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Ty Hutchinson

The Puzzle Maker

The Puzzle Maker

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 3,134+ 5-Star Reviews

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Synopsis

Agent Abby Kane heads to Yuba City, where six months out of the year, thick fog engulfs the town, allowing a killer to operate freely in nature’s camouflage. As Abby’s investigation progresses, she discovers something puzzling, perhaps even impossible. The killer might be blind.

How can a blind man kill so easily and get away with it? It’s not an easy question to answer. 

Abby has six months before the fog lifts and the killer heads back underground. Can she stop his murderous spree before fog season ends, or will the blind psycho leave behind a string of bodies right under her nose?

Read An Excerpt

“I hate this time of the year. It makes my bones creak,” Detective Munoz said as he exited the passenger side of the Crown Victoria. His partner Detective Berry climbed out of the driver's seat.

The two homicide detectives were with the Yuba City Police Department. It was just after 8:30 in the morning, and the tule fog that had settled across the valley remained thick, keeping visibility to ten feet at best. From October to March, the Sacramento Valley becomes home to some of the densest fog on Earth, keeping most locals indoors and visitors away from the area. Everywhere the detectives looked, they saw gray mist floating past them.

That morning, they’d received a call that a body had been found near the Bobelaine Sanctuary, a family-friendly hiking area along the Feather River. The detectives had parked their vehicle at the end of Laurel Avenue. The sanctuary was a short walk away.

“Is someone supposed to meet us here?” Munoz asked as he looked around. “I don’t hear anybody.” He closed the car door and looked around.

“Dispatch said this was the place. I’ll double check.” Berry leaned back into the vehicle and radioed dispatch for confirmation. The radio crackled in response. “Dispatch said there’s a patrol unit already here. They probably parked in a different spot is all. She’ll let them know we’re here.”

“You familiar with this area?” Munoz asked.

“I’ve been here a few times with the family, but that was years ago when the kids were younger,” Berry said. “Up ahead is a trail that leads down to the river.”

The two detectives started walking, their footsteps crunching on the gravel road.

“I can’t see crap. I hope you know where you’re going,” Munoz said.

Trees appeared a few feet away. “There’s the start of the trail.”

“Should we wait?” Munoz asked as he adjusted his sport coat.

“Body’s in there. So I’m guessing that’s where the patrol officers are.”

Berry led the way along the dirt path. “Watch your step; tree roots are sticking up everywhere.”

About seventy-five yards down the trail, they met up with a patrol officer. “Detectives, sorry to keep you waiting. The fog is super thick today. It had me turned around for a bit.”

“Is it just you?” Berry asked.

“Yeah, my shift was ending when the call came in. I wasn’t far, so I took it.”

“What are we looking at here?” Munoz asked.

“Uh, I’m not sure how to explain it. I haven’t been on the force very long; this is actually my first homicide.”

“Who found the body?”

“A fisherman. Crazy, huh? Coming out here in this weather… He swears the trout are biting. I’m not much of a fisherman, so I’ll take his word for it.”

“It’s just the one guy fishing?”

“Yeah.”

Berry gave Munoz a look.

Munoz nodded; the fisherman might be their first suspect.

The three men exited the wooded area onto the bank of the river. Munoz jumped back when the fisherman popped out of the fog.

“Sorry, Officer,” the man said. He wore a gray insulated vest with a long-sleeve shirt underneath. He also had on waterproof bib overalls and boots that came up to his knees.

“Don’t worry about it. I’m Detective Munoz, and this is Detective Berry. Seems like an odd time to fish—the fog and all.”

“I like it. It’s quiet. No one else to contend with. Trout don’t care if the fog is out.”

“How deep is the river?”

“In this part, it can be anywhere from half a foot to three feet. Depends. Head farther down, and you won’t be able to cross. Too deep, and the current is stronger.”

Munoz nodded. “Wait right here. We’ll be back to talk to you later.”

The fisherman nodded and sat down on a fallen tree trunk.

“It’s up here,” the officer pointed. “Got caught up in the trees along the bank. I’m not sure if the body was dumped upstream and got snagged here or if it was unloaded here.”

That particular area of the river narrowed to just over thirty feet. The lazy water flowed past them quietly. The officer slowed down and carefully picked his steps as he walked on the soft soil near the water’s edge. One of Munoz’s shoes sunk into the mud.

“You should have worn boots,” the officer said, as he watched Munoz try to shake the mud off.

Just a few yards farther downstream the officer paused. “There you go,” he said as he stepped out of the way.

Munoz took a few steps forward and then stopped.

“What?” Berry asked as he came up beside him.

Both detectives stared at the body. The victim was face down. His legs were in the water and his torso on the bank, tangled in tree roots. The victim’s shirt was missing. Even with the fog, the detectives knew what they were looking at. They’d seen a body like this before—five of them, actually, last year, during the foggy season. All of the victims had the skin removed from their backs.

Munoz shook his head slowly. “It’s starting again.”

Getting away with murder is hard. It’s inconceivable if you’re blind.

The Puzzle Maker is a gripping thriller that’ll have you looking over your shoulder as you turn the pages.

"A twist in the story spins your head." ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ — Reader Review

Series:  Abby Kane FBI Thriller #13

Ebook:  268 pages

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