Thursday teaser: Wildfire

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Read this mystery excerpt to find out how you could win a free e-copy of the acclaimed novel

By Scott Bury

Wildfire: Wine Country Mystery #1 by Scott Bury

Roberto and Tara returned to the group standing beside their trucks. “There’s no gas and not much to eat or places to stay here,” Roberto said. “And the old-timer at the gas station says the 101 is closed north of Santa Rosa. That explains why Alan’s not here—he got caught on the other side of the highway after it closed.”

“Then why isn’t he calling us to let us know?” Nicole demanded, panic in her voice. 

“Cell service is out,” said Greg, holding up his phone. “I have no bars.”

Nicole had her phone in her hand, and she hit the screen to try calling again. Tears cut through the ash and soot on her face as she paced, waiting for an answer. “Dammit,” she muttered when the error tone sounded. 

“Let’s find somewhere to clean up,” Toby suggested. “Maybe get some water, something to eat?”

“Alan told me he knows the owner of a hotel around here,” Roberto said. “Nicole, do you know it?” 

Nicole did not answer, just shook her head, staring at the phone in her hand. 

“The man at the gas station said there was a hotel across the river. There can’t be that many in this town,” Tara said. 

“Let’s check it out,” Roberto agreed. The two of them set off across the narrow steel bridge. Tara looked at the river flowing below. Water—that’s the key. I wonder if the river is much lower than normal. I can see a lot of rocks. Maybe it is. 

“That must be it there,” said Roberto, pointing to a brown wooden building with a big “Hotel” sign on top.

“Wasn’t that hard to find after all.”

The hotelier was a large man with a white beard and a slight German accent. Wide eyes looked at Roberto and Tara over his reading glasses. “Twenty-three? Well, sure, but you’ll have to share. We have a bunch of writers here already, but they’re pretty quiet.”

“Great,” said Roberto. “I’ll bring them. I have a business credit card—”

The hotelier held up a hand. “No charge for fire refugees.”

“Really? No, we can’t—”

“Really. I can’t take money for helping out in a disaster.”

Tara and Roberto returned to the group, who all looked unhappy and guilty. “Where’s Nicole?” Roberto demanded.

“She took off,” Rosa answered, looking down the road they had come. “She jumped in her car and went to find Alan.”

“What? Why didn’t you stop her?”

“We tried,” said Toby. “She wouldn’t listen. She kept phoning him and crying, and said she couldn’t stand waiting any longer. What could we do, tie her up?”

“Yes!” Roberto’s face was flushed, his nostrils flaring. “It’s way too dangerous to go back.” He ran toward the Ford, calling orders over his shoulder. “Go to the hotel—you’ll see it from the bridge. It’s all arranged.”

As he opened the truck door, Tara was at the passenger side. “I’m coming with you.” She opened the door and Charlie startled her by jumping in and moving to the back seat.

Roberto did not argue with either of them. 

When they had left Monte Rio behind, Tara asked, “If the highways are closed, how are you going to get back to the winery?”

“There’s more than one way there. I know a lot of backroads.”

“Does Nicole?”

“If she doesn’t, she’ll end up back at Monte Rio.”

“Does Alan know them?”

“Better than I do.”

“So he could be on his way there, now, and could miss Nicole.”

“Could be.” Roberto’s eyes remained focused on the winding road, his hands tight on the wheel.

“Do you really think he’s okay?”

Roberto did not answer.

About Wildfire

Wildfires swept across California wine country in 2017, destroying thousands of homes and businesses and killing dozens of people. Law school grad and single mother Tara Rezeck finds herself in the middle of the catastrophe. She has to evacuate with the rest of of the staff of Sonoma’s most award-winning winery. When she returns, she finds her employer’s body in the ashes.

The question that challenges her brains and her legal training is: was it an accident? Or was his body burned to hide evidence of murder?

Win a free copy of this acclaimed e-book, signed by the author. Leave your answer to the following question in the Comments section below.

What is the name of the winery where Tara and Roberto work?

Hint: Check the Look Inside feature on Amazon.

Scott Bury

can’t stay in one genre. After a 20-year career in journalism, he turned to writing fiction. “Sam, the Strawb Part,” a children’s story, came out in 2011, with all the proceeds going to an autism charity. Next was a paranormal short story for grown-ups, “Dark Clouds.”

The Bones of the Earth, a historical fantasy, came out in 2012. It was followed in 2013 with One Shade of Red, an erotic romance.

He has written in the Lei Crime (Torn Roots, Palm Trees & Snowflakes, Dead Man Lying), Jet (Jet: Stealth) and Sydney Rye (The Wife Line) Kindle Worlds.

His latest work is a military memoir trilogy: Army of Worn Soles, Under the Nazi Heel and Walking Out of War.

His articles have been published in newspapers and magazines in Canada, the US, UK and Australia.

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, he grew up in Thunder Bay, Ontario. He holds a BA from Carleton University’s School of Journalism. He has two mighty sons, two pesky cats and a loving wife who puts up with a lot.

He is a recipient of Maclean Hunter’s Top 6 Award and a member of a team that won a Neal Award for business reporting.

Scott can be found:


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Amazon Author page      |    Website   |   Blog    |  Facebook    |   Twitter

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Thursday and launch day teaser: WILDFIRE

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This week’s excerpt is from a brand-new book: the first in the new Wine Country Mystery series launches today on Amazon, Smashwords and other e-book retailers, with the paperback coming soon.

By Scott Bury

The vineyard

Once she had finished organizing the DaSilvas’ papers, Tara decided to do some work for Paul Rondeau. He said to keep an eye open, so I’ll look around. 

It’s called “snooping.” So I’ll snoop.

She went past the winery, where she could hear Mark’s and Amy’s voices through the open door. Her eyes went to the place in the weeds where she had found the bracelet as she passed the remains of the garage. Maybe I should advise Veronica to get someone to start taking this away, cleaning it up.

Past the garage, to the open gate into the vineyard. It’s funny that I haven’t gone into the vineyard since I’ve arrived here. Not since that first time when Roberto showed me around.

Maybe I could get him here to show me some more.

Focus, Tara. Keep your eyes open, and your attention on what you see. And hear.

Yes, conscience.

The sun shone hot on her right shoulder, but the air was not as hot as the day before. The radio weather reports promised rain in the next week, but still the fires burned in Napa and Sonoma.

I should have brought some water, though. It’s still dry and hot.

She followed the dirt road traversing the slope. Here and there, water sprayed from the irrigation system. She avoided muddy spots on the road. Ruts would become deep puddles when the promised rain finally came.

Uphill of the road, the vines hung limp and dry. Tara saw no grapes on them. That must be where the harvest is done. The chardonnay and sauvignon grapes.

Downslope, though, dark purple clusters bent the vines. The leaves looked healthier. I guess that Roberto is still irrigating them.

She could see tire tracks in the dirt road. Is that a clue? Could the police tell something by analyzing tire treads? Or is that just in TV shows?

The road began to climb higher, even though it went more or less straight ahead. As she approached a ridge, she saw a low wire fence with wooden posts, running between two parallel rows of gray-leaved trees. A closed gate crossed the dirt road, bearing a brightly painted sign that read “Harris Estates.” Tire tracks led to the gate, and when she got closer she could see they continued beyond it.

No lock on the gate. I wonder how old those tire tracks are.

Maybe the same picking crew works on both estates, and the fence is more to show the boundary than to keep anyone out. Have to ask Roberto about that. 

Beyond the gate, the land sloped down again, with more rows of grapevines. In the distance, Tara thought she could see a truck and people. A picking crew?

Closer, though, a large patch of the vineyard was dark grey. Black branches twisted along the ground like tortured skeletal fingers.

Tara turned and looked back along the road that curved gently between dry, but green rows of vines. It must be more than 200 yards between the burned part of the Harris vineyard to the other side of Rocky Creek’s.

How could burning embers blow all that way to set the garage on fire, but miss everything in between? 

Something else to talk to Roberto about. In addition to why he lied about the bracelet. 

About Wildfire

Wildfires swept across California wine country in 2017, destroying thousands of homes and businesses, and killing dozens of people. Law school grad and single mother Tara Rezeck finds herself in the middle of the catastrophe. When she returns to her job at the most award-winning vineyard in Sonoma County, she finds her employer’s body in the ashes.

The question that challenges her brains and her legal training is: was it an accident? Or was his body burned to hide evidence of murder?

Wildfire, Wine Country Mystery book 1, launches today on Amazon and other e-tailers and will be available in paperback soon.

Join the launch party on Facebook TODAY at 6:00 p.m. ET.

  • Get Wildfire on Amazon (for Kindle e-readers)
  • Get Wildfire on Smashwords (for Kobo, Nook and other e-readers).

About the author

After a 30-year career as a journalist and editor, Scott Bury published a children’s story, and a story that bridged the genres of paranormal occult fiction and espionage thriller. Since then, he has published 12 novels and novellas without regard to staying in any one genre: fantasy, satire, mysteries, thrillers and biography.

In 2012, he published his first novel, the historical magic realism bestseller The Bones of the Earth. His next book, One Shade of Red, was a satire of a bestseller with a similar title.

From 2014 to 2017, he published the Eastern Front Trilogy, the true story of a Canadian drafted into the Soviet Red Army in 1941, and how he survived the Second World War.

He wrote four novellas for Toby Neal’s Lei Crime Kindle World; Jet: Stealth for Russell Blake’s Jet Kindle World, and two for Emily Kimelman’s Sydney Rye Kindle World.

Now, he is beginning a new mystery series with Wildfire, featuring the smart and passionate Tara Rezeck.

Find out more about Scott and his writing:

And follow him on Twitter @ScottTheWriter.

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