I have a really ambitious publishing schedule for this year. I’ve barely recovered from the launch of Wolf Moon (thank you everyone who have read it so far) when it’s already time to prepare for the next one. Tracy Hayes, P.I. on the Scent comes out on April 4th.
|Tracy Hayes, P.I. on the Scent by Susanna Shore|
P.I. on the Scent is the eighth book in my P.I. Tracy Hayes series
of light mysteries. (I prefer light to cosy, btw, because Tracy is a P.I. in training,
not a complete amateur.) It takes place about a month after the previous book
and it’s March—though not yet St. Patrick’s Day like today.
The blooming spring messes with Tracy’s head and she wants to start gardening. Jackson, who finally became her boyfriend in the previous book, eventually obliges. But since it’s the two of them, a visit to a gardening centre puts them in the middle of a mafia turf war—pun intended.
Meanwhile, Cheryl Walker, the agency secretary, gets defrauded by a dating scammer. When he ends up dead, she’s the prime suspect. Naturally Tracy and Jackson will do everything in their power to find the real murderer. They definitely don’t lack for suspects.
I’ve been planning to write about dating scammers for a while now. I’ve read so many stories over the years of people who have sent all their money to a stranger they’ve met online, only to discover they’ve been conned. But the most interesting scammers are those who meet their victims in person. How are they able to make their victims give them endless sums, maybe even take out loans to fund their scammer?
The point of view in my book is that of the victims. It’s not easy to learn you’ve been fooled out of your money, especially if you’ve been in love. No wonder our scammer ends up dead.
Here’s a sneak peek into the book:
“Do you think this is some sort of payback?”
Jackson startled. “Payback for what? I don’t think Douglas even knows about the arrest. Besides, the way I see it, he owes us one.”
“Yeah, ‘cause that’s how the mafia works.”
He managed a ghost of a smile. “Let’s try the direct approach. Moreira promised us a favor. This would qualify.” I grimaced and his brows shot up. “What?”
I should’ve told him at the time. Now it seemed like I was being deliberately secretive. But I had no choice if we wanted to help Cheryl.
“Remember the garden center today?”
“Difficult not to,” he said dryly. “Go on.”
I inhaled deeply and plunged in. “While you were arranging things with Oleg, I went to check the yacht. And I witnessed Douglas and Moreira giving the owner of the rental service a hard time. Moreira was manhandling him.”
His brows shot up. “And you didn’t tell me, why, exactly?”
“You were so happy about the contract,” I said feebly, but it sounded like the excuse it was.
Jackson regarded me calmly for a few heartbeats, as if considering his words carefully. He didn’t seem angry. “Moreira was a criminal when you met him and he hasn’t stopped being a criminal. You’ve always known that.”
I sighed. He was right. Just because Moreira had been helpful didn’t make him a reformed man. “So I should call him?”
He tilted his head sideways and a slow smile spread on his face. “You should visit him in person. It’ll be much more difficult for him to resist you if you’re in the same room.”
“I should’ve worn a shirt with a deeper neckline, then,” I mused, eyeing the plain T-shirt with apprehension.
Jackson grinned, giving an appreciative glance to my chest too. “He’d know something was up the moment he saw you if you did.”
Couldn’t argue with that.
“What if Moreira is here in Atlantic City?” I thought to ask.
“If he was in Brooklyn earlier today, I doubt it.”
I hoped so. I needed time to collect myself before facing him. He tended to unsettle me, and I needed my wits about me when asking him for a favor.
The drive passed mostly in silence, but it wasn’t anxious silence anymore. It wasn’t entirely restful either though, with Jackson deep in his thoughts. He worried for Cheryl. By the time we reached Moreira’s hotel in Red Hook in Northwest Brooklyn, I’d worked myself into a state too.
It was half past eight, and even though it was Sunday, the place was fairly busy, people lining to the restaurants on the long ground floor gallery, or climbing the wide stairs to the next floor, where the casino was. Not bad for a hotel that had only been open since January.
I felt dowdy and out of place in my capris and T-shirt as I crossed the marble floor of the luxurious lobby to the reception desk, but that was nothing new. This place did it to me every time, even though many people there were dressed very casually too.
To my bafflement, the woman behind the desk positively lit up when she saw us. “Are you here to see Mr. Moreira?” she asked before I’d had a chance to introduce us. I managed a baffled nod and she instantly picked up a phone and announced us—with our real names.
“He’ll be with you presently.”
“Thank you,” Jackson said calmly, and guided me to wait at the far end of the reception desk, even though the woman had looked like she wanted to keep talking with us.
“What was that about?” I hissed, and he shrugged.
“We did save the day here only three weeks ago.”
That was the big diamond case.
“But we were using false names.”
“Newspapers used our real ones,” he reminded me. It had been great advertisement for our agency and we’d been insanely sought-after ever since.
Moreira emerged from the elevator, looking like the picture of business casual in the tan pants and white shirt of his Panama suit, though he’d given up the jacket. I eyed him with apprehension, trying to read his face for signs that he had reverted to his old ways, but he spread his arms, a welcoming smile on his face.
That did not ease my worry.
“If it isn’t my two favorite people in the world. What can I do for you?”
What the hell?
“Are you dying? Am I dying?” I asked, baffled, making him laugh. I wasn’t entirely sure I’d heard the sound before, and while he had a good laugh, it did nothing to ease my worry.
“We haven’t forgotten the diamond exhibition yet. You’re greatly admired by the entire staff here. I’m just playing for the audience.”
That made more sense.
“In that case, remember how you promised us a favor in return?”
His harsh face turned serious. “I think we need food for this conversation.”