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Authors: Beverly Connor

One Grave Less

BOOK: One Grave Less
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Table of Contents
 
 
Praise for the Novels of Beverly Connor
“Calls to mind the forensic mysteries of Aaron Elkins and Patricia Cornwell. However, Connor’s sleuth infuses the mix with her own brand of spice as a pert and brainy scholar in the forensic analysis of bones. . . . Chases, murder attempts, and harrowing rescues add to this fast-paced adventure.”

Chicago Sun-Times
 
“Connor combines smart people, fun people, and dangerous people in a novel hard to put down.”

The Dallas Morning News
 
“Connor grabs the reader with her first sentence and never lets up until the book’s end. . . . The story satisfies both as a mystery and as an entrée into the fascinating world of bones. . . . Add Connor’s dark humor, and you have a multidimensional mystery that deserves comparison with the best of Patricia Cornwell.”

Booklist
(starred review)
 
“In Connor’s latest multifaceted tale, the plot is serpentine, the solution ingenious, the academic politics vicious . . . chock-full of engrossing anthropological and archaeological detail.”

Publishers Weekly
 
“Connor’s books are a smart blend of Patricia Cornwell, Aaron Elkins, and Elizabeth Peters, with some good Deep South atmosphere to make it authentic.”

Oklahoma Family Magazine
 
“Crisp dialogue, interesting characters, fascinating tidbits of bone lore, and a murderer that eluded me. When I started reading, I couldn’t stop. What more could you ask for? Enjoy.”
—Virginia Lanier, author of the Bloodhound series
 
“Beverly Connor has taken the dry bones of scientific inquiry and resurrected them into living, breathing characters. I couldn’t put [it] down until I was finished, even though I wanted to savor the story. I predict that Beverly Connor will become a major player in the field of mystery writing.”
—David Hunter, author of
The Dancing Savior
 
“Fans of . . . Patricia Cornwell will definitely want to read Beverly Connor . . . an author on the verge of superstardom.”

Midwest Book Review
 
“Connor’s breathtaking ability to dish out fascinating forensic details while maintaining a taut aura of suspense is a real gift.”

Romantic Times
(top pick)
ALSO BY BEVERLY CONNOR
The Night Killer
Dust to Dust
Scattered Graves
Dead Hunt
Dead Past
Dead Secret
Dead Guilty
One Grave Too Many
OBSIDIAN
Published by New American Library, a division of
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,
New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto,
Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices:
80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
 
First published by Obsidian, an imprint of New American Library,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
 
First Printing, December 2010
 
Copyright © Beverly Connor, 2010
eISBN : 978-1-101-47659-8
All rights reserved
 
OBSIDIAN and logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
 
 
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
 
PUBLISHER’S NOTE
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.
 
 
The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

http://us.penguingroup.com

This is to Charles Connor for all his love and support
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
A very special thanks to my editor, Brent Howard.
Chapter 1
Somewhere in the Amazon
 
The woman sat on the bare floor of the wooden cage hugging her legs to her chest. Her forehead rested on her knees. Her long chestnut brown hair, dirty and tangled, covered her shoulders like a tattered blanket. She kept her sobs silent and tried to swallow her fear and pain. She lifted her head furtively for quick looks around her, taking in her surroundings. Her cage had hardwood saplings for bars, a thatched roof, and a rough-hewn floor of similar saplings. It sat on stilts three feet off the ground near the tree line in a village clearing, one of a cluster of clearings dotted with grass-covered huts on stilts. On all sides of the village clearings was the dense, almost impenetrable, endless jungle.
The captive was alone. She was hurt and in pain, and she couldn’t talk. Her abductors had bruised—almost crushed—her windpipe when they snatched her. She didn’t know where she was. She couldn’t even identify the tribe of the villagers. They looked to be a blend of groups. Dress was a mixture of traditional sarongs and ragged Western clothes. Most were barefoot. There were no clear identifying marks to tell her who they were.
But they were not her captors. That distinction was held by the ragged band of “soldiers” among them who had attacked her Jeep as she drove on her way to Cuzco.
She wondered whether there was an ally among the tribespeople. Surely there was someone who didn’t like the guerrillas holed up in their village. She searched their faces. None looked in her direction. She put her head back down on her knees, trying to wish her predicament away, trying to force herself to keep calm, trying to think of some plan of escape. There must be a way.
There was a crunch of the vegetation, the sound of someone walking toward her. She lifted her head again. It was a man she hadn’t seen before, an older man, perhaps in his forties. His appearance suggested he was one of the criminals who held her. His worn khakis and green camouflage looked vaguely military. He grinned as he approached and swiped his dark black hair from his eyes. He gave his beard a cursory scratch. With him was a woman in jeans and a T-shirt. Her face was familiar. Her name was Patia—one of the workers at the Incan dig site. She was involved in this?
The two adults were followed by a small barefoot child in a tattered dress, holding a bowl.
The man squatted in front of the cage.
“Doc-tor Fallon,” he said in English washed in a heavy Spanish accent, “I hope you feel comfort. You are going to do me a lot of money, so I want you well.”
Doctor Fallon? So that was it. It was some kind of horrible case of mistaken identity. He had the wrong woman. She weighed the advisability of somehow conveying to her kidnapper that he had made a mistake—that he had the wrong person. He would not believe her. Even if he did, he was unlikely to say “oops” and simply let her go. It was more likely he would kill her right then to cut his losses. Perhaps she should keep it to herself for now.
“You say nothing?” he said with no irritation.
She stretched her neck and pulled back the collar of her shirt, revealing dark bruising. She attempted a whisper, but nothing came out.
“Oh.” He put a hand over his heart. “It hurts me to see violence on woman. Some of my men, they are brutes. I speak to them.”
BOOK: One Grave Less
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