My husband Roger, my college-aged daughter Judy, and I came up to Breckenridge to have a nice relaxing ski vacation after the trouble with Enrique in Colorado Springs that almost ruined Roger’s and my marriage. But I don’t want to talk about that. You can read about it in Beth Groundwater’s book, A Real Basket Case, if you really want to know. Let’s just say that I’m extremely grateful Roger didn’t end up in prison.

Along with spending some time with Judy (I miss her since she went off to college!), I was going to make and donate a gift basket to the Summit Foundation fundraiser’s silent auction. Now I’m too rattled to even think about how to construct that relaxing spa-themed basket. Not when I have to throw together a sympathy basket instead!

Here’s what happened. I was a little upset when I found out that Judy’s boyfriend Nick’s family was “magically” going to be here at the same time (those two planned it, I know!), but I can go with the flow. Then an absolutely horrible thing happened when we three went skiing with Nick’s sister Stephanie yesterday. She was an excellent skier. But somehow she crashed into a tree on the ski slope and suffered a massive head injury that killed her. I can’t imagine what her parents and her brother must be going through!

I didn’t see it happen because I’m not in great shape. I can ski the expert slopes every now and then, but they really make my knees ache. It was hard to keep up with the girls, and I could tell Judy was getting impatient with me. I told them to go ahead. If only I’d been able to keep up with them! Maybe then…

I feel so guilty. I should have insisted we stay on blue intermediate slopes. The ski patrol claims it was an accident, but I don’t believe it. None of us actually saw Stephanie hit the tree. Afterward, I saw ski tracks in the snow that showed someone deliberately hit her and forced her to crash into that tree. But before I could point the tracks out to anyone, the ski patrol obliterated them with the rescue sled, so now no one believes me.

I just met Stephanie yesterday, but she seemed like a lovely girl, poor thing. I wish Nick’s family hadn’t come. Then poor Stephanie might still be alive. But you know, there’s something fishy about that family, and I’m afraid Judy may be in danger, too. I just want to leave Breckenridge and take her with me, get her out of here.

But Judy is the definition of stubborn, barely listens to what I have to say, then ignores my advice and does what she wants. Three months ago, I worried that she would do something stupid in France during her spring semester art study program, like starting to smoke pot or heaven forbid, getting a tattoo or piercing. Fortunately, nothing so far! But she’s showing all the signs of having fallen in love with Nick. She refuses to talk about leaving him, even for a short while.

I’ve got to convince Detective Silverstone of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office that Stephanie was murdered and that my Judy needs protection. Oh God, I’m scared to death that she’ll be hurt. And when one of my kids is threatened, my Mama Bear claws come out!

An icy demise snowballs in book 2 of this Agatha Award-nominated series. Gift basket designer Claire Hanover is reluctantly enjoying a spring ski vacation with her family in Breckenridge, Colorado, when a bloodcurdling scream cuts the frigid air. Claire is appalled to find the sister of her daughter’s boyfriend dead on the slopes. Others assume the girl’s death was an accident, but Claire notices another pair of ski tracks veering dangerously into the victim’s path. To protect her daughter as incriminating clues surface, Claire unravels a chilling conspiracy.

** Beth is giving away one (1) autographed copy of TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET. Contest open to US residents only and ends November 15. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. Book will be shipped directly from the author. **

Meet the author
Bestselling 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 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:

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

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