From Third Times a Crime
The raven swept down upon us in a terrifying plunge, talons
outstretched, screeching at an ear-shattering pitch. Instinc‐
tively, I jumped out of the way and reached for my gun, only remem‐
bering too late that I hadn’t carried one in eighteen months, since I’d
been let go from the San Francisco Police Department.
The bird’s massive wings flapped so close to me that the breeze
lifted my hair and I fought the urge to strike out at it. Suddenly, the
bird arched up and flew to the top point of the castle, perching itself
The woman next to me gasped. “A raven? That’s a bad omen.”
Cheryl Dennison, our executive producer, yelled, “Did you all
“I got it,” one of the cameramen shouted excitedly. “I got a great
“Good,” Cheryl said, a self-satisfied smile playing on her face.
“We’ll want to use that in the promos.”
“Cheryl probably shipped that bird in from Hollywood,” I said
under my breath to the woman next to me. “Just to capture that shot.”
The woman, a former FBI profiler, made a face. As if she disap‐
proved of Hollywood histrionics.
We were on location at the Golden Castle, said to be haunted and
the scene of an unsolved murder. During its heyday, it’d doubled as a
reform school. It stood nestled on the hill overlooking the charming
old mining town of Golden, California. But the castle was far from
charming. It was so large it blotted out the sun and the windows were
dark and murky. The exterior bricks had been built in San Quentin
Prison and they projected a feeling of doom and gloom. Overall, the
castle had such an ominous presence that it screamed “horror film,” or
in our case, “bad reality TV“.
My best friend and the assistant producer, Becca, had begged me
for weeks to accept the casting offer. She knew I wasn’t too keen on
the paranormal aspect of the show. I wasn’t exactly a “believer” but
now, despite myself, looking at the castle sent a shiver up my spine.
I squeezed Scott’s hand as we hiked up the gravel driveway
“All right!” Scott said, barely able to keep the excitement out of his
voice. “It’s downright menacing.”
I giggled. I knew that, being a horror writer, this haunted castle
was right up his alley.
“Remind me again why I’m doing this?” I asked.
“To solve the crime,” he said.
“The fact that this is my third stint on reality TV is the crime,” I
Scott flashed me his winning smile, reminding me again why I
always felt so warm and happy in his presence.
We’d met and fallen in love on the first show, and won the cash
prize to boot. However, the money hadn’t stretched as far as we’d
hoped and we’d signed up for the whole rodeo again. But the second
time, I hadn’t won the money, and after starring on reality TV, my
chances of ever landing a job again as a police officer were between
slim and none.
I figured I better take the opportunity to solve a case while I could.
Who knew, maybe I’d be able to salvage a shred of my reputation.
Besides us, the famous forensic archaeologist from the Hunting
Bones reality show chuckled. “You know you love it,” he said.
I turned to him. “Love what? Solving a crime?”
He glanced over at Scott and was seemingly deciding if he should
say what was really on his mind. When he noticed that Scott was
mesmerized by the castle looming over us, he said, “The limelight.”
“You don’t seem to mind it yourself,” I said, trying my best not to
He was tall with piercing blue eyes and a confidence that made
him handsome. He had the type of square jaw and prominent nose
that was extremely photogenic. I knew without a doubt his looks
were the reason that Hunting Bones had been such a smashing success.
“All right, listen up, folks,” Cheryl said. “As you know, we need to
get some final images for the intro montage, so please line up over
here where the light is best and let’s get some usable footage before
we get on to filming the first episode.”
A rumble of excitement worked its way through the cast and crew.
We were quite a crowd. On location, there were ten of us contestants,
the show’s host, Harris Carlson, several cameramen, lighting techs,
sound techs, the hair and makeup folks, along with the production
The cast took turns lining up against the awful red bricks; preen‐
ing, primping, and pirouetting on Cheryl’s request.
We were five teams of two players. Scott and I made up one team.
Dr. Arch, the forensic archaeologist, and his sometimes cohost, the
FBI profiler Karen Kenley, made up the second team. There was a
historian from an Ivy League college paired with her brother, a priest.
Then a professed ghost hunter partnered with a psychic. And finally
two young women, the castle docent and the unsolved murder
victim’s great niece.
Our mission was to solve the murder of Jane Reiner. According to
the limited information we’d been given, the historical accounts about
Jane’s murder all differed. Some said she’d been hung in the kitchen,
other accounts claimed she’d been stabbed in the basement and still
others said she’d been shot in the supply room.
All accounts seemed to believe that Jane haunted the castle and
would continue to do so until her murder could be solved. Rumor had
it that she appeared from time to time to visitors either hanging in the
kitchen or bleeding in the basement or supply rooms.
None of the information squared, so in Cheryl’s infinite wisdom,
she’d pitched to a Hollywood Studio the idea that a team of misfits
might be able to solve the historic murder on national television.
Needless to say, it was such a bad idea that Hollywood loved it.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”I couldn’t stop reading!”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Fast-paced and fun. I love these mysteires!”
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”Diana Orgain is my new favorite author!”
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