The Key to the Ranch by William Mansfield
The discovery of a fifty-year-old corpse leads Alex and his law enforcement friends on an amazing adventure. How to investigate a cold case this old? Where do you begin? What do you want to learn? What will represent the end of the search – truth, blame, or just an unanswerable question?
And so begins the sixth story in the Alex Wright mystery series. Alex Wright, Laguna Beach surfing real estate appraiser. He discovers the skeletal remains while measuring a house for an appraisal. Now he feels compelled to dig deep into the past to find out what happened on that certain day in February, 1957.
As a newlywed, Alex has much on his mind. The red hot Orange County real estate market is peaking. His new bride, Rachel Fix, is adjusting to the settled life after a decade on the Pro Surfing Tour. But there is a mystery to be solved. The excitement and compelling action build from there leading to a guaranteed shocking conclusion!
Targeted Age Group:: adult audience
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 3 – PG-13
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
This is the sixth book in the series. In my other life as a lecturer on real estate appraisal, I would always explain how I was amazed that appraisers were never featured in mystery books or television crime shows. They are trained to be observant and to seek factual data. When the time came to sit down and write, this was a natural subject and a fun story to tell.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Alex Wright is an amalgam of various characters I have known. People who choose to live the beach life of So. Cal. and find a way to pay for it. With each new story I have added new people to complete the story. This book allowed for some old money society folks as well as the usual suspects.
My firm, 'Alex Wright and Associates: Real Estate Appraisals' had been assigned the responsibility of appraising the Sterling Ranch… My partner, Heather Maybach, sent me out to inspect the property and make preliminary visual observations… By the end of the day, I was measuring and photographing the lodge… Attached to the back of the building was a screened-in patio. As the sun was setting, I was trying to quickly measure the western side of the patio… That's when I came upon something most unexpected. Buried in the concrete of the patio was a key. The sun was shining on the shiny metal… I pulled out the ice pick I carry for testing dry wood and began digging it out of the concrete. As the key became more exposed, I discovered that attached to it was the thumb and forefinger of a skeletal hand!
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