Excerpt from “To Hell In a Handbasket” by Beth Groundwater

To Hell Handbasket2It’s snow accident when a young woman’s icy demise sends Claire’s vacation to hell in a handbasket.

Skiing with her family in Breckenridge, Colorado, gift basket designer Claire Hanover hears a terrified scream cut the frigid mountain air. She is horror-stricken to find Stephanie Contino, the sister of her daughter’s boyfriend, dead on the slopes. While everyone else assumes the death was an accident, Claire is suspicious of the extra ski tracks that cross dangerously into Stephanie’s path. But the police are skeptical of foul play, even as more signs point to murder. When incriminating clues put her daughter Judy in danger, Claire investigates and finds trouble around every mogul. Between interviewing a daredevil snowboarder and giving ski lessons to a drug boss, she uncovers a chilling conspiracy that could turn deadly for her family.


Claire Hanover’s knees slammed up toward her chest. She shoved them down and around the mogul and braced for the next impact. Oof! Then the next and the next. All she could hear were her labored breaths and her skis swishing through three inches of Colorado champagne powder sprinkled over the bumps of packed snow.

Her body lurched, thrown back on her skis. Punching out with her fist, she drove her downhill knee forward to regain her balance. It screamed in protest. She stabbed her ski pole into another mogul and swung around it. Three more turns, she promised her forty-six-year-old knees. Then we’ll rest.

After rounding three more body-sized bumps, she hockey-stopped in a soft patch of loose snow. Leaning forward on her poles, she eased the pressure on her knees. They stopped cursing her for pushing them so hard during her first day on skis in months. The pain slowly receded. She sucked in gasps of clean, cold air, unzipped her jacket a few inches to cool off, and glanced uphill.

The T-bar was no longer in view, inching its way above the tree line on Peak Eight of the Breckenridge ski resort. The smooth upper slope of Ptarmigan, the easiest black diamond run north of the T-bar, sparkled in the brilliant sunshine of a cloudless March sky. Claire had carved pretty S-turns up there, but when the slope plunged into the trees, growing steeper, the resulting moguls thrown up by countless skiers had forced her to sacrifice her grace. Now she was in survival mode.

She looked downhill. Three skiers stood off to the left below the mogul field, waiting with faces upturned toward her. Her husband, Roger, would be secretly grateful for the opportunity to rest, but Judy, her twenty-one-year-old daughter, and Judy’s companion, Stephanie, would be anxious to move on.

Claire took a deep breath and pushed off.


Beth Groundwater - headshot 1280x1600Bestselling mystery author Beth Groundwater writes the Claire Hanover gift basket designer series (A Real Basket Case, a Best First Novel Agatha Award finalist, and To Hell in a Handbasket) and the Rocky Mountain Outdoor Adventures series starring whitewater river ranger Mandy Tanner (Deadly Currents, an Amazon bestseller, and Wicked Eddies). The third books in both series will appear in 2013. Beth enjoys Colorado’s many outdoor activities, including skiing and whitewater rafting, and loves talking to book clubs. Please visit her website: http://bethgroundwater.com/

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