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Shadow Notes

A Clara Montague Mystery

Laurel Peterson

Barking Rain Press

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and events described herein are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locations, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Shadow Notes: A Clara Montague Mystery

Clara Montague Mysteries, Book 1

Copyright © 2016 Laurel Peterson (

All rights reserved. eBooks are not transferable. They cannot be sold, shared, or given away. The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is a crime punishable by law. No part of the book may be scanned, uploaded to or downloaded from file sharing sites, or distributed in any other way via the Internet, email, or any other means, electronic or print, without the publisher’s permission. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to five (5) years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000 USD No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

Edited by Ti Locke (

Proofread by Barbara Bailey (

Cover Artist: Stephanie Flint (

Author Photo: Ute-Christin Cowan (

Barking Rain Press

PO Box 822674

Vancouver, WA 98682 USA

ISBN Trade Paperback: 1-941295-45-2

ISBN eBook: 1-941295-46-0

Library of Congress Control Number: 2016939879

First Edition: May 2016

Printed in the United States of America

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For my father, who never said there was something a girl couldn’t do, and for my mother, who showed me how to hang on even when things got rough.

Thank you.



Title Page

Copyright Page


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29


Also from Laurel Peterson

Coming Soon from Laurel Peterson

About Laurel Peterson

About Barking Rain Press

Other Titles Available from Barking Rain Press

Bluffing is Murder

Dangerous Denial


The Hanged Man’s Noose

The Immaculate

Never Again

Padre: The Narrowing Path

Requiem in Red

The Revolving Year

Chapter 1

All I wanted was to blow this little Spanish town and my soon-to-be ex-husband, head to Paris, and bathe my wounds in Chanel and walks along the Seine. But I’d had a terrifying dream. The last dream predicted my father’s death. This one predicted my mother’s:

I’m standing at the edge of a vast green field. The field slopes up and loses itself in the bluest of blue skies, pure like the polished cobalt that stretches over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains outside Santa Fe, New Mexico. In front of me is a paddock with three lean and muscular horses, brown and sleek in the bright afternoon sunshine. The afternoon breeze fluffs their tails. I recognize this place as home, although I have never lived anywhere that looks anything like this.

In the distance, I see my mother running down the hill. Her arms stretch out toward me, overbalancing her, and she stumbles, falling to her knees in the soft grass. I can’t see what frightens her. The pasture is empty. She screams my name: “Clara! Look out!”

I turn. Behind me hangs a dense cloud, green-black like the sky before a tornado. This cloud, though, is more like a mass, something palpable, living and dense and suffocating. It is almost upon me. I turn to run toward my mother, only to find a dark mass almost upon her as well. If they shroud us, I know we will never find our way out, we will never find our way to each other. Mother is weeping in the middle of the field. “Clara, please. Help me.” When I finally reach her, she is laid out, as if for a grave, arms folded across her chest, her face as white as empty paper.

I woke exhausted, shivering and cursing into my pillow. I couldn’t fall back to sleep, no matter how I tried to calm myself with restful thoughts—salmon antique roses against a gray stone wall, the lull of rain pattering on stone courtyards. All the reasons I didn’t want to go home kept intruding.

Going home meant returning to Mother; it meant dealing with my own guilt. I’d never told her my dream about father’s death, how I’d seen the sleek black casket, the priest, my father’s face made up all waxy or plastic, as if he belonged at Madame Tussaud’s. I’d never told her he’d whispered from the casket, “Heart attacks happen, Clara.” I knew when he’d said it that I could prevent it, but I hadn’t. I blamed myself. I blamed her.

Mother lied. When I was little, before I knew better, I would tell her my dreams, and she would get this frightened look on her face. The look intensified whenever my dreams corresponded to real life. Like the time I dreamed that Timmy Lefkowitz would throw up blood, and then he did on the playground the next day. I shouted at her that if we’d told Timmy’s mom or the teacher, they might have kept Sean Gallagher from beating Timmy half to death in the bathroom because Timmy said the Virgin Mary was just another girl, not a saint.

She said no one believed in dreams or intuitions until after something happened. She claimed nothing I could have said would have changed what happened, and telling people only made them frightened of me. I was going to have to get used to that, and if I didn’t, people would call me crazy. In fact, until I gave up telling her much of anything, she would say, “It’s just a dream, Clara, a coincidence. You mustn’t tell anyone about your dreams.” She’d make me repeat it, as if I were in detention, writing a hundred times “I will not tell lies.”

Then I’d had the dream that predicted my father’s death, more terrifying than any dream I’d ever had. Was it symbolic? Real? She would tell me to ignore it, as she had all

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