Sheriff Jeff McQuede finds 'Bartering Bill' Garr murdered at his rural antique store. Only one item is missing -- a rare artifact believed to be the Pedro Mummy.
Sheriff Jeff McQuede finds 'Bartering Bill' Garr murdered at his rural antique store. Only one item is missing -- a rare artifact believed to be the Pedro Mummy. First discovered in a cave in Wyoming, the Pedro Mummy was reported missing in the 1950s. Dr. Seth Talbot, newly arrived in town, has put out a fifteen-thousand-dollar reward for any information on the mummy, hoping that modern technology will prove his theory that a tiny race of people actually existed: one the Shoshones call the Nimerigar, or Little People. McQuede is astounded to find the mummy in the trunk of Seth Talbot's car. Talbot swears he;s being set up by rival co-workers -- Dr. Arden Reed, in particular -- who plans to benefit from his research. McQuede suspects the theft of the mummy is a red herring used to cover up the true motive for the crime. The closer he comes to the truth, the deeper McQuede is drawn into an elaborate hoax that threatens his career and places him in grave danger.
Bill Garr, nicknamed “Bartering Bill”, age seventy-five, lay face-down in the old shed amid a lifetime collection of junk, antiques and curios. With his dicey heart, everyone had expected to soon hear news of his death, but from natural causes, not from a swift, vicious blow to the back of his head.
Sheriff Jeff McQuede could see no evidence of a struggle. Either his assailant had been lying in wait for him, concealed behind one of the towering, old cabinets, or Garr had made the mistake of turning his back to him. As he was struck down, Garr had collided with the worktable. One of the kerosene lamps had fallen, oil mingling with broken glass.
McQuede glanced from the ruined lamp back to Bill Garr’s nephew, unprepared for the way the light from the naked bulb overhead had altered him. When Cory Coleman had met him in the yard, as they had crossed the weedy grounds to the sagging old building, he had looked sick and stunned. His long, hollowed features now seemed ominous, appearing almost to glow with some evil triumph.
“I’m going to ask you to look around,” McQuede said. “Let me know if you notice any missing items.”
“With all this rubbish, who could tell?” Cory replied.