No Quarter, A Cleopatra Jones Novella by Maggie Toussaint–Amnesia, the doctor says when accountant Cleopatra Jones wakes in a distant hospital. Hours later most of her memory returns. Detective Jack Martinez visits Cleo’s nearby wealthy client, only she’s dead and broke. To Cleo’s horror, she’s a murder suspect. Will she totally recover her memory before the killer returns?
“No Quarter by Maggie Toussaint is part of the Cleopatra Jones Mystery series, a new-to-me series. I love Maggie’s Dreamwalker series, though, so I suspected this novella would appeal to me. I was right! And it can definitely be read as a standalone. Since the novella begins with Cleo having amnesia, as she re-learns people’s names and other facts, the new reader learns about Cleo too.
I delighted in getting to know Cleo in No Quarter. Cleo’s transitions — from an amnesiac Jane Doe, to a person-of-interest in a murder, to a person-of-interest of another sort — make the novella fun and interesting. I like how the detective accepts the sleuthing insights that Cleo has, instead of discounting them as you find in some cozies. There’s an exciting action scene, where Cleo saves the day. She is integral in solving the big case, also.
I look forward to reading all about Cleo in her earlier adventures. I thoroughly enjoyed No Quarter, and recommend it to all fans of cozy mysteries. I think it will have special appeal to fans of the rest of the Cleopatra Jones Mysteries, to fans of Maggie Toussaint’s other books, and to accountants everywhere.
I absolutely love No Quarter by Maggie Toussaint, and hereby grant it our highest rating of Five Kitties!” — Jane Reads, Mystery Reviewer
“Cleopatra Jones, an accountant and amateur sleuth, wakes up in the hospital with post-concussion amnesia. She’s been in a car accident but remembers nothing about it. Her purse is missing, and her identity has been stolen. Worse, she can’t remember anything about visiting a tax client the morning of the incident. So when this lady turns up dead, Cleo is the first person the detective on the case wants to question. The woman’s fortune is missing. Would Cleo know who might have had access to Mrs. Taylor’s accounts? When Cleo realizes the killer might have intended to add her to the list of victims that night, she’s afraid he might come after her again. Can she sift through the suspects fast enough before he catches up to her? A wacky cast adds to the allure of this delightful mystery. An amnesia victim, a dead woman, hidden loot, and financial scams combust in this twisty tale. And just when you think you know whodunit, you’ll learn even the victim had secrets. No Quarter is another stellar addition to the Cleopatra Jones series.” – Nancy J Cohen
“Ma’am? Are you all right?
The voice sounded a million miles away. I barely caught the words. Didn’t matter though. I was too woozy to answer.
The voice persisted. “Ma’am. What is your name?”
Go away. Let me sleep.
Fingers pried an eyelid open, and a light blinded me. Startled, I tried to rear back, only there was nowhere for my head to retreat. The light winked out, then it blazed into my other eye.
Leave me alone. I tried to curl into a fetal position, only my arms and legs didn’t move. I was paralyzed! Icy fear shot through my bloodstream. I was in danger. Had to hide. Had to sleep.
Painful tingles lanced my hands and feet. I groaned inwardly at the awful sensations. Why wouldn’t they leave me be? I felt like a slab of meat with people standing around and poking me.
“She’s coming round,” the voice said.
“Ma’am, can you hear me?” a deeper voice asked.
“Yes,” I said, only my lips didn’t move. Cold. I was so cold. I shivered and trembled.
“She’s going into shock,” the voice said.
Joints ached. Head pounded. I squinted through slits of eyelids. White ceiling. White room. Where am I? What happened to me?
My fingers curled, nails dug into my palms. I tried to lift my head, and pain sliced through me. Beeps sounded. Footsteps approached. My eyes opened wide with terror.
A woman dressed in white beamed at me as if I’d won a prize. “There you are.” She punched a few buttons, and the noise ceased. The throbbing in my head lessened.
“I’m Nurse Holly Ann, and you’re in the hospital,” she said in a perky voice. “We think you were in a car accident. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
Car accident? No way. I’m a safe driver. I tried to tell her, but my words came out gibberish. My pulse thrummed in my ears.
“Take it easy,” Nurse Holly Ann continued. “I’m going to check your vitals now.”
Vital signs. I’m alive. That was good news. A cuff squeezed my arm, sending my heart rate into a gallop.
The nurse stuck a device in my ear briefly. “Temp is ninety-seven. A little low, dear, but that’s to be expected.”
Why was it expected?
She must’ve read the question in my eyes. “Because of the cold weather. It’s January. You were wandering on a Christmas tree farm in northern Virginia. The farmer called an ambulance, and now you’re safe in the hospital. Sit tight, and I’ll get the doctor. He’ll tell you more.”
A tree farm? This was all so confusing. What happened to me? I tried to remember, but static filled the void where my memory should be.
“The charge nurse said you were awake,” a man said.
I opened my eyes, tried to speak, and got gibberish again. So frustrating.
“Ah, hello there. I’m Doctor Garwood. Good to see you’re conscious. You may be experiencing a headache. You have a concussion, and we’re monitoring you. Your CT scan came back fine, so there’s no internal bleeding. Blink twice if you have a headache. Blink once if you have no pain.”
I blinked twice at the tall man in the white coat, and he smiled.
“You’re doing fine,” he said. “You may experience temporary problems with speech and memory. That’s routine for your type of injury. Most cases like this resolve satisfactorily in twenty-four to forty-eight hours.”
An injury? I had no memory of an accident or injury. Then I rewound more of what he’d said. Oh. Memory loss. The mental fog made sense now. Regardless, I wanted out of here. I wanted to go home. I blinked twice and waited. Home. Where was home?
“We’ll get you squared away in no time,” he said. “Do you remember your name? Three blinks for yes, two for no.”
My name. Somebody asked me my name earlier. It’s . . . what is it? I couldn’t remember. I blinked twice.
“That’s what I thought, but your memory should return shortly. You have a bump on your head. Nothing broken and no other swelling, so you’re good there. Since you carried no identification, we sent your photo to area police departments.”
Photo to the cops. Good. My family would find me. Wait. What was that about a bump on my head? I blinked three times in a row.
He jotted notes on a chart, ignoring me. I tried to sit, but my stiffened joints protested.
Dr. Garwood glanced over at my thrashing. “Be patient while your body reboots. We’re still waiting on your toxicology reports and hoping for a positive ID. Sit tight.”
Sit tight. As if I could leave. I flexed my fingers again and then I tried my toes. They didn’t respond. Not good. I wanted to lift my head and see if they were still attached to my feet, but that would trigger alarms again, which would make my headache pound harder.
With each passing moment, mental clarity strengthened. I tried to piece the facts together. Something happened to me, and I was in a hospital. It was January, and I’d been walking through a tree farm. The farmer hadn’t recognized me, the cops didn’t know me, so I must not be local. Why was I walking around someplace I didn’t belong in the middle of winter?
I thought and thought until I gave up. Somebody must be searching for me. Somebody would come for me. My eyes drifted shut again.