Solving Mossy Bog’s first fire fatality could net police officer Laurie Ann Dinterman the promotion she desperately wants. When the state arson investigator arrives to take over the case, Laurie Ann is assigned to give the man everything he needs while keeping him alive. The fact he’s the sexiest man ever to hit town shouldn’t make a difference.
Hot on the trail of a serial arsonist, Wyatt North demands justice for his partner, the arsonist’s first victim. He’ll find the murderer or die trying–no matter how distracting the tall, lithe figure of his local partner is.
As the investigation zeroes in on a suspect uncomfortably close to Laurie Ann’s life, her cop instincts conflict with her feelings for Wyatt. Worse, the arsonist will do anything to protect his identity. Can Laurie Ann accept the truth in time…or will she and Wyatt go up in flames?
Before Laurie Ann sat down again, the chief stepped out of his office and waved her over. She hurried across the narrow squad room, wondering if she’d forgotten to sign an incident report again. Had she missed an important meeting?
Worse, had Rawson’s court case ended early and she was off the arson case? She hoped not. She hadn’t downloaded her pictures of the scene yet or scanned her site sketch. She was bummed she’d missed James Brown’s autopsy, but at least his clothes had been sent to the lab for examination. If she could find the murder weapon, that promotion would be hers for sure.
“Sir?” Laurie Ann asked when he gestured her toward the chair across from his desk.
The chief settled his bulk into the creaky leather chair. “I’ve got the arson investigator holding on line three. He wants to talk to us together. You ready?”
She nodded, her curiosity rising. This would be the first arson investigator she’d met. The fires around Mossy Bog and Tidewater County didn’t ordinarily attract outside attention.
Chief Tyler activated the speakerphone button. “Mr. North, I have Officer Dinterman with me in the office now.”
“Good,” North said. “Dinterman, I expect to hit the ground running when I arrive tomorrow at one p.m. I expect a briefing package with the case files and autopsy report. We’ll head out for a site tour following my review of the records. Oh, and I need all records of fires in your area for the last two years.”
His deep, gravelly voice reminder her of a gunslinger, but his request loosened a bolt of panic through her bloodstream. She exchanged a worried glance with her chief. “We don’t get called out to every fire. I’ll have to ask the fire department for those records. And the coroner’s finalizing the autopsy report.” She had other responsibilities and patrol duty tomorrow. How would she manage to collect all this information in time?
“Anything you want,” the chief said. “We’ll have those materials waiting for you when you arrive.”
“That will do it. See you folks tomorrow,” North said.
The line went dead, and Laurie Ann shifted in her seat. “He asked for a lot of information,” she began, feeling her way through the swamp of red tape. The man probably rode roughshod over anyone foolish enough to get in his way. “But I’ll make it work.”
The chief nodded. “I’ve got pressure from the top to give this guy whatever he needs, so I’m assigning your patrol shifts to Calucci. You’re assigned full time to the arson guy. We need to keep him happy, understand? Wyatt North tells you to jump, you do it, no questions asked.”
She fought back a rush of excitement. With only one directive to follow, she could easily meet North’s deadline. And if he was such a by-the-book guy, she’d still have time after-hours for her scrap metals project.
“Got it.” She rose from her chair. “I’ll get started.”
“Oh, one more thing, Dinterman. That task force you put together, I’m handing that over to Harlow. I don’t want you to think about anything but this arson investigator for the next few days. Scrap metal theft is a low priority compared to catching a serial arsonist.”
Her excitement fizzled. This was her baby. “I can keep up with the task force, sir. It won’t take that much time.”
“I’ve seen how many calls you get on that. Too time-consuming for you right now.”
“This North must be the governor’s son or something,” she muttered.
“Or something.” He eyeballed her. “You’re the best we’ve got. I’m counting on you.”
The unspoken message came through crystal clear. Don’t screw up. She squared her shoulders. “I’ll do my best.”
Would it be good enough for Mr. I-want-everything-right-now?
She’d be the best babysitter he ever had.
“Show me your covers contest” in October 2013
Hot Water finals in the EPIC contest for Romantic Suspense – winners announced in May 2014
“What I like about the Mossy Bog series is that each book concentrates on a different person in Mossy Bog, so the series never gets stale. This one is about Laurie Ann, who made an appearance in another book, and Wyatt, the fire investigator on the trail of a serial arsonist. There are plenty of tense moments and some nice romantic scenes that hold the book together until the penultimate scene when– Oops, almost gave away the ending, which I never do. Pick up the book and find out for yourselves. You’ll enjoy a terrific read. Highly recommended.” — Polly Iyer, author of MIND GAMES