My protagonist, Hardy Durkin, is a twenty-seven-year-old hunk who is a crack marksman, trained in SIGINT, and fluent in four languages. Interesting set of subskills, yes? He gave working in research and development a shot but life in a rabbit warren wasn't a good fit for him, so he started Durkin Tours, an outfitter company specializing in European treks. Mayhem, murder, and madness have a habit of stalking Hardy wherever he goes.
Blurb for Engadine Aerie:
Engadine Aerie takes place at the annual Skimarathon in glitzy St. Moritz, Switzerland (imagine 13,000 skiers in one race!), where Hardy gets embroiled in a tangle of murder, falconry, weaponized drones, and arms-smuggling. Hardy agrees to help a friend launch her cross-country ski tour business in St. Moritz, and gets way more than he bargained for. His first day on the job he is smitten by an exotic from the Mideast who skis over a corpse buried in the snow. No stranger to murder and other intrigue, Hardy takes point in the following police inquiry (as a bystander, of course), but he is soon enmeshed in preventing another murder. Then comes the not-inconsequential matter of a terrorist attack on the finish line of the Skimarathon. Hardy's past relationship with the French Foreign Legion gives him an entree to working with TIGRIS, Switzerland's elite tactical police unit, to thwart an illegal arms deals he stumbles into, and his meddling puts him in the cross-hairs of a sadistic anarchist who excels at poisoning her victims.
Bluette Matthey is a 3rd generation Swiss-American and an avid lover of European cultures. She has decades of travel and writing experience. She is a keen reader of mysteries, especially those that immerse the reader in the history, inhabitants, culture, and cuisine of new places. Her passion for travel, except airports (where she keeps a mystery to pass the time), is shared by her husband, who owned a tour outfitter business in Europe.
Bluette particularly loves to explore regions that are not on the “15 days in Europe” itineraries. She also enjoys little-known discoveries, such as those in the London Walks, in well-known areas. She firmly believes that walking and hiking bring her closer to the real life of any locale. Bluette maintains a list of hikes and pilgrimages throughout Europe for future exploration. She lives in Le Locle, Switzerland, with her husband and band of loving cats. Bluette can often be seen hiking in the Jura Mountains along the Swiss-French frontier. For more information, please visit Bluette’s web site. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Niume.
They had been skiing about fifteen minutes; the ski lift for downhill had just come into view. Suddenly, Maryam veered off the trail slightly, into the snow. She lost her balance, as though she’d hit something and, try as she might to keep upright, her outstretched arms pin-wheeling for equilibrium, she lost the battle and fell on her derrière.
Hardy skied to where she had landed, a look of puckish humor on his handsome face. His gold aviator sunglasses hid his eyes, which were also smiling. “You OK? Need some help?” he asked.
Maryam was embarrassed. She never fell. “Of course I’m OK!” she snapped. “I ran over something.”
“A rock?” Hardy queried.
She glanced up to see if he was making a fool of her. “No, “she said thoughtfully. “It was something softer.” She began brushing away the snow at the spot where she’d run aground. Something vivid blue appeared. She brushed more, and an arm appeared.
“Hold on, Maryam,” Hardy said, releasing his boots from his skis. He stepped around where she knelt and brushed the snow off a man’s face, the snow stained a rusty pink near his head. His sightless eyes were a very dark brown, as were his hair and eyebrows. The once youthful face was ageless in death, and pale.
When Maryam caught sight of the face she let out a scream. Then another. “Najib! Najib!” she shrieked, and broke down into sobs.
Hardy bundled Maryam up in his arms and moved her away from the body. He suspected they were, logistically, in the middle of a crime scene and didn’t want to disturb it any more than they already had. Phil Hostelbrink had skied back to where they were after hearing Maryam’s shrieks. His steely, blue-gray eyes and lawyer’s mind assessed the situation in an instant.
“That’s a hell of a discovery, Mr. Durkin,” he began.
“Please, call me Hardy,” Hardy replied.
“Hardy,” he said, extending a gloved hand. “Phil Hostelbrink. New York. I’m an attorney, and for what it’s worth, I suspect you’ve just skied into one hell of a mess.”
Hardy grimaced, and hoped to hell Phil Hostelbrink wasn’t also a prophet.