Murder and mayhem in Small Town USA

Margaret Mizushima tells us the inspiration behind her Timber Creek K-9 mystery series. Set in Colorado high country, this series features Deputy Mattie Cobb and her canine partner Robo.

Margaret Mizushima tells us the inspiration behind her Timber Creek K-9 mystery series. Set in Colorado high country, this series features Deputy Mattie Cobb and her canine partner Robo.

Imagine touring the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. You’re driving through nothing but miles and miles of wilderness area in designated national forest. After you wind along a mountain pass with sweeping vistas of evergreen trees and rocky crags, you top the last rise and look down on a peaceful village nestled in a lush, green valley. A gem. Or so you think.


But all kinds of secrets lurk behind closed doors, and those doors found in Small Town USA are certainly not exempt.


Most of my life, I’ve lived on cattle ranches outside of small Colorado towns. The tales that long-term residents tell about the happenings in these little burgs have surprised me: true stories about law enforcement officers chasing armed robbery suspects through corn fields, hikers finding skeletonized human remains hidden in remote places, and folks stumbling across their neighbors burning body parts in a trash barrel. True stories. I’m not kidding.


So when I wanted to create a mystery series, I decided that a small town surrounded by nothing but dense forest and wilderness seemed like a great setting to inspire murder and mayhem. The fictional town of Timber Creek, structured loosely after my hometown in Colorado where I attended high school, filled the bill.


The idea for the Timber Creek K-9 mysteries was conceived in a veterinary clinic and born at my kitchen table. My husband is a vet, and one day he came home for lunch and told me about a client who’d come to his clinic for a health exam on a dog that was being transferred to a forest ranger. This client trained patrol and protection dogs, and he indicated that the national forest service was beginning to combat drug trafficking through the forests of Colorado by using dogs trained for narcotics detection.


Voila! I had my premise for the series—merchants and ranchers buy a narcotics detection dog to help protect their high mountain community from drug trafficking through the surrounding national forest. Coincidentally, after I wrote the first book in the series, I saw a news article about a small town near the one I grew up in that proposed to do the exact same thing. It’s amazing how fact and fiction can frequently intermingle.


Soon my fictional town became populated with characters: Deputy Mattie Cobb, who works for the Timber Creek County Sheriff’s Department and who won the honor of partnering with the county’s first patrol dog by beating her male counterparts in a cross-country footrace; Robo, the German shepherd patrol dog bought by the citizens of Timber Creek; and Cole Walker, a veterinarian challenged with learning how to be a single parent to his two daughters while taking care of his busy practice, because his wife has abandoned the family. Together, these three solve crimes that affect their mountain community, and a love interest eventually sparks between the two humans. From the beginning, Mattie had already fallen head over heals for her K9 partner.


The isolation of a small town might make it seem bucolic and peaceful, but even rural communities contain their share of crime these days. Please join me in the adventures of Deputy Mattie Cobb, Robo, and Cole Walker, DVM, for our UK launch of the Timber Creek K-9 mystery series.

Killing Trail

by Margaret Mizushima

A young girl is found dead in the mountains near Timber Creek, Colorado. Officer Mattie Cobb and her partner, K-9 police dog Robo, are assigned to the case that has rocked the small town.

With the help of Cole Walker, local veterinarian and a single father, Mattie and Robo must track down the truth before the murderer claims another victim. But the more Mattie investigates, the more she realizes how many secrets her hometown holds. And the key may be Cole's daughter, who knows more than she's saying.

The murder was just the beginning, and if Mattie isn’t careful, she and Robo could be next...

Killing Trail is the first book in Margaret Mizushima's Timber Creek K-9 series. Continue the series with Stalking Ground.