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Chapter One



A slowly brightening sky revealed a blaze of autumn leaves in the ever-changing color palette of Puckachee Mountain. All around the Shawnee scouting partyÕs camp, forest trees reached to the very height of the morning sky.

Bear Tooth knew that somehow the beauty was connected to the Great Spirit. He and his fellow warriors were in a place of plentiful game and clear drinking water, but, as so often in life, a complication hid in the shadows of the earthly paradise.

He had heard of the great Ghost Cat in his youth. Although he had seen many cougars in the forested hills, none stalked humans as this one did. Bear Tooth had personally inspected the pierced skulls of scouts who had fallen prey to the beast. No one had seen the Ghost Cat and lived to tell the story. Was it only a ghost?

While other members of the scouting party busily prepared for departure in the early morning light, Bear Tooth warmed his hands over what remained of last nightÕs campfire.

He inched closer to the glowing embers. The deerskin draped over his wide shoulders gave him comfort from the chilly autumn air. He wanted to get back to his squaw before the cold weather set in. The splendid deerskin reminded him of how hard she worked to keep him dressed and equipped. He cared deeply for her and needed to make sure that she and their two daughters were secure and ready for the approaching winter. Once again, she was with child and required extra care. He needed to get back soon.

The weariness in his bones reminded him that he had not slept well. He had awoken numerous times that night sure that the large cat was breathing warm plumes of steam down his neck.






ItÕs a misty night on Puckachee Mountain high in the Alleghenies. A violent storm has cut power and rendered roads nearly impassable. Then a young professorÕs body is found under a fallen power lineÉwith bite wounds to her skull. Another great Henry D. Smith mystery is here, calling on the wits of detective Josh Draper and his alluring sidekick Annie McBride. Together they must prevent more such deaths, including their own, and solve another whodunit among the colorful autumn leaves of West Virginia.





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