The glass wall gazed blank-eyed over the clearing,
each of its nine panes backed by thick, pale drapes. No
woodcutter’s shack here, but a huge, glossy house built
of stripped and varnished logs, each as wide as Lacey’s
waist. The porch pillars were sanded tree trunks and in
the arched front door was carved a relief of saplings.
More show home than family home, more Neil’s flavour
than Dee’s. Why had Dee kept it in the divorce?
Spruces ringed the glade, their roots lost in tangled
undergrowth, while before the house, all was austere.
Red rock shards filled zigzag beds punctuated by spiky
shrubs, their jagged edges scraping on Lacey as she gave
the doorbell a final push. Dee had coaxed her for weeks,
leaning on the good old university days and shared misadventures
in her daily texts and voice mails, to set up
this reunion supper, and now she, not Lacey, was late.
Six years of separation due to careers and spouses was
supposed to finally end, but Dee wasn’t home.
As the last echo of the last chime died, Lacey retreated
from the stone-paved patio to her shabby Civic
to lean on the fender and contemplate her options. Th ey
amounted to two: leave now, or wait until Dee either
showed up or replied to her messages.
Five minutes. She would give Dee that much. She
glanced at her watch to mark the time, crossed her arms,
and settled into the alert idleness learned through years
of conducting stakeouts on the Force. Catalogue every
detail. Th at was how you knew when something had
changed. Th e fl utter of a drape might indicate someone
hiding inside, or that a rear window had been opened for
a stealthy escape, sending a draft through the rooms. A
barely registered movement beyond a hedge could signify
someone sneaking out, or in. A man in a mail uniform
wasn’t always delivering letters and fl yers. Not that
these scattered acreages along the hillside would have
home delivery. On the edge of wilderness, an hour from
Calgary, at the feet of the Rocky Mountains, a mailman
would stick out like a neon Popsicle on an igloo.
As she leaned there in the still glade, the forest rustled
toward her from all sides. Tiny sounds — leaves or birds
or little rodent feet going their secret ways through last
year’s leaves — whispered isolation. She might be alone
on the hillside, save for the sharp corner of a roofl ine
higher up. She should be on her way back to Calgary
and supper, although it would mean crossing that lone
bridge over the rushing brown river again.
Locals expected the last of the snowpack to surge
through sometime next week. Until then the river
would keep rising, bringing down whole trees and
threatening the bridge. Blinding, turbulent water,
Lacey’s worst nightmare, and right under the windows
of her new jobsite, the not-quite-fi nished Bragg
Creek Arts Centre and Foothills History Museum.
Lacey knew even less about art and history than she
did about security-camera wiring, but being Wayne’s
gopher brought in some pay and kept her most desperate
worries at bay, at least during working hours.
She couldn’t ask more than that of her new life. Not
yet. Was that shushing sound the river tumbling over
its banks, or just the breeze through the spruce tops?
Where was Dee?
Only three minutes had passed. Th e emptiness was
getting to her. Too much open space after a decade in the
overpopulated Lower Mainland, where even the wilderness
trails were rarely empty. It was a two-minute drive
down the hill into Bragg Creek. She could grab a burger
at the bar, the only eatery that wouldn’t look askance
at her dusty jeans, workboots, and faded T-shirt. Okay,
two more minutes and then she was going. She scanned
the front of the house again.
Still, no drapes fl uttered, but this time she recognized
something odd she’d overlooked in her annoyance. Dee
loved the sun and the wide-open sky, fi r trees piercing
the blue, birds fl uttering past her windows. Loved to
watch deer wander through the yard to nibble on anything
she planted. She had gushed about all that to
Lacey when she’d fi rst moved out here, six, maybe seven
years ago. Th at explained the spiky shrubs, anyway. Not
deer food. Why, now, were all the windows shrouded
in heavy drapes on a celestially sunny day, when small
birds were squabbling around a seed tray suspended
from the porch overhang? All these Dee loved, and yet
she had blocked them out.
Lacey straightened up, surveying the house with
the keen ex-cop’s eyes she hadn’t fully brought to bear
earlier. No visible windows were open, but that could
mean air conditioning. No drapes had been disturbed
since her last scan. If the back of the house wasn’t as
closed in, maybe Dee was merely protecting expensive
upholstery from sun damage. Circling the house
would fi ll in the two minutes nicely. A single glance
inside could ease the half-formed worry that her old
friend might be lying injured inside, victim of an accident
or worse. Times beyond count as a constable, she
had undertaken welfare checks on strangers, saved a
few, and found some past saving. She could not let this
one pass her by.
Returning to the carved front door, she turned left
past the vast windows and around a massive fi eldstone
chimney stack. Each window she saw was securely
locked and swathed. French doors on the rear terrace
had their blinds turned down too tight to see anything
at all between the slats. Impossible to guess which
rooms lay beyond which windows. She’d seen grow ops
less carefully cloistered.
A plank deck connected the terrace and the front
patio to a triple-car garage. A high post-and-beam pergola
supported a riot of blossoms in hanging baskets well
above the reach of a deer’s teeth. Garage doors: all locked.
No sign of forced entry anywhere, no signals of distress.
Just an unfriendly house devoid of its current resident.
She skirted the sage-green deck furniture and looked
again over the rear yard. Th e spruce circle was wider
here, leaving space for a tended lawn and opening a
gap where a woodland path ran up to a wider trail. A
wire-fenced dog run attached to the garage was deserted,
but the stainless steel water bowl was half full. Maybe
Dee had simply taken a dog for a walk. She’d always had
a dog. Young Duke, a honey-haired Labrador, had hiked
the Algonquin Trail with them when he was a gambolling
pup, barely knee high. He’d be old now, and slow.
Maybe it was a slow walk, and this search and speculation
were only the old habits of a cop’s brain that had
not quite retired six weeks ago, when Lacey’s resignation
letter landed on her staff sergeant’s desk. Th e RCMP had
been her life for most of a decade, and now it wasn’t. Her
head needed time to adjust to civilian life, to stop seeing
criminals behind every closed curtain. Dee had simply
gone for a walk and lost track of time.
Blue sky refl ected on glass in the garage’s rear wall:
a window inside the dog run, above Lacey’s head.
Impossible to tell from here whether it was covered or
not, but she bet not. Dee’s vehicle was probably parked in
there right now, supporting the walk theory. Finding out
would fi ll in another minute or two. She jiggered an oblong
patio table, one end at a time, down the wide plank
steps and into the dog run. When it was fi rmly in position
against the garage wall, she scrambled up and peered in.
What would Dee think if she came home to fi nd her old
friend perched on a patio table, peeking into her garage?
Whatever Lacey had subconsciously hoped or
feared, the garage held no answers. A second small
window high up in the end wall cast enough light to
show her a gold Lexus SUV and a rack holding two
bright plastic kayaks. Th e third space was empty now
of whatever Dee’s recently divorced skunk had driven.
Did that SUV mean she had gone for a walk, or did
she have a second vehicle that she now parked in Neil’s
spot? Had she gone away with someone else? Why
wasn’t she calling back or replying to texts?
As Lacey turned back to the house, to the deep
shade of the front patio, she blinked. Just for a second,
she had fl ashed back to coming home to her old house
in Langley, checking that all the drapes were shut tight
the way she had left them, and scanning the street for
Dan’s car before she risked opening the door. She knew
all too well what she’d been afraid of then. Was Dee
afraid of her ex-husband, too? In the warm afternoon
sunshine, Lacey shivered.


When a phantom stalker targets her friend, Lacey McCrae’s crime-busting skills are tested to their limits. With her career in tatters and her marriage receding in the rear-view mirror, ex-RCMP corporal Lacey McCrae trades her uniform for a tool belt, and the Lower Mainland for the foothills west of Calgary amid the oil barons, hockey stars, and other high rollers who inhabit the wilderness playground. Winner of the 2016 Unhanged Arthur Award for Best Unpublished First Crime Novel. To learn more about this publisher, click here: http://bit. ly/2u4bIyE


  • Commended, Loan Stars July Top 10 List 2018


A taut, high-stakes thriller that is deeply personal, internal, and psychological.

- Foreword Reviews

Beneath the many mysteries of Barnard’s character-driven debut are enduring questions about the complexities of life and the choices people make.

- Kirkus Reviews

More than a riveting page-turner, When the Flood Falls also offers readers a stirring celebration of female friendship and the ability of women to summon strength and resilience in times of crisis. I already can’t wait for the next Lacey McCrae adventure.

- Angie Abdou, author of In Case I Go

Set in the stunning foothills of the Rocky Mountains, When the Flood Falls weaves a compelling, intricate tale of love, community, and betrayal in the high-stakes world of big oil and hockey. In this impressive series debut, Barnard introduces Lacey McCrae, a tough but fragile ex-RCMP officer in search of a new path to dignity.

- Barbara Fradkin, author of The Amanda Doucette mystery series

This complex, unconventional debut, which revolves around the power of men to instill fear, unfolds slowly, introducing the voices of three individuals suffering from some form of trauma.

- Library Journal

A master at developing characters with believable, deep and rich histories that give authenticity to their psychological states and affect the interactions and relationships within the story.

- Jennifer Taylor

A fine debut, one hopes the first of many Lacey McCrae novels to come.

- Booklist