INTERVENTION -- The author comments:
When I did personality pieces for our local newspaper, I interviewed
a man whose father had built a very popular lodge in the mountains
that was visited by many people. The history of this lodge intrigued
me. Though that lodge has gone through many "ups" and "downs", Tapper
Lodge of my story has borrowed its history from the truth.
Because the mountain community above Springville has been visited
by and served as a second home to many movie people, I decided to
have Hutch and Tempe visit a similar lodge and become involved with
other guests who came from the movie industry. This book was once
rejected by an editor who said my writing was too much like Agatha
"An intriguing group of Hollywood elite turn what was supposed to
be a relaxing vacation for Tempe and Hutch into a puzzling whodunit.
While a storm brews outside Tapper Lodge, tempers flare inside as
everyone with motive and opportunity tries to point the finger elsewhere.
Meredith has created in Tempe Crabtree a character who is strong
and savvy. Between the lines of a smartly crafted mystery is woven
Native American culture and spiritualism. This is a series that
will continue to please."
When the Dead Speak, Nothing Else Matters, Restless
"...Crabtree is a strong character and the mixture of Native American
religion with her husband's Christianity makes a useful blend. Her
husband is made very human, as we sympathize with his feelings of
disappointment that Crabtree must investigate the case instead of
spending deserved holiday time getting away from it all..."
--Luke Croll http://www.hildbede.freeserve.co.uk/faq.htm-alt.books.dean-koontz
"Springville author Marilyn Meredith has done it again. Hot on
the heels of the release of the third novel in her series of Tempe
Crabtree murder mysteries earlier this year, she's brought out her
fourth book in the line.
And in doing so, she has continued to provide a sharp, page-turner
of a novel that keeps the reader engrossed from first page to last.
As in her previous works in the series, the new book, INTERVENTION,
follows the life of Meredith's law enforcement heroine, deputy Tempe
Crabtree--a young woman of Native American heritage, who as a widow
with a teen-age son, has married a minister, Hutch Hutchinson.
A subplot in the novels deals with Tempe's quest to find greater
understanding of her native roots and culture and her attempts to
reconcile those beliefs with the Christian code of her pastor husband.
...Meredith has taken her characters ... to a resort area ... for
a romantic weekend retreat, and find themselves instead embroiled
in a deadly situation.
...For those who have become devotees of the Crabtree books, this
story will not disappoint. And for any interested in sampling the
series, this would be as good a place as any to start.
That's because the author is careful with each new story to define
her heroines and other characters' past and personality sufficiently
in each to make the reading the books in order unnecessary to the
enjoyment of the plots."
--Darla Welles, Porterville Recorder
He'd been pacing for over an hour
and was not any nearer to a solution than he'd been before. Somehow
he had to get through to her. In his mind, he'd rehearsed one speech
after another, but he also knew what she was like. No matter
how he presented his case, she probably wouldn't let him finish.
She must hear him out. He bashed
his fist against the door so violently it flew open and banged against
He wouldn't let her interrupt or
walk away this time.
She was going to hear him out. Somehow,
someway she would come around to his way of thinking--no matter
what he had to do.
Despite the happy circumstance and
the wondrous surroundings, an ever-increasing sense of gloom settled
over Tempe Crabtree as they drove higher into the Sierra. Forcing
a smile, she turned to her husband, Hutch, as he maneuvered his
old Ford truck around the switchbacks of the narrow road.
"Bet we get snow before dark." Hutch
Perhaps the dark clouds gathering
overhead, blocking out the sun and creating a premature twilight,
caused Tempe's dark mood. "Hope it holds off until we reach the
lodge." She didn't add that she wished they'd driven her Blazer.
As he often did, Hutch seemed to
read her mind. "This old truck will do fine in the snow. I've
got chains. You know why I didn't want you to drive the Blazer."
She nodded. Because she was the resident
deputy for Bear Creek, her vehicle, with its official seals and
emergency lights, instantly identified her official status.
"This weekend we're going to forget
about our jobs. I don't want anyone to know you're in law enforcement.
This is going to be our second honeymoon." Behind the tortoise-framed
glasses, Hutch's gray eyes sought her affirmation.
Tempe caressed his lightly-freckled
cheek. His thick auburn hair needed combing as usual. "Most of the
people who live in Tapper Grove year-round know I'm the local deputy."
"But we shouldn't run into many of
them. With any luck there won't be a lot of guests at the Lodge."
His eager anticipation contrasted sharply with her own apprehension.
Tempe wanted to blame her mood on
the threatening storm but suspected her anxiety had more to do with
her experience at a recent Indian ceremonial. Though part Yanduchi,
Tempe had never considered her ancestry an important part of her
life until lately.
Now she treasured memories of her
grandmother and the Indian legends she'd told, but the wonderful
stories lost importance when Tempe had reached high school.
Her straight black hair, golden skin, and high cheekbones had been
enough to cause some of her classmates to call her "half-breed"
and other demeaning names.
When her first husband, a highway
patrolman, died in the line of duty sixteen years earlier, leaving
her with their two-year-old son Blair, Tempe's ethnic mix was the
least of her worries. It wasn't until she began working on cases
involving other Yanduchis that she again became aware of her heritage.
The ceremonial experience had given
her a heightened awareness. It wasn't something she fully understood,
certainly not anything she could discuss with her husband, a preacher
in the local Christian church. Her previous interest in the spiritual
side of her native American heritage had already caused problems
in their relationship.
"Hey, sweetheart, take a look at
that." Hutch turned right onto a narrow, paved road leading into
a grove of giant Sequoia trees. The road curved downward past a
meadow surrounded with dark, snow-dusted hillsides. A grazing deer,
startled by the approaching truck, lifted its head and stared before
leaping gracefully into the thick undergrowth of manzanita and fern.
"This is going to be a wonderful weekend."
"I'm sure it will," Tempe said, still
trying to shake the oppressive feelings.
The Lodge was off to the right, smoke
curling upward from stone chimneys at either end of the long, steep
"Tapper Lodge," Hutch announced.
The rustic hotel dominated a community
of scattered cabins and vacation homes, some occupied year-round
by hardy individuals who didn't mind snowy winters or the torturous
drive for supplies to Bear Creek where Tempe and Hutch lived, or
twenty miles farther to Dennison, the nearest city. Wide wooden
steps led to a verandah that wrapped around the stone-faced front
of the lodge, built from trees harvested on the site nearly a hundred
years ago. Hutch parked the truck between a wine-colored Jaguar
and a black BMW.
Obviously disappointed, he said,
"We aren't going to be alone."
"Maybe they're only here for dinner.
We'll have the rest of the weekend to ourselves," Tempe said. Though
she didn't remember seeing the Jag before, she recognized the BMW.
It belonged to a resident of Tapper Grove.
As Hutch opened the truck door, an
enormous Chow and St. Bernard mix, golden and furry, galloped down
the stairs toward them, tail wagging vigorously. "Hey, there, boy."
Hutch leaned over and scratched behind the dog's ears.
"Don't bother the folks, Bear!" An
old man lumbered after the animal.
Tempe recognized the Lodge's handyman,
Aaron Lumb. "Mr. Lumb, how are you?"
Squinting at her, his nut-brown face
deeply creased with wrinkles, Lumb asked, "I know you, don't I?"
Smiling, Tempe said, "You certainly
Limping over to her, one hand outstretched,
he said, "Ah, yes, it's Deputy Crabtree. Could hardly recognize
you without your uniform. Are you undercover or somethin'?"
Shaking his calloused hand, Tempe
laughed. "Just on vacation. I'd like you to meet my husband, Hutch
"Humph. Never took you for one of
them modern females." Lumb scowled at her.
Hutch stepped forward, grinning broadly.
"Don't worry, sir, except for the fact that it made it simpler for
my wife to keep the name everyone knows her by, our marriage is
"Don't approve of all these newfangled
shenanigans. It's no wonder the world is going-to-hell-in-a-hand
basket. Where's your luggage?"
Bear, still wagging his bushy tail,
Hutch swung their two suitcases out
of the bed of the truck. "I can manage," he said, as Lumb
reached for them.
"`Spect you can, but if everybody
starts taking care of their own bags, Missus Tapper'll be thinking
there ain't no use for me around here, and I'll be out of a job."
Hutch handed him the cases.
Tempe and Hutch followed the old
man up the steps. Stacks of logs flanked the door; a snow shovel
leaned against a wood pile. "I doubt if you need to worry about
losing your job, Aaron," she said. "You're a permanent fixture."
"It's true I been around longer than
anyone. Started working here for Mr. Tapper's grandpa when I was
just a boy." Lumb threw open the heavy front door and waited for
them to enter.
Tempe had been to Tapper Lodge on
business several times, but this was her first visit as a guest.
She viewed the lobby with a new curiosity.
Becky Tapper, the owner's wife, smiled
from behind the reception desk beside the wide staircase. To the
left, multi-paned French doors closed off the dining room and bar.
On the right, duplicate doors opened into a sitting room dominated
by a rock fireplace at the far end.
"Deputy Crabtree, Pastor Hutchinson,"
Becky said. "Welcome to Tapper Lodge." She turned a large, leather-covered
book toward them, handing a pen to Hutch. Her bleached-blonde hair
was scooped upward and knotted by a blue scarf. Tendrils spilled
around her plump, pleasant face. Silver bobbles and rhinestones
decorated her blue Western shirt tucked into her jeans, emphasizing
her oversized bosom.
"I'm afraid we're going to be full-up
tonight." She leaned across the scarred, wooden counter and whispered,
"Do you know Mallory Benoit?"
The name sounded familiar, but Tempe
couldn't place it. "I'm not sure."
"She's one of those movie people.
Lives here in Tapper Grove with her kids. Got a big weekend planned
for a bunch of Hollywood folks."
A face joined the name in Tempe's
memory. Mallory Benoit was in her mid-thirties. She had a fondness
for dark, dramatic clothing. Several years ago she'd won an Oscar,
but Tempe couldn't remember why. She was sure Mallory wasn't an
Sounding apologetic, Becky continued,
"It was kind of a last minute thing. I didn't know about it when
you made your reservation, Pastor Hutchinson."
"We understand," Hutch said. "We're
going to have a wonderful time no matter what." He hugged Tempe.
"Isn't that right, sweetheart?"
The beginning of a headache increased
her foreboding, but she forced a smile for her husband. "Most certainly."
Leaning closer, Becky lowered her
voice. "I gave you our nicest room. The one I keep for honeymoon
couples." She handed Hutch, a large, old fashioned key. "It's kind
of off by itself where you won't be bothered. Dinner isn't until
seven, but there's coffee, tea and some of my carrot cake in the
sitting room to tide you over."
"Sounds wonderful," Tempe said, wishing
for an aspirin.
"Take their bags up to the Spring
Room, Aaron," Becky directed, unnecessarily, since the old man was
already halfway up the steps.
From the landing, the staircase curved
to the left, opening onto a long hallway which ran both directions.
Hutch and Tempe hurried to keep up with Lumb. He disappeared around
the far corner.
They caught up to him as he pushed
open the only door in that section. It led to a room built
under the slope of the roof, creating an extremely low ceiling on
one side. A brass bed covered with a tulip-quilt, and a pile of
matching pillow shams was pushed against the wall. Rose-decorated
wallpaper trim accented the white paint and floral-printed curtains
framed the only window. Despite the melange of patterns and large-scaled,
mismatched furniture the effect was homey and comforting. There
was no phone or television.
Lumb put the suitcases on the floor.
"Have a nice stay."
Hutch reached into his pocket for
Backing away, Lumb said, "No, sir,
don't want anything from you. Glad to have some decent folks around.
Just hope you won't be bothered by all those outsiders we're expecting."
"I'm sure we can keep out of their
way," Hutch said.
Hutch pulled the door shut and held
out his arms. "Come here, sweetheart."
Stepping into his embrace, Tempe
tried to lose herself in his kiss, to focus only on the strength
of his body pressed against hers, the sweetness of his lips. But
in the back of her mind, mingled with the niggling pain of the worsening
headache, the sinister oppression was impossible to ignore.
Hutch peered at her. "Is something
She should have known that he would
sense her discomfort. Massaging her temple, Tempe said, "I'm getting
He stepped back and pursed his lips.
"Oh? It's going to be like that, is it? Our second honeymoon and
you're going to use the headache bit?"
Frowning, she said, "No, Hutch, really...."
"I'm kidding. " He smiled and pressed
his lips against her forehead.
She laughed, but her head still throbbed.
"We'll have to do something for you
because I intend for this weekend to be special for us. Did you
"In my suitcase."
Stepping inside the bathroom, she
found a glass, filled it with water from the sink, and washed down
four pills. Looking around, she smiled. "Come take a look at this."
Hutch leaned against the doorjamb
and chuckled. "I wonder how these movie people are going to take
to this old-fashioned stuff."
Claw-footed and enormous, an ivory-colored
bathtub perched on a platform. A shower head jutted from exposed
pipes, and a rod circled the tub, holding a floral-patterned shower
curtain. The old-fashioned toilet had a pull chain. A gathered rose-covered
skirt hid the sink's plumbing; simple shelves on either side held
thick, mauve towels with space left for guests' grooming supplies.
"As long as it all works, they shouldn't
complain," Tempe said, hoping the medicine would banish both the
headache and her disturbing feelings.
Hutch hung his clothes in the armoire
while Tempe put her underclothes and nightie into the drawers of
a tall dresser. While carrying sweaters from her open suitcase,
she said, "I wonder if our clothes will be appropriate."
"What does it matter?" Hutch shrugged.
"Even if this group dresses up all the time, we'll fit in with Mr.
Lumb and the Tappers. We don't have to mingle with the others."
Tempe closed the drawer, and turned.
"This place isn't all that big. A certain amount of togetherness
is inevitable unless we stay in our room all the time."
A mischievous twinkle lit Hutch's
eye. "Maybe that wouldn't be such a bad idea."
"Maybe not." Tempe tried to ignore
the headache, praying for the medicine to take hold.
Slinging an arm over her shoulder,
Hutch said, "Why don't we go downstairs now, before everyone gets
here. Have some coffee. Maybe the caffeine will help your head.
Won't be too long before dinner, and afterwards we can come back
here and try out the bed."
Despite her discomfort, his remark
made her laugh. She caressed his cheek. "We could try it out now."
"No matter what, we're going to have
a great time."
* * *
Between Tempe's first and second
cup of coffee, Hutch convinced her to sample a sliver of Becky Tapper's
carrot cake. Hunger replaced her headache, and dinner was still
a couple of hours away.
They sat among a pile of pillows,
striped in dark green, blue-and-wine, on a plump couch facing the
fireplace. Periodically, Lumb came in to add logs to the crackling
fire, but he was the only one.
The large room seemed crowded because
of the variety of furniture styles. A Parson's table near the fireplace
held two urns, one with coffee and the other hot water, varieties
of tea, mugs and saucers, and the cake on a platter. Other tables
were squeezed in randomly, stacked with magazines and books. Some
held wooden or brass bowls piled high with red and green apples.
Tempe settled herself more comfortably;
it was almost as though they were alone, just as they'd hoped. Maybe
the haunting feeling meant nothing, merely caused by the headache
which had disappeared, thanks to the combination of caffeine and
With his arm draped around her, his
thigh pressed warmly against hers, Hutch said, "Isn't this wonderful?
I could sit here and enjoy the fire for hours."
"Until dinner, anyway. I can't believe
how hungry I am."
"Do you want another piece of cake?"
"No, no. I've heard Becky is a terrific
cook. I don't want to ruin my appetite." Tempe rested her head against
Hutch's shoulder and closed her eyes.
She'd nearly drifted off when a loud,
angry voice startled her.
"I don't care what kind of business
you're involved in, Mallory. You knew I was coming to talk to you
this weekend. We'll come to some kind of agreement about this, or
you're going to be very sorry."