Finally got back to work on it. Marlena just went at it with her mom (she always goes and mooches the washer and dryer at her mom's house rather than use the washateria, ostensibly to save money, in reality it's more complicated than that the way things can be between daughter and mother sometimes), Sheriff Ray talked to Jerry Rawlings (who, remember, had a red pickup truck smash through his gate) and got the description of the pickup truck and the guy driving it, and talked to Bendigo Bob out at the old ghost town and found that the guy, who ole' Bob describes as "looked a bit like Charlie Manson, sorta runty guy with long hair and crazy eyes" (and Bob should know because Charlie used to stop by his place from time to time back in the day) got sent Jerry's way because the guy told Bob that he was looking for a place a woman might be staying and Bob decided that maybe Jerry might teach him a lesson about respecting the privacy of folks out in the desert. Then the Sheriff mentioned the woman and child who had been at the Hobbit mine and asked if he'd seen them, and Bob allowed as how he might have, and gave the Sheriff a bit of a description although he's in his 70's and his eyesight isn't so good so he isn't even quite sure whether the kid is a girl or a boy. Not much help, but a little. So anyhow, the Sheriff has now gone and checked out a number of prime camping spots to see if the guy in the red pickup truck is still lurking around the valley, and come up empty, so he's heading back to the office. BTW, shift change has of course happened at dispatch, and there's a dispatch that the Sheriff should have gotten, but the new dispatcher hasn't bothered reading the log book to find out she's supposed to tell the Sheriff about it. But the Sheriff will of course get it once he gets back to the office and picks a copy of it off his desk.
Meanwhile, our mystery woman, back at her cabin, has put on a backpack, pulled out a camouflage net, and had a flashback. A short one luckily. So now she's discovered the old mining trail that the *other* mystery woman, the one at the mine, used to get across the ridge separating her cabin from the next canyon over, and she's gone over that mining trail and set herself up camouflaged on the other side. I'll be interested to see what happens with that one... but I think we're about to find out who our second mystery woman (the one with the kid) is, and what she's doing out there.
And yeah, I know how the story ends. And it's not a happy ending, both a good guy and a bad guy get killed. And there's a mystery still unsolved at the end that drives the Sheriff and Marlena both halfway crazy that they can't solve it, and hopefully the reader too, but that's how life works sometimes. So eventually they just have to accept it, and move on as best they can.
As for whether I write another novel that solves that unsolved mystery, or even divulge the answer to the unsolved mystery... nope :-). Not that I'm exactly sure of the answer anyhow. It's complicated. There's wheels within wheels and every time the Sheriff and Marlena think they've arrived at the answer, it turns out they're wrong, or maybe not wrong, they just can't tell what is true and what is not by the time they get to the end because there's all these things they think they know but they contradict each other. Hmm...
-- Badtux the Summary Penguin