Cabin Fever: A Seamus McCree Mystery

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Series: Seamus McCree Mysteries, Book 2
Release Date: April 2014
Author: James M. Jackson
ISBN Paperback: 978-1-935460-90-9
($13.95 USD)
ISBN eBook: 978-1-935460-91-6
($5.95 USD)
LCCN: 2013957973
Edited by: Julie Spergel
Cover Artist: Craig Jennion
Pages: 228

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Silver Falcion Award Finalist Medal

2015 Silver Falchion Award Finalist

Financial crimes investigator Seamus McCree returns in Book 2 of the Seamus McCree series. With his house in Cincinnati in ruins, Seamus retreats to the family cabin for some well-earned rest and relaxation. But his plans for a quiet, contemplative winter in the wilds of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula are thrown out the window when he discovers a naked woman on his porch during a blizzard. The mystery woman is suffering from hypothermia, frostbite, high fevers, amnesia—and rope burns on her wrists and ankles.

Snowbound at the cabin, without transportation or phone coverage, Seamus struggles to keep the woman alive and find a way to get an SOS message out. What he doesn’t know is that a domestic paramilitary organization is hunting for an escaped female prisoner—and closing in on his isolated refuge.

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“A satisfying saga with a story line that’s complex and unpredictable. With its combination of social consciousness, political action, intrigue, and family relationships, Cabin Fever will satisfy any mystery or thriller reader.” — D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

“This book is exciting and wonderful from the first page. Unexpected and stunning surprises send the plot careening in different directions. It is one of those rare books that will have the reader thinking about the people and the story long after it has been put back on the shelf.” — Fran Byram, Portland Book Review

“Complex, unpredictable and thrilling, Cabin Fever is a very engaging mystery. All the Yoopers will find themselves at home in this chilling tale set in the wilds of the Upper Michigan Peninsula.” — Maureen Bouffard, I Love a Mystery

“With a reluctant sleuth, his super-geek son, evasive characters, and one plot twist after another, Jackson leads us on a high-suspense adventure in the frozen Michigan woods. The second Seamus McCree mystery will give you anything but cabin fever — you won’t want to leave your chair until you finish it.” — Edith Maxwell, A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die and Speaking of Murder (written as Tace Baker)

“Jackson makes the frozen Northwoods come alive in this atmospheric thriller.  The Seamus McCree series is one to watch!” — Steve Hamilton, Edgar winning author, Let it Burn

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Facing north into a brisk wind, I searched for signs of the aurora borealis but only spotted a front forming in the distance. It’s probably nothing. The skies above were so clear the Milky Way seemed almost within reach. I never worried about getting lost on nights like this. As long as stars were shining, the reflective snow made it easy to follow my old tracks home. I checked the northern Michigan sky again. The stars are bright—stop making excuses, Seamus, and get crackin’. With my breath crystalizing around me, turning my beard and mustache white, I strapped on snowshoes and began my trek, the snow squeaking in protest with each step.

An hour later, I located the gaps in the wild cherry bushes marking the start of the path leading past my guest cabin and up to my house. Sections of my dismantled dock stacked next to the path for winter served momentarily as a windbreak while I gathered my strength. I stuffed my mittens between my legs and fished a Petzl headlamp from my knapsack. Flipping the red filter down so I wouldn’t lose night vision, I fastened it around my head. Almost home.

The guest cabin was rustic: no electricity, no plumbing. I periodically shoveled the stoop to allow access to the bookshelves my son and I had built years ago when it was the only building on the property. I dithered at stopping to get something new to read—I was almost through a Rex Stout collection—or getting to the main house. The dithering itself was a sign I was overtired and not thinking clearly.

An arc of smoothed snow on the stoop formed a single angel wing. Someone had recently opened the door to the screened porch. Squatting down, I flipped up the headlamp’s red filter and spotted prints of bare feet.

Now I knew I was going nuts. Occasionally holding conversations with a disappeared Abigail was one thing, but phantom footprints meant my imagination was reaching a new level of desperation. Get a grip, Seamus. No one walks around barefoot in this weather. I knelt to inspect the tracks: all faced forward; no departures. Must be guys from one of the nearby camps playing a trick. Peering into the swirling snow, the track of partially filled footprints disappeared down the driveway.

A frisson of disquiet struck me. Although only sixty-five yards away, the house and garage were invisible with their lights off. What if it wasn’t a joke? What if someone found this cabin and took refuge? I yanked open the screen door and tromped in, ignoring the scrape of snowshoe claws on the porch floor. I peered in the glass door to the cabin proper. No one had lit the fire preset in the wood stove. A shiver running from my toes to the top of my head reminded me I needed warmth. A book could wait for morning.

Turning from the door, I caught a flash of two bare legs dangling below the chair hammock attached to a porch rafter. I laughed so hard my sides ached and my lungs hurt from the frozen air. In a place where winter lasts half the year, jokes and jokers get odd. The jerks must have stepped a blow-up doll onto my porch to make the footprints and posed it in the swinging chair. They had concealed their tracks well. In this dark, I couldn’t figure out how they did it, but I’d find the evidence in daylight.

Fine. Like pink flamingos mysteriously congregating in front lawns of townies about to return from vacation, this babe was definitely going to show up in someone’s sauna in the near future. Might as well drag it to the house so it’ll be close at hand for future revenge. I grabbed the plastic legs to haul the thing from the chair.

The legs were real.