Suspense, Adventure, History
Adventure, Voodoo, Treasure
Forgeries, Smuggling, History
by David Ciambrone
Virginia Davies Mysteries series
by David Ciambrone
Virginia Davies Mysteries Book Seven
Virginia Davies-Clark must find a quilt missing for seventy years. An award-winning quilt hiding an amazing secret.
Virginia Davies-Clark is called back into the service of the Smithsonian Central Security Service and the Department of Defense along with her husband Andy and her friend Donna to locate a quilt. This isn't just any quilt.
At the 1933 Century of Progress in Chicago, Sears Roebuck Company sponsored a quilt contest. The Grand Prize was to be $1,000.00. The quilt that won the prize was a pieced called "The Unknown Star" by the maker, Margaret Rogers Caden of Kentucky. The quilt itself was presented to the President's wife, Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt. Sometime during FDR's presidency the quilt disappeared and has not been seen for almost seventy years.
Virginia questions why the DOD is interested in an old quilt. As she, Andy and Donna start their quest, they find they are not the only ones searching for the quilt and they are attacked by various organizations bent on stopping her.
Their adversary list grows as they try to accomplish an impossible assignment. Virginia makes some strange alliances across the country to take down the organizations trying to stop her. Using her wits, cunning, intellect, and guts, she, Andy and Donna attempt to locate the quilt and use any means she can to undermine a bold strategy by her adversaries trying to kill her and her little group. Her conniving, devious and messy strategy brings the villains to an explosive end.
Note: This was originally published in 2013. It has been newly edited, given a new cover, and rereleased by a new publisher
Genre: MysteryDangerous Threads Purchase links: Amazon B&N
Content/Theme(s): Suspense, Adventure, History
Release Date: August 11, 2014
Publisher: White Bird Publications
Excerpts, Quest for the Crystal Skull, Murder at Webster Point Inn & More
Dangerous Threads Excerpt:
Virginia Davies-Clark tucked a strand of blonde hair behind her ear as she bounded down a carpeted, yellow-walled hallway with various pictures of geologic formations, Native American baskets, a cork bulletin board with various flyers from museums and universities, toward her office at the San Gabriel Museum in Georgetown, Texas. The budget meeting was hell and she was glad it was over. She smiled and nodded a greeting at a high school intern as she walked.
Virginia opened her door, strolled to her desk, and tossed the pile of documents on the top. Some papers slid off onto the floor. Damn budget meetings. Those blasted accountants are going to drive me to drink. Where the hell am I going to get ten thousand dollars for the new quilt exhibit? Maybe I’ll feed the accountants to the scientists and taxidermists. That would make an interesting exhibit—accountantosaurus. She chuckled at her joke.
Virginia took off her red jacket and hung it on a hanger behind her office door. She picked up the papers from the floor and put them on the table. She crossed her office and and sat in her high-backed leather chair behind her large wooden desk jumbled with papers, notepads, books, and pictures. Leaning back and placing her hands behind her head, she looked around the office at the photographs of places she had been scuba diving, awards, certificates, and a small quilt she had made hanging on her walls. A cluttered bookcase sat next to the door. Held in place by small magnets on her whiteboard was a target, with her name on the bottom. It had bullet holes in a tight cluster in the center.
She lowered her arms, smoothed her short blue skirt, and looked at the photograph of her and her husband Andy at a manor house in Scotland a couple years ago when they were engaged. She smiled. It seems like yesterday. I was a twenty-six-year-old grad student when I met Andy at UCI. Now, six years later we’re married, even though he usually catches the brunt of my escapades.
A bright pink Post-it® note on her computer monitor from her secretary caught her attention. She leaned forward and looked at it.
Dr. John Montgomery of the U.S. Government needs to see you on a matter of national security. Or so he says. Phone number (512) 555-2185.
A matter of national security? What does that have to do with the museum? Who’s John Montgomery and which agency is he with? She was staring at the note when the phone rang. Now what?
“Hello?” Virginia answered.
“Mrs. Davies-Clark?” a man’s deep voice asked.
“Yes, this is Virginia. How may I help you?”
“Mrs. Clark, my name is Dr. John Montgomery. I’m with the Textile Collection in the Division of Home and Community Life, National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., and I need to see you as quickly as possible.”
Virginia looked at the phone. “The National Museum of American History? I just got a note that you called. What can I do for you? I take it you’re in the area.”
“Yes, Ma’am, I could be at your office in ten minutes or at a later time if that would be more convenient, and I’d like your museum director to be there, too. That’s Dr. Fred Doverspike, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is. May I ask what this is about?”
“A lost quilt that has become a national security issue.”
Virginia frowned. Is this a crank call? What do national security issues have to do with the Smithsonian? A quilt? This better be good. “Yeah, ten minutes. I’ll see if Dr. Doverspike is available on such short notice. Do you want me to call you back in case he isn’t?”
“Among other things, I will be discussing some sizable grants to your museum for your help. Will that help get his immediate attention?”
Does the sun rise in the east? “Do you need directions?”
“No. I’m at the Georgetown police station, just a few blocks from you. I’ll see you then. Thank you and Dr. Doverspike for seeing me on such short notice. Your museum will be well compensated for your time.” He hung up.
Well compensated for my time? This is getting interesting. Virginia called her boss.
Dangerous Threads Purchase links: Amazon B&N
by David Ciambrone
Virginia Davies Mysteries Book Six
Texas. It’s the biggest state in the continental United States. Sun worshipers, college students at Spring Break, smugglers and hurricanes visit its coastline. This hurricane found Virginia Davies at a beachfront resort on St. John’s Island securing archaeological artifacts and treasures worth millions that had been hijacked. With the hurricane raging around her, she and long time friend, Donna Boletti, encounter Virginia’s murdered partner, and some killers trying to steal an old crystal skull.
After she and Donna eliminate the threat of the killers and the hurricane ebbs, they head for New Orleans to trace down the people behind the murders. Virginia and Donna are pulled into the world of Voodoo and find other groups wanting the crystal skull and her dead. She and Donna keep searching for clues while the body count keeps going up around them. She learns the people behind the murders are headquartered in Rome. In Rome, she manages to get inside the world of a dangerous art and fake antiques business and an unusual laboratory for the manufacture of undetectable fake art and antiques that could mean her death.
Virginia entangles the reader in a rapid-fire adventure involving the worlds of murder, voodoo, and antique fraud and the sights and sounds of Texas, New Orleans and Rome up to the high stakes end on the Mediterranean Sea.
Note: This was previously published in 2010. It has been newly edited, given a new cover, and rereleased by a new publisher
Content/Theme(s): Suspense, Adventure, Voodoo, Treasure
Release Date: January 24, 2015
Publisher: White Bird Publications
Quest for the Crystal Skull Purchase links: Amazon B&N
Quest for the Crystal Skull Excerpt:
Maybe, the person headed toward her was the other agent, a cop, or maybe a panicked tourist. At this point, Virginia didn’t care what she looked like. As the car approached, Virginia heard the engine sputtering from the water intake. Arms waving, Virginia called out as the halogen lights of a Mercedes broke through the deluge. Definitely a tourist. Nobody on St. John’s drove that make of car, and no federal agent owned one either.
“Hey! Help! I’m stranded!” Relief washed through her as the vehicle veered to her side of the road, and the passenger window slowly rolled down. “Oh! Thank you for—” She reached to grasp the door handle, then blinked into the rain as she made out the face of the driver, and blinked again, as if that could change who sat behind the steering wheel.
“Donna?” Of all the people in the world to appear in a storm, of all the possible inhabitants and visitors of St. John’s Island, the last person on earth she expected was Donna Bolette.
“Hi, stranger,” Donna said.
Virginia grinned. “Donna? Is that really you?” She hoped her old friend didn’t hear the crack in her voice.
Donna reached across the seat and pushed the door open. “Well, hello to you, too, stranger. What the hell are you doing out here, anyway?”
“It’s a long story, but right now I’m stranded.” She slid into the car and closed the door. She noticed Donna’s tan silk blouse and designer denim shorts topping her tanned, shapely legs. Business must be good. “My car doesn’t like the rain and is stalled. My phone’s dead. I’m trying to find another man who’s here, somewhere, without much luck. Now that the island is deserted, I’d like to get the hell off!”
Donna looked out the window at the Chevy sporting the rental car license plate frame. “The rental isn’t working?” She looked over her shoulder, surprise warming her eyes. “You’re driving an American car? I thought you were strictly a foreign car girl?”
“It runs.” Virginia wiped the water from her face. “When it isn’t trying to swim.”
“I can’t wait to hear how you managed to get into this fix.” Donna chuckled. A gust of wind swayed the car.
“What are you doing on St. John’s?” Virginia asked.
“I’m here checking out resorts and activities for my customers. I’m also setting a place up for one of my wealthier clients.”
“Well, I got here a couple days ago, before this storm wasn’t much bigger than a tropical depression. The weather bureau said it was headed east. I just rented a house on the beach at the south end of the island for my client and was checking it to make sure it was going to be safe. I didn’t move fast enough, I guess.” She gave Virginia a wry smile. “I’m a California girl like you, used to earthquakes, not hurricanes. You need a ride somewhere?”
“I’d like a ride to the mainland, but first I need to find another person who was here with me.”
Donna nodded, a slow frown formed. “I take it this person isn’t Andy.”
“No. I’m here on business, sort of.”
“This ought to be good. Let’s see if we can find him and stay dry. She raised an eyebrow toward Virginia. “Well, at least one of us can stay dry.” Donna turned her attention to the road, shifted gears, frowned as the car rumbled, and the engine missed, then died.
“What’s the matter?”
Donna twisted the key. Nothing. She tried cranking the engine four more times to no avail. “Shit! Mercedes aren’t supposed to do this.” The wind rocked the car as she tried turning the engine over again. “Well crap, looks like my car doesn’t like to swim, either.”
The roaring surf grew louder as the sky darkened further, and the rain seemed to be moving sideways.
Donna sat back and sighed. “Do you have a place to stay close by? One that’s dry?”
“I was staying right here.” She tilted her head toward the resort’s main building.
“Good thing. Looks like we’re going to have to ride this one out.” Lightning ripped the sky apart, followed by a thundering boom. “Maybe your friend will show up with a functioning car, and we can get the hell out of here.”
As they opened their doors and stepped into the downpour, someone staggered out of the high shrubs next to the inn walkway. A man, his wet clothes dirty and torn, took a couple of uneasy steps then fell face down into a puddle of water.
Bending against the flailing wind and biting rain, Virginia and Donna dashed to the fallen man. Virginia dropped to her knees and rolled the limp body over. She sucked in a breath, as Donna dropped next to her. Donna’s clothes stuck to her body, and her black hair fell flat against her head as the rain soaked her.
Donna peered at the man. “Do you recognize him?”
“Yes. Edward, he’s the SCSS agent who stayed with me to secure our recovery and help me guard it.” Virginia pressed her fingers to an artery on the side of his neck.
“I think we should get him inside, it’s getting worse out here!” Donna hollered over the sound of the wind. “Is he hurt bad?”
“He’s dead.” Virginia pointed to two red spots on his badly smeared shirt.
“My God. Who would do such a thing? Poor man.”
“I think the people we caught with the museum stuff had friends we missed. Must have been them.”
“What are we going to do with him?” Donna yelled over the wind.
“We can put him in the walk-in freezer off the kitchen. Give me a hand.”
Quest for the Crystal Skull Purchase links: Amazon B&N
by David Ciambrone
Virginia Davies Mysteries Book Eight
Virginia entangles the reader in a rapid-fire adventure, hashing through the worlds of ghosts, pirates, treasure, drugs, sailing, forgeries, smuggling and murder to unravel the mystery and crack the case.
Webster Point Inn, an old manor house built before the Revolutionary War in spectacular forests and hills above the deep-blue waters of Lake Ontario is the vacation destination of Virginia Davies Clark and her husband Dr. Andy Clark.
He envisions a relaxing retreat fishing in a near-by trout stream and out on Lake Ontario. After reading about the Inn’s history involving ghosts, pirates and buried treasure near the Inn in the seventeen hundreds, Virginia, a born snoop, starts to delve into its history.
The other Webster Point Inn guests are a mixed bag of amateur treasure hunters who are not what they seem, especially after a dead body turns up.
Things go from bad to worse as Virginia uses her detecting skills to sift through facts, provoke the suspected killers and use the legend about the Inn being haunted to delve dangerously deeper into the mystery. She narrowly avoids becoming one of the increasing numbers of corpses on more than one occasion.
Genre: MysteryMurder at Webster Point Inn Purchase links: Amazon B&N
Content/Theme(s): Suspense, Adventure, Ghosts, Pirates, Treasure, Forgeries, Smuggling, History
Release Date: March 21, 2015
Publisher: White Bird Publications
Murder at Webster Point Inn Excerpt:
Virginia, wearing a red, loose, untucked blouse, denim shorts, and track shoes, left Andy in their room to finish shaving and walked into the wood-paneled dining room. Exlay stood at the buffet bar helping himself to scrambled eggs, toast, and bacon. She glanced around and spotted a slightly overweight and pale William Beitz and his wife, Joan, sitting at the long table eating. She noticed Mr. Smith and Mr. Brown were not present. She glanced over her shoulder as Dr. Tom Netti, the NYU professor, entered. He nodded at her and strolled to the buffet table.
Virginia followed Netti, who wore wire rim glasses, khaki cargo shorts, brown hiking shoes, and a tan shirt with epaulets. She pushed her tray along next to him. “Good morning, professor.”
Netti looked at her, smoothed his graying dark hair and smiled. “Good morning, Miss…Mrs. Clark, isn’t it?”
“Yes. May I ask you a question?” She took a large scoop of scrambled eggs, hash brown potatoes, and popped a couple of sausages on her plate.
“Why, of course. Anything.”
“What are you a professor of at NYU?”
Netti finished filling his plate. “I’m a professor of anthropology and archeology. And call me Tom.”
“Okay, but you have to call me Virginia.”
“Deal. I understand you’re a curator at a museum. Is that correct?”
“Yes. Andy and I are here on vacation. I read about the ghosts and treasure on the way here, and I think I’ll go look for them. It seems Mr. Exlay is doing the same thing.”
“Yes. He said he was going to look for it. I don’t know what he does, but it seems to pay well, at least better than a professor.” Netti looked through the window. “That’s a nice boat he has docked out there.” They moved to a booth and sat.
“May I join you?”
Netti sipped some coffee, then looked up at Exlay.
Virginia wrinkled her brow. “I guess so. Andy will be along soon, but there is room for four, so please sit.”
Exlay put his plate and cup on the table and sat next to Nitti. He smiled at Virginia. “Looks like a nice day for treasure hunting. Have anything special planned?”
Virginia raised an eyebrow. “Now why would I tell you what I’m up to? Anyway, you promised me a boat ride.”
Exlay took a bite of food. “We can do that after breakfast. If your husband doesn’t come down for breakfast soon, he’ll miss out on the trip.”
“I was surprised to see you up so early.” Virginia smiled. “You seemed to have had quite a night.”
Netti gave them a quizzical look. “Did you take the boat out last night?”
Exlay swallowed his food. “No.”
“It wasn’t a trip out on the lake.” Virginia grinned. “It was more like an adventure tied to the dock.”
Exlay leaned forward. “I did some research about you online and found some juicy items you may not want known or displayed around here. We can discuss my activities and what you’re up to on the boat or I can expose you here, if you get my drift.”
Netti turned to Virginia with a questioning look.
Virginia calmly finished eating, then set her fork down. She smiled. “Here comes Andy. Why don’t we wait for him and you can divulge your scandalous materials, right here. I won’t mind. I hope you brought pictures.”
Exlay’s brow formed small beads of sweat. “I’m sure you would rather wait until we are on the boat.”
She sat back and adjusted her short blonde ponytail. “No. Here’s fine. I don’t like being threatened or blackmailed. So, after Andy eats, let’s have a show and tell for everyone. And I mean everyone.”
“You have no proof anything happened on the boat.” Exlay swallowed.
Netti sat back. “This is getting interesting. I can’t wait for the fun to start. This ought to be good.”
“It will be, Professor. Trust me,” said Exlay. He glared at Virginia. “It will be my word against yours, and after what I’ll show, your word won’t cut it.”
Virginia patted her camera case. “I have it all on film. Telescopic lens and night settings on my new Nikon digital camera really came in handy. And there’s a light on the dock near your boat to make it even easier. And I know what you’ve got. It’s from the Engineering Department’s student engineering club magazine at UCI.”
“It does? What is it?” Netti looked back and forth between Virginia and Exlay. “When does the show start?”
“As soon as Andy gets here.” Virginia placed her camera bag in her lap and removed the Nikon.
Andy set his plate and coffee on the table and sat next to Virginia. He looked at the two men, then at her. “This looks more like a standoff than a happy breakfast. What’s up? Did the resident ghost spill his orange juice?”
“No, dear. Mr. Exlay found some pictures online from UCI’s engineering club magazine, and he’s trying to blackmail me.”
Andy looked at Exlay. “You’ve got to be kidding. They’re a few years old. No one cares, but she was quite good in them. And blackmailing her is never good for one’s health, trust me.”
“You’ve seen them?”
“I was faculty advisor. Of course, I saw them. I was there when the photographs were shot. Hell, these days, Hollywood actresses show and do more and no one gets upset. ”
Netti wiped his forehead. “What are you talking about?”
“These.” Exlay punched various icons on his iPhone and pictures of Virginia appeared. He showed them to Netti.
“Oh. You are quite beautiful Miss Virginia. These are fantastic.”
“Thank you, Tom.” She took the phone from Exlay and scrolled through the pictures. “This one of me naked playing volleyball with the men’s beach volleyball team was taken in La Jolla. We had to do it fairly quickly so the cops wouldn’t come. The team invited me back. They were nice guys. That was in the fall of my junior year. The one of me nude playing basketball with the varsity team was in the spring. The team and the coach liked that game. That was fun.”
Andy turned the phone for a closer look. “Both were center page foldouts for the glossy monthly rag the engineering boys in the club put out. The one of Virginia in the clear lab apron and goggles in the chemistry lab was taken in the fall of her senior year. The chemistry department bought most of the magazines that month and the organic chemistry prof. wanted to be there for the photo shoot. She even posed with him. He framed it and had it in his office.”
Virginia enlarged the next photo. “The one of me wearing only a hard hat and posing with the surveying equipment with the civil engineering students and construction workers in the background was during my first year in grad school. That took a few hours to get things right. The one here of me naked at the tiller of the sailboat was in my last year of grad school.”
Andy leaned back in his chair. “The club paid the girls who posed, like Virginia, two thousand dollars per magazine layout they were in and gave her twenty copies of the magazine they appeared in. Besides posing and being in the magazine, the girls had to spend an afternoon twice during the month she was a centerfold in the magazine at the student bookstore signing her centerfold. The girls were usually girlfriends of engineering, physics or chemistry students or other coeds who auditioned. I was the faculty advisor for the club and their magazine. Virginia made ten grand posing and caught the faculty advisor, me, for a husband. She still has some of the magazines.” He took another bite of food.
Exlay sat with his mouth open, stunned.
Murder at Webster Point Inn Purchase links: Amazon B&N
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