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Parks Pat Cases 7-9 - ebook

Parks Pat Cases 7-9 - ebook

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Regular price Sale price $7.99 USD
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Looking for a police procedural set in picturesque Canada? 

Let Award-winning and Bestselling Author P.D. Workman take you to her favourite Calgary parks, as Métis detective Margie Patenaude investigates a murder in this fast-paced new series.

Detective “Parks” Pat — Margie Patenaude — is a new Calgary homicide detective. Being Métis and a single mom, she has a few things on her plate. Working on a spate of murders in Calgary and area parks earns Margie her nickname.

These short mysteries are just right for those days when you could use a break from your busy life.

Take a walk in a Calgary park with Parks Pat

7 Knows the Hills

Detective Margie “Parks Pat” Patenaude is called to the gruesome scene in Nose Hill Park, and despite what she can see with her own eyes, does not believe that this is an open-and-shut case of the victim being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

8 Spanning the Creek

City Hall wanted the death of Samuel Keller to be anything but an accident. Confederation Park had seen too many tragedies lately and did not need another added to the tally. Detective “Parks Pat” Patenaude had not been expecting to find evidence of murder.

9 Sanctuary in the Stream

Nature can be cruel and beavers have been known to attack. This national symbol can be rabid and vicious. Yet that does not appear to be the case in the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, and Parks Pat is on the case, hoping to uncover the truth in this unexpected death.

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Margie glanced at the phone on her desk again, even though it hadn’t rung. She had an unsettled feeling. Something was in the air. Something was going to happen.

She wondered whether the feeling had been triggered by Christina. Her daughter hadn’t seemed quite her normal self since going back to school. It had been a good summer for her. Her first summer in Calgary, finally able to go out with her friends since the social distancing and masking rules had been dispensed with. She had attended the Calgary Stampede, GlobalFest fireworks, Peters’ Drive-In, and other places that Margie used to enjoy going to with her cousins when she had visited Calgary as a teen.

Of course, the kids were also into going to the mall shopping or staying home and streaming video, things she had not spent her summers doing, but it was nice for them to be able to spend the time with each other, whatever they decided to do.

Except then the delta variant had shut things down again, and Christina was once again wearing a mask at school and had been moody and sullen lately, walking around with a little storm cloud over her head. Margie hoped it was just because of the new rules and not because of anything personal Christina wasn’t telling her about. She always worried about whether Christina was spending too much time with her friend Tracy—a boy, not a girl—and Margie wasn’t sure yet whether he was Christina’s boyfriend or just a friend she liked to hang out with. Margie hadn’t been much older than Christina when she had gotten pregnant, and that had changed the course of her life. She’d had to grow up pretty fast, and she wanted Christina to be able to grow up at her own pace, a little more slowly, taking the time to enjoy herself before she had to face adult responsibilities.

“Pat? Detective Patenaude…”

Margie was startled out of her thoughts of Christina. The phone still hadn’t rung. Christina was in school; they hadn’t called to say that she was absent or had gotten in any trouble. Margie would just have to wait and see how things turned out. She looked at Detective Jones, standing in the space between their desks in the bullpen. Jones’s blond hair was pulled back into a bun, as usual, though there were a few curls escaping, also as usual. She held a Tim Hortons coffee cup toward Margie.

“You looked like you could use a little pick-me-up,” Jones told her with a smile.

Margie took the coffee. “You didn’t need to do that! But thank you.” She took a sip of the piping hot coffee and swallowed, savoring it. “This is wonderful.”

Jones sat down in her chair. “What’s going on today? You seem worlds away. One of these cases bothering you?” She gestured to the files Margie had been working her way through. Cases that they had run out of leads on. She was hoping to find some thread that no one had thought to follow before. Some tip that had been called in that had not been followed up on, some theory that had not been pursued—anything to get one of them moving again and get them closer to the killer. Calgary Homicide had an excellent clearance rate, and she wanted to keep it up or even improve it if possible.

“No. Just thinking about the kid, actually.”

Jones looked at the picture of Christina on Margie’s desk. She had grown so much over the summer, topping Margie by a couple of inches now. Her long, sleek black hair and bronzed skin were gorgeous. She was much better looking than Margie had ever been. Margie suspected she got a lot of attention from the boys at school. Tracy probably had to beat them off with a stick.

“What’s up with Christina?” Jones inquired.

“Nothing. Something. I don’t know. She’s moody, but she’s a teenager, so what does that mean?” Margie shrugged. “If something is wrong, I wish she would talk to me about it. But kids don’t go to their parents with their problems, do they? It’s probably just hormones. Or having to go back to school and back to wearing a mask. It’s scary, thinking that we were homefree and the danger was past, and now having to face it again, hospital ICU numbers climbing every day.”

“She has to put up with stuff at school that we never had to,” Jones agreed. “Imagine having all of this added on to the school stresses that we went through. It’s not just homework, peer pressure, and weird teachers; they have to worry about not getting too close to anybody or catching this virus that could put them in hospital. A lot more young people are getting it this time around.”

Margie shook her head. She couldn’t put her finger on why, but she thought something else was wrong. Something that she should know about but didn’t.

The phone rang, and it was a good thing that there was a plastic top on the coffee cup. She startled so violently the coffee would have been all over Margie’s desk. As it was, she still managed to get a splash on her shirt through the drinking hole. Margie put the cup down on her desk and picked up the phone receiver with one hand while pulling several tissues out of the box on her desk with the other and dabbing at her uniform front and the edge of her desk. She was so distracted by the near catastrophe that she didn’t even look at the caller ID before picking up the phone.

“Calgary Homicide, Detective Patenaude here.”

“Detective Pat,” Staff Sergeant MacDonald’s tone was slightly amused by her formal answer, “join me in my office, please. Bring Jones with you.”

“Yes, sir.”

Margie hung up the phone and stood. She looked at Jones. “He wants both of us.”

Jones stood. “Are we in trouble?” She gave Margie a mischievous smile. “What did you do?”

“It’s not me. It must be you. Maybe he’s on to your covert trip to Tim’s.”

“Nah. I already gave him a cup.”

If MacDonald already had a cup of Tim’s, Margie figured it was okay to take hers with her, so she picked it up. Jones picked up hers, and they walked across the bullpen to MacDonald’s office. The door stood open. Margie knocked on the frame of the door to announce herself, and she and Jones walked in. MacDonald, tall, lean, and silver-haired, was looking at his computer and writing something down on the pad beside his keyboard. He looked up after a moment.

“It would appear we need Parks Pat’s particular expertise,” he informed them.

His use of the nickname could mean only one thing—another body in a park. Since everyone now associated Margie with murders in Calgary parks, she was the one who was called upon when a body was discovered. Even if it was an old homeless guy who stank to high heaven and obviously died of natural causes. She sighed.

“Happy to help, sir.”

It wasn’t really that she had any particular expertise in park settings. A murder in a park setting wasn’t that different from a murder indoors or in the alley behind a biker bar. Homicide was homicide, and Margie didn’t have any special genetic predisposition to solving murders that took place in a park setting as a result of her Métis ancestry or any special training or experience.

“What have we got?” Jones asked.

“Nose Hill Park. Reported as a slasher, but… well, I’ll let you judge that by what you see. No need to plant anything into your mind ahead of time. Prepare yourself. Bloody scene.”

Margie and Jones both nodded.

“Do we have a GPS location?” Margie asked. Some of the parks in Calgary were quite large, and she knew that Nose Hill Park was one of them, covering a large portion of the northwest. She didn’t want to be wandering around for hours looking for the site.

“Sent it to your phone. Let me know if you run into any problems.”


They took Margie’s car. Even though Margie had initially planned to bike from home to the downtown office, she had still not managed to do so. She was still driving and not getting that extra bit of exercise she had promised herself. But it was a lot handier to have a car when they had a murder scene to get to. Calgary was a huge urban sprawl, and it could take an hour to drive from one end to the other. Not like the cute little English villages on TV that a copper could patrol on his bicycle.

“Have you ever been to Nose Hill?” Jones asked.

“No.” Margie couldn’t see the big hill yet, but she looked in that direction anyway. “It looks like it’s pretty bare. Just grassland.”

“That’s only the part that you can see from the road. There are valleys full of trees. Great view of the city skyline. Wildflowers in the spring. Lots of people walk their dogs there.”

Jones had been to Margie’s house and met not only Christina, but also their dog Stella. She knew they enjoyed taking her for walks in Calgary’s numerous green spaces. Though it was September, most of the grassy areas had been scorched brown and yellow by the sun, and the leaves were losing their chlorophyll as winter approached. The nights were getting chilly, and though it hadn’t been below zero yet, the trees knew that winter was on its way.

“Maybe we’ll take Stella out there to explore,” Margie said.

Margie had entered the coordinates of the body into her GPS unit, so she followed the directions of the electronic voice the best she could, with Jones giving her a few warnings of lane changes she needed to make or turns that were coming up sooner than they appeared to be on the GPS screen. Eventually, they pulled into a dusty parking lot. A couple of marked Calgary Police Service cars were parked already, which told Margie they were in the right place. They took off their office-appropriate blazers, which would be far too warm for walking through the park and left them in the car. Margie grabbed her scene-of-crime kit and they headed into the park.

The yellow-brown hills were speckled here and there with trees or large sandstone rocks. There were scrubby rose bushes and small clumps of wildflowers past their bloom. There were not many people on the trail that Margie and Jones began to walk up together. The hill was steeper than it looked, and they were both slightly out of breath before long. Margie slowed. She didn’t want to be huffing and puffing when they got to the scene. And Jones was heavier than Margie and not having the easiest time with the climb.

“We came here a few times as kids in elementary school,” Jones puffed. “It didn’t seem like such a climb then! As kids, we just ran up it.”

“Did you come as a class?”

“Field trip,” Jones agreed. “End of the year. A special treat.”

Margie looked around. There weren’t any playgrounds or picnic areas that she could see. Not really the type of place that she would have expected the school kids to see as a treat.

“It was fun.” Jones shrugged. “Anything to get out of the classroom.”

“I guess so.”

Margie could see a couple of police officers down in a coulee below. As Jones had said, plenty of trees grew in the more protected areas between the hills. They reached a footpath worn in the grass and followed it down into the valley to meet with the law enforcement officers below.

“Parks Pat?” one of the masked constables asked with a smile in his voice and a fan of wrinkles around the corners of his eyes.

“That’s me,” Margie agreed. “How far do we have to go?”

“Not far. It’s just around the edge of the wooded area here.”

They led Margie and Jones through the trees until they arrived at an area that had been cordoned off with yellow tape. A couple more officers were guarding the scene.

“So, what have we got?” Margie asked, getting closer but staying outside of the perimeter. “The sergeant said a slasher?”

“Mmm.” The constable made a noise that was neither agreement nor denial.

Margie got to an angle where she could see one side of the body. It was, as MacDonald had warned, a bloody scene. Margie could see long gashes down the woman’s arm. Slasher certainly seemed apt, despite MacDonald’s suggestion that it might be something else. She shrugged at Jones and put down her scene-of-crime kit. She unzipped it and they each pulled on protective suits and booties to reduce any contamination of the scene. They crossed the yellow tape and picked their way carefully across the area to get a close look at the victim.

It was a woman, as Margie had discerned from outside the perimeter. A slim woman with Asian features. Hair just longer than her shoulders. Young, an older teen or young adult. Margie’s stomach clenched, immediately associating the victim with Christina. What had happened? Why had she been down in the coulee and who had attacked her? Was it just a chance thing? Had she been chased or stalked?

There were numerous gashes and slashes but, as Margie got closer, she could see that there were also puncture marks and flesh had been torn away. She shook her head, shooting a look at one of the CPS officers standing outside the cordon.

“This is an animal attack.”

He gave a nod of agreement.

Margie rolled her eyes. She and Jones stepped back from the body, returning the way they had come.

“No need for homicide here,” Margie said, somewhat exasperated. Those bites and slashes were not caused by a human.

“Not a homicide,” the cop agreed. “But it was called in as one, so…”

“So I need to sign off. Fine. I agree. Not a homicide. Is the medical examiner on the way?”

“Should be here any minute.”

“And we really don’t need crime scene to collect anything, since this is not a crime scene. Who else? Do we call Alberta Fish and Wildlife?”

“Calgary Parks. They’ve been informed and will send someone over to investigate. Then they’ll probably call Alberta, and they will determine the best response.”

Margie looked regretfully at the woman who had been killed. “What was it? A cougar? Bear?”

“Don’t think so,” said a smaller officer, who had been quiet until that point. “Looks like coyote.”

“Really? I thought coyotes were shy. Avoided people.”

The man stepped forward so they could converse more easily. Margie realized he was not just small, but he must be fresh out of the academy. And the academy appeared to be recruiting babies now. His name bar said Young, and Margie suppressed a chuckle at the appropriateness of his name.

“There have been a number of coyote attacks in the city,” Young offered. “They get habituated to people, and then they aren’t afraid enough to stay away anymore.”

“And a coyote could do that?” Margie glanced in the direction of the body.

“Maybe more than one of them. Usually, it’s just a bite or two and then they run. But in this case…” Young trailed off. Obviously, that hadn’t happened. They had attacked viciously and not been deterred by the victim screaming and fighting back.

“Could they be rabid?” Margie speculated.

“Could be. Not that it’s going to make any difference to our victim.”

No, she was past being worried about getting rabies. But they would want to protect the public if the animals were rabid.

“Do you have an ID on her yet?”

“We’ll wait for the ME or a matching missing person report. Haven’t searched her pockets.”

As Young said, it was best to wait and let the ME’s death investigators handle it. They were the best positioned to see what trace evidence needed to be preserved. Margie could check for a missing person report when she returned to the office. It seemed like someone should have noticed the young woman was missing. She appeared to be clean and well cared for. Not homeless, with a camp set up somewhere in the trees. However, there might be others around who did make the park their home.

“Are there any homeless camps around here?” She addressed her question to all of the police officers there. They were presumably assigned to the area and would know whether there was a problem with people camping out in the park.

“Not that I’m aware of,” one of the older cops answered. “Residents in the area are pretty quick to call it in if someone sets up a tent. They’re not allowed to camp in the park. We move them along. Why?” He shook his head. “It’s pretty obvious this was an animal attack, not a human.”

“Oh, I know. I just thought that there might be witnesses. If someone was camping out here, they might have seen or heard something that would be helpful.”

“Suppose so. But we don’t really need to know anything else. What difference will it make to know when she was attacked or how long it took? Or if she screamed?” He shook his head heavily. “No witness statement will make any difference to this case.”

“I suppose not.” Margie scratched the back of her neck. “I’m just too used to dealing with homicides. An animal attack is a new one for me.”

“What makes you think it was a coyote?” Jones asked Young, turning back to face him after gazing at the woman’s body. “Are you that familiar with the difference between bite marks or claws?”

Young shook his head. “Coyote scat.”

Jones looked at him blankly. Margie could see her trying to process this concise explanation. For someone unused to dealing with wildlife, scat was a verb, not a noun, and Jones was probably trying to come up with a full sentence or explanation that made sense to her.

“Their droppings,” Margie informed her, looking around at the ground. Within the yellow-taped barrier were a couple of piles of coyote scat. “Like that.”

Jones leaned closer to study one of the deposits, her nose wrinkling in distaste. “And how do you know that’s coyote and not… bear? It looks like there are berries in it. Coyotes don’t eat berries, do they? But bears do.”

“Coyotes are very opportunistic,” Young told her. “Berries, small animals, garbage. Their droppings don’t look like dog crap. A dog that just eats dog food out of a can, their turds are all smooth and evenly colored. Not like these.”

The ropy, knotted-looking coyote scat, full of berries and bits of fur and debris, was quite different from what Margie picked up after Stella did her business. She wouldn’t have identified it as belonging to an animal in the dog family at all. She probably would have gone with bear, as Jones had suggested.

“Coyote, then,” she agreed with a shrug.

The medical examiner’s van appeared, some distance away and making its way very carefully over the rough terrain with no proper access route. It eventually crawled to a stop a few feet back from the tape, and one of the investigators climbed out to have a look.

“Once you’ve confirmed that the victim is dead and this doesn’t appear to be a homicide, I can be on my way,” Margie offered. Despite the nice weather, she didn’t really want to hang out at a death scene all day.

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P.D. (Pamela) Workman is a USA Today Bestselling author, winner of several awards from Library Services for Youth in Custody and the InD’tale Magazine’s Crowned Heart award, and has published over 100 mystery/suspense/thriller and young adult books.

Workman loves writing about the underdog. She has been praised for her realistic details, deep characterization, and sensitive handling of the serious social issues that appear in her stories, from light cozy mysteries to darker, grittier young adult and mystery/suspense books.

P. D. Workman does not shy from probing the deep psychological scars of childhood trauma, mental illness, and addiction. Also characteristic of this author, these extremely sensitive issues are explored with extensive empathy, described with incredible clarity, and portrayed with profound insight.
—Kim, Goodreads reviewer