Mystery, 331 pages
Cover art by: Richard Stroud
Kate Tucker seeks the people who threaten her and her foster daughter. Since Kate is a finder of lost, missing, stolen, or unpaid merchandise, she uses her skills to bring a murderer to justice. If Kate doesn’t locate the killer, she and her foster daughter will be his next victims.
I needed to be able to prove that this smuggling was happening. If I and my hunches hadn’t been in such an all-fired rush, maybe I could have interested the police and the Coast Guard in my theory. Then I’d have been hiding in the dark with a whole slew of good-looking uniformed men. Some days, I swear, my brain is on vacation.
I also knew I wasn't going to dash out there and grab a box and run. Those boxes seemed much too heavy.
My curiosity was killing me, though. Since I didn’t feel suicidal, I just let the curiosity hurt real bad.
Being patient and hidden were the only tools I had. If I waited long and quietly enough, maybe I could get a peek at a crate’s contents. Was I ever glad I’d brought the camera!
I had already loaded it with one roll of fresh film, still cool from the refrigerator. The other five rolls were chilling my thigh through my jeans pocket.
I loved this old manual camera. We'd seen a lot. If I had a chance for a picture, it would be a snap shot. The Canon’s controls were all set. This old heavy rig would take pictures of whatever I wanted. Good clear ones, too.
All I needed now was an opportunity.
No one was paying attention to anything but the task of unloading the boat’s cargo into the truck. The night was so still I could hear the whine and shriek of the pulley as it lifted each box out of the boat's hold.
The sound stopped, followed by curses from the busy bait shack. Both of the musclemen stopped and listened, then one of them sat his load on the wharf and re-entered Berth 19. When he called for help, the other lad sat his box on top of the first box and followed his mouth-breathing buddy.
The door was left standing open. I could see into their area well enough to watch them cross the room to the door leading to the boat.
My educated guess was the winch had jammed with a load halfway up. The water was too shallow and the area too busy to allow a box of smuggled whatevers to sit on the bottom of the bay in daylight. Cutting the line was out. For the same reasons, a load couldn't dangle halfway up the winch's line, either. The line had to be untangled and the load brought into the bait shack.
By now, I was positive whatever was in the boxes had to be illegal, immoral, or fattening. The boxes seemed too heavy to contain cholesterol-loaded goodies, so fattening was out. The immoral part was easy to disqualify; there was too much of that available right on the street. No need to import immorality.