As a good son, when the new Jefferson Chene mystery was released, I sent a copy of to my dear sweet mother. Ever since I started writing seriously, Mom has been interested in reading my efforts.
When the first Jamie Richmond mystery “Devious” was published, I made sure she got a copy. Now, in my eyes, that’s another mystery. But the Jamie series includes a fair bit of romance and passion between Jamie and Malone, the guy she meets along the way who captures her heart.
So a few weeks later, I was visiting Mom when she mentioned the book. I asked for her reaction. She gave me a sweet smile and said ‘you must have done a lot of research.’
That was it. No further comment or explanation. My darling wife cracked up. On the drive home, she asked what I thought that meant. “It could be about the police investigation. Or maybe about the romantic parts.” We’ll never know for sure.
So this week I was pleasantly surprised to hear from Mom. She was absolutely delighted with “Your Turn to Die”. Every part of the story was enjoyable. Turns out she’d shared this news the night before with my kid brother and was telling all of her friends how much she liked the book.
So there you go.
Here’s an excerpt from “Your Turn to Die”. In this scene, Chene is summoned to meet with Leo Agonasti, a retired mobster who has an interest in all things related to Motown, especially crime and Chene’s investigations. The conversation takes place about Agonasti’s new yacht, in the middle of Lake St. Clair.
I nudged the throttles and felt the wind tug at my clothes. This far out on the lake, no remote microphones would be effective. Although he was retired, I was sure Agonasti was still under the surveillance of some kind of a task force.
“What do you think, Jeff?”
“Hell of a ride. Why don’t you run it?”
He shrugged his thick shoulders. “Never learned how. Figured it was easier to have someone else who feels comfortable at the helm. I wouldn’t have been able to back her out of the dock.”
“Just takes practice.”
“It wouldn’t be right if I had trouble handling it. May give people the wrong impression. And I certainly don’t want that.”
I thought about that. Pity the fool who joked about Agonasti’s inability to dock a boat. If the old rumors were true, he’d find a dozen painful ways to make the person regret their comments.
“So how’s the homicide investigation coming?” Agonasti had carried the tea up with him and was twirling his glass slowly, watching the ice cubes roll around the rim.
“Typical. Chasing down leads, talking to his contacts. Same old song and dance.” I shifted my eyes from the water to him. “You ever meet?”
Agonasti merely shook his head.
“Then why the interest?”
“I’m interested in many things, especially when someone is brutally murdered. A family man, too.”
“Are you referring to that in the traditional sense?”
His face split into a wide grin. “That’s what I like about you, Jeff. Always straight to the point. No pulling punches.”
“You didn’t answer my question.”
Again the grin. “See what I mean. No, Morrissey was not connected with any organized crime syndicate.”
“So there must be some reason his death peaks your interest?”
“I like old movies. Kick it up a notch.”
I increased the throttles to three-quarter speed. He’d tell me what was on his mind when he was ready. I leaned back in the chair and sipped my tea, one hand loosely on the wheel.
We continued running northeast, across Lake St. Clair in the general direction of Port Huron. Agonasti gestured toward the right and I fell into the wake of an ore freighter that was headed in the same direction.
“Morrissey’s murder appeared to be an execution,” Leo said. “It made me curious. I’ve asked around. No one had any dealings with him. Whoever killed him might have been attempting to steer the investigation away and focus it on the family.”
I shrugged. “Makes sense. Shot at close range. Not as messy as through the ear, but just as effective.”
“Killers today don’t have the stomach for a signature hit. They don’t want to get their Guccis dirty. Most hits nowadays are as subtle as a drive-by shooting.”
“So you wanted to make sure we don’t waste our time searching for any organized crime connections?”
Agonasti’s head bobbed slowly on his shoulders. “Trail’s getting cold, Jeff. Whoever did this to Morrissey shouldn’t get away with it. Guy was a straight arrow. Wife and kids and all that jazz.”
By the way, if you prefer audio books to print or electronic versions, both Chene mysteries are now available on Audible. Here's a link to the new one.
A little variety in this week's music selection. Here's a great R & B tune from Freddie Jackson.