For all you mystery lovers, here is an excerpt from Lia Fairchild’s A Hint of Murder: The Writer, from her anthology. Lia is a native Californian, and the author of In Search of Lucy, a romantic family drama garnering mostly 4 and 5 star reviews. Lia holds a B.A. degree in Journalism and a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. Look for more on her and her books at http://www.liafairchild.com and http://www.ahintofmurder.blogspot.com or follow her on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/#!/liafairchild”
A Hint of Murder: The Writer
Alicia Fairfield didn’t plan on being famous. Now a bestselling author with millions of fans, Alicia also has the attention of a killer. Someone has been recreating the murders from her books and the suspects are piling up; her mentally ill son, a disgruntled associate, and possibly even her loyal literary agent. The pressure of public recognition along with the guilt over these senseless killings could be enough to drive Alicia over the edge. Can she hold it together long enough to uncover a killer? (Story length 9,000 words)
A Hint of Murder: The Doctor
Russell Morgan had it all; good looks, the perfect woman and a rewarding career as a well-respected physician. When the doctor’s patients start turning up dead, his world comes crashing down. Second in the “A Hint of Murder” series, this short story brings Detective John Lewis back in action to track down the killer. (Story length: 12,000 words)
A Hint of Murder: The Bouncer
Bobby Crane was tired of being a bouncer and a glorified errand boy. He longed to be a professional singer and was just about to get his big break. Then Allen Schaffer is found murdered and Bobby’s car was spotted at the victim’s home. Third in the A Hint of Murder series, this story has detective John Lewis returning with a new partner to uncover a murderer. (Story length: 10,400 words)
Excerpt from A Hint of Murder: The Writer
Since the first body was discovered, she’d had nothing but heartache, worry and guilt. Alicia Fairfield prayed it was a coincidence; that the murdered young woman had nothing to do with the story she had created. A story that was played out on the big screen just last week. Perhaps making Vegas Vendetta, her tenth bestseller, into a movie had been a mistake. The Las Vegas Showgirl was fatally stabbed the night of the premiere. Alicia and her agent Edward spoke to the police the next day before Alicia returned to her million-dollar home snuggly perched in the rolling hills of Marin County.
Alicia clutched the bottle tightly, closed the medicine cabinet and stared at herself in the mirror. A pair of icy blue eyes gazed back at her as she smoothed down her straight blonde hair. At forty five, she was just beginning to show the signs of aging. For a moment, the stranger in the reflection hypnotized her but she tore herself away from the image and left for the kitchen. She passed through her dining room, decorated to perfection, and her hallway adorned with gorgeous paintings, some of them her own creations. When she reached the sink, she filled a glass with water and took it along with the pill bottle to the other side of the counter. Then she set them down next to her laptop and took a seat at the end barstool.
Alicia glanced down at the morning paper, and reread the headline. “Copy Cat Killer Strikes Again.” The article detailed the killing of the showgirl and linked it to the recent murder of a nurse found dead behind a free clinic in Novato. A source told the paper that a page from A.J. Field’s novel From the Shadows had been left with the nurse’s body. The pen name was Alicia’s attempt to have a private life and keep her family—mainly her mentally ill son—away from public scrutiny.
Alicia set the paper down and turned to her laptop. Mesmerized by the blinking curser, she contemplated what she would write. For the first time, these would be her words. It was possible two lives had been taken because of the words she’d written in her novels. Should these be the last words anyone would ever read from A.J. Field?
The white page grew blurry as tears welled in her eyes. She rested her hands on the keyboard, sighed and began to type the incoherent thoughts that scattered in her mind:
To my dearest David, a beloved son that never found happiness, I am truly sorry. And, my agent Edward, thank you for years of support and friendship. I would never have made it this far without you. To all my faithful fans out there, I’m so grateful I enriched and heightened your love of reading. As I truly believe that our decisions—
A loud pounding at the door startled Alicia and made her jump. She sat frozen wondering what to do. The pounding came again accompanied by a loud grumbling voice. “Alicia! Alicia, open the door! It’s me Edward!”
Fearing the dreadful tone in his voice, Alicia grabbed the pills and stashed the bottle in her purse. She raced to the door and opened it.
“My God, Alicia!” her agent said out of breath and leaning on the door jam. At sixty, he wasn’t in the best of shape. “Why haven’t you answered my calls?” He didn’t wait for an answer and stepped into the foyer. “Are you all right?” He glanced around the area, cast a concerned look upon her, and waited for answers.
“Edward, I’m fine. I just needed some time to think.” Her voice was calm; believable. Alicia grabbed him by the arm and led him to the kitchen. “Let’s get you something to drink, have you rest a bit.” Even though she saw him as a big brother—he was more than ten years her senior—she often felt the need to take care of him.
Alicia went to the refrigerator and pulled out a pitcher. “Tea?” she asked as Edward took a seat at the bar.
He nodded with a smile and watched as she poured the tea. Then suddenly, Alicia gasped as she realized she hadn’t closed the keyboard before running to the door. Her hand shook uncontrollably and her calm cover had been blown. Tea splashed over the glass onto the counter causing Edward to go to her.
“Let me help,” Edward said. He removed the pitcher from her hand with care and set it on the counter. Instinctively he took her in his arms and held her close. “You’ve heard the news I take it,” he said in a gentle tone. “It’s okay, Alicia. You don’t have to be afraid. I’m here.”
She barely made a sound, yet Edward’s shirt dampened beneath her cheek. Surprisingly she had never let him see her like that and wasn’t sure how he would react. His gentle voice and strong arms were comforting and different from his routine business demeanor.
Edward walked Alicia into the next room, rubbing her back. “Here…let’s sit and talk.” He had grown expert in dealing with Alicia during difficult writing times. Whenever she had a notion to quit it all and concentrate on her painting, or was conflicted over a storyline or character, he always skillfully talked her down. But this was different. How could he tell her everything would be all right when there were two innocent girls that had been murdered? Killed in almost the exact circumstances of her last two novels.
“Did the police contact you?” he asked.
“Yes, they were here a couple hours ago,” she answered without looking up. She rested her head on his shoulder and explained her visit with the police.
When the two investigators arrived earlier that day, Alicia tried to be as helpful as possible. She offered them both a drink and asked if they’d like to sit. Detective John Lewis declined for both and seemed anxious to get down to business. His partner didn’t provide his name and spoke as little as possible.
“I’m sure you’ve read the paper by now, Ms. Fairfield.”
“Yes, I’ve seen it,” Alicia said nodding.
Detective Lewis pulled a small pad of paper from his back pocket. He was a tall, solidly built man. His voice was deep and scratchy but was camouflaged by a friendly smile. “We just have a few questions to ask.”
“I understand Detective. I’ll do whatever I can to help. Obviously I’m very concerned,” Alicia said.
“You and your agent were in Las Vegas for the premiere of Vegas Vendetta, correct?”
“Yes, we already spoke to the police there.”
“Yes…and both of you reported that you were in your hotel rooms at the time of the murder.”
“That’s correct,” Alicia answered. She couldn’t help worry where he was going with the questioning.
“And last night, could you tell us where you were?”
“I was here, painting.”
“Oh.” The detective looked up. “I thought you were a writer,” he questioned with a smile.
“I paint for my own pleasure. Writing is my profession.”
“Was anyone here with you?”
“No. I live alone,” Alicia stated defensively. “Detective, I’m assuming you are trying to see if I have an alibi, which I don’t. But let me tell you something, I do feel responsible. Those were my words on the pages left by the killer. Don’t you understand how horrible that makes me feel?” Alicia’s face grew flush and her eyes glazed over as she wrapped her arms around herself.
At that point the silent detective came to Alicia’s side and put a hand on her shoulder. “Ma’am, try not to blame yourself. These crazies are going to kill if they want to kill. We’re just trying to get all the information here.”
Alicia stepped away to gain her composure. “Is there anything else I can do for you, Detectives? I’ve got a conference call in a few moments.”