Bear of a Honeymoon
Talk about a crazy, messed up honeymoon. Investigative reporter Taylor Kerrick is supposed to be off duty, enjoying some much-delayed post nuptial bliss with her husband, photojournalist Matt Anderson. But a beautiful late April morning finds her driving through glorious scenery to a mountain lodge owned by her close friends Brooke and Dan Craddock—alone. Frustrated, furious, and forlorn in equal measure, Taylor is returning from the airport where she’s just waved Matt off away an emergency assignment. On impulse, she takes a side road and discovers a peculiar cabin in the woods. Walking around the property, she accidentally slips off the edge of a cliff. Her fall is broken by a bush growing from the sheer rock face and she finds herself on a ledge, some fifty metres above the ground, with no way to go up or down.
During a long afternoon and cold, uncomfortable evening, Taylor has time to reflect on the strange happenings in the three days since she and Matt arrived at the lodge. She had been shocked to find her friends’ marriage strained to the breaking point (not a great omen for newlyweds) and matters just kept getting worse as one bizarre incident after another threatened to tear the couple apart.
A computer glitch throws the arrival of a group of travel agents into chaos and leaves the honeymooners without a room. A rattlesnake threatens the life of the Craddock’s quarter horse stallion, and an innocent nature hike ends with the grim discovery of a dismembered black bear—suddenly thrusting Taylor into the underworld of another illegal wildlife trade tied with the Asian market. Honeymoon or no, she can’t resist a good story.
Through contact with the Craddocks, their friends, associates, employees and other guests, Taylor learns the inner workings of the lodge and gains a strong understanding of the bear trade, which at first seem unconnected. Then Matt is called away and Taylor lands on the ledge, where her night of horror includes witnessing the death of another black bear. Terrified of being discovered by the poacher, she is forced to remain silent and hope for rescue from a different quarter. By the time she is discovered, Taylor has developed a terrible cold and takes to her bed at the lodge—now seriously worried because there’s been no word from Matt since his departure. Cable news provides the answer that her husband has been trapped by a blizzard at the site of the train derailment he was sent to photograph.
For a day and a half, Taylor rests, receiving regular visits from friends and staff bearing meals and bits of information on the incidents and the bear poaching ring. This produces a growing list of suspects. Taylor mulls over the possible motives of various people including her friends themselves, horseman Lyle Abel, developer Max Edelman, and a number of different employees, among them bartender Adam Tang, with ties to the Asian community, and handyman Shane Deeks, a hunter who’s known the inside of a jail.
Meanwhile, Matt has learned of his wife’s accident and turns up out of the blue. With at least one worry resolved, the pair begin to work together on the burgeoning mysteries. When a fire destroys the cabin where they’re staying, two guests nearly drown in a sabotaged sailboat, and the lodge’s walk-in freezer is knocked out, they can no longer escape the conclusion that someone is systematically working to destroy the Craddock’s business and force them to sell. The discovery of bear parts stashed in the faulty freezer directly ties the bear trade to the lodge for the first time.
While investigating their prime suspect, Taylor and Matt discover instead a Conservation Service undercover operation and talk their way into participating. Things go very wrong as the team executes a take-down that’s supposed to trap a trader, but turns up a corpse. Events gallop toward the climax where one of Taylor’s famous hunches leads back to the cabin in the woods. They rescue an innocent player and take down the murderer, who is now more than eager to reveal everything about the smuggling operation and its ties to the lodge. The Craddock’s, who have reunited in the face of so much adversity, are officially off the hook.
It only remains to be seen how the honeymoon will end.