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Murder at ‘the most beautiful place in America’

Bear Bones, third in series, is set at Sleeping Bear


June 30, 2020

TRAVERSE CITY — Burr Lafayette is back with Bear Bones: Murder at Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Charles Cutter, a "master of the courtroom drama,” sets the third book in his mystery series in a tumultuous time at the 50-year-old national park — its birth.

Kirkus Reviews calls Bear Bones “a taut, alluring mystery (with) captivating characters.”

Helen Lockwood’s boat was found drifting off Sleeping Bear Dunes with no one aboard. A year later, her body was found in a shallow grave on South Manitou Island. She had been in court, fighting with the National Park Service, which was trying to take her family’s four-hundred-acre cherry orchard for the new national park.

Burr Lafayette, recently divorced and the deposed head of a major Detroit law firm, had kept the Park Service at bay for seven years. But now Helen’s husband, Tommy, is arrested for her murder. It seems he had been trying to sell the orchards to the Park Service ever since Helen went missing. All of the evidence points to Tommy, but there’s no shortage of suspects.

A man at loose ends, Burr is a brilliant litigator who prefers sailboats and dogs over courtrooms and clients. He’s not a criminal lawyer, but he’s convinced there is a clue somewhere in the dunes that will unlock the truth.

This is the third book in the Burr Lafayette mystery series. The Pink Pony and The Gray Drake are the prior two.

Advance praise for Bear Bones:

“Cutter is becoming the next Erle Stanley Gardner, master of courtroom drama. Cutter has found a home with his Burr Lafayette series, and he has a knack of keeping the reader guessing the outcome with complex plotting, deceitful witnesses and romance set against the beautiful backdrop of the Sleeping Bear Dunes. This is Burr Lafayette in his best Perry Mason imitation.” — Bill Castanier, Lansing City Pulse

“Cutter takes flawed but brilliant attorney Burr Lafayette through twists and turns in this legal thriller set against the backdrop of the fabled Sleeping Bear Dunes. The courtroom showdowns — and Burr’s wry, unspoken insights — are as enthralling as the unexpected ending.” — Ben Beversluis, Grand Rapids Press, Retired

Bear Bones and Burr Lafayette remind us of what we have and why we love where we are. Part mystery, part ode to the last best places, Cutter’s prose captures the best of what is always slipping away. A page turner of a mystery.” — Glen Young, Bear River Literary

The 260-page book is available in softcover for $16.95 at bookstores and online.

In The Pink Pony, the world-class Port Huron-Mackinac sailboat race has just finished at Mackinac Island. As soon as the boats dock, the sailors head for the legendary Pink Pony. But the night takes a grisly turn, and Jimmy Lyons is

found dead the next morning in the bar, strangled by a string of Christmas tree lights.

The Pink Pony is Charles Cutter’s debut novel.

The Pink Pony:

Murder on Mackinac Island ISBN: 978-1933926675 (softcover)

In The Gray Drake, Quinn Shepherd was the best guide on the Au Sable River, until he’s found at the bottom of the river with his boat’s anchor chain wrapped around his ankle. Lizzie, his wife, is devastated and is left alone to raise Josh, their six-year-old.

Quinn’s drowning was ruled accidental, but a year later new evidence is found, and Lizzie is arrested for his murder.

The Gray Drake:

Murder on the Au Sable

ISBN: 978-11950659142 (softcover)