The Murders at Astaire Castle (A Mac Faraday Mystery)

The Murders at Astaire Castle (A Mac Faraday Mystery) by Lauren Carr Read Free Book Online

Book: The Murders at Astaire Castle (A Mac Faraday Mystery) by Lauren Carr Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lauren Carr
Tags: Mystery, cozy, Murder
    “Desperation mixed liberally with evil,” David said. “Listen, Mac. If you insist on going up there, then I can’t say anything to stop you, but I can tell you this, I can’t protect you when you’re up there.”
    The two men paused to watch Hector pull in through the gate in his beat up four-wheel drive jeep, which was built for rough riding across the mountain terrain.
    “I’m not asking you to,” Mac said.
    They had passed the Spencer Inn resort and continued until they had run out of smooth road. Trees gave way to boulders, which formed a natural gateway to the south side of Spencer Mountain.
    Hector announced what Mac had already observed, “We’re being followed.”
    Mac’s eyes narrowed while he studied the black police chief’s cruiser marked with gold trim. “Is he escorting us or trying to stop us?”
    “You’re the boss,” Hector said. “Tell me what you want me to do.”
    “Pull over. Let’s ask him.”
    Hector pulled the jeep over to the side of the road.
    Recognizing the cruiser, Gnarly stood up in his seat in the back and wagged his tail, which, in the tight confines of the jeep, beat Hector along the side of his bald head.
    Mac climbed out of the passenger seat of the jeep and met David along the road between the two vehicles. “I thought you said you couldn’t protect me.” Mac noted that David was wearing his utility belt, complete with his gun, radio, and baton.
    “Well,” David drawled, “even if I can’t, it’s my job to at least try. I assume you brought your gun, and Hector has his.”
    “Always,” Hector called back from the front seat of the jeep.
    Gnarly barked as if to give his answer. His weapon was the hundreds of pounds of force built into his jaws.
    “Follow me,” David ordered before climbing back into his cruiser, which had four-wheel drive to take them across the rough terrain. He led them deep into the rustic area filled with trees sprouting up out of boulders and brush. The paved road dissolved into broken slabs of cement with deep ruts in between the slabs. In some places, the road was so rocky that it was smoother for the vehicles to go off the road and plow through the five-foot tall brush that lined the trail.
    Concluding that there couldn’t be anything worth seeing this deep into the wilderness, Mac was starting to regret his decision when they broke through the brush to come up to a stone wall with a thick wooden gate that blocked their access to the other side. It was locked shut with a rusty thick chain and padlock.
    Hector picked up a large key from the center console of the jeep and a pair of bolt cutters from the floor in the back. “Just in case,” he said while showing the bolt cutters to Mac.
    Staring straight ahead, David remained behind the wheel of the cruiser to wait for Hector to open the gate. As the security guard had predicted, the lock was rusted shut, so he broke the chain with the bolt cutters. With great effort, he pushed the heavy gate back off the road to allow enough room for the cruiser and jeep to make their way through.
    “Oh, wow,” Mac muttered upon the sight.
    It was like something he had only seen in movies. A big old rundown castle rose up from the stony landscape. Only sky was visible from the front. In the back, the valley stretched out below.
    Hector had been correct. The castle wasn’t noticeable from the valley floor. The walls, built into the edge of the mountaintop, had been constructed of stone. It was further camouflaged by vines that had grown up to engulf and kill off the trees. The centerpiece of the circular driveway was a fountain, covered with green mold, with a statue of two winged nymphs holding a giant urn between them.
    Cracked and broken steps led up from the edge of the driveway to the main doors, which were caked with dirt and grime. Off to the other side of the driveway was a separate building, a four-car garage that appeared to have a second floor.
    Speechless with awe, Mac turned

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