Thursday, September 3, 2015

"Dark Ice" by Dave Stanton

Dark Ice
(Dan Reno Book 4)
by Dave Stanton

Dark Ice is the fourth book in Dave Stanton's Dan Reno series. Also available: Stateline (FREE on B&N, Kobo, Smashwords) Dying for the Highlife, Speed Metal Blues, and Hard Prejudice (NEW RELEASE).

Dark Ice is currently on tour with Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for a guest post by the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Two murdered girls, and no motive …
While skiing deep in Lake Tahoe’s backcountry, Private Eye Dan Reno finds the first naked body, buried under fresh snow. Reno’s contacted by the grieving father, who wants to know who murdered his daughter, and why? And how could the body end up in such a remote, mountainous location? The questions become murkier when a second body is found. Is there a serial killer stalking promiscuous young women in South Lake Tahoe? Or are the murders linked to a different criminal agenda?
Searching for answers, Reno is accosted by a gang of racist bikers with a score to settle. He also must deal with his pal, Cody Gibbons, who the police consider a suspect. The clues lead to the owner of a strip club and a womanizing police captain, but is either the killer?
The bikers up the ante, but are unaware that Cody Gibbons has Reno’s back at any cost. Meanwhile, the police won’t tolerate Reno’s continued involvement in the case. But Reno knows he’s getting close. And the most critical clue comes from the last person he’d suspect …

The cornice stretched three feet over the sheer face below. There was about fifteen feet of vertical drop before the snow covered slope angled out at forty-five degrees. I inched my skis farther forward, the tips hanging over the void. I was wrong—it was more like twenty feet of mandatory air. And that was the shallowest entry the ledge offered.
I blew out my breath and ignored the sickly sensation of my testicles trying to climb into my stomach. Turning back now would mean a long uphill hike, while the reward for leaping off the cornice was five hundred feet of untracked powder. A slight dip to the left marked the most forgiving launch point. I pushed myself back and sidestepped higher up the ridge. A couple deep breaths, then I released my edges and glided toward the dip.
In a second I launched over the precipice, my hands thrust forward, my knees tucked toward my chest. As I dropped, I could see the distant desert floor of Nevada fall behind the stands of pine and fir at the bottom of the bowl. I extended my legs in the instant before I touched down and absorbed the shock, blinded for a second by a blast of snow. Then I cranked my skis on edge, bounced out of the fluff, and made a second turn through the deep powder. It had snowed about a foot last night, but here the fresh coverage was at least two feet, maybe more. Bottomless under my boots.
Twenty turns to the glade below, my heart pounding, my body disappearing in blasts of powder, the white coating me from head to toe. When I reached the tree line, I skidded to a stop and caught my breath. Then I looked up and admired the S-turns I’d left on the otherwise unblemished slope. Not bad, I thought, smiling at the understatement. Most of the winter storms that blow through the Lake Tahoe region come out of the warm Pacific and dump wet, heavy snow, creating the notorious Sierra cement. But last night’s blizzard swept in from Alaska, bringing colder and lighter snow. As a result, I was in the right place at the right time.
I skated along the terminus of the bowl and turned into the trees when they became sparse enough to allow passage. This was the Nevada backcountry, unpatrolled, accessible by ducking the boundary ropes at the highest elevation of South Lake Tahoe’s ski resort, right at the California-Nevada border. Before me lay 4000 feet of descent to the high desert floor where I’d parked my truck, near Route 207 outside of Gardnerville.
It was slower going now, the terrain interrupted by tangles of deadfall and icy patches where the wind had scoured the surface. I picked my way through it, my skis alternately sinking in powder then chattering and scraping across slick bands of ice. Finally I spotted a clearing—a wide, sweeping snow bank that fell toward a collection of pines hundreds of feet below. I rode the section like a surfer on a wave, turning down off the lip then riding back up, staying high and avoiding a flat area that would likely necessitate a hike.
When I reached the trees below, I entered a broad glade, the trunks spaced at wide intervals, the snow as soft and uniform as a white pillow. The morning sun had just appeared from behind a swath of swift moving clouds, and the snow glittered with pinpricks of light. I took a long moment to take in the scenery, then I picked a line and pushed off into the mild grade. The pristine snow held no surprises, the powder light and consistent, making it easy to find a rhythm. Floating through the trees and leaving a wake of rounded tracks, I become immersed in the splendor of the moment, as if the setting had been created solely for my indulgence.
My grandiose thoughts came to a crashing halt when I came around a tree and my skis rammed into something solid beneath the snow. My binding released with a loud click, and I flew forward and face-planted in a poof of powder.
“Son of a bitch,” I said, wiping the snow from my goggles. I took a quick inventory of my body and found no injuries. Then I crawled back ten feet to where my ski lay. When I pulled it from the snow, the edge caught, probably on a hidden stump, I thought. Then the powder fell aside, and I saw a flesh-colored streak. I froze for a second, certain my eyes were playing tricks on me. Blinking, I used the ski to push away more snow.
“No way,” I whispered, my heart in my throat. A bare shoulder revealed itself, then a snarl of blond hair strung with ice. I reached down with my gloved hand and carefully pushed aside the hair. The face was half-buried, one eye visible, lashes thick with mascara, a blue iris staring blankly. Using both hands like a shovel, I pushed away the bulk of the snow covering the upper body. A sour lump formed in my gut. The body was naked, the skin that of a young woman, perhaps a teenager.

Praise for the Book
"Really enjoy Dave Stanton's work, and recommend it to others like myself that enjoy mystery or detective stories. As with the previous efforts from Stanton, you don't see it coming when you find out 'who dun it'." ~ beckettbeckettbeckett
"I am so impressed that this writer is able to keep up [...] the sensation of reading about 'good friends' [...] and still make it fresh and new yet pertinent. I really love these characters and the way he is developing them with layer after layer of interesting. Great work!!!!" ~ Kindle customer
"Great read!!!! I believe this is the best one so far fast-moving and intriguing. I am looking forward to the next release." ~ David S
"Enjoyed this book. Well written. Interesting character. Hope to read all in the series." ~ Dimgee
"Good book, holds your interest, many suspects, good action in sub-plots, very entertaining, and worth buying from Amazon as it is a good read." ~ Kindle customer Ward

Guest Post by the Author
How My Life Experience Influenced My Writing
As a teenager growing up in San Jose, California, I became enamored with the open road as soon as I could drive. Back then, San Jose was a medium-sized city, not yet a thriving hub for technology, but not a small town either. It was a growing, civilized town, I suppose, a place with good potential for ambitious, business-minded individuals. I was not particularly interested in this potential; I was more interested in the land that lay beyond the confines of the Santa Clara County.
I explored California’s small towns along Interstate-5, from Redding up north, down to Lodi, further south to Bakersfield, then east into the Mojave, to Barstow. I stayed in the cheapest hotels, drank in hardscrabble bars, and ate at local diners. The roughhewn characters I came across during these travels left an indelible stamp on me.
Eventually I branched out to Nevada, to places like Searchlight, Pahrump, Winnemucca, and Ely, and then east into Utah, to Salt Lake and Salina, and later into the Wasatch to ski. I lived in South Lake Tahoe for a time, and did a stint in Sacramento, before being lured back to San Jose by financial necessity.
I started writing my first novel with little forethought, almost spontaneously, fifteen years ago as I sat in my cube at a failing Silicon Valley technology company. I wrote without consideration of target market or political correctness. I wrote what I wanted to write, and what encompassed my experience outside the carpeted hallways and conference rooms of companies large and small.
Above all, I write what I know, and what I’m passionate about. Below is something I wrote not long ago, prompted by a reader’s scolding (which I, in fact, appreciated).
Degrees of debauchery in Ely, Nevada
Recently, a woman pointed out that I misspelled Ely (I spelled it “Eli”) in one of my novels. This was much to my chagrin, as Ely is a town I’ve visited, and remember well.
My trip to Ely was back in the days before the Internet, before police agencies had much access to computer technology. This was good news for me, because I had a traffic warrant in Nevada, but I lived in California, and the Nevada Highway Patrol couldn’t connect the dots.
I’d flown to Salt Lake to hook up with the Castles brothers. We were drinking slow Utah 3.2 beers that day, when we decided to drive the three and a half hours to Ely. The reason for the trip, I vaguely recall, was to see a rock ‘n roll band with a drummer the Castles knew.
By sunset we were on the road, five people packed in one of the original SUVs, an 80’s vintage Chevy Blazer. The vehicle’s oversize tires were nearly bald, and the steering was a challenge, especially on the long stretch of Highway 93, which ran south from Wendover, Nevada to Ely. The desert terrain was flat, but the road seemed unnaturally raised at the crest, the pavement sloping down unevenly on either side.
Along for the trip were two women whose sexual exploits were strongly rumored. One was the girlfriend of the drummer. The other was a free agent. Both were holding drugs.
We arrived at the Hotel Nevada in Ely around nine or ten, and the band was there, but I don’t remember seeing them play. I recall of group of local residents, wearing cowboy boots and hats, at the bar. They were unhappy with us for some reason. One of their gals ended up back at our hotel.
Somewhere in the wee hours, one of our gang took off in the Blazer in search of a brothel. He didn’t return until dawn, and claimed to have not found it.
When I woke late the next morning, the single woman from Salt Lake was in the bed next to mine with my buddy. As to the nature or extent of their activities, I can only say that it didn’t wake me, for once the drugs wore off, I’d slept like the dead.
In the brisk light of morning, Ely looked like a place you’d see in a 1950s movie. The low buildings were made of brown brick and the signage along the main drag was from a different era. On the side of the Hotel Nevada was a cartoon caricature of a horse promising “Western Hospitality.” An advertisement for the White Pine Soda Co. was painted on the side of another building, near the Garnet Mercantile store. Down the street, a Club Rio sign jutted from a narrow brick building next to the Plaza Hotel Bar. Behind the town, a long, ridgeline covered in high desert scrub faded into the horizon. 
As for my spelling error, I’ve since corrected it, and apologize to any who may have noticed.
Other facts about Ely:
The town’s elevation is 6400 feet.
Ely’s boom came in 1906, with the discovery of copper.
Ely is at the far eastern end of the stretch of Highway 50 known as “The loneliest Road in America.”
Today, Ely’s population is about 4200.

About the Author
Dave Stanton is the author of five novels in the Dan Reno private eye series. They do not have to be read chronologically to be enjoyed, but for those who want to know, the order is: Stateline, Dying for the Highlife, Speed Metal Blues, Dark Ice, and Hard Prejudice.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1960, Dave Stanton moved to Northern California in 1961. He received a BA in journalism from San Jose State University in 1983. Over the years, he worked as a bartender, newspaper advertising salesman, furniture mover, debt collector, and technology salesman. He has two children, Austin and Haley, and lives with his wife, Heidi, in San Jose, California. Stanton's five novels all feature private investigator Dan Reno and his ex-cop buddy, Cody Gibbons.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card.