Friday, February 14, 2014

Lost And Found

By H. Susan Shaw
The Finder's Series: Book 3
Mystery, 365 pages
Cover art by Richard Stroud

When her old friend asks Kate Tucker to find his sister, Kate tries to turn him down. Instead, she revisits an old love, enjoys visiting her friends, has a major race with her ex, spends too much time in the hospital, and solves the disappearance of the sister as well as the murders at a racetrack. Readers of the first two novels will not anticipate the ending of this one!

I loathe being scared. Makes me feel like a big, fat, wuss. Fear and I fight as hard as I’d battle a Grizzly seeking lunch. Bear and fear, there’s a perfectly good reason those two words are similar; both critters will eat me alive.

When being attacked by either, I have the options of flight or fight. Flight feeds the enemy, be it bear or fear. Fight is the only response which provides a chance of survival with honor.

I knew this was going to be a long fight, and I meant to win. My only weapons were smarts and stubborns. So I marched onto the battlefield of a perfectly calm, charming motel in southern Maine. Came all the way from Pennsylvania to this grudge match; Kate Tucker versus the forces of evil and mean. A friend needed me to win a battle he couldn’t.

Gary Shriver wanted me to find his sister, Darla Twine. I’m a finder, so I reported for duty.

Reluctantly. I’d rather have hunted for the devil himself than Gary’s baby sister.

Such is the hazard of changing careers. A few years ago I was a simple repossessor. My finances, and some odd requests, forced me to expand to becoming a finder.

As my first client explained, to help me make the switch, “To repop a truck, you gotta find it, right? Right? First you find it? So tell me why, since I got green money, you can’t go find and repossess my tools the wife took off with? Huh? You know what welding stuff looks like, you know what she looks like. So, you find my stuff, you get it for me, and I give you cash.” Thus, I became a finder. I found the pawn shop. He proved his ownership of the equipment, then paid me an honest fee for an hour’s phone work. Often, it’s as easy as one: dial a couple of phone numbers. Two: ask a couple of questions. Three: collect a fee. Other times, not so much.
What Gary was asking was on the not-so-much side.

Darla was on my least-liked list. Her self-centered actions had disgusted me since she was a child. Darla’s history insisted she was missing because it suited her. I’d watched Gary grow up, and he was a good man and a good friend. So here I come, riding in like the white knight to the rescue.

Being a relatively sensible woman, I hadn’t just jumped in my car and headed into peril. Before I’d even responded to Gary, I’d checked the on-line issue of his local paper. Chills chased each other up and down my back when I saw headlines about a series of robberies at the Chadwick Downs horse racing track. The robberies had been capped by a double killing.

What I was searching for was in the paper also. Ed Tucker had been released from jail two weeks ago. Oh, hallelujah. An ex-husband with a grudge on the loose. He’d served his entire sentence, so there was no reason why he couldn’t go back to his hobbies; skirting the law and flaunting his defiance of it.

Bear or fear? I’d prefer the Grizzly, thank you. A more honest fight.

At my Saco destination, the Lester Motel, Shirley dashed out of the office to yank my door open and envelope me in a hug. “You drive right around to Number twenty-seven; it’s all ready for you. I have the keys right here!”

In my mirror, I saw Shirley hurrying as I parked in front of my cottage. It was right in the center of the complex. The safest location. From its blue-shuttered windows I could see the entire area. The few shrubs which grew close to the glistening white clapboards of the little house didn’t offer hiding places. I felt as insecure as if my temporary dwelling already sheltered an assassin. I’d get over it. I’d better, because for however long my stay, this was home base.

There was a surprise—a vase of flowers and a basket of fruit on the table. No card. I remembered what happened to Snow White. These perfect Red Delicious apples could be stand-ins for the one which knocked out the princess.

Before I had a chance to do more than point, Shirley said, “For you, of course. Gary dropped ‘em off when he paid the rent. He also left some papers on the coffee table. He said to tell you he’d be here around six to take you to dinner. Told me’n Charley to make you comfortable and keep you safe. As if we needed to be told! You workin’ with Gary or just visitin’ him and his kin?”
“Some of both, Shirley. Thanks for the heads-up about my dinner-date.” Message delivered, Shirley helped me rearrange the cottage to my satisfaction. Three windows and a large closet made the bigger bedroom the preferred sleeping room. Those windows were exactly why I didn’t intend to spend my nights there. Although it was daytime, we pulled the shades and drew the drapes. They would remain closed during my stay, even during cleaning.

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