The Setting For Deadly Currents
Deadly Currents, the first book in my new RM Outdoor Adventures mystery series starring whitewater river ranger Mandy Tanner, takes place in the Arkansas River valley in central Colorado. This scenic valley is sandwiched between the Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains to the west and the Mosquito Range to the east. Contrary to the surrounding snow-capped peaks, the valley is so dry and sunny that it is known as Colorado's "Banana Belt." Like many of its residents, Mandy loves being outdoors in all seasons, soaking up the sunshine and whitewater spray from the river’s rapids.
Cottonwood, willow and alder trees grow along the river banks and higher up, the hills are forested with Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir. In these forests, you might spot mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep, foxes, beavers, muskrats, skunks, rabbits, and maybe even an occasional rattlesnake. Birds are abundant and so are fat fish, so birders and fly fishermen flock to the valley along with rafting, hiking, skiing (on nearby Monarch Mountain) and mountain biking enthusiasts. After a full day of communing with nature, many head for the local hot springs to relax sore muscles and commune with each other.
The Arkansas River that Mandy patrols is the most commercially rafted river in the United States. Half-day, one day, and multi-day trips are available from about sixty different outfitters on its various sections. Trips range from easy family-oriented floats to white-knuckle rollercoaster rides bound to get you wet. Sections include the Numbers expert run upriver and north of the town of Buena Vista, through Wildhorse Canyon, the most popular Brown’s Canyon, the easy “milk run” through the town of Salida, Big Horn Sheep Canyon, and the heart-stopping Royal Gorge above Canyon City. Like many who live in the valley, Mandy never tires of being on the river, and neither do I. The photos below show a rapid in the Numbers section and me imagining Mandy’s rescue of a swimmer in another rapid.
Mandy lives in the fun, funky town of Salida, which has about 6000 residents. Salida was founded by the Denver and Rio Grande railroad in 1880 and was one of twenty finalists for the title of "America's Coolest Small Town" at Budget Travel magazine. The headquarters of the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, where Mandy works, sits in the center of town. Also there is the historic Victoria Tavern (see photo below), where Mandy hangs out with her ranger and river guide buddies after work.
Salida’s streets are lined with lovely red brick Victorian buildings housing tempting restaurants (such as favorite river ranger lunch spot Mama D’s in the photo below), art galleries and antique emporiums, outdoor sports stores, and an array of shops including one of my favorite independent Colorado bookstores, The Book Haven (http://www.thebookhavenonline.com/), seen in the second photo below.
Every time I visit Salida or take a rafting trip on the Arkansas River for fun or research, I say to myself, “Why don’t I come more often?” It’s a beautiful setting for Mandy Tanner’s adventures, and could be great setting for yours, too, if you visit. In the meantime, you can experience the Arkansas River valley while reading Deadly Currents. I hope you’ll join me there!
Have you ever read a book, fallen in love with it’s setting, and made a trip to that location? What about Colorado? Ever visited my home state? Tell us about it! Remember, everyone who comments will be entered into a contest for a free copy of Deadly Currents.
If you’d like to see what the other stops are on my virtual book tour, go to: http://bethgroundwater.com/2011_Virtual_Book_Tour.html , and if you’d like to order an autographed copy of Deadly Currents, go to the website for Black Cat Books (http://manitoubooks.com/) and click on "Contact Us”. Either call the phone number or fill out the form with your contact information.
Bio & Book Blurb:
Beth Groundwater writes the Claire Hanover gift basket designer mystery series (A Real Basket Case, a 2007 Best First Novel Agatha Award finalist, and To Hell in a Handbasket, 2009) and the Rocky Mountain Outdoor Adventures mystery series starring whitewater river ranger Mandy Tanner. The first, Deadly Currents, will be released March 8th. Beth lives in Colorado and enjoys its many outdoor activities, including skiing, hiking, and whitewater rafting. She loves talking to book clubs, too, and not just for the gossip and wine! Please visit her website at bethgroundwater.com and her blog at bethgroundwater.blogspot.com.
The Arkansas River, heart and soul of Salida, Colorado, fuels the small town’s economy and thrums in the blood of river ranger Mandy Tanner. When a whitewater rafting accident occurs, she deftly executes a rescue, but a man dies anyway. Turns out, it wasn’t the rapids that killed him—it was murder. Tom King was a rich land developer with bitter business rivals, who cheated on his wife, refused to support his kayak-obsessed son, and infuriated environmentalists. Mandy’s world is upended again when tragedy strikes closer to home. Suspicious that the most recent death is connected to Tom King’s murder, she goes on an emotionally turbulent quest for the truth—and ends up in dangerous waters.