Sun City

A murder/mystery, drug-running, mining scam adventure set in Arizona:

A surgically severed hand uncovered in a sand trap at the Sun City golf course leaves the police and local residents with many questions. Whose hand was it? Was it meant to be discovered as a warning? Only a handful of locals are aware of the danger it represents.
Dusty Sherant, a Canadian geologist, has his winter vacation in the Arizona sun interrupted as his search for his mentor, Fred Prince, leads him into a world of drug smuggling, kidnapping, suspicious mining corporations and murder.
The ' Arab' would go to any extreme to protect his identity and his empire. He has spent too many years planning and paying attention to detail. His string of vicious acts strikes fear in his underlings and assures him of their silence. His only slip is a failed attempt to permanently dispose of his lover.
A severe beating, an attempt on his life and the murder of his friend solidifies Dusty's resolve to find the man responsible. With the assistance of a retired police officer, he follows the trail, each step taking him closer to identifying the 'Arab'.

Preview - Chapter 1

Sunrise was at 6:47. It was a beautiful day. It was the kind of morning when avid golfers dip into their repertoire of excuses for why they would be unable to take part in the workaday world.
The boys were on the course, ready to go at 6.55. Dan was the first to arrive. He was always the first. He paid special attention to sunrise times and made precise calculations of the exact interval it would take the sun to completely clear the horizon, thus providing enough light to proceed with their game. It was actually more than a game to Dan; it was one of the main reasons he enjoyed his life in the retirement years. This was a good day for Dan; everyone had shown up at the proper time. He was pleased to see Tim and Louie were properly attired with a complete compliment of expensive clubs. Tim's son Tony was filling in for Jeremy, who was out of town again. Dan was not pleased to look on the young man with his garish clothes and cheap equipment.
The first hole was a par 4, 346 yards to the pin with a sharp dogleg to the right about 200 yards out. The lack of rain and constant sun for the past month had baked the ground to a rock hardness. Rather than experience disappointment, the boys were encouraged that a good drive might reach the green with extra bounces on this cement-like surface. The fairway was narrow with numerous sand traps and areas of rough gravel and thick brush along the borders. Two small ponds with their complements of aquatic vegetation and small amphibians broke the continuity of the green expanse. Louie put his first shot on the dogleg in the middle of the fairway fifty yards beyond the first pond. Dan and Tim, whose powerful drives were often a topic of the 19th hole beer and brag sessions, both cleared the rough areas on the right border and came to rest within an easy chip shot of the green. Tony tried to match his father's shot but with a mighty swing proceeded to hook his ball into a sand trap along the left border.
His companions waited patiently while Tony firmly planted his feet in the sand and set up for his second attempt.
"Why don't you throw it out on the grass and count two," his father suggested.
"No way! I'm getting out of here in one."
Tony's first attempt, a mighty swing, cut a foot-long furrow in the sand and lobbed the ball six inches up the slope, where it immediately rolled back to rest in its original spot. Exasperated, he set up again. His second stroke deepened the furrow, as it glanced off a buried object, causing the club to fly out of his grip, narrowly missing his spectators. The ball remained untouched.
"What the hell is going on?" He exclaimed, as he bent down to have a look. " There's something down here." As he scraped the sand away, a human finger was exposed. When he carefully cleared more sand, an entire human hand, severed at the wrist, was revealed.
Tim used his cell phone to put in a 911 call, which summoned the police and ended their golfing activities for the day. They retrieved their balls and walked back to the clubhouse to inform the manager of this new development.
"Get everyone off the course and wait until the police arrive," was the official order broadcast over the loudspeakers to the other golfers.
Their second hole was a non-event. The boys grumbled their way around the clubhouse until the police arrived. The next couple of hours were spent drinking coffee and complaining while the trap was dug out and thoroughly examined. A backhoe was brought in and directed to systematically dig up the remainder of the pits on the course. In the meantime a scuba diver made a thorough search of all the ponds. Needless to say, golf was over for the day.
"Why didn't you just kick sand over it, so we could have gotten on with our game? They'll probably be digging up this course for the next week," Louie said.
Tim was watching the activity on the course. He turned to Louie and asked, "Isn't that your bowling friend, the cop out there?"
Louie had a look and agreed it was. "I'll go and see if I can find out what's happening."
When he returned to the clubhouse, he announced to the assembled group, "They figure they will be at this most of the day, but we should be able to play the day after tomorrow. They also want to come in and ask us a few questions."
Then he added to his companions, "He couldn't tell me much, but evidently that hand was all they found. Also, it appears to have been surgically removed and the tips of the fingers have been sliced off. They saw no blood around it."
"It sounds to me like whoever did this wanted it found but not identified. Maybe it's a warning to someone," Dan suggested. The three officers came into the clubhouse a few minutes later and proceeded to question the group, attempting to determine if anyone could shed some light on the mystery.
"Do any of you know if one of the locals has been reported missing?"
No one was aware of any missing resident.
"People come and go in Sun City all the time," someone observed. "With all the snowbirds showing up for the winter, there's no way to keep track."
Dan thought for a minute then said, "Jeremy Prince's wife told me last week that his uncle had gone out prospecting in the hills, and they were worried since they hadn't heard from him in over a month."
"Thanks, we'll check it out."
After the police left and the group was breaking up, Louie remarked with a smile, "You know, when I saw all the trouble Tony was having getting out of that trap, I felt kind of sorry for him. I was going to go over and offer to lend him a hand."

The police contacted Kellie Prince that afternoon. With Jeremy on another problem-solving trip to the mine, Kellie figured it was up to her to have a look at this severed hand and determine if it belonged to Fred. She was apprehensive as she entered the Medical Examiner's lab. She just wanted to get the ordeal over with as quickly as possible.
As usual, with events concerning Uncle Fred, she had been conditioned over the years to expect the worst and was seldom disappointed. His total unpredictability and strange habits had not changed as he passed his eightieth birthday. At this advanced age he was now considered eccentric rather than strange. His physical and mental abilities had shown no signs of diminished capacity, and his ability to bed younger women gave him hero status among the geriatric set. He had gotten into an argument with his nephew over some mining claims, which Jeremy had staked. As a result, he had packed up and moved out of their caseta over a month ago.
Although somewhat relieved, she still had serious concerns over Fred's whereabouts.

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