by Laurel Richards
Cassie Wynn Mystery Book Two
Cassie and Mitch are back, and their new PI firm, Chase Investigations, has its first big case.
Roman Ricardo, owner of Roman Tackle and the sponsor of one of the biggest fishing tournaments in town, has been murdered. Someone slipped a lethal amoeba into Roman’s nasal spray.
Now Mitch and Cassie have to figure out who did it, and their list of suspects grows as they investigate the people who last came into contact with the victim.
With Mitch’s dad in town, they have some extra help, but father and son don’t exactly see eye to eye. Will Chase Investigations be able to catch the killer?
Genre: Romantic MysteryPurchase link(s): Amazon ARe BAM iTunes Kobo B&N
Content/Theme(s): Cozy, Humor, Small Town, Florida
Release Date: June 2, 2016
Excerpt & More
“The amoeba did it?” Cassie Wynn popped out with the question and then glanced at her lover and partner, Mitchell Chase—Fatmire, Florida’s newest PI.
She saw surprise in Mitch’s blue eyes, although his intense training kept him from revealing the emotion on his face. Given his background in crime reporting, he wasn’t easily shocked.
As a mystery writer, Cassie had a good imagination, but even she had to admit she hadn’t seen this one coming. Single-celled organisms had never rated high on her suspect list.
Zack Benton, their newest client, sat in the hard wooden visitor chair on the other side of the desk. When they had decorated Chase Investigations, Mitch had insisted on the uncomfortable seat. He said it helped clients get right to the point. Judging by the way Zack kept fidgeting, it was working.
“Primary amoebic meningoencephalitis,” Zack said, stumbling through the medical term. “That was the cause of death according to the autopsy report. From what I understand, it’s some kind of freshwater parasite. What I want you to find out, Mr. Chase, is how Uncle Roman got infected. Thanks to the fishing tournament, he was only around salt water, and I had the tap water at his house tested. I also checked the restaurants he usually frequented. There’s no sign of contamination anywhere.”
Mitch’s chair creaked quietly as he leaned back. “You’re certain he didn’t visit a lake or stream? Even a swimming pool?”
“I’m positive,” Zack answered. “Uncle Roman swore by salt water. His company doesn’t even produce freshwater lures, and his backyard pool was filled with salt water. I don’t understand it. I have to know how this happened.”
It sounded to Cassie like the man needed closure. This was definitely an unusual case—a real David and Goliath story. A tiny, unicellular parasite had managed to take down wealthy Roman Ricardo, owner of Roman Tackle and sponsor of the Fatmire Explorers Tournament.
She watched Mitch pull out his trusty notebook. Her partner always wrote notes the old-fashioned way during his investigations. The sight had her flashing back to the first time she had laid eyes on him. He had been writing a newspaper article about the murder of her neighbor Vicki Cash and had come to Cassie’s house to question her. Although they’d been discussing a dead body, that first meeting had been the start of an exciting and romantic partnership.
“I’ll need a feel for the timetable,” Mitch told their client. “When exactly did your uncle get into town?”
“He arrived just before Thanksgiving.” Zack shifted his weight again and winced. “Uncle Roman never liked the cold. He always wintered at his house here in Fatmire.”
Considering this was now January, the victim must have picked up the parasite locally. Cassie sidled behind Mitch and wound up lodged between the back of his chair and the wall. He turned to arch his eyebrow at her before scooting in. She snatched up the laptop from the side of his desk and tried to connect to the Internet.
So far, Chase Investigations had only received a handful of small cases, so money was tight. Since Mitch was too proud to let Cassie aid him financially, she had helped find ways to cut costs instead. Between the two of them, they had negotiated a good deal on this office space after Tammy, the murderous nutritionist who had previously occupied it, had been incarcerated. As for their Internet service, she had discovered they could tap into the library’s wireless signal for free. She just had to find the right spot to pick it up.
Holding the laptop at eye level, she began pacing the room, looking for the right number of bars. When she climbed on top of a chair and picked up four at once, she got excited, but the City Marina’s signal was password protected.
Cassie noticed Mitch staring at her as she continued to circle the room. She blushed and shot him a wink. Although he was usually very focused, he obviously couldn’t keep his eyes off her today.
Mitch cleared his throat. “Did your uncle live alone?”
She continued to listen even as she finally got through. Although she had to lift her left foot and point it at her opposite knee to maintain the signal, she managed to type in her search.
“No, my aunt, Audrey Ricardo, was there,” Zack said. “She was the one who took Uncle Roman to the hospital when his symptoms got really bad.”
Zack returned a tight smile and shook his head. “My uncle didn’t believe in children. I’m the closest thing he had to a son.”
“You say your uncle was taken to the hospital when his condition worsened.” Mitch’s ballpoint pen moved stealthily across the page as he took notes. “When did he first show symptoms?”
“That’s where it gets a little hazy,” Zack confessed. “The best we can tell, he got sick at the opening of the fishing tournament two weeks ago. Everyone thought it was a typical winter head cold. Uncle Roman used some nasal spray and over-the-counter medication to clear it up, but nothing seemed to work. He kept complaining that he couldn’t smell or taste anything. Even when the headaches and nausea hit, we assumed the illness had progressed into a bad case of the flu.”
“You were with him?” Mitch asked.
“Only for the opening weekend of the tournament. Then I flew back home because I couldn’t afford to take off work. The last time I saw my uncle, he was only a bit stuffed up. I learned the rest from my aunt.”
Cassie could tell her partner was intrigued.
“When did your aunt first realize this was more than a common virus?” Mitch asked.
“Three days ago. She took Uncle Roman to the hospital as soon as he grew delirious. By the time they got there, he’d lost consciousness. He slipped into a coma and died early the next day. I’m told even if he had been admitted sooner, his chance of survival would have been almost nonexistent. This parasite is extremely lethal.”
“Yes, it is.” Cassie scanned the information about the little bugger online. “Death typically occurs within fourteen days. The amoeba is found in warm freshwater and likes to nestle in the top layer of mud. It enters through the nose and travels across the olfactory nerve to the brain.” She glanced at Zack. “One way or another, your uncle got water up his nose.”
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Be on the lookout for Laurel Richards' future release(s): In Her Element coming Sept 2016, Dragon Tears coming Oct 2016, and Passion Fire coming Nov 2016
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