Trouble in Deputy Crabtree’s marriage is soon forgotten when the body of a murder victim is found in the wake of a forest fire. Sent to Crescent City in search of information introduces Tempe to the victim’s Tolowa relatives and friends–and two stalkers. Upon her return home, a pig’s heart on Tempe’s front porch serves as a warning. Detective Morrison becomes an unusual ally, and the victim’s spirit visits Tempe in the night. She and husband Hutch set off for Santa Barbara in an effort to flush out the murderer and once again finds her own life threatened.
"Deputy Tempe Crabtree delves deeper into her Native American heritage, as she investigates the murder of a woman who shared the same background. Tempe's assignment is Bear Creek in Tulare County, near the Central Valley of California where she lives. Her next assignment is to go to Crescent City to deliver the news to the dead woman's cousin, Abby, and to find out more, because the two detectives investigating the case have no more leads. While she is with Abby, two men follow them. Tempe accosts the first one, but is not able to confront the second. When she returns to Bear Creek, she has to contend with the contempt of the two detectives because she didn't bring back any information they can use. Tempe is threatened and she realizes this is because she is stirring things up, so she pushes the envelope.
A theme running through the series is that Tempe's job, which puts her in danger, and her heritage, which is not always aligned with Christianity, have been sore points with her minister husband.
A smashing story, and ending."
--Gay Tolti Kinman, DorothyL
"While Kindred Spirits was light mystery, it had a great level of suspense that kept you reading till the end. I read this book in one sitting. Deputy Crabtree is really easy to like and you look forward to witnessing her do right by Vanessa and her family. While not explicitly expressed, we also get a nice glimpse into the relationship of Tempe’s interracial and inter-religious marriage, which is s sharp contrast to the victim Vanessa Ainsworth.
Kindred Spirits was a pleasant and enjoyable read, thus earning 4/5 stars."
-- Sable Lit Reviews, http://www.sablelitreviews.com/kindred-spirits/
‘Kindred Spirits’ is Marilyn Meredith’s best work yet
By Claudia Elliott, Editor, Southern Sierra Newspaper
I’ve enjoyed reading Marilyn Meredith’s work for a number of years, beginning with her “Two Ways West,” which was based upon the true story of the trek made by the Crabtree and Osborn families who ended up in Springville.
From this historical fiction she branched out, with a range of titles including the Tempe Crabtree mystery series, set in the community of “Bear Creek,” which bears a resemblance to Springville.
Marilyn and I have talked about writing from time to time. I told her once that my own attempts at fiction had been blocked by my failure to understand the concept of theme.
“Oh, I don’t worry about all of that,” she told me. “I just write stories that people might like to read.”
That’s true, and Marilyn’s prolific list attracts readers with online books and paperbacks. She’s also a teacher of writing and lectures at writer’s conferences throughout the country.
I settled in one recent evening to enjoy Kindred Spirits, Marilyn’s latest novel, expecting a good read and to wonder who the characters might resemble in real life or what local landmarks might find themselves transformed to her fictional setting.
I wasn’t disappointed.
But Kindred Spirits rises above Marilyn’s previous work.
Just as heroine Tempe Crabtree expands her horizons, traveling from Bear Creek to a special assignment on an Indian Reservation on California’s north coast, Meredith seems to have expanded her story-telling ability in Kindred Spirits.
Tempe comes into her own as a law enforcement officer, balancing her heritage, professional and personal relationships better than she has in the past and Marilyn skillfully weaves her character’s metamorphosis into a story which also introduces readers to the plight of the Tolowa Indians who live near Crescent City where part of the story is set.
For those, like me, who enjoy novels with realistic and somewhat familiar settings, Kindred Spirits offers the locale represented by Bear Creek along with Crescent City and Santa Barbara.
Meredith’s latest work is richly textured with interesting, well developed characters and a story line that leaves you guessing to nearly the last page. It’s her best work so far.
More information about Meredith and her work is available online at fictionforyou.com.
Before Deputy Tempe Crabtree saw the evidence of the forest fire, she could smell it. Smoke was heavy in the air and got thicker as she drove up the highway into the mountains.
Monday was one of her days off, but when something happened in her jurisdiction she was often the first responder. Her instructions from the sheriff’s sub-station in Dennison were to make sure everyone who lived in the path of the fire, which started in the higher elevations of Bear Creek canyon,had obeyed evacuation orders.
As resident deputy of the large but sparsely populated area around the mountain community of Bear Creek, Tempe’s job usually consisted of making traffic stops, arresting drunk drivers, solving problems among neighbors, and looking for lost children or cattle.
Along with the highway patrol, Tempe was the law in the community, located in the southern Sierra where the foothills grew into mountains.
The last estimate Tempe had heard about the fast moving fire was it covered more than 1100 acres. She was stopped at the staging area by a highway patrolman. She knew him by sight though she couldn’t remember his name.
Though his uniform still had sharp creases, large circles of dampness crept from his underarms. Opaque sunglasses covered his eyes. He put both hands on the open window of her Blazer as he bent down to speak to her. “Where’re you headed, Deputy?”
“My orders are to check out some of the houses in the path of the fire. Make sure everyone’s out.”
“Be careful you don’t put yourself in danger. It’s one fast moving fire. It’s in a rough area where they haven’t been able to get any personnel in yet. They’re doing lots of water drops. All the roads are closed from here on up.”
“Thanks for the warning. I know some of the folks who may not have received the word yet.” Tempe drove by a private air strip that had been taken over as the fire command post. Men and equipment, fire engines, water tenders and bulldozers were dispatched from there, as well as truckloads of hand crews.
Leaving her window down, Tempe drove around the traffic cones that blocked the road. She planned to stop first at the Donaldsons’, but when she reached their place they were loading horses into a trailer, obviously on their way out.
The higher she drove on the winding road, the darker the sky, the thicker the smoke, and the harder it was to breathe. Gray ash showered her white Blazer. She passed fire trucks and men heading upward to fight the fire. In her heart she was thankful her son, Blair, was already back on the coast for his last year in college or he’d be on the fire lines. Fighting fire had been his first love since the age of sixteen when he began hanging around Bear Creek’s fire station.
Tempe stopped at several homes hidden down winding trails or perched on hilltops, surrounded by pine, cedar trees and underbrush. Most homes were deserted, with signs of hurried evacuation.
Loaded pick-up trucks drove down the hill, some pulling horse or cattle trailers, not getting out any too soon from the looks of the black sky and the large amount of raining ash.
She had one more place to check. A beautiful home and separate studio built of sugar pine stood atop a knoll surrounded by chaparral, and a thick pine forest. Tempe had been there once on a domestic abuse call. The owner, a well-known artist, Vanessa Ainsworth, now lived alone since her boyfriend had been served a restraining order. If Vanessa wasn’t gone already, Tempe hoped to help her collect her animals and paintings and carry some of them out for her.
When Tempe made the last turn before Vanessa’s she halted at a horrifying sight.