Coeur d’Alene Waters

CDW_frontCOEUR D’ALENE, IDAHO, is where people go to hide. 

Neo-Nazis. 

Corrupt politicians. 

Mining men with buried secrets.

In 1972, ninety-one men were killed in a mining ”accident” sparked by a fire lit nearly a mile underground: the mystery was never solved. After the rest escaped, only three miners survived underground.

More than twenty years later, Matt Worthson is a sheriff’s lieutenant and the disgraced son of mining hero and Sunshine Mine survivor Stanley Worthson. Matt expects to finish out his years on the force in quiet ignominy. But when the gruesomely dismembered body of a police chaplain is found at the swanky Coeur d’Alene Resort, Matt is tapped to find the murderer.

As Matt investigates the murder of his friend, he finds himself digging deep into the labyrinth of lies that seeps beneath the Coeur d’Alene region, including the Sunshine Mine disaster, and the truth behind his own broken family.


Amazon - Coeur d Alene Waters
Barnes and Noble  - Coeur d Alene Waters
Indie Bookstore - Coeur d Alene Waters


Recent Blog Posts about this book:

Review: Chapter of Dreams on Coeur d’Alene Waters

Posted by on Jan 12, 2014 in books, coeur, reading | 0 comments

Mikela Review on Chapter of Dreams 4 of 5 stars “When I learned I’d won this book as a giveaway on Booklikes I couldn’t help jumping for joy, then waited with bated breathe until the wonderful day when it arrived for my perusal. Oh, the wait was so worth it, the writing of Ned Hayes’ debut mystery novel is so very good, so much better than I’d dared to expect that I found myself both delighted and surprised. Late one night a dismembered body was discovered in the washroom of a luxury resort near the beautiful Lake Coeur D’Alene in the Pacific Northwest. Matt Worthson, a recovering alcoholic who has lost the respect and backing of his fellow officers, was assigned to investigate and find the killer of the victim, Arlen Bowman, chaplain for the city’s police force. Right from the beginning Matt runs into problems, coverups, secrets withheld from him and secrets he himself is guarding. With guilt eating away at his confidence and self esteem, he is determined to solve the murder despite the obstacles placed in front of him, including being assigned the case by corrupt officials who thought him controllable. The story unfolds very slowly with side trips to the Sunshine Mine fire disaster that happened nearly 20 years before the murder and the introduction of seemingly random characters and their stories, but as the book progresses, it is all brought together and dark secrets are revealed of what happened at the mine fire where 91 miners perished. There was never a moment before the end that I thought I had figured out who killed Arlen or why he had to die. I took my time reading this dark, gritty mystery as the tension would build so high I had to walk away for a bit before feeling able to once again return to it. I felt helpless as the walls were closing in on Matt and wondered how and if he could prevail. Hayes did a masterful job of keeping ones interest and the suspense throughout. This book has it all, corruption in a small town, guilt, greed, mistrust, betrayal yet also love, hope and redemption. I highly recommend to those who love a good historical mystery. I am so looking forward to reading more by this very promising author.” originally published on http://chapterofdreams.com  Please like &...

read more

Coeur Review: “No One is Innocent In this Novel”

Posted by on Nov 10, 2013 in books, coeur, reading | 0 comments

Nancy Silk‘s review posted on Nov 10, 13   5 of 5 stars “This is a complex novel that really absorbed me until the end. The story takes place in and about Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. A rustic, rugged landscape of timber and mines. Like the land, the characters in this story are also rugged — each and every one of them having ultimate goals and remorse. The main character, Matt Worthson, sits at Albi’s Bar and Grill. Trying to overcome his taste for hard liquor, he orders coffee. He’s carrying a load of guilt, and his recent sharing experience with ‘Father’ Arlen, a local minister serving the police department when the need arises, seems to somewhat take the load off his back. Matt is a lieutenant for the Bitterroot County Sheriff’s Department. He’s on duty and as he steps into his old truck, Sheriff Merrill radios him to report to a crime scene at the Coeur D’Alene Resort — where a dismembered body has been found in the restroom. Scattered over three stalls of the men’s room was the mutilated body of ‘Father’ Arlen Bowman. There are many characters in this novel, including Kev Macht, a young man who has walked away from the Aryan Nations at nearby Hayden Lake. He also has a load of loathing he packs around with him, but is he really capable of killing Arlen? As in many small communities, there are political games played not only between the Resort owners and town officials, but also within the sheriff’s department. Regardless, even as Matt’s sheriff thinks he is incapable of handling the investigation of this murder, he does slowly make progress. But along his path is much chaos and finger pointing. This novel is also a psychological thriller. At times it appears as a jigsaw puzzle, with pieces missing. But, I couldn’t put this story down until I found those missing pieces. Highly recommend this extraordinary, in depth, thriller.” Please like &...

read more

Coeur d’Alene Waters — Review

Posted by on Jul 2, 2013 in books, coeur, reading | 0 comments

What is it about the Pacific Northwest that leads some into dark worlds of violence and despair? Had one-time north Idaho journalist Ned Hayes made this tantalizing question the centerpiece of his debut novel, he might have only created a derivative retelling of an all-too-familiar serial killer plot. Instead, he takes the plot for this well-written literary thriller from the historical facts of the still-unsolved Sunshine Mine disaster in 1972, and winds it tight around the troubled central figure of Matt Worthson, a one time candidate for Sheriff in Coeur d’Alene. Worthson, suffering from a broken marriage and a suspect car accident, is pulled into a tangled history of corrupt politics, separatist plots, and powerful interests who control the lucrative Idaho mining industry. The novel opens with the discovery of the mutilated body of a chaplain who works with the police department, and seems to point towards a local serial killer who is again on the loose. But this tried and true plot soon moves in a more complicated direction, as Worthson’s own motivations and past crimes are brought under the microscope. The story of the Sunshine Mine disaster itself is told in a flashback that is both compelling and heart-rending, as Worthson struggles with his father’s impending death, and the secrets his father still refuses to reveal about the mine disaster–the truth of which has important implications for Worthson’s investigation. Coeur d’Alene Waters is a solidly written murder mystery with a haunting finish, reminiscent of the best of Ridley Pearson or the early work of fellow Washington writer Jess Walter. –Book Note, Featured Review Please like &...

read more

Coeur d’Alene — The Real History

Posted by on Jun 2, 2013 in books, coeur, reading | 0 comments

The Silver Valley Mining Legacy The “Bitterroot County” portrayed in this story is a fictional one, although the events that transpired in the 1970s and 1980s are very real events with very real consequences. The Silver Valley devastation described in this novel is historically accurate. The only organization actively working to clean up this wonderful wilderness is the Silver Valley Community Resource Center. You can donate to this organization here. To this day, the mystery of the Sunshine Mine Disaster fire has never been solved. Miners Tom Wilkinson and Ron Flory were the only two survivors found in the mine. The 91 men who died in the Sunshine Mine Disaster in May of 1972 are memorialized in a permanent shrine built beside the I-90 highway outside of Kellogg. It was built by a miner. After the 1972 disaster, the Sunshine Mining Company could not be sued for lack of safety gear. Idaho law states that employers may be held liable for only workman’s compensation claims. The average family only received death benefits to equal two years of a good miner’s salary. The Sunshine Mine in Kellogg, Idaho was once America’s richest silver mine, producing over 300 million ounces of silver in the course of its history through 2002. During the winter of 1973-1974, the Bunker Hill mine smelter broke, dumping some twenty years worth of undiluted and unfiltered lead-oxide emissions on the communities of the Silver Valley. In August of 1974, the highest lead levels ever recorded in a human being were found in Kellogg. Bunker Hill operations produced record profits of $25.9 million in the same year. In the late 1980s, it was revealed that the Bunker Hill Board of Directors had calculated that it would be profitable to operate the mine, despite the dangerously broken bag room and smelter. The poisoning was a just business expense; their calculations included liability of “$6-7 million/$10K per child,” for planned settlements to families permanently damaged by lead. The Bunker Hill Mine went into bankruptcy proceedings in 1989. A variety of government studies have demonstrated continued toxic effects, although no person or company has ever been brought to account for their flagrant lead, cadmium, and zinc poisoning of the entire region. To this day, lead levels in Silver Valley children run twice the national average, and a plume of heavy metals extends 200 miles downstream from Lake Coeur d’Alene into Washington State. The region around the Bunker Hill was designated a SuperFund site by the EPA in 1991, although federally mandated warning signs regarding environmental toxins are not consistently posted in the area, due to the desire not to alarm tourists and other visitors to the region. The Coeur d’Alene and Silver Valley destination resort areas today constitute some of the most successful tourist destination regions in the United States, despite the many tons of lethal mining residue that still cover the basin of Lake Coeur d’Alene and the lake’s tributary waterways.       Please like &...

read more

Coeur d’Alene Waters — Book Synopsis

Posted by on Jun 2, 2013 in books, coeur, reading | 0 comments

Synopsis A dark literary thriller of depth and dimension, Coeur d’Alene Waters follows Matt Worthson, a northern Idaho Sheriff’s deputy searching for a murderer and along the way finding out the truth about the never-solved Sunshine Mine disaster. The debut offering from Northwest journalist Ned Hayes. What is it about the Pacific Northwest that leads some into dark worlds of violence and despair? Had one-time north Idaho journalist Ned Hayes made this tantalizing question the centerpiece of his debut novel, he might have only created a derivative retelling of an all-too-familiar serial killer plot. Instead, he takes the idea for this well-written literary thriller from the historical facts of the still-unsolved Sunshine Mine disaster in 1972, and winds it tight around the troubled central figure of Matt Worthson, a one time candidate for Sheriff in Coeur d’Alene. Worthson, suffering from a broken marriage and his brutal political loss, is pulled into a tangled history of corrupt politics, separatist plots, and powerful interests who control the lucrative Idaho mining industry. The novel opens with the discovery of the mutilated body of a chaplain who works with the police department, and seems to point towards a local serial killer who is again on the loose. But this tried and true plot soon moves in a more complicated direction, as Worthson’s own motivations and past crimes are brought under the microscope. Partnered with Lieutenant Russell White – a more able politician and an increasingly erratic friend – Worthson finds himself unexpectedly encumbered with a young wanna-be white supremacist who knows about his missing son. The story of the Sunshine Mine disaster itself is told in a flashback that is both compelling and heart-rending, as Worthson struggles with his father’s impending death, and the secrets his father still refuses to reveal about the mine disaster – the truth of which has important implications for Worthson’s investigation. These disparate threads are brought together by Hayes, and Coeur d’Alene Waters accelerates towards a dark yet profoundly fitting finish. Hayes creates a dark, gritty saga with a protagonist who is deeply imperfect, yet strives always towards redemption. Coeur d’Alene Waters is a solidly written murder mystery with a haunting conclusion, reminiscent of the best of Ridley Pearson or the early work of fellow Washington writer Jess Walter. Please like &...

read more

Coeur d’Alene — Chapter 2

Posted by on May 2, 2013 in books, coeur, reading | 0 comments

Chapter 2   Disappearances, apparitions… a thing will happen that remains so unresolved, so strange, that someone will think of it years later… in the dusk and silence, staring out the window at another world. – John Haines, The Stars, the Snow, the Fire On the west side of the Bitterroot Range, there was no sudden sinking of evening into mountain and valley. Across the mountains, the twilight faded slowly into the great waters of the lake, the sun settling softly across a hundred thousand flat and fertile acres of wheat. Although he did not know it, Kev Macht was driving his stolen car across the land where the French and English first settled. They came to the great lake, to fish the depths, harvest the fields, cut down the trees, trade liquor for land, and pillage the natives. But the natives drove hard bargains, and the traders said that they were sharper than most. Indeed, their hearts were thought to be as hard as an awl: the French called them Coeur d’Alene. The white men had thrown away everything they’d had before in order to make a new place for their faith, they were frustrated to find that they were unable to take the land away from the natives. White men still came to this part of the country, thinking they could achieve something they’d never known before. Kev Macht had done the same. He had disavowed his family and changed his name when he came to the Aryan Nations Compound in Hayden Lake. Macht meant power: that’s what he wanted. He’d shaved his head, cut his skin with a sign, thrown away everything he ever cared about. Yet after he left the Aryan Nations, it seemed he wasn’t sure who he was anymore. Kev had stolen a Walkman, snuck out at night, got on a Greyhound bus to Coeur d’Alene, and then everything had changed. Something had gone wrong after the bus station. Now had the old green car – he’d kicked some guy’s ass in the station, and the keys had somehow just ended up in his hand. But for some reason the fight that hadn’t been satisfying. Afterwards, everyone else had gone away, even the priest. Kev could still hear the little man’s voice in his head, the memory was like a vapor trail drifting with him over the Fourth of July Pass, seeping out of the Silver Valley. Somehow, even after all these hours alone, Kev couldn’t escape the sound of that voice, each of those words echoing still inside, like floating leaves on the long current of dark highway draining out endlessly behind him.   The little man on the bus had worn a disheveled suit. He was thin and bookish, over-dressed and out of place on the late night express from Missoula to Spokane. His tie was askew and the wrinkles in his suit looked permanent. He slept with his mouth open, the breath flickering against the window like a dusty flame. Each exhalation steamed and faded away as the bus moved through the valley. A crooked ornament on a chain bounced on his slight chest, swinging back and forth with each salivating snore. As the bus accelerated out of Wallace, the inside aisle lights flickered out. The bodies within nodded into...

read more

Coeur d’Alene — Chapter 1

Posted by on May 2, 2013 in books, coeur, reading | 0 comments

Chapter 1   For none of us liveth to himself alone, and no man dieth to himself. – Book of Common Prayer, The Burial of the Dead The tuneless noise of an old truck echoed across the Bitterroot Range. It was a rasping music, composed of the scratch of old windshield wipers, the cough of corroded valves, the whine of a rusted exhaust pipe, the thin buzz of a wire against the road. As the brown truck moved across the Idaho Panhandle, the gears shifted heavily, sliding down a scale made of metal and grease, skipping notes as gravel rattled against the undercarriage. In late summer, the mining towns strung along the highway glimmer in the dusk, blighted jewels on a vast stripped neck of mine tailings and blackened earth. The lights that blink on top of the mine slag conveyors become flickering motes in a dense and dusty haze. Ore from deep underground drifts down, falling like heavy chunks of darker snow. At night in the mountains, the ragged grunt of an engine can be heard from miles away, it could be mistaken for some distant underground explosion. But the mines in the Silver Valley no longer run at full capacity at night. The mountains now resound with the hum of heavy half-tons that carry an endless stream of equipment and supplies to the tourist destinations in Priest Lake and Coeur d’Alene, on the flat side of the Bitterroot Range. The old truck with the bad engine took the road less traveled. It came out of Coeur d’Alene, went over Fourth of July Pass into the Bitterroot and headed east towards Missoula, Montana. At the unfinished curve of the Independence Loop, the truck briefly turned north, accelerating past the ghostly shadow of the Cataldo Mission, went east again at the Sunshine Mine, and finally ground to a halt at the only remaining stoplight on I-90 between Boston and Seattle: Wallace, Idaho, former silver-mining capital of the world.   In Albi’s Wallace Bar and Grill, Matt Worthson found a table as far from the bar as he could get. The barkeep sauntered over to him, and stood there for a long moment. Old Albi’s unsurprised expression never changed, no matter how many times Matt went dry. The possibility of a drink was always there, and as always Matt waited for a moment, the thirst for it turning, a worm of want impaled on a hook inside him. “A cup of coffee,” he said finally. “Black.” Albi gave a sardonic grin. Matt held up a sudden hand, silencing him, taking hold of the cup of hot coffee, a hungry man with a meal. He was not worried about the comments old Albi had saved up to torment him with: he needed to think. In fact, although Matt did not know it yet, these moments in Albi’s Bar and Grill were the last moments he would have to think for weeks to come. If he had known, he may not have cared. Just then, his thoughts were an affliction, they would not give him peace.   Matt took a slug of hot coffee into his mouth and closed his eyes. The previous week, he’d finally worked up the nerve to talk to the chaplain about his accident – previous to that...

read more

Coeur d’Alene — Prologue

Posted by on May 2, 2013 in books, coeur, reading | 0 comments

Prologue AUGUST 1988   The girl felt hope leave her as the road went dark. Night lapped across the valley and seeped over the mountains, an approaching tide. She turned her head and saw a light far away on the hill. Even as she looked, it faded into the depths. The darkness would swallow her. Ahead of the car were only acres of water, an emptiness that roiled slowly against the forest and the mountains. She rolled the syllables around in her mouth, a name her father had taught her: Lake Coeur d’Alene. Her father was gone. And when she peeked into the front seat, all she could see were the strange pair of muscled shoulders soiled with dirty ink, a blue-black smear. She closed her eyes, willing this strange man to go away. She tried to go to sleep, tried to pretend that none of this had happened. But even as she closed her eyes, she remembered seeing him for the first time. That afternoon, the man opened the car door quietly, as if he did not want anyone to see him. At first, she wondered if it were someone she should know, the man her momma talked about, the one who would come to get them both someday. But when she saw this man’s shoulders, she knew immediately this was not anyone she knew. This man had bent dragons written all over him, his skin was dirty as sin. Heat waves vibrated up from the pavement, blurring the entrance of the building her father had entered. The dirty man looked around the parking lot quickly and then ran his hand over the steering wheel, finding the keys right where her father had left them. The girl watched the man with her eyes slit nearly shut, willing him not to get into the car. But he did get in. He swung a small knapsack and a rolled-up sleeping bag onto the seat next to him and slammed the car door closed. He didn’t even look in the back seat, it was as if it already belonged to him. Then he turned the key. No one came out of the building.   In the back seat, the girl slid down to the floor. She pulled the yellow blanket over her and gripped her doll tight in her free hand. She imagined that she was invisible with her eyes shut, that no one could see her there, curled up next to her doll. She imagined that when she opened her eyes, her father would be sitting in the front seat. She would climb over the seat to sit beside him and watch the road. Then, a few minutes after the dirty man drove the car away, her father’s cell phone rang loudly, a penetrating series of beeps. God dammit to hell! The car swerved as the man pushed papers aside, trying to find the phone. As he lifted it up to his ear, the dirty man glanced in the rear view mirror, as if examining her under a microscope. His eyes saw her tennis shoes first, and then caught the edge of her dress at the top of the blanket, and then jumped up to lock on her face. Yeah, I took her, he said. So you ready to give...

read more

Enjoy what you read? Share!