When racecar driver Tony Burke hires Claire Marshall’s company to restore his family house in New Orleans’ Lower Garden District, she convinces him to open his father’s old studio. They are looking for paintings; they find evidence of an old murder. Within a day, there’s a second murder. Tony insists the two crimes, although years apart, are connected. Unfortunately, the most obvious link gives him a powerful motive, and he has no alibi.
Claire is a widow just re-entering the world of dating. She has been seeing a homicide detective, but her sympathies lie more and more with the chief suspect. There are all kinds of crimes, and Tony is notorious for crimes of the heart. Claire is an adult. She should know better—or maybe not.
A web of old lies conceals the motive for murder. And then it’s torn …
EXCERPT: Tony is opening an antique chest that had been his toy box. He'd found the chest in his father's boarded-up studio.
Tony eased over and lifted the lid. "What the heck?” He pulled out a square of decayed burlap, threw it on the ground and picked up another. "Sandbags?"
The bags smelled awful, worse than the studio. Claire held her breath waiting for the stench to dissipate. How could Tony stand it?
"Someone emptied a bunch of sandbags into my toy box. On top of my toys?" He ran his fingers through the sand then frowned and pulled out a long white bone. "What's this?"
Her stomach turned over. "Oh my God."
"It looks like an ulna." She ran her fingers along the inside of her forearm. "This bone."
"From a human being?" He examined the bone. "Are you sure?"
"When my husband was in med school, I helped him study. It's been a while, so maybe not."
"But maybe yes?"
She made herself look more closely. "Probably yes."
A range of emotions played across Tony's face: bewilderment, disbelief, horror, and then anger. He held the bone against his forearm. "About my size. Right?" He laid the bone on the grass, sifted through the sand and pulled out a second long white bone. "Another one." He held it up for her to see.
"It's the other forearm bone." They'd found human remains. The studio really was a tomb. Tony's toy box was a coffin. She grabbed the stair rail and pulled herself up. "We'd better call the police."
Tony knelt next to the toy chest, his back to her, his head bowed, and said nothing.
"We should call the police," she repeated.
"Go ahead. Phone in the bedroom works."
He didn’t look up. When she returned, he was still kneeling beside the chest. She returned to her seat on the steps.
"The police will send a car as soon as one is available."
"The forearm was here." He drew a line in the sand. "So, the rest of the arm would be about here. Right?" He slid his hand over. "Someone my size, you'd have to fold him into a fetal position to fit him in."
"The police said not to touch anything."
He dug into the sand and uncovered another bone. "This is the upper arm, isn't it?"
"I think so." She looked away.
"What's this one?"
"Tony, don’t. Those bones used to be a person." The med school skeleton used to be a person too, but this was different. She extended her hand. "Let's wait out front."
He shook his head and continued digging, using both hands to brush the sand aside, pulling out bones, and laying them on the grass. She couldn't stop him, but she didn't have to watch.
"I'll be out front."
"Don't go. Please. I want to put him back together, and I could use your help." He held a long bone parallel to his thigh, frowned, and then slid it below his knee. "It's part of the leg, but which part?"
"Stop it, please. This isn't a game."
"Trust me, sweetheart, I'm not playing. Tell me what this is."
SECRETS, LIES & HOMICIDE
Top Ten Mystery
- Preditors and Editors 2014 Readers’ Poll
Finalist, 2016 Best Mystery
- Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition
In Secrets, Lies & Homicide, romance and mystery form a perfect match.
- LAS (Long and Short) Reviewer, 9/15/2014: Five of five stars
This book is just a gem and I highly recommend it. Whether mysteries are your favorite genre or you just want to read a page-turner, this book is a must-read.
- Online Book Club Official Review 1/7/2015: Four of four stars