Sleuthing Women II: 10 Mystery Novellas is a collection of ten mysteries featuring murder and assorted mayhem by eleven critically acclaimed, award-winning, and bestselling authors. Each novella is a tie-in to an established multi-book series–a total of nearly 700 pages of reading pleasure for lovers of amateur sleuth, caper, cozy, and female P.I. mysteries.
Frosted, A Moreno & Hart Novella by Allison Brennan & Laura Griffin–Three years ago LAPD Detective Scarlet Moreno and rookie cop Krista Hart were nearly killed during a botched sting operation. Now, they’re best friends and partners in the Orange County private investigation firm of Moreno & Hart. But their routine assignments are anything but safe.
Crewel Intentions, An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Novella by Lois Winston–Craft editor Anastasia Pollack receives a desperate call for help from former fashion editor Erica Milano, now in Witness Protection. Erica is being stalked and is afraid to notify the authorities. She once saved Anastasia’s life. Will Anastasia be able to return the favor before the stalker strikes?
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?
What the Widow Knew, A Kali-O’Brien Novella by Jonnie Jacobs–Attorney Kali O’Brien takes on the case of a young woman accused of murdering her much older, very rich husband. As evidence mounts and other possible suspects are eliminated, Kali’s doubts about her client’s innocence grow. Meanwhile, Kali is also grappling with her feelings for longtime boyfriend Detective Bryce Keating.
The Magnesium Murder, A Periodic Table Mystery by Camille Minichino–While freelance embalmer Anastasia Brent prepares the body of a young bride-to-be, she learns the girl’s mother suspects foul play. Once again Anastasia is pressed into service as a sleuth, following a trail of clues in search of a murderer and justice.
Honeymoons Can Be Murder, A Lee Alvarez Novella by Heather Haven— When PI Lee Alvarez goes on her honeymoon with bridegroom, Gurn Hanson, they find a dead woman practically on their doorstep. Kauai breezes may be soft, but there are gale force winds of accusation against Gurn. Will Lee find the real killer before her new hubby gets sent to a Hawaiian hoosegow?
Smoked Meat, A Carol Sabala Novella by Vinnie Hansen–Baker and wannabe sleuth Carol Sabala visits her mother for a family Christmas get-together. It’s murder, in more ways than one.
A Deadly Fundraiser, A Talk Radio Novella by Mary Kennedy–When radio talk show host Dr. Maggie Walsh and her pals start digging up clues in a scavenger hunt at a glitzy fundraiser, the game suddenly turns deadly. Will Maggie and her team be able to crack the case and solve the crime?
The Color of Fear, A Kelly O’Connell Novella by Judy Alter–Kelly receives a written kidnap threat targeting her infant daughter, Gracie. Kelly’s assistant Keisha narrates as Kelly and her family plot their precautions, but as time passes and the threat still looms, fear takes a toll on the family…and on Keisha.
Papa’s Ghost, A Gladdy Gold Mystery Novella by Rita Lakin–Gladdy and her girls accept an assignment at a famous resort in Key West, thinking it will combine business with pleasure. Once they arrive, Gladdy suspects something is strange. Not only is their client an unexpected shock, but so is the case of murder they are expected to solve. Can they succeed when a whole city is against them?
“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.