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Excerpt from 'Burnt River'

Macy took a sip of her coffee and sank down farther in the seat. Since leaving home, she’d been plagued by the beginnings of a headache. She blamed the third glass of red wine she’d had last night instead of dinner. She’d been nibbling on a bagel for a couple hours, but really needed something more substantial if she was going to make it through the day. The first telephone call from the head of the state police had come at around two in the morning. When she answered, she thought Ray Davidson was calling her for personal reasons; it had been three weeks since they’d last spent time together. She should have known better. A half hour later she was leaving the home she shared with her mother, Ellen, and one-and-a-half-year-old son, Luke. She had a small suitcase tucked in the back of her vehicle and the state police captain’s words ringing in her ear. Macy, the governor called me personally. There’s going to be a lot of pressure to get this right. I need you to get up to Wilmington Creek immediately.

Everything else she knew about the case had come in over the speakerphone as she drove north on Route 93. John Dalton had left the army right before Christmas on an honorable discharge and returned to his childhood home. He was twenty-six years of age and a highly decorated war veteran who’d  survived three deployments in some of the most dangerous places in the world. According to witnesses, he’d stopped at a bar called The Whitefish to buy cigarettes at quarter past one in the morning. A half hour later he was found dead in the alleyway. There was a single gunshot wound to the back of his head and two in his upper back. The medical examiner was a cautious woman, so it surprised Macy she was already saying that  it looked like an execution.

Macy followed Aiden Marsh’s gaze. A group of patrol officers were gathered in the alleyway between The Whitefish and Flathead Valley Savings and Loan. Somewhere beyond a low screen that had been erected, John Dalton was lying face down in the gravel.

Excerpt from BURNT RIVER by Karin Salvalggio

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Karin Salvalaggio

Karin Salvalaggio received an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck at the University of London. Born in West Virginia and raised in an Air Force family, she grew up on a number of military bases around the United States. She now lives in London with her two children. Her novels are set in a fictional town in northern Montana.

Chérie Newman is a former arts and humanities producer and on-air host for Montana Public Radio, and a freelance writer. She founded and previously hosted a weekly literary program, The Write Question, which continues to air on several public radio stations; it is also available online at and
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