Friday, October 2, 2015

Prize Draw and Celebration at NYUS - Jean Harrington

The authors of Not Your Usual Suspects thank you for following the blog, and celebrate 250,000 hits!

This week we'll be featuring a selection of delicious and delightful excerpts from our books. A lucky commenter at the end of the week will win a set of books from ALL the authors in e-format.

Just leave your email in the RAFFLECOPTER draw below - and you can earn extra entries by leaving a comment on the blogpost, too.

Today's featured author is JEAN HARRINGTON and her book THE DESIGN IS MURDER. Please enjoy the excerpt, pop the book on your wishlist if you're tempted, and don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter draw below.

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The Design Is Death finaled in the 2014 Florida Book Awards.

Interior designer Deva Dunne should be focusing her attention on buying a new home with Lt. Victor Rossi. But in typical Deva-style, she’s got her mind on everyone else’s abodes. Keeping her busy are her two newest clients, who have a lot in common. They both live on Whiskey Lane, and both were involved with the same woman. Coincidence or competition?

James Stahlman believes Stew Hawkins moved into the house across the street to terrorize him after he became engaged to Kay, Stew’s ex-wife. But Stew is over it. He’s remarried–and to someone much younger. When both women are found “accidentally” dead weeks apart Deva thinks there’s something afoot on Whiskey Lane. Coincidence or murder?

Deva can’t stay away…as much as her protective fiancĂ© would like her to. And it’s becoming clear that someone thinks Deva’s seen too much. With the list of suspects growing, and Deva and Rossi that much closer to becoming homeless–really, where are they going to live?–she’ll have to sift through the clues herself, or there’ll be no happily-ever-after.


BUY LINKS: AMAZON / NOOK / KOBO  




For the second time that morning, the sleigh bells jangled, and I glanced past Mr. Stahlman toward the front door. An unshaven teenager lurched in, his knees popping out of his jeans, his eyes popping out of his head.

I froze. A Beretta aimed at your face would do that to a person.

Finger shaking, I pointed toward the doorway. “Look!”

Mr. Stahlman swiveled around, spotted Bug Eyes and in his shock dropped Charlotte—boom!—to the floor, probably for the first time in her fluffy little life.

“Don’t move,” our intruder said. As if we could.

“What do you want?” I asked, my voice as shaky as my knees. “I just opened up. There’s no money in here.”

“Quiet.” He waved the gun at Mr. Stahlman. “Drop your wallet on the floor. Then slide it over to me. No fast moves.”

James Stahlman reached inside his breast pocket and slowly withdrew a leather billfold. Bending down, he placed it on the floor, and with the toe of his polished loafer sent it sliding across the room.

To Charlotte, that meant party time. As the wallet skittered across the floorboards, she pounced, grabbed the leather in her teeth and, happy with her new toy, scampered around the shop, dodging between chair legs and swooping under the round table skirts.

The mugger followed the dog with his doped-up eyes and the muzzle of his gun. “Get the damned wallet, fast, or I’ll kill that mutt.”

“Mutt!” The word tore from James Stahlman’s lips. Finding the insult too grievous to ignore, he drew himself erect. “She came in second in the Westminster Dog Show.”

“Who gives a shit?”

As the Beretta ominously followed Charlotte’s every move, the morning sun glanced off the dull barrel. Dull? Ah! The gun was a plastic fake. Mr. Tough Guy Mugger was playing Cops and Robbers. He wasn’t even armed. I was sure of it—well, pretty darned sure. My father had been one of Boston’s finest and taught me everything he knew about weaponry. But the price of a mistake could be fatal. While I tried to decide what to do, Charlotte did the deciding for me.

The mugger approached her, gun cocked and aimed. She took one look at him and dropped the wallet. A five-pound ball of fluff with the body of a crumpet and the heart of a lion, she leaped for his hand and sank her perfect little teeth into it.

He howled, and with Charlotte clinging to his flesh, he raised his arm. Swinging her around like a furry slingshot, he flung her through the air. She sailed across the shop, landing with a squeal on the zebra settee, a dazed expression on her face, her bow at a nutty angle.

Forgetting all danger to himself or to me either, Stahlman rushed to his darling and picked her up, murmuring sweet nothings into her ears.

Our mugger grabbed the wallet where the dog had dropped it, flipped it open and removed what looked like a hefty wad of cash. He threw the raided billfold on the floor, and with a final menacing wave of his pistol, yanked open the front door and disappeared down the alley to a rousing chorus of sleigh bells.

“My brave girl,” Stahlman said. “My dear, brave girl.”

He sure wasn’t speaking to me, but that was all right. Charlotte had been terrific and deserved the praise.

All I’d done was stand frozen in uncertainty. Now that the danger was over, I thawed and sprang into action. “I’m calling the police.”

“No! No police.”

Cell phone in hand, I stared at him, dismayed. “You’re kidding me.”

“Not at all, Ms. Dunne.”

“Actually it’s Mrs., but after what we’ve just been through together, do call me Deva.”

“Of course.” He stroked Charlotte’s fur and kissed her yet again. “And I’m James. But no police, Deva.”

The phone clutched in my sweaty palm, I said, “Why not, for heaven sake? You’ve been robbed.”

Cradling Charlotte in one hand, he bent over to pick up his wallet.

“Don’t touch that,” I yelled. “Fingerprints!”

Despite my warning, he pocketed the billfold.

“You shouldn’t have done that,” I said. "You’ve just destroyed evidence.”

“The money is negligible. My important papers are intact. That’s what matters.”

“But—”

He held up a single finger for silence, so I put the phone down on the sales desk, and without saying any more, waited for his reasoning.

He cleared his throat. “I’m assuming you read the local newspaper.”

“Every day.”

“Then you probably know of my wife’s unfortunate accident. It happened nearly a year ago...the publicity was relentless.”

“Yes, I remember.”

“The problem, Mrs....ah, Deva...is that everyone remembers. The last thing I want is more adverse publicity.”

“But you were the victim here.”

“No matter. The story will read badly in the media. I don’t want that spotlight trained on me ever again.” He shuddered and straightened Charlotte’s bow. Gave her back her dignity. Then with a frown, he glanced up at me. “Do you understand how I feel?”

“I do,” I said, trying not to sigh. There goes a plum client. “Your wishes are important to me, James, but in this I’m afraid I can’t please you.” I waved an arm at the door. “That’s open to the general public every day. Suppose the thief returns?”

“Hmm.” James sniffed. “I see your point. Very well, do what you must, but I won’t stay to be interrogated. If need be, the police will know where to find me.” He reached into his breast pocket,  removed a business card and held it out to me. “Until tomorrow then. As I said earlier, before our, ah...adventure...I’m getting married soon. My first wife would have wanted a new life for me. Marilyn would have as well. I’m certain of it.”

I must have forgotten some of the details in the newspaper reports, but with his reminder, they flowed back like a tsunami. Marilyn Stahlman, who disappeared at sea a year ago, wasn’t James’s first wife. But like the first one, she too had died an untimely death under mysterious circumstances.

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