Mesa Verde Murder

Date: May 17, 2008

Setting: Sezhusezmi Historical and Cultural Archive

When the corpse of L. Austin Thadarke, rancher, philanthropist, and honorary Sezhusezmi Tribe member, is found during a party in Mesa Verde National Park, it’s up to you and your teammates to solve the murder.  Meet the suspects…

Gloria “Glo” N. Thadarke, Austin’s radiant wife, is the high-powered manager of Thadarke Uranium Mine, located near Slick Rock, Colorado.  The mine was in Austin’s family for generations until it was shut down in 1991.  It was revived in 2003 and, thanks to Glo’s shrewd and tireless administration, is now a leading producer of uranium ore.  Glo adds a touch of sparkle to the workplace with her brightly colored business ensembles and luminescent jewelry.

Hugh Faux, a writer with a small yet loyal fan following, is the author of Probing Encounters, a shocking account of his experiences as an alien abductee.  Hugh’s fascinating book includes descriptions of bizarre meals, excruciating medical exams, and his comic attempts to teach his extraterrestrial hosts to play canasta.  A science fiction fan and frequent guest speaker at conventions, Hugh wears his officially licensed Star Schlep TV show uniform at all times.

Powaqa “Pow” Ursurv, a celebrated tennis pro and proud member of Colorado’s Sezhusezmi Tribe, recently achieved a grand slam victory after winning this year’s French Dip Open.  She is now on the reservation for a brief visit with her family before heading to Tucson’s Scorched Courts Resort for a working vacation.  Known for her killer serve and steely determination, Pow sports a white polo, athletic skirt, and sneakers along with lovely Native American jewelry.

Louis D. Kace, a dedicated trial lawyer, became well-known last year for prosecuting (and losing) New Mexico’s Woe vs. Raid case, in which a widow blamed a negligent exterminator for her husband’s death.  Louis is currently representing several Sezhusezmi Tribe members who are suing Austin in a bitter border dispute.  Recently divorced, Louis lives with his dear Aunt Hedy and his young son, Justin.  He wears blazers, jeans, and bolo ties.

Hedy Kace, the sister of Louis’ late father, renowned judge Lee Gil Kace, lives in Albuquerque with her adored nephew and grandnephew.  Though bright and warm-hearted, Hedy began losing touch with reality and, five years ago, was forced to retire from teaching first grade when she adopted a rattlesnake as the class pet.  Now under a doctor’s care, she still has some quirky ideas and dresses in weird outfits with clashing colors and odd accessories.

Katherine “Kat” L. Russler, matriarch of the Russler clan of Durango, Colorado, is a widow and mother of seven robust sons.  Ever since her husband, Chuck “Rascal” E. Russler, died ten years ago in a tragic cattle stampede, Kat has presided over the family-run Rascal’s Ranch.  Her grit, toughness, and considerable roping and riding skills have handily kept the ranch afloat.  Kat wears long skirts and neckerchiefs, and always keeps her trusty lasso at her side.

Hapwell “Hap” Hazzerd, a rugged adventurer and amateur archaeologist, is an expert spelunker, whitewater rafter, and rock climber who calls Mesa Verde his favorite spot on earth.  He is fascinated by Native American culture and often combines extreme sports vacations with hunts for ancient artifacts.  Independently wealthy due to a fortune he inherited in childhood, Hap travels constantly, outfitted in khaki shorts, tan fedora, and his survival pack.

Pattie Meltz, a hard-working waitress, short-order cook, and restaurant owner, runs the popular Meltz in Your Mouth Diner.  Pattie’s place, located on Historic Route 33 in Gallup, New Mexico, is famous for its hearty breakfast burritos, mouth-watering berry cobbler, and perfect cup of coffee.  Brimming with good humor, hard-won wisdom, and a heart of pure gold, Pattie wears a plain dress, white apron, and comfy shoes while on duty.

Scrappy Meddle, an “entrepreneur” from Las Cruces, New Mexico, runs a recycled junk store, Meddle Mart, out of his trailer.  He salvages and sells waste metal, automobile parts, discarded furniture and jewelry, and other unusual items he finds in his travels.  Scrappy’s yard is littered with these objects, as well as tanks housing his dozens of pet scorpions.  An eccentric, hygienically challenged fellow, he wears sweaty, grease-stained T-shirts and pants.

Tara Kotta, a talented ceramic artist based in Santa Fe, is known for creating cups, pots, and urns with appealing, organic shapes and vivid glazing.  Tara approaches every piece she throws as a joyous product of her rich imagination and deep connection with the earth.  Her work is owned and exhibited by collectors all over the Southwest, including Austin.  Tara favors peasant skirts in desert sunset shades and likes going barefoot to “stay close to the soil.”

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