at
a place called Teehah'chapee. They built to the North. Lim'ik, the
Prairie Falcon, built the mountains on the east of Trawlaw'win,
the San Joaquin Valley. Ahl'wut, the Crow, built the mountains on
Lim'ik and Ahl'wut worked for many years building the mountains.
They could not see each other across the big valley, but they could
see the mountains getting bigger and bigger. Finally they met at
the north and created one big mountain. The white people called
it Mount Shasta.
When they were done, they rested.
Lim'ik examined the mountains and saw that those built by Ahl'wut
on the West were much larger than the ones Lim'ik had built on the
East. Lim'ik knew Ahl'wut had cheated him of some mud.
When Lim'ik confronted Ahl'wut, Ahl'wut laughed at him.
Lim'ik flew around and around as he tried to figure out what to
do. Finally, he ate some Indian medicine and grew strong and wise.
He flew over the two mountain ranges and caught one in each of his
Lim'ik flew as hard as he could and turned the mountains round and
round until the largest range that Ahl'wut, the Crow, had made,
was on the West, and the small range, which Lim'ik had made was
on the East.
And that is why the low Coast Range is now on the West and the high,
snow-covered Sierra are on the East.
The blaring jangle of the phone awakened Tempe Crabtree from a sound
sleep. She squinted at her clock radio, 2:36 a.m. Only two hours
ago her shift as resident deputy sheriff had officially ended but,
as happened often on weekends, she'd been kept busy until one. The
only deputy assigned to the Bear Creek area, a small town in the
southern end of the Sierra mountain range that ran the length of
eastern California, she was accustomed to being awakened by the
She picked up the receiver on the second ring. Her husband, Hutch,
lying beside her, stirred. Speaking softly, she said, "Deputy Crabtree
The voice at the other end was female and hysterical. "Please, I
need to talk to Pastor Hutchinson."
Surprised, Tempe said, "Of course." Tempe covered the mouthpiece.
With her other hand she gently shook Hutch's bare shoulder. "Sweetheart,
wake up. A phone call for you."
Reaching for the receiver, Hutch pushed himself to a sitting position.
"Who is it?" he whispered.
Tempe shrugged. Though mildly curious, she snuggled under the covers
hoping to fall back to sleep, but she could hear the woman's shrill
voice coming from the receiver as it rose and fell.
Hutch asked, "Please, who is calling?" He was quiet for a moment.
"Try to be calm. Tell me again slowly." After listening for a few
moments more, he asked, "Have you called 911? Do that as soon as
you hang up. Don't worry, Felicity, I'll come right away." He reached
over Tempe and replaced the receiver.
Now wide awake, Tempe asked, "What's going on?"
"Felicity Pence. Arthur has had some kind of attack." Hutch swung
his legs out of bed and began dressing.
Tempe threw back the covers. "I'll go with you."
"That's not necessary, honey." His shirt still unbuttoned, Hutch
headed for the bathroom.
"I'd like to come."
Felicity was a faithful member of the volunteer sheriff patrol.
Recently organized, the patrol served as extra eyes and ears in
the community. So far it had proved helpful and time-saving to Tempe,
as the trained citizens performed simple but necessary duties.
Since she wouldn't be on official business, Tempe decided not to
wear her uniform. Instead, she donned jeans and a sweatshirt, slipping
her feet into tennis shoes. Joining Hutch in the bathroom, she splashed
her face with cold water. To save time, she brushed out her single
braid and fastened her straight black hair at the back of her neck
with a silver barrette. The heritage of her Native American grandmother
was apparent in her golden skin, pronounced cheek bones, and the
almond shape of her blue eyes.
"What's wrong with Arthur?" Tempe asked Hutch's reflection in the
mirror beside her own. He ran a damp comb through his thick auburn
hair as she put on lipstick.
"Between you and me, I'd guess cancer, but I don't think it's been
diagnosed. He's been complaining of stomach problems for a long
time. Are you ready?"
As they started down the hall, Tempe wasn't surprised to see the
light on in her son's room. The eighteen-year-old senior was a volunteer
fireman. After graduation, Blair planned to go to the university
at San Luis Obispo and major in fire science. Through a mother-son
agreement, he wasn't supposed to respond to emergency calls on school
nights, though he rarely turned off his scanner.
By the time they reached the kitchen, Blair was behind them already
wearing his turn-out gear, settling his helmet on his tousled corn-silk
hair. "Who is it?" he asked. "Heard the call on my scanner but don't
recognize the address."
"Felicity Pence, one of my church members," Hutch said opening the
back door. "She thinks her husband has had an attack of some kind."
Tempe stepped out into the cool predawn. Hutch waited for Blair
before following them both.
"I'll take my Bug." Blair headed for his yellow Volkswagen.
"Let's go in the Blazer," Tempe said.
Surprisingly, Hutch agreed. When Tempe wasn't on duty, he usually
preferred driving his old blue-and-white Ford truck. "Yes, it'll
be faster. Felicity was frantic. The sooner we get there the better."
Felicity Pence and her husband, Arthur, were fairly new to the mountain
community. Because property in Bear Creek was far less expensive
than in Southern California, it had become a popular choice of retirees.
In her forties, Felicity was at least twenty years younger than
her spouse. Because of Felicity's membership in the volunteer patrol,
Tempe was better acquainted with her. Both the Spences attended
Bear Creek Chapel regularly. Next to the fashionable and flamboyant
Felicity, Arthur seemed colorless and dull.
A curving lane lined with slender evergreens led to a Spanish-style
home, white stucco and red tile roof, nestled against the hillside.
Lights blazed from the uncurtained windows.
Tempe parked the Blazer. As she and Hutch stepped out of her official
vehicle, Blair pulled in behind it. Red lights flashing, the fire
department's emergency truck lumbered in, parking at the end of
Felicity met them on the flagstone walkway, her platinum hair flying
around her unusually pale face. A red and orange kimono gathered
around her body gaped at the neck, revealing generous cleavage.
"Pastor Hutch. Thank God you're here."
"Where's the victim, ma'am?" Blair asked.
Felicity frowned. Tempe wasn't sure if it was because of Blair's
choice of words or because she'd recognized him and wondered why
Tempe's teenaged son had answered her call for help.
Felicity blinked her eyes. "He's in the bedroom. At the end of the
hall." She led the way into an open, marble-floored entry filled
with greenery. Through an archway, Tempe could see an expansive
high-ceilinged room with dark, exposed beams, large cream-colored
leather furniture, with accents of teal and cobalt blue.
With a long, crimson fingernail, Felicity pointed out a smaller
archway which Blair trotted through. Two more firemen came in the
front door, one carried a large box of medical equipment. Both acknowledged
Tempe, Felicity and Hutch with quick nods before following after
Tempe gestured for Felicity to go along too. "They may have some
questions for you."
Felicity blinked again. "What kind of questions?"
"The nature of his illness, his doctor, things like that."
As they stepped inside the room, Blair asked, "Mrs. Pence, is your
husband on any medication?"
Pushing a platinum lock away from a red-rimmed eye, Felicity nodded.
"Blood pressure medicine. It's there, beside the bed."
Arthur, motionless in the king-size bed, appeared unconscious. His
skin and hair were the same shade of ashen gray. Blair applied a
blood pressure cuff while other firemen did medical things to Arthur,
including giving him oxygen. Though large, the bedroom seemed crowded
with double dressers and dark armoires. Heavy, wine-colored draperies
covered the windows.
A big fireman, who Tempe knew was the father of four children who
had a private landscaping service when he wasn't responding to emergencies,
asked, "Ma'am, would you describe his symptoms for us?"
Felicity clutching her kimono, stared off to the right, as if it
were too painful for her to look at her husband and what was being
done for him. "He always has problems with his stomach. Eats antacids
like candy. Yesterday afternoon he complained of cramps. He didn't
eat much dinner. What he did eat, he threw up. We both thought he
was coming down with the flu."
She turned away. "If we'd even suspected it was something serious,
I'd have called the doctor then."
The whine of a siren signaled the approach of the ambulance.
"Did he have a temperature?" Blair asked as he removed the blood
Her eyes still averted, Felicity said, "His skin felt hot, but I
didn't actually take his temperature."
Tempe and Hutch moved out of the way for the ambulance crew that
bustled into the room with a gurney and more medical equipment.
Hutch touched Felicity's shoulder. "Maybe we should wait in another
Shrugging away from him, Felicity hugged herself. "No. I want to
The EMTs rechecked Arthur's vital signs and connected him to an
IV. Though she couldn't hear what they said to each other, Tempe
knew by the men's grim expressions that Arthur's condition was grave.
Deftly, they transferred him to the gurney and whisked him from
Felicity gasped. "Where are they taking him?"
Blair paused, "To the hospital in Dennison, ma'am."
Dennison was in the valley below Bear Creek, the nearest city.
"I want to go." Glancing down at her kimono and bare feet, she murmured.
"I'll have to change."
Hutch patted her shoulder. "If you like, I'll stay here and go with
Felicity nodded and moved toward one of the closets. Tempe, Hutch
and Blair followed the emergency crews out of the bedroom.
A mournful wail followed the ambulance as it wound down the mountain
highway heading toward the hospital, twenty miles away.
Tempe stood with Hutch in the foyer. On his way out, Blair said,
"I don't think Mr. Pence is going to make it."
"All the more reason for me to go with her," Hutch said. "I'll drive
her car. Why don't you go on home and get some sleep?"
"Since there really isn't anything for me to do here, I will. Tell
Felicity I'll be hoping for the best," Tempe said.
"Say a prayer." Hutch cupped her cheek in his palm and kissed her.
"I'll stay with her as long as she needs me."
Though sorry for Arthur and Felicity, Tempe was grateful the situation
didn't require her attention. The drive home was uneventful. A full
moon cast a surrealistic glow on the countryside. The trees, dark
and unrecognizable, could have been monsters or prehistoric animals.
Tempe laughed at what her imagination had conjured.
As she crossed the bridge, the rushing river shimmered with silver
light. Though the town of Bear Creek was named after this body of
water, the term creek wasn't an apt description at this time of
At home Blair's VW was parked in the driveway.
Tempe hurried inside. Moving down the hallway toward the bedroom
she shared with Hutch, she smiled as she passed Blair's closed door.
His light was already off. Climbing into the mussed bed, Tempe fell
* * *
Sun streamed through the lace curtains when she awakened. The house
was silent. She walked down the hall that divided the bedrooms from
the living room and led to the kitchen.
A spoon and empty bowl in the sink told her Blair had eaten. A scribbled
note, "Gone to the fire station," was propped against the sugar
bowl. He spent more time there than he did at home or school, and
had since he was sixteen. At first, the fire chief had only given
him jobs like washing the fire engines and rolling hoses, but it
wasn't long before Blair had been invited along on calls. He couldn't
become an official volunteer until he was eighteen, but no one registered
a complaint when he'd turned up to offer his services at a fire
or accident scene.
Tempe showered and dressed in jeans and sweat-shirt while the coffee
perked. As she poured her first cup, she heard a car door slam.
In moments, Hutch entered. His auburn hair was rumpled from his
unconscious habit of running his fingers through it, and pale blue
smudges underlined the sadness reflected in his gray eyes. The scattering
of freckles across the bridge of his nose and cheeks accentuated
Tempe opened her arms to her husband. "He didn't make it." It was
a statement, not a question.
Hutch hugged her tightly. "No, he didn't," he murmured in her ear.
"They worked on him for a long time, but he slipped away. As many
times as I've seen it, it's never any easier, even when I know the
person was a believer and has gone to be with our Father."
"The cause of death?"
"The doctor said it was respiratory arrest, heart and kidney failure."
"What caused it?"
"The doctor didn't mention any particular ailment."
"How's Felicity doing?"
Stepping from Tempe's embrace, Hutch opened a rough-hewn cupboard
and took out a mug. "I need some coffee."
Puzzled, Tempe stared at him. "That's a fresh pot."
Hutch went to the stove and filled his cup.
Turning to face her, his brow furrowed, Hutch said, "I'm not sure."
"Hutch, what is it?"
Sighing, Hutch sat down at the round table. He sipped his coffee.
"You're going to think I'm crazy, or that your suspicious nature
has rubbed off on me."
Tempe took his hand. "What's going on?"
"It's difficult to explain. I just have this odd feeling." Holding
the mug with both hands, he stared into the dark liquid.
"It just doesn't seem right."
"What are you trying to say, Hutch?"
"I can't put my finger on it. But there's something about Arthur's
death that doesn't make sense to me."