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ETHAN PICKETT'S battered pickup truck is found in the valley of the Bluewater Ski Club, a four hundred foot drop, his broken and bloodied body trapped inside. Ethan is a local hero, a retired rodeo cowboy, and self-made billionaire businessman. His death is big news. When Charlie Beach hears the news, he's devastated. As a private investigator, he's had experience with death, but not with the death of someone as close to him as Ethan Pickett.
On the night of the funeral, Charlie and Cedar, Ethan's daughter, and Charlie's best and closest friend since JK, are sharing a few beers and trading stories. At one point, Cedar makes a casual comment about the irony of her father's accident, running his truck off a dark and deserted country road he had been driving his entire life. Charlie didn't understand the concept of irony, but what he did understand was the bad feeling washing over him.
The OPP's top investigators ruled it an accident, but what if they missed something? What if it wasn't an accident? What if the accident was staged to cover up a murder? With no evidence, no suspects, and no motive, Charlie wouldn't go hard at it, but he figured there was no harm in talking to a few people, asking some questions, see if anything popped. Charlie would be happy if it turned out to be nothing. But, if it turned out to be something, then he'd make it his life's mission to track down the killer, and send his ass to prison.
It has been ten years since Ashley Burnett's murder shocked the residents of Bluewater County. She was set to graduate high school, a star centre for her high school girls' hockey team, the Sacred Heart Beavers.
After a gruelling investigation into the murder of his close friend, Ethan Pickett, Charlie Beach was physically and emotionally exhausted. He was set to take time off, to supervise the installation of his pool, catch a couple of classic films at the Capital Theatre, and just hang out.
Fiona Burnett was a grieving mother looking for justice. She had waited all day at Ruby's Downtown Grille and Bar for the chance to convince Charlie to look into the murder of her daughter, a ten-year-old cold case with no new evidence, no DNA or forensic evidence collected at the scene, and no witnesses. Charlie figured it didn't get much colder than that.
Charlie was reluctant, but wasn't the kind of person to turn down a grieving mother. He agreed to give it a couple of days. If he saw something in the case file that he could work, he'd take the case. If not, Fiona would have to agree that he was out.
What Charlie found was a sloppy and incomplete initial investigation by a now retired PWPD detective named Ken Cropper. Over the course of two days, Charlie opened up new angles, theories and motives, developing a list of suspects that were worth questioning. Over coffee with Fiona, with enough to go on, Charlie agreed to take the case.
Charlie was the kind of PI that believed in justice for all. No matter what he had to do, no matter how ugly it got—and it looked like it was going to get ugly—Charlie was going to find Ashley's killer and give her mother the justice she deserved.