Deadly Bones

Deadly Bones, a Mapleton Mystery by author Terry OdellA Mapleton Mystery

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A dog finding a bone is no big deal—until it turns out to be human.

Mapleton Police Chief Gordon Hepler and the mayor can’t agree about what being a cop means. To Gordon, it’s keeping his citizens safe. To the mayor, it’s generating revenue by issuing speeding and parking tickets.

When two runaway dogs waylay Gordon on the way to what he hopes will be an uneventful afternoon at a backyard barbeque, more than his afternoon is interrupted. As dogs will do, these have uncovered a bone. Trouble is, it turns out to be human. When it leads to the discovery of more human remains, Gordon needs to find out why they’re on the property, when they got there, and who they belonged to. After all, somebody needs to care.

Over the mayor’s objections, Gordon pursues the investigation of the bones along with an unusual outbreak of petty crimes, accidents, and a dispatcher who seems to be losing it. Before long, he’s got more puzzle pieces than he knows what to do with—and no puzzle to fit them into. When people he loves are endangered, no mayoral directive will stop Gordon from saving them.

This second book in the Mapleton Mystery series reunites Gordon with Detective Tyler Colfax, once again faced with cooperating to solve another case.


Gordon pasted on a smile as he approached the coroner’s van. Asel was already waddling toward him. Gordon’s attempt at a civil greeting was swallowed by Asel’s impatient scowl.

“Where’s this bone that is so important? Let’s get going. I’ve got places to be.”

Gordon gave up on civility. “Follow me.” He turned on his heel and marched away, trying not to snicker at Asel, who weighed a good three hundred pounds, puffing and wheezing behind him. Scuttlebutt had it that Asel’s major qualifications for the job were experience in a funeral parlor, from which he’d retired, and being married to a distant cousin of the head coroner. But Gordon never cared enough to verify the rumors. Most of what Asel did was pronounce bodies dead and issue death certificates.

By now the sun had dipped behind the mountains, eliminating most of the light. More than once, Gordon heard Asel curse as he stumbled over a branch or rock. The man had the smarts to bring a flashlight, but he waved it around the trees like spotlights at a rock concert instead of using it to illuminate the trail. “Don’t suppose there are any bears around, do you?”

“If there are, they’ll run the other way when they hear you coming.”

“Don’t think so. Didn’t notice any tracks when we first came through.”

Asel grunted in between wheezes.

“Right up ahead,” Gordon said. He shined his own flashlight, catching reflections of the yellow tape Solomon had strung. Solomon waved his own light in response.

“Someone’s there?” Asel said. “What about contamination?”

“That would be Officer Ed Solomon,” Gordon said before Asel complained about anything else. “He’s been containing the scene.”

Asel clomped up to the edge of the tape and wiped his forehead. Solomon beamed his light at the bone. Asel stepped closer, pursing his lips in and out. He removed the bone from its resting place. “Give me some more light.”

Both Gordon and Solomon complied, trying to keep the light on the bone as Asel moved it back and forth, up and down, studying it from all angles. “This is the only one?” he asked.

“Yes, Sir,” Solomon said. “Animal Control found a dog burying it.”

Asel frowned. “Interesting.” He squinted, turned the bone, mumbled under his breath. As if someone had thrown a switch, his demeanor switched from asshole to scholarly. He held the bone out toward Gordon and Solomon, pointing as he spoke. “It’s been well-chewed, although I’m not sure all these teeth marks are recent. It’s the ends that tell us the most. However, despite the damage, I have no doubt that what we have is a human humerus.”

Read the first chapter