Life in the big city wasn’t what Mackenzie “Mack” Redford expected, and now he’s come home to Hartwick County, South Dakota, to serve as sheriff.
Brantley Calderone is looking for a new life. After leaving New York and buying a ranch, he’s settling in and getting used to living at a different pace—until he finds a dead woman on his porch and himself the prime suspect in her murder.
Mack and Brantley quickly realize several things: someone is trying to frame Brantley; he is no longer safe alone on his ranch; and there’s a definite attraction developing between them, one that only increases when Mack offers to let Brantley stay in his home. But as their romance escalates, so does the killer. They’ll have to stay one step ahead and figure out who wants Brantley dead before it’s too late. Only then can they start the life they’re both seeking—together.
I worked on Flight or Fight for quite a while. The story was coming but it lacked the punch it needed. Then I talked to Rhys Ford at the DSP author event and it all came together. She is a wonderful person and totally amazing. She gave me a few words of advice about making sure the story had a twist that was plausible, but still unexpected. After talking to her, I went back to the hotel room and ended up finishing the story in a matter of days. Everything came together. So this story is dedicated to her because she really did help make it happen.
“Sheriff.” Gloria’s voice came through the radio like sandpaper, and he was happy as hell to be in his car at that moment. She’d be fuming for hours yet. “A call came in on that anonymous hotline the state put in. They called us. It seems there’s some sort of disturbance at the old Richardson place.”
Mack pressed the brake and pulled off the road. “I thought that was empty.” Shit, that could mean someone was trying to use the house as temporary shelter or for God knows what.
“That place is a mess.”
“It looked fine the last time I was by,” Mack said as he turned around and headed back out the way he’d come, making a right turn at the first road and then stepping on the gas.
“I don’t mean a physical mess. It’s an estate mess, or at least it was for a long time.”
“Okay. Thanks. I’m on my way.” He continued driving as fast as he dared. He didn’t want to make a big deal of it yet. He’d received calls through the state hotline before, and they usually turned out to be nothing.
Mack slowed as he approached the ranch. A truck so shiny the sun reflecting off it was nearly blinding stood near the house, and a man was on the porch, huddled over something. Mack pulled up and was instantly on his guard.
The man rose, and Mack pulled his gun, opened the car door, and stood behind it. The man’s shirt was covered in blood and a body lay on his porch. From the look of the body and the amount of blood, it wasn’t going to move on its own ever again. “Step back and keep your hands where I can see them,” Mack called forcefully.
The man was on his knees, and he backed away, putting his hands in the air, pale as a sheet and slightly green around the gills. “I didn’t kill her.”
“Gloria, I need backup at the Richardson ranch, now,” Mack said into the radio.
“Roger, Sheriff,” Gloria said. “Deputy Morris is on his way,” she told him thirty seconds later.
“Two,” Gloria returned. “He says he’s flying.” There were few people Mack had ever met who drove as fast as Zeb Morris. He had a love for speed, and it was coming in handy now.
“Settle down and keep your hands where I can see them.” Mack took in the surroundings. The guy didn’t seem to have a weapon, but that didn’t mean much. Slowly Mack came around the door. “Lay facedown on the porch, hands where I can see them at all times.”
The man complied, and Mack came closer, his heart pounding as he took each step.
“I didn’t hurt her. She was there when I came home,” the man said feebly. “I was trying to help her, and then you showed up.” He was shaking, which was a good thing. A healthy dose of fear might work in Mack’s favor.
Keeping an eye and his gun on the man, who didn’t move a muscle, Mack checked the body for a pulse. He didn’t find one. Shit, blast, and fuck. He made his way to the man and secured his hands behind his back with his handcuffs. “Stand up,” he ordered and helped the man get to his feet. His hand warmed where it touched the man, and he nearly let go at the jolt of interest that shot through him. He had to remind himself that he was not supposed to be attracted to suspects. Mack patted him down, finding a set of keys, a wallet, and nothing else in his pockets. “Okay. What happened?”
“Am I under arrest?” the man asked in a stronger tone.
“That remains to be seen,” he said, turning to the woman, who lay on her side facing the house.
The man turned around. “Until I am, you can remove the cuffs, as you have no right.” He sounded like some Eastern snob and looked the part too, with jeans that were almost indecently tight and boots that no one out here would ever wear, let alone could afford. Like his car, everything about him looked brand-new and costly, right down to the thousand-dollar white Stetson that lay on the ground near the porch steps.
“Fine, but no fast moves, and your hands stay where I can see them.” Mack doubted the man was an immediate threat, so he removed the cuffs and stepped back, keeping a hand on his gun.
Review by Cat Clontz
Brantley is used to the hustle and bustle of New York City. Settling in on a ranch in South Dakota means adjusting his entire mindset. Finding a body on his front porch means life has changed irrevocably. Mackenzie Redford moved back to his hometown when his dad needed assistance. Now sheriff, being called to the ranch because a dead body is on the front porch isn’t how he planned on meeting the man he didn’t know had bought the property. From there, all sorts of events happen that conspire to present clear and present danger to the county’s newest resident. Solving the mystery of who killed one person and seems determined to kill Brantley as well mixes in with Mack’s attraction to the urbanite, but can he solve the case before the killer strikes?
This is a fairly fast-paced novel. With a solid plot and curiously unique subplots involving cows and short-tempered ranchers, there is never a dull moment in this book. The pacing fits beautifully with the style in which the story is told. The main characters are written remarkably well, and it is clear from the moment they meet that the chemistry between them is explosive, even when Mack thinks Brantley is a potential murderer. The peripheral characters are few, the primary of which is Mack’s dad, but they add good depth and richness only to this book.
The only scene that really bothered me didn’t involve the mystery at all, but rather was a involving a dead cow and one of Brantley’s cantankerous neighbors. However, it wasn’t particularly graphic, and it was a relatively short scene. As a matter of fact, there is nothing particularly negatively graphic in the book that might set off triggers, so no need to worry about being squeamish.
This is an instant-attraction-but-seriously-slow-burn book that is low in angst with a surprise whodunit. I prefer not being able to figure out who the bad guy is, and while I was absolutely certain for a most of the book, it turned out I was wrong, which delighted me. This was my first Dirk Greyson book, but it absolutely will not be my last. Give this four-star wonder a try – you’ll enjoy it!
Meet Dirk Greyson
Dirk Greyson is very much an outside kind of man. He loves travel and seeing new things. Dirk worked in corporate America for way too long and now spends his days writing, gardening, and taking care of the home he shares with his partner of more than two decades. He has a Master’s Degree and all the other accessories that go with a corporate job. But he is most proud of the stories he tells and the life he’s built. Dirk lives in Pennsylvania in a century old home and is blessed with an amazing circle of friends.