Laura Wilson’s bio

The last post gave the background for Jake Donovan. He and Laura Wilson are the two main characters in my Prohibition-era mystery series that started with The Yankee Club and will continue January 6 with All That Glitters.

If you read The Yankee Club, you know Laura had a tough life growing up. Things began to look up when she and her old man moved to Queens where Laura met Jake, but there was much about her life that didn’t make the final manuscript of either novel, so I thought I’d share with this post.

Laura was born in 1902 and didn’t remember much about her mother who left when Laura was three. Her father began to drink much and blamed Laura for her mother’s departure, ignoring his own failings as a husband, parent and a man.

As she grew, her father recognized her mother’s beauty in Laura and his resentment grew, as did his consumption of alcohol. The beatings were always there, but they got worse, the older Laura got.

When she was twelve, Laura and her old man moved to Queens into Jake and Gino Santoro’s neighborhood. She got to know Jake a year later during the school’s production of Tom Sawyer. Her interest in acting came from her desire to escape the painful reality of growing up.

With Jake in Europe during the Great War, Laura graduated from high school and left home that day. She never saw her father again. She moved in with other actresses, and when Jake came home from the war and asked her to marry him, she wanted to say yes. She’d loved Jake since high school, but she’d vowed never to be dependent on any man.

When Jake became a Pinkerton detective and left New York, Laura concentrated on her acting even more. She outgrew the teenage roles in off-Broadway plays, but landed minor parts as female sidekicks in musicals and comedies, but men noticed and remember her for her black-haired, green-eyed beauty. Broadway

When Jake returned to New York due to his father’s ill heath, Laura and Jake resumed their relationship, but still wouldn’t marry him. They shared an apartment after his father died.

Jake started his own detective agency with Mickey O’Brien, and Laura helped out around the office. At her request, Jake taught her to handle a gun, and she often accompanied him on investigations.

Laura landed a lead in a romantic comedy and her career took off. Jake had begun to write and had his first novel published, but their successful careers led to new conflicts. Jake left for Florida and Laura became a leading lady on Broadway.

The Depression had a devastating impact on Broadway. Theaters  closed and actors, including plenty of Laura’s friends lost their jobs.

Laura however, continued to land leading roles. Nearly two years after Jake left, she landed the lead in Night Whispers at The Longacre Theater. One night, a cocky scoundrel from Hollywood, Eric Carville, makes his way back stage and presents Laura with an opportunity she can’t turn down. She signs a contract with Carville studios.

Jake returns from Florida, and the next two weeks are told in The Yankee Club. When the play ends, Laura and Jake leave for Hollywood,  and the events that take place when they get there are told in All That Glitters, coming January 6.

Another Jake and Laura mystery

Another Jake and Laura mystery

 

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Jake Donvan

Several of The Yankee Club reviews have praised the two main characters in the series, Jake Donovan and Laura Wilson.

“Jake and Laura remind me a bit of the characters from The Thin Man–a couple who find themselves solving crimes together,” Goodreads review

“Jake isn’t superhuman – he’s a guy with a strong background in police/detective work who’s been out of the game a bit.” Daniel’s Goodreads review.

Those who’ve read The Yankee Club, know a lot about Jake Donovan, but much of his background never made it into the manuscript. So, I thought I’d share more about Jake’s life particularly before 1933, the start of the novel.

Jake, the son of Pat and Marie Donovan, was born in Queens, New York in 1900, making him 33 during the events that take place in The Yankee Club. His mother died of influenza during the plague of 1908. Pat Donovan, always a dreamer who longed to move the family to Florida, raised Jake and his two older sisters, Mary and Teresa as best he could. He made sure the kids attended church on Sundays at St. Timothy’s. In addition to values, his father taught Jake to take care of himself and to box, a skill that came in handy later in life.

Jake was fourteen when Laura and her old man moved into Jake’s neighborhood. That first year, Laura mostly kept to herself, but Jake got to know her better a year later when they both tried out for a school play. Laura landed the part of Becky Thatcher while Jake was Tom Sawyer. During rehearsal they shared their first kiss. Jake was in love.

He didn’t know Laura’s father slapped her around when he drank, which was often. By the time Jake found out, he and Laura were high school sweethearts, and he and his buddies Gino and Danny straightened her old man out.

Jake and Laura dated through high school. They talked about marriage, but life doesn’t always turn out the way young people plan The United States went to war the year Jake graduated. He lied about his age (seventeen) and joined the army where he was dispatched to Europe and met a fellow New Yorker, Micky O’Brien.

War changes people, but combat didn’t change Jake’s feelings about Laura who struggled to become a young actress as a way out of her house. When he returned, Jake proposed, but Laura turned him down. She was determined to make it on her own as an actress.

Stung by Laura’s rejection, Jake landed a job as a Pinkerton detective hoping to leave Queens and his broken heart behind. He got his wish when he was assigned to the Baltimore office where he met Dashielle Hammett. For the next few years, Jake worked at various Pinkerton offices around the country, including Omaha and Los Angeles.

Jake’s father contacted tuberculosis in 1927. With his sisters married and in other states, Jake quit his job as a Pinkerton and returned to Queens to care for his father, who died a year later.

By this time, Laura had landed a small role on Broadway. Jake proposed marriage again. Laura turned him down but they moved in together. Jake and Micky O’Brien opened their own detective agency at the same time Jake began to write mystery novels.

Empire Press published the first Blackie Doyle novel. The book was a big success, as were the next two novels, but in spite of the stock market crash and the spread of the Great Depression, Jake wanted more.

Laura’s landed the lead in a Broadway play the week Jake proposed again. When Laura rejected him again, Jake turned the detective business over to Micky and left town.

Unlike his father, Jake made it to Florida where he continued to write. He might have stayed there permanently, but in 1933, Jake’s editor, Mildred, wasn’t satisfied with the third Blackie Doyle novel. She insisted he return to New York briefly to work out the differences.

What happened when he arrived is chronicled in The Yankee Club.

Inspired by The Thin Man movies

Inspired by The Thin Man movies

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Jake and Laura Mystery Series

Pre-release reviews for the second Jake and Laura mystery, All That Glitters, are starting to come in.

Jay Williams calls the cast of characters “as good as any Damon Runyon came up with.” Here’s the rest of his review.

Goodreads reviewer Bree Garcia said, “There has been a serious lack of mysteries in my bookshelf, and I’m so glad that I found these. Jake and Laura are the best, and they make such a great team.” Read her review.

If you like classic mysteries, historical figures and Hollywood in the thirties, you’ll like Jake and Laura’s latest adventure. Pre-order All That Glitters now for just $2.99 and download January 6. Here’s a more detailed description:

In Michael Murphy’s rollicking new Jake & Laura mystery, the hard-boiled writer and the aspiring movie star head for sun-drenched Los Angeles, where a cold-blooded murderer lurks behind the scenes.

Another Jake and Laura mystery

Another Jake and Laura mystery

Just arrived from New York, Broadway actress Laura Wilson is slated to star in Hollywood’s newest screwball comedy. At her side, of course, is Jake Donovan, under pressure to write his next mystery novel. But peace and quiet are not to be had when an all-too-real murder plot intrudes: After a glitzy party, the son of a studio honcho is discovered dead from a gunshot wound. And since Jake exchanged words with the hothead just hours before his death, the bestselling author becomes the LAPD’s prime suspect.

In 1930s Tinseltown, anything goes. Proving his innocence won’t be easy in a town where sex, seduction, and naked power run rampant. With gossip columnist Louella Parsons dead-set on publicizing the charges against him, Jake has no choice but to do what everyone else does in the City of Angels: act like someone else. Blackie Doyle, the tough-talking, fist-swinging, womanizing hero from Jake’s novels wouldn’t pull any punches until he exposed the real killer—nor will Jake, to keep the role of a lifetime from being his last.

Inspired by The Thin Man movies

Inspired by The Thin Man movies

If you haven’t read the first novel in the Jake and Laura series, The Yankee Club, you can order and download today!

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Historical Mysteries set in the 1930’s

Inspired by The Thin Man movies

Inspired by The Thin Man movies

Even before the release of my Prohibition-era historical mystery, The Yankee Club, several readers asked why I’d set a mystery in the 1930’s. There are five major reasons I chose to set my Jake and Laura mystery series in the 1930’s, so I thought I’d share them with you.

The Golden Age of Mysteries.

The 1920’s and the 30’s are considered the Golden Age of Mysteries. Famous authors who wrote during this era include. Agatha Christie, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Rex Stout and Dorothy L. Sayers to name a few. With my Jake and Laura series, I have my own style of writing. I’m trying not to copy them, but to pay tribute to the timeless classics they wrote.

The comparisons between the thirties and the world today.

The thirties brought the world a devastating economic disaster, the Great Depression. Banks closed, homes were repossessed, millions lost their jobs and the gap between the haves and have nots increased. In the early part of this century were flirted with another Depression, banks closed, homes were repossessed, unemployment reached post-Depression highs and the gap has widened between the haves and have nots. The Jake and Laura series is a mystery series, not a political statement, but readers can’t escape the comparisons between then and now.

Intriguing Historical figures.

The thirties brought fascinating historical figures in politics, entertainment, sports and yes, crime. With Laura, a famous Broadway actress and Jake a successful mystery writer, they interact from time to time with friends from these fields and they drop by from time to time enhancing scenes and the stories; Cole Porter, Babe Ruth, Louella Parsons, to name a few. As a writer it was fun and a challenge to determine which of these characters are inherent to the stories.

The Influence of The Thin Man Movies.

William Powell, Myrna Loy, Asta

William Powell, Myrna Loy, Asta

I loved Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man, but it’s William Powell and Myrna Loy who inspired me to create a couple in love and investigating crime. I hope my series contains a smattering of sophistication, suspense and humor.

Noir Fiction. I’m a fan of hard-boiled detective novels and noir films and novels. I love heroes like Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade. The Jake and Laura novels are not classic, there’s too much humor and romance to fit that mold, but that was my intent, noir with a few laughs thrown in.

Whether you’ve read The Yankee Club, or plan to read All That Glitters, I hope this has helped explain how writing these novels came about.

Another Jake and Laura mystery

Another Jake and Laura mystery

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The Publishing Cycle

Inspired by The Thin Man movies

Inspired by The Thin Man movies

I have to admit, sometimes the publishing cycle can seem overwhelming. Random House Alibi released the first Jake and Laura novel, The Yankee Club, on August 12 and I’m thrilled by all the terrific reviews it’s received. Of course marketing and promotion began long before August and continued with a blog tour in September and posting reviews in social media as they show up in Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, etc.

September also saw the cover reveal for the second in the series, All That Glitters.

Another Jake and Laura mystery

Another Jake and Laura mystery

During all this I’ve been working on book three in the series, Wings in the Dark, that takes place in Hawaii. Unfortunately, I didn’t actually travel to Hawaii for research. I’m still working away on the manuscript, but I can’t neglect The Yankee Club and all the great reviews reader continues to post.

Nor can I ignore the advance buzz staring about All That Glitters. October saw the book being available for pre-order for the January 6 release. It’s now available through NetGalley.

It’s an exciting time balancing writing and promotion involving three books in a series. For all you authors out there, you know what I’m talking about.

Pre-order All That Glitters at:

The Kindle Store             Nook Store             Kobo Books

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Television interview

It was my pleasure recently to be interviewed by Sandy Moss, host of the Morning Scramble in Prescott, Arizona. We chatted about my recent trip back to Bethel Woods Center for the Arts and my Woodstock novel, Goodbye Emily. We also chatted about my current novel, The Yankee Club and All That Glitters that comes out in January. Thought I’d share our chat.

 

 

 

 

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The Yankee Club Reviewers

It’s always humbling when someone purchases one of my books and even more so when I see that someone’s taken the time to read and review my book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads or various blogs. Here’s just a few snippets of reviews from The Yankee Club.

“Jump on the incredible page turner set in 1933 in the middle of the Great Depression – you won’t regret it.” Reviewer Bill Baker

“This is a highly entertaining novel, very skillfully written. Murphy has done a great job of creating a story that reads like it could have been written by one of the greats of noir fiction. I highly recommend it.” Goodreads reviewer Scott Parsons

“The Yankee Club was a fantastic mystery read!! Shady characters, corruption, romance, mystery and suspense and not once did any of these factors overthrow the plot.” Bookish Wanderlove Blog

“The Yankee Club by Michael Murphy is a hard-boiled historical romp that is inspired genius, peppered with great characters.” Looking for a Good Book Blog.

“The Yankee Club is a compelling mystery, meticulously crafted, and filled with humor and witty dialogue.” Author Peg Glover

“The Yankee Club is a fun read from start to finish.” Blogger Peter Faur

Thanks to everyone who’s read and reviewed The Yankee Club.

 

 

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Thanks to Everyone for my book release

A book release is an exciting time for an author and it was for me when The Yankee Club was released Tuesday, August 12. I have so many people to thank for helping me launch the book. First off, thank you to my agent Dawn Dowdle and to my fellow authors at Blue Ridge Literary Agency, for offering support, encouragement, and suggestions to spread the word.

I’ll always be grateful to Dana, Kimberly, April, Heidi, Katie and so many others at Random House Alibi who helped edit, produce a dynamite cover and brought their expertise to the effort to release The Yankee Club and to offer such a terrific special price reduction.

And thanks to all of you who’ve downloaded the book at The Kindle Store, Barnes & Noble Nook Store, Google Play, which is a great place to download ebooks on any android devices, or any of the other sites where ebooks are sold.

Thanks to everyone who’s downloaded the book and a special thanks to those who’ve taken the time to post reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. Your time and effort to post a review is especially appreciated.

Inspired by The Thin Man movies

Inspired by The Thin Man movies

January 6, the second in the Jake and Laura series will be released. You’ll probably want to read The Yankee Club first so you can find out why Jake and Laura travel to Hollywood during Tinseltown’s naughtiest, bawdiest year to date.

Another Jake and Laura mystery

Another Jake and Laura mystery

 

 

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The Yankee Club is here!

Today marks the official release of The Yankee Club by Random House Alibi. I have so many people to thank for making this day possible; my agent, Dawn Dowdle, the editors at Alibi and my critique group, Toby Heathcotte, Beth Blake and Cherie Lee.

Now you can order the ebook for just $2.99!

Amazon Kindle    Barnes & Noble Nook

Books-A-Million   eBooks.com   Google Play Store

iBooks   Kobo

The Yankee Club is already generating a buzz. Here’s what some of the best book bloggers around are saying:

The Bookbinder’s Daughter book blog.

Bibliotica book blog because books are portable magic.

Reading Reality blog by Marlene Harris.

The Incredible Librarian Book Blog

Michelle’s Bookshelf by Michelle Mallette

Brandon Sears’s Read Everything Blog

Savage Reads book blog

The Sweetest Place is Home book blog

Mustard Seeds blog

If you’re still not sure The Yankee Club is the book for you, here’s a brief synopsis:

In Michael Murphy’s action-packed Prohibition-era novel of suspense, a mystery writer returns to the bright lights and dark alleys of New York City—uncovering a criminal conspiracy of terrifying proportions.
 
In 1933, America is at a crossroads: Prohibition will soon be history, organized crime is rampant, and President Roosevelt promises to combat the Great Depression with a New Deal. In these uncertain times, former-Pinkerton-detective-turned-bestselling-author Jake Donovan is beckoned home to Manhattan. He has made good money as the creator of dashing gumshoe Blackie Doyle, but the price of success was Laura Wilson, the woman he left behind. Now a Broadway star, Laura is engaged to a millionaire banker—and waltzing into a dangerous trap.
 
Before Jake can win Laura back, he’s nearly killed—and his former partner is shot dead—after a visit to the Yankee Club, a speakeasy dive in their old Queens neighborhood. Suddenly Jake and Laura are plunged into a conspiracy that runs afoul of gangsters, sweeping from New York’s private clubs to the halls of corporate power and to the White House itself. Brushing shoulders with the likes of Dashiell Hammett, Cole Porter, and Babe Ruth, Jake struggles to expose an inconspicuous organization hidden in plain sight, one determined to undermine the president and change the country forever.

I hope you enjoy The Yankee Club. The best way to let me know  what you think is to post a review of your own on Goodreads. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or where ever you ordered the ebook.

Michael Murphy

Inspired by The Thin Man movies

Inspired by The Thin Man movies

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One more excerpt from The Yankee Club

Yankee Club with the rose crop 4The Yankee Club will be released on August 12, so here’s one more excerpt. Still in the hospital, Jake is visited by two cops, his editor, Mildred and the owner of The Yankee Club, Gino, who thinks it’s time for Jake to leave. 

The Yankee Club

Chapter 3 (continued)

I made it back down the hallway on the crutches. I nodded to the cop outside my door and entered the room. The nurses had changed more than the sheets. The drab hospital room resembled a cheery hotel suite.

The new bed had a thick wide mattress with crisp ironed sheets whiter than snow and a soft-looking pillow. In the corner they’d placed a chair and desk with an Underwood typewriter, a stack of paper, and a crystal vase with yellow carnations. The nurse smiled and held out a thick blue robe.

Except for the typewriter, I hadn’t asked for any of this. “You shouldn’t have gone to all this trouble.”

“Any friend of Spencer Dalrymple’s—”

“He’s not my friend.”

The nurse smirked and laid the robe on the bed. “I see.”

Maybe she’d seen something between Laura and me. For Laura’s sake I had to do a better job of hiding my feelings about her.

I propped the crutches against the side of the bed. Balancing on one leg, I slipped into the robe and cinched it around my waist.

“Jake Donovan.” A broad-shouldered man in a three-piece suit and polished shoes entered and removed his hat. “Apparently you’re well enough . . . and comfortable enough to tell us what happened last night. I’m Detective Hawkins, and this is Inspector Stone.”

His partner stood behind him, and both men flashed NYPD badges. I recognized Stone’s hawklike nose and perpetual scowl. Officer Stone had walked a beat with Mickey for two years. He never liked me, and things got worse when Mickey quit the force and we opened our detective agency.

Stone shook his head in disgust and gestured toward the pillow. “Where’s the mint?”

When the nurse left, Stone looked me straight in the eye like I was a suspect, not a victim. “Four years ago I got plugged in the shoulder. I was in the hospital for two weeks. They stuck me in a ward with a dozen guys who had serious intestinal problems, if you know what I mean.”

I sat on the edge of the bed. “I’m quite well, Inspector. Thanks for asking.”

Hawkins gave his partner a look and set his hat on the coatrack. He took out a small notebook and pencil from his suit coat pocket. “Why don’t you start with when you left The Yankee Club.”

Stone dropped his hat beside the typewriter, plopped down at the desk, and drummed his fingers on the paper.

I told them about the visit to Mickey’s office with Frankie Malzone. I left out meeting Belle Starr. I didn’t want these guys to give her the business until I’d talked to her. In my gumshoe days streetwalkers often spilled information to me they kept from cops.

While Hawkins made notes, Stone grabbed a sheet of typing paper and rolled it into the Underwood. He began to type as I spoke.

The man needed a sock in the nose. I would’ve obliged if I wasn’t such a nice guy and hadn’t taken a bullet to the leg.

I described the black sedan, the shooting, and Frankie blasting out the car’s rear window. I left out Mickey’s last words about the key in the ashtray. For now, Belle and the key were mine.

Hawkins studied his notes. “How soon after Frankie lit the cigarette did the car approach through the fog?”

The question smacked me in the gut. Was there a connection? “You think Frankie sent some kind of signal?”

“Naah.” Hawkins stuffed the notebook into his pocket. “Seems pretty cut and dried to me. We find the black sedan with the windshield shot out, we find Jimmy Vales.”

“That’s your theory?”

“An hour after Vales threatened to kill you in The Yankee Club—we got a dozen witnesses—you and Mickey O’Brien were gunned down. You think that’s just a coincidence?”

Hawkins might have been right, but I intended to find out. “We’re finished.” I gestured toward the door.

“For now.”

Stone ripped the paper from the typewriter. “There once was a man from Nantucket—”

“That’s enough,” Hawkins shouted.

Stone laid the crude limerick beside the typewriter. He grabbed his hat and left the room.

Hawkins set his hat on his head. “I know you were a gumshoe and Mickey was a friend of yours, but I don’t want you nosing around like this is some chapter in one of your novels. You get in our way, you’ll be typing from a jail cell.” He turned on his heel and left the room.

I rubbed my throbbing leg and pictured Frankie lighting the cigarette and Belle Starr disappearing into the fog. I needed to discover why Mickey was hesitant to discuss the case he was working. I had to check every angle to see whether Mickey had been the target.

Inspector Stone returned and pointed a finger at me. “Mickey’s dead ’cause of you. He’d still be on the force if you hadn’t talked him into becoming a dick.”

“Mickey came to me about becoming a detective.”

Spit flew from his mouth. “You breeze into the city and three hours later Mickey shows up on a slab in the morgue with a tag on his toe. I hope you can sleep nights.”

I wasn’t going to take his crap any longer. I climbed out of bed to take a sock at the bum. A jolt of pain shot through my injured leg, and I crumpled to the floor.

Stone barked a satisfied chuckle and left.

I winced, pulled myself up, and leaned against the bed. I couldn’t imagine Hawkins and Stone finding Mickey’s killer. I just hoped they didn’t get in my way when I left the hospital to investigate.

I didn’t have bourbon to take my mind off Laura and Mickey, but I had my typewriter. Grabbing a crutch, I made it to the table. I dropped into the chair and rolled a sheet of paper into the Underwood and began to type the rewrite of my final chapter.

Halfway through the rewrite an aide delivered dinner—bland-looking rice and a slimy fish fillet. I ignored the meal and finished typing an hour later, satisfied Mildred would be pleased. Now I could focus on more important matters.

I left the chapter beside the typewriter and returned to the bed. It wasn’t long until the doctor entered and removed the bandage from my leg. He examined the wound and nodded approval. No infection. If I didn’t have any complications in the next twenty-four hours, he’d discharge me. Okay, he said a day or two, but I was a quick healer, especially when I had something important to do.

After he left, I closed my eyes and drifted to sleep. I dreamed about standing on a street corner in my old neighborhood. A white ambulance drove past, and the driver shot at me. I dropped to the sidewalk as he sped away. I checked myself over, but the shooter had missed. Sweat slid down my face as I lay on my back on the cement. I was all right but couldn’t escape the impression of someone watching me.

I awoke and stared into the green eyes of Mildred, less than a foot from my face.

“Holy crap!” My editor stumbled backward and fell into the chair beside the bed. She patted her chest. “I thought . . . I thought you were . . . never mind what I thought. I never should’ve hired that driver!”

“Frankie?”

“Don’t worry, I fired him.”

I had my doubts about Frankie, but I wouldn’t share them with Mildred. “Frankie Malzone probably saved my life when he tied his belt around my leg.”

“I should’ve met you at the train. Instead I hire some hoodlum and you end up drinking at a speakeasy and getting shot. I’ll never forgive myself.” She offered no condolences over the loss of a friend. Mildred paced the room and continued to rant as I’d seen her do dozens of times.

When she finally took a breath, I pointed to the twenty pages. “I finished the chapter.”

Mildred stopped pacing and grinned. “You’re the cat’s meow!” She picked up a sheet of paper beside the typewriter. “There once was a man from Nantucket. Jake Donovan!”

“No, the stack of papers on the other side of the typewriter.”

She grabbed the pages and plopped down in the chair. Ten minutes later, a smile swept across her face. “Perfect.”

“Unless you’re Blackie Doyle.”

She clutched the chapter to her chest and approached the bed. “Some people aren’t meant to be married.” Her face reddened, and she covered her mouth with one hand. “I’m so sorry. That was a terrible thing to say.”

“It’s okay.”

Mildred flashed a sheepish smile and grabbed her purse. “I’d like to stay and chat . . . ”

“You don’t chat. You talk. People listen.”

“Was that nice? You’ve got a few more days at the Carlyle Hotel to heal up before you head back to Tampa. You could use a vacation.”

I had no intention of holing up in a hotel. “That would be swell, especially since Empire Press is footing the bill.” I’d developed a knack of smiling with sincerity when I lied.

She kissed my cheek. “Call me when you get out of here. We can talk about your next book over lunch.”

After she left, the nurse came in with a sleeping pill. I welcomed the medication and soon fell asleep. This time: no dreams.

Early the next morning, a hand shook me awake. “Up and at ’em, sunshine. It’s Gino.”

I ran a hand over my face and checked the wall clock. “Seven. Visiting hours aren’t until—”

“I don’t pay attention to stuff like visiting hours.” He pointed to the empty chair outside the open door. “I figured they’d stick a cop outside your door.”

“Guess the detectives I talked to don’t think I need protecting now that they’re on the case.”

Gino checked out the room and nodded approval. “Very nice. Remind me if I get shot to come here.” He glanced around as if someone might be watching then handed me something wrapped in white paper. “Ma baked you a calzone.”

“Thanks.” I unwrapped the prize I remembered as a kid and offered Gino a bite.

“Too early for breakfast.” He slipped a flask from his suit coat and took a sip.

While I ate, Gino grew serious. “Too bad about, Mickey. Funeral is Monday at St. Tim’s.”

“What day is this?”

“You kidding me? It’s Friday . . . May fifth. Sheesh, we need to get you out of here before you go crazy. Anyways, I’m taking care of the arrangements. Mickey didn’t have nobody, except you and me.”

“And Laura.”

He cocked his head. “I don’t like that look on your mug when you said Laura. You’ll probably give me a sock in the jaw, but I gotta say it. You was always too protective of her.”

What? Of course I wanted to protect her. I’d started with keeping her safe from her old man. “You’re right. I should sock you in the jaw, but I still love her.”

“Let’s talk about something else besides feelings, okay, nancy?” He pulled up a chair. “Me and Danny done some snooping around. No one’s seen Jimmy Vales. The cops think he might’ve taken a crack at you, but I don’t know. Jimmy’s no brain surgeon, but he’s not so stupid as to threaten someone in front of a hundred witnesses then plug ’em an hour later. Am I right?”

“You’re preaching to the choir.” I finished the calzone and brushed crumbs from my gown.

“What do you say? Let’s spring you from this joint, choir boy.”

Now? “The doctor didn’t say when I could leave.”

Gino held out both hands. “You waiting for a permission slip? You’re old enough to not have to follow stupid rules. Come on. It’s your leg. You look good. How you feeling?”

“I’m a little stiff.”

“Happens to me every morning.” Gino snorted. “Let’s go. Unless you like the food and lying in bed watching your leg heal.” He set an overnight bag on the bed. “I took the liberty of stopping by your hotel and picking up some of your stuff. Frankie got you checked in.”

“How’d you get in the room?”

“I know the front desk girl . . . intimately.”

Most solved murders were cracked within forty-eight hours. After that, memories faded, clues vanished, and trails grew cold. “I wouldn’t want the hospital to think I skipped out of paying my bill.”

“So you leave ’em a note.” He held up a black lacquered cane with a silver handle in the shape of a bloodhound. “I got you something else. Check this out.” He twisted the handle and pulled. Attached to the handle was an eight-inch dagger that fit into the hollow opening of the cane. “I saw something like this in a movie once. I heard you got shot in the leg and thought you should be gimping around in style. Try it.”

I slid the dagger into the cane. I turned the handle and locked the blade inside. “Nice.”

“So we gonna do this or what?”

Before I could change my mind, I changed into slacks and a sweater. I left a note on the desk to send the bill to the Carlyle.

Gino poked his head out the door. “Coast is clear.”

I kept weight off my leg with the cane and followed him to the elevator, hoping we wouldn’t run into my doc.

Gino stabbed the down button and clapped me on the back. “Relax. You look like we just knocked off a bank.”

The elevator creaked to the lobby. In the morning haze, Gino hailed a cab while I leaned against the cane. I made a mental list of places to check and people to talk to.

Gino held the door open while I climbed into the back of the cab. Yesterday I was just a hack writer finishing a novel. To solve Mickey O’Brien’s murder I’d have to become what I’d been most of my so-called adult life. My fist tightened around the cane’s silver handle. Until I found Mickey’s killer, I was a detective.

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