Book 3–Chapters 21 & 22 Excerpts

Readers, we’re so close to the release of Walnut Street: Phantom Rider on November 9.

Our excerpts are almost at an end. I hope you’ve enjoyed them.

One more round to finish the book!


From Chapter 21, “Hilltop Construction”


The detectives’ explorations in the mountains yield some interesting finds. They have just discovered a recently constructed building.  


The kids stared at Rani’s discovery—a long, windowless shed hugging the hillside just beyond the mine. It wasn’t what they had expected at all. From the building’s appearance, it had been constructed recently and hurriedly. Clearly, someone had known where the mine was this whole time, but they’d kept that information to themselves.

Beyond the shed was a steep dirt trail that led from the mountain and wound down onto the desert floor far below. Lexi snapped her fingers. “Ben, this is the path the Phantom Rider and Lightning must have taken when you and I saw them heading for Rainbow Flats by moonlight Wednesday night.”

“I think this proves he’s in this gold mine caper,” Lanny said, “whatever and whoever else it involves, right up to his black ski mask.”

Lexi rolled her eyes at her brother. “I never doubted it, but I know. Evidence.”

“Lanny, I think you’re right,” Ben replied. He pointed at the ground around them. “Lots of small horse tracks here.” “But how exactly are Rainbow Flats, the Phantom Rider, and this camp tied together?” Rani asked with a frown. “That’s what we need to figure out.”

Lanny was inspecting the building’s door. “First, let’s see what this shed’s used for. . . . Darn. As I suspected, it’s locked.” He grunted as he tugged on the combination lock.



From Chapter 22, “At the End of the Rainbow”


From clues discovered on the mountain, the detectives determine that they need to return to Rainbow Flats for further exploration. They ride there immediately.


Dusk brought orange and purple shadows across the desert landscape as the group galloped on to the ghost town. The cacti looked like giant sentinels with arms raised, warning them to turn back. None of the determined riders knew what they would find once they arrived in Rainbow Flats but hoped the sheriff wouldn’t be too far behind. The moon hadn’t risen yet to light their way. Nonetheless, within an hour, they were once again approaching Main Street.

“It’s almost as if this place is becoming one of our old haunts,” Moki said.

“Ha. Very funny,” Lanny replied with a sideways glance at his friend.

Lexi pointed ahead and said softly, “Look. I see a truck.”

Ben said, “Yeah, it’s at the church. No people around, though.”

Book 3–Chapters 19 & 20 Excerpts

Dear Readers, we’re less than three weeks away from the official launch of Walnut Street: Phantom Rider on November 9.

Here are two more excepts to whet your reading appetite!


From Chapter 19, “Papa Mayfield’s Claim” 

The detectives, the sheriff, and the Mayfield parents search the Phantom Rider’s room in the Rainbow Flats Hotel.  


The group continued examining the room for a few more minutes. Neither the sheriff nor

the Mayfield parents recognized any of the well-worn clothing as belonging to anyone they knew.

“Maybe we’re dealing with an unknown Phantom Rider, or ‘The Man,’ as Gracie heard Rufus refer to him,” Lexi said. “A stranger. Someone not from around Cody.”

Rani replied, “You might be right, bestie girlfriend. And Lightning seems to be a mystery to everyone, too.”

“If true, solving our case could be much more complicated,” Moki said.

Lanny grimaced.




From Chapter 20, “More Key Discoveries” 

The six detective are off to explore the northern mountainous rim of the Mayfield property in hopes of finding Papa’s gold mine and an explanation for the weird lights Lexi and Ben had seen from the campgrounds.  


“I feel today will be our lucky day,” Rani shouted, followed by a “Yee-haw!”

Lanny and the others joined in and waved their hats, too. Everyone rode on in high spirits, especially Gracie, who now felt like a fully accepted member of the group—even by her brother.

The warm morning passed uneventfully. As the group continued higher into the mountains, an occasional rabbit would skitter out of a bush, or a scurrying lizard stop abruptly on a sunny rock. Melodious birdsong gave the false impression that the kids were just out for a casual ride. In reality, each was getting more nervous about what they would find once they reached their destination. The long-lost gold mine? No gold mine? Trespassers? Maybe even the Phantom Rider himself? Hopefully, the sheriff or deputy.

Book 3–Chapters 17 & 18 Excerpts

Hi, Readers,

Excerpts continue as we anticipate the release of Walnut Street: Phantom Rider!


From Chapter 17, “Dangerous Barn Talk” 

The six detectives arrived back at the ranch after a productive investigation of Rainbow Flats. Gracie decided to attend to her sticker collection book and headed for the barn’s hayloft, her favorite spot for working on her hobby.


. . . The group’s visit to Rainbow Flats had reminded her that she had purchased many sheets of rainbow stickers at Cody’s general store a month ago that needed pasting in.

A few minutes later, Gracie entered the barn. It was growing dark and wonderfully quiet except for an occasional rustling sound as a horse moved in its stall. The humid smell of the barn on rainy days gave her a sense of peace. She climbed the old wooden ladder to the hayloft and hunkered down in a thick pile of crunchy straw near the big window to make use of the dwindling light. Lying on her stomach, she lost track of time as she worked away placing various stickers on theme pages. She enjoyed hearing Cookie and the other horses as they softly ate and snorted. She could just spy them through the slats in the loft’s floor.

Soon, however, Gracie discovered that she and the horses were not alone. A man’s familiar voice drifted upwards, interrupting her reverie. He was on the barn’s wall phone below, and his tone sounded frantic.


From Chapter 18, “Gracie Mayfield, Deputy Detective” 

When Gracie failed to show up for dinner, the family got worried and checked the barn. Clues led them to Rainbow Flats to search for the girl.


In no time, Gracie’s parents, Jax, and the five kids were in the van heading for the ghost town. Mr. Mayfield applied as much speed as he safely could on the slick, muddy road that led northeast from the ranch. Moki never dreamed he would be back in that desolate place again, let alone tonight.

No one spoke as the car sped along. A few rays of sunlight glimmered through the leftover pink and gray rainclouds, but the brightness wouldn’t last much longer.

When the van finally pulled into the ghost town, the pitch black night had descended. Mr. Mayfield turned off his headlights so as not to announce their arrival. Then, he drove quietly right down the middle of Main Street.

“Look for some lights in a building,” his wife said as she scanned both sides of the street. Soon, Lexi called out, “I see some flickering lights in the old church up ahead.”

Book 3–Chapters 15 & 16 Excerpts

From Chapter 15, “A Colorful Ghost Town”  

The promise of severe rainstorms prevented the six detectives from exploring the mountains where Lexi and Ben had seen the lights the night before from the campgrounds. Instead, they decided to check out the ghost town Rainbow Flats. As they approached the windswept, deserted town, they spied the livery barn and headed for it to get out of the imminent storm.

“Just in case we aren’t alone, [Lanny said], I think we should tie up our horses in that barn. No sense in tipping off someone who might be hiding here—if anyone really is— that we’re around.”

Everyone followed Lanny in single file. Lexi and Gracie slid off their horses first and tackled the job of opening one of the barn’s double doors. Surprisingly, it opened almost effortlessly. The six kids walked their horses inside. All were happy finally to be out of the wind although chilly drafts still stubbornly pushed through the decrepit, wooden slats, causing a faint whistling sound.

The group quickly surveyed the inside of what had been a livery stable and found a central work area with an ice-cold forge and anvil where a blacksmith had once pounded horseshoes and other ironware. . . . Ben and his horse were in front of the others, so they ambled to one of the back stalls. Just as the boy was leading Jet into one of them, both stopped abruptly. “Uh, guys. Come check this out.”


From Chapter 16, “The Phantom Rider’s Lair”  

After stabling their horses, the detectives left the livery barn to explore the town.

The group made their way across Main Street. Lanny momentarily imagined that they had traveled back in time. He half expected a couple of disgruntled cowboys to come charging out of the saloon up ahead any second for a shootout in the middle of the street. The others, very much in the present, were glancing at windows to see if the Phantom was spying on them. As far as they could tell, they were alone.

In addition to the saloon, the row of buildings on the left once housed a barber shop, a dressmaker’s shop, the local dry goods store, and a hotel. Across the street were the former sheriff’s office, a telegraph office, a post office, and a bank. Farther up the street were the church and its cemetery, and the old schoolhouse. There were no students, teachers, preachers, or anyone else in sight now.

“Let’s check out the saloon first,” Lanny said. The others joined him as they stepped carefully over broken sections of the raised, wooden sidewalk.

Moki was the first to push open the high swinging saloon doors and step inside. Just as he did, he heard something shuffle, followed by a dreaded buzzing sound.

“Freeze, Moki!” Lanny said, grabbing the boy’s arm. He didn’t need to signal his friend a second time that a deadly danger was nearby.

Book 3–Chapters 13 & 14 Excerpts

Welcome back, Readers!

Here are two more excerpts from Walnut Street: Phantom Rider as we anticipated the book’s release on November 9, 2021.

I hope you enjoy these.


From Chapter 13, “Meow!” 

Everyone is ready to head to the campgrounds for the night’s sleepover. But Lionel forgot something and has permission from Mrs. Mayfield to hurry to the bunkhouse to retrieve it.


Lionel made it to the bunkhouse in record time. “Phew! It’s hot in here,” he said out loud once he was inside. The room was, indeed, warm and stuffy from the midafternoon desert heat that had settled in the sleeping quarters. Instead of flipping on the air conditioner for such a quick visit, he ran over and opened the back door. He stood on the threshold for a few seconds to let the cooler air rush over himself while gazing dreamily out into the gathering dusk.

Remembering his mission and its time limit, he turned and ran to the closet. There was his small suitcase on the floor. . . .

“Come on!” he shouted at the flaps. “Hey. Somebody must have locked my suitcase. Grr!” He had to figure out something fast to preserve his secret. One of the adults or kids might show up if he took too much longer.

Right at that second, however, a new problem loomed that would make his suitcase issue minor in comparison. A distinct panting sound caused Lion to look up immediately. “What the—?” he started to say as he quickly turned to see its source.


From Chapter 14, “By the Light of the Campfire” 

After lots of fun and a scrumptious meal in front of the campfire, Uncle Rocky, Catherine, Lionel, and Gracie head to their tents to go to bed. The older kids stay up for some “teen time.”


The five teens sat in silence savoring the nighttime, each other’s company, and the dwindling glow of the campfire. The waxing gibbous moon had risen high over the desert. Quiet blanketed the land with only an occasional mournful call from a distant coyote or a wide-awake red-tailed hawk’s screech. Sleepiness was beginning to overtake them one by one.

Unexpectedly, Lanny jumped to his feet. “Ben, what’s that?” He pointed high up into the mountains that formed the northwestern edge of the Mayfields’ ranch property. Indeed, a dim glow seemed to be emanating from somewhere behind one of the outcroppings.

“Beats me,” Ben said. “There’s nothing up there except rocks and trees.”

“Maybe someone’s camping out up there,” Lexi said, now on her feet.

“Or maybe someone’s lost, and that’s an enormous flashlight,” Rani offered.

“Whoever it is, they’re trespassing on Mayfield property,” Moki replied.

Ben nodded. “I’ve got an idea. What if two of us ride Jet and see how close we can get to

the source?”

Book 3–Chapters 11 & 12 Excerpts

Hi, Readers,

These chapter excerpts continue our march toward the November 9th release of Walnut Street: Phantom Rider. I hope you’re enjoying them!


From Chapter 11, “A Rough Start”

The next morning, after a rough start but a delicious breakfast, the saddle club kids left for the horse arena. The six detectives were about to begin another day’s investigating when the house phone rang. Cody’s veterinarian, Dr. Jameson, was on the line.


The six detectives turned to leave as well, but the landline phone in the living room rang. Ben picked it up. It was Dr. Jameson. They spoke all too briefly. Lanny immediately sensed the veterinarian had not found out anything that would help them identify the horse and rider.

Ben confirmed the bad news. “She said Lightning doesn’t appear to have been registered, and the local farrier hasn’t worked on a white Arabian stallion for many years.”

“Well, at least we now know we’ll have to keep investigating about that,” Lexi said with a shrug. She pushed past the others and out the front door while positioning her large straw western hat on her head.


From Chapter 12, “Gold Mine Search”

 The six detectives are on the northern rim of the mountains overlooking Gold Mine Acres Ranch. They had split off into two teams—the girls in one, and the boys in another—to search for Papa’s gold mine.


After the boys had traveled a ways, Ben said, “Hey, guys, come check this out.” He had slid off Jet and slowly walked a short distance toward some brush. Lanny jumped off Sam, hoping Ben had found the entrance to Papa’s gold mine or at least some gold-bearing ore. No such luck.

“I think it’s a rattlesnake den in an old rabbit warren,” Ben said. “Yup, here are some rattlesnake droppings at the entrance. Rattlesnakes like to keep their dens clean, so they push the waste out.”

Moki stayed on his mount. “Oh, great. First a snake den with possible fangs of death. Then snake poop. Count me out. Ben, maybe you can find a new friend—like Lanny!—who can get behind your weird reptilian interests.” He shuddered knowing snakes were nearby. The three boys exchanged grins.

Lanny was, indeed, interested and spent a moment looking. “Cool, Ben, but time’s flying. We need to get back to searching for the mine.”

Ben agreed and remounted Jet. Moki was happy to put some distance between himself and the den of doom.

Meanwhile, the girls’ team had focused on the rocks and trees defining the hillside. . . .