Her face, beautiful even in death, gazed open-eyed at the azure sky. Her brown, silky hair fanned around her head, bringing out the pallor of her skin. Her lips were slightly parted as if she was still breathing, as if she was whispering her goodbyes.
On a hot summer’s day, the sleepy town of Mount Chester is thrown into turmoil when seventeen-year-old local girl Jenna goes missing. Within hours, the case takes an agonizing turn when her body is discovered in the isolated mountains.
Detective Kay Sharp rushes to the scene, hiking for miles to the base of Wildfire Ridge. From the markings on Jenna’s body, it’s clear that she was brutally murdered. Near the victim, Kay finds a butterfly-shaped hair clip with a set of fingerprints that could be a vital clue.
In the hunt for the truth, Kay turns the small town upside down. She learns that Jenna changed dramatically over the past months, no longer the popular girl who always wore a smile on her face. Kay is certain whatever happened to Jenna recently must be the key to her death.
When forensics from the butterfly hair clip comes back, the fingerprints don’t match Jenna’s. Then Kay makes a breakthrough that turns her blood to ice. Jenna was in contact with someone linked to Kay’s own past—and the secret she has spent the last sixteen years burying. If the truth comes out, it could destroy her.
With the clock ticking, and every minute critical, Kay is up against the toughest case of her career. Can she risk everything to confront the past she has been running from, and save another innocent girl before it’s too late?
Thrillers don’t get more addictive than this! You’ll race through this gripping page-turner as you’re hit with twist after twist. Perfect for fans of Karin Slaughter and Rachel Caine.
It was finally over.
Shaking and whimpering, she could hear their voices, merciless and gutting in their indifference, sprinkled with bursts of laughter as they departed from the ridge. They climbed down hastily, probably to catch the thinning remainders of daylight before heading into the woods.
The chill of the evening air rattled her aching body. Even summer nights were cold on Wildfire Ridge, although snow melted every spring and didn’t fall until late September. Slowly rolling onto her side, she hugged her knees as tears started falling again. Silent tears, of humiliation and defeat, of unspeakable shame. In the distance, the waning bouts of laughter felt like slaps across her tear-stained face.
She was alone.
No one had heard her screams. No one could help her.
The words they had said still resonated in her mind. The names they called her. The unspeakable things they did to her. All she wanted to think of was home, her mother’s loving arms and healing touch. Feeling safe again. Hiding what had happened to her from her father because she couldn’t imagine looking him in the eye if he ever found out. Only her mom would understand. She would keep her secret safe.
But home was far away, a three-hour mountain hike in the dark, by herself, coming down from the peak on rocky terrain and through thick woods, then fifteen miles or so on the road from the southwestern versant of Mount Chester to the small California town that bore its name. Might as well have been a hundred miles. The thought of crossing the woods in the dark gripped her heart with merciless, frozen fingers. Every forest sound she used to find soothing when the sun was shining, now spoke menacing whispers in rustling leaves and evergreen cones.
The night was falling hard on Wildfire Ridge, the last hues of orange, crimson, and red that had earned the peak its name fading quickly with the setting sun. The deep, menacing red vanished last, a blood-smeared reminder of the day that had ended, an unspoken threat of the day to come.
Still dizzy and growing weaker with each passing minute, she tried to sit up. Her body, aching and bleeding, put up a fight, and her willpower was quickly defeated. Setting her throbbing head down on the coarse moss-covered boulder, she resigned herself to face the cold darkness alone on the mountain.
The sound of a snapped twig sent her heart racing, thumping against her rib cage. Was it a bear?
The voice, a low, throaty whisper, startled her back to a state of disoriented alertness. The night chill had seeded icicles in her blood. Numb, shaky, and frozen, she found the strength to sit up.
Maybe there was hope. Soon she’d be home again, warm and safe. Confusion engulfed her brain like a persistent fog, clinging to every corner of her mind, fueling her fears. With a fleeting thought, she realized she’d been drugged. She had to have been, or she would’ve been on her way home already. Seeing the dark silhouette against the moonlight, she desperately wanted to run but knew she couldn’t.
What was the stranger doing there? It was too late in the day for anyone to wander on Wildfire Ridge just by accident.
Her breath caught in her chest, and she took the hand offered, noticing in passing the warmth of the skin that touched hers. She stood and struggled for a bit to find her footing, then let go of the stranger’s hand. Dizziness made the mountain crest spin and dance against the star-filled August sky. Out of balance, she grabbed a thick hemlock branch and steadied herself.
Her eyes followed the stranger’s cold, analytical gaze, failing to understand why she saw hatred in those eyes, hoping she was reading it wrong. Her clothes were a mess, torn and bloodied. With trembling fingers, she tried to cover herself as best she could, fresh tears of shame burning her eyes and blurring everything around her.
“Will you help me?” she whimpered.
A short cackle tore through the silence of the mountain night. “Help you? Dear girl, what happened to you today was entirely your doing and nothing short of what you deserve. You’re nothing but a cocktease.”
The words dropped onto her like tombstones, heavy, menacing, deadly.
Fear gripped her chest, paralyzing her. Her chin trembled, threatening sobs she didn’t welcome. “Please… I’m not… I haven’t done anything—”
The blow came unexpectedly, shattering her breath. Jenna heard it splitting the air before she felt it burning her face, bursting her lip, sending stars in a whirlwind dance inside her brain.
This wasn’t happening. It had to be a nightmare. Something that couldn’t exist in the light of day, only in the deep, troubled shadows of Wildfire Ridge. Yet the metallic taste of blood on her lips proved differently.
Afraid of another blow, Jenna took a step back, then another. With each step, she tried to put more distance between her and the assailant, but that distance was narrowing down instead. Slipping on a pebble, she lost her footing for a moment. She yelped, then continued feeling her way, stepping backward without looking, unable to take her eyes off the threatening, vengeful gaze inching closer to her.
Her faltering steps loosened a few pebbles and sent them over the edge of the cliff, rattling and bouncing against sharp rock edges until she couldn’t hear them anymore. She was closer to the abyss than she’d realized. Afraid she’d fall, she stopped, willing herself to move away from the edge of the
cliff and fight her way back to safety if she had to.
The stranger smiled and took one more step, eyes glinting like ice picks against the weak rays of the crescent moon.
She screamed as she fell, grasping desperately as the merciless hand pushed her firmly over the edge of the ridge. Then the scream stopped abruptly, inviting the silence of the night to take over once the echoes died.
See what readers are saying about The Girl on Wildfire Ridge:
“I stayed up literally all night reading this and I was hooked!” Tropicalgirlreadsbooks, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“You may as well forget sleep once you start this one because you will not want stop reading! The author is a master at pulling you into her stories to the point where you will actually live in the book with the characters. The twists in the story just keep coming.” Goodreads reviewer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“Such a thrill! I don’t know how the author does it, but she has me captivated from the very first pages and before you know it, ALL I’m doing is reading to get to the thrilling ending. I never get anything else done when reading this series. If you haven’t read this series you need to today!! I read a lot of mystery/thrillers and in this series, every book has me hooked and waiting anxiously for the next book to come out. You will not be disappointed.” Goodreads reviewer, ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
About the author:
Leslie Wolfe is a bestselling author whose novels break the mold of traditional thrillers. She creates unforgettable, brilliant, strong women heroes who deliver fast-paced, satisfying suspense, backed up by extensive background research in technology and psychology.
Leslie released the first novel, Executive, in October 2011. Since then, she has written many more, continuing to break down barriers of traditional thrillers. Her style of fast-paced suspense, backed up by extensive background research in technology and psychology, has made Leslie one of the most read authors in the genre.
Reminiscent of the television drama Criminal Minds, her series of books featuring the fierce and relentless FBI Agent Tess Winnett would be of great interest to readers of James Patterson, Melinda Leigh, and David Baldacci crime thrillers. Fans of Kendra Elliot and Robert Dugoni suspenseful mysteries would love the Las Vegas Crime series, featuring the tension-filled relationship between Baxter and Holt. Finally, her Alex Hoffmann series of political and espionage action adventure will enthrall readers of Tom Clancy, Brad Thor, and Lee Child.
Leslie enjoys engaging with readers every day and would love to hear from you. Become an insider: gain early access to previews of Leslie’s new novels.