Without A Trace (The Hardy Boys Casefiles, Book 31)
Franklin W. Dixon
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Cowboy guns are always quick on the trigger.
Rancher Roy Carlson asks Frank and Joe to visit his spread in New Mexico after one of his cowboys disappears. While searching the area in an ultralight plane, the Hardys are forced to land.
Suddenly the brother detectives are fighting to survive in a vast wilderness -- and along with rattlesnakes and tornadoes a deadly enemy is on their trail. There's a million-dollar bonanza at stake as Frank and Joe uncover the real mystery of the Circle C Ranch. But unless the brothers make their way home, their lives won't be worth a plugged nickel.
found himself lowering his voice. "He may not have a lot, but it feels so - peaceful - in here. Almost like a church." Frank nodded. "You're closer than you think. Those shelves over there must be Charlie's shrine," he said quietly. "Should we go in?" "Well, he invited us," Joe said. "And the door's open. Maybe he wanted us to see something." The boys stepped inside. The shelves were full of candles and handmade pottery bowls. The bowls held dried herbs, or colored sand and powders. A bundle
stopped at the ranch house to ask directions to the Triple O. Roy wasn't very enthusiastic about their plan to talk to Owens, but he finally agreed. "If you go a couple of miles past the old homestead," he told them, "you'll come to a fence and a cattle guard. That's the boundary with the Triple O." "So you can drive from one ranch to the other without going onto the highway," Joe mused. Roy shrugged. "The road's maintained by the county," he said. "Anybody's free to use it." "Then the tank
stumbled onto their game. And if he did ... " Joe completed the sentence for her. "If he did, they probably finished him off." He stood up, too. "We've got to get back to the ranch and warn Roy. With this much at stake, there's no telling what these guys will do next." Frank snapped back to their present bad situation. "Without water," he commented wryly, "one murder could easily turn into three more." Barbara stood up. "Maybe we can still find some - yiii!" She slipped on a ridge of loose
"Frank? Joe?" A woman's voice called out. They turned to see a tiny, older woman, wearing jeans and an embroidered western shirt, with snow white hair piled high on her head. Frank smiled. "We're the Hardys." "I'm Dot Carlson, Roy's wife." She extended her small hand to grip Frank's, which to Frank's surprise was firm and strong. "Roy's sorry that he couldn't pick you up." She lowered her voice. "We've got another problem at the ranch." "What kind of problem?" Joe asked. "I'll tell you in
fill a bottle with water. I'll have a look around." While Joe collected the samples, Frank inspected the ruts and then walked around the tank, looking at the ground. Joe saw him pick something up, sniff it, and put it into a plastic bag. "What did you find?" Frank handed him a plastic bag with three shiny rifle cartridge cases in it. "They're fresh." "What kind of gun?" "Can't tell. They've got military ordnance marks on the bottom - number forty-three. Probably the year of manufacture, not