When an Armani-clad corpse turns up in the woods, crime reporter Nichelle Clarke smells a scoop. A little digging, and Nichelle uncovers a web of corruption that stretches all the way to Washington, D.C. Politics. Murder. And a dead lobbyist. It’s everything Nichelle’s ever dreamed of.
The cops are playing it close, the feds even closer, and Nichelle’s afraid her boss will assign the story to the political desk any day. Richmond’s new ATF SuperCop makes an arrest before she can say “Louboutin,” but Nichelle’s gut says he’s got the wrong guy.
Her sexy Mafia boss friend warns her off the case, her TV rival is hot on her designer heels, an ambitious copy editor wants her beat, and victims are piling up faster than she can track them down. As Nichelle zeroes in on the truth, it’ll take some fancy footwork to nab this headline before the killer nabs her.
My editor was thrilled with the early story, especially since the mystery dead guy led the morning TV news. He was also ecstatic to have exclusive comments from the scene.
“Good move, getting all that on the record.” Bob sat back in his big leather chair after he finished reading it before the morning staff meeting. “Very nice, kiddo.”
I returned his smile and stifled a yawn. I’d gotten up a half- hour early to run in lieu of my usual body combat class. “Anything for the team,” I said.
I clicked my pen in and out. “I found something out at the scene last night,” I began, but Eunice Blakely interrupted. Our features editor came bearing a foil-covered pan of deliciousness, as she did at least once a week—in spite of Bob’s restricted diet. He may have had a heart attack last summer, but he still longed for Eunice’s southern culinary creations.
“What’d you bring me?” I grinned, my growling stomach tak- ing precedence over the paper scrap.
“Armadillo eggs in honor of Texas clinching their division last night.” She grinned and set the dish on the corner of Bob’s desk closest to me.
I lifted the foil and snatched up an oval lump of yummy wrapped in amazing before she could lower herself into the other orange armchair. They were still warm.
“Not as much as I love you,” I told her, the words muffled by the food.
“Cheese-stuffed jalepenos coated in sausage and Bisquick? What’s not to love?” Bob stared sadly at the tray, and I stopped mid-chew.
“I brought you something, too.” Eunice pulled a Ziploc of brownies from her oversized pink tote. “Carob, black bean, and cocoa. Taste one before you turn your nose up. They’re pretty damned good.”
Bob took a tiny bite and grinned. “Eunice, you could put top- soil in that stand mixer and it would taste like heaven.” He popped the rest of the square into his mouth.
Brownies that wouldn’t widen my ass?
“Can you do that with white chocolate?” I asked, watching the rest of the armadillo eggs vanish as the other section editors filed in.
“I don’t know, sugar, but I’ll give it a shot.” Eunice winked over the sports editor’s head as he wolfed down an armadillo egg and asked her to marry him, which he did every time she brought food. Spence swore his wife wouldn’t care, either, if Eunice would cook.
Bob started the rundown with sports.
“It’s September.” Spence tapped a pen on his notepad. “I got baseball winding down and college football gearing up, a Redskins injury report that ought to make the fantasy diehards cry into their Coors, and a great column from Parker on that foundation the Generals set up in Nate DeLuca’s memory.”
The meeting flew by. My feature on an inner-city family and part one of the baseball season wrap-up led as the big stories for the coming weekend. When the international desk chief started arguing ideology with our political reporter, Trudy Montgomery—who had more big D.C. names in her phone’s favorites list than I could count on both of her perfectly-manicured hands—I pulled out my Blackberry and checked my email.
“Politics is perception,” Trudy’s words faded into background noise as I clicked an email from Aaron White, the police department’s public information officer. “This election isn’t going to come down to the economy or the schools or the roads or any of the things people should give a damn about. It’s going to come down to the guy who looks best on camera or the one who doesn’t say something stupid in the next seven weeks.”
She went on about the senate race, hotly-contested for the first time in almost two decades, and I tore my eyes from the “loading” icon on Aaron’s email. Covering politics was my dream job, and Trudy was one of the best on the east coast.
“Trudy, polling shows voters are more concerned about the environment and foreign relations than ever,” Edwin Caruthers, who’d been covering foreign affairs in Richmond since The Bay of Pigs, objected.
“People don’t always tell pollsters what they really think,” I said. “Sometimes they say what makes them sound smart.”
Trudy winked at me. “Thank you, Nichelle. My point exactly. The polls are close because they both look good on TV and they’re both suave. Add that to the uproar in DC, and of course it’s tight. But Ted Grayson’s smart. He’s also got a well-oiled campaign and a gift of charisma I haven’t seen since Clinton. He’ll pull it out.”
I nodded, and Bob thumped a paperweight onto his desk to re- call order. He quizzed the business editor, and I returned to Aaron’s email.
Hot damn. The coroner hit on the dental. My dead guy was Daniel Amesworth, twenty-nine, of Henrico. By the time Bob dismissed us, my fingers itched to hit the keyboard.
I detoured through the break room to refill my coffee mug, frowning at the light weight of my white mocha syrup bottle. My coffee habit was going to get expensive if I started pigging up a seven-dollar bottle of syrup a week.
Back at my desk, I searched Amesworth’s name in Google. He was a lawyer. Private firm in Henrico, single, no police record. Not even an unpaid traffic ticket. I found a picture of his whole, smiling face on his Facebook profile. Poor guy.
“How did you end up bobcat chow, counselor?”
LynDee Walker grew up in the land of stifling heat and amazing food most people call Texas, and wanted to be Lois Lane from the time she could say the words “press conference.” An award-winning journalist, LynDee traded cops and deadlines for burp cloths and onesies when her oldest child was born. Writing the Headlines in High Heels mysteries gives her the best of both worlds.
LynDee is a member of Sisters in Crime and James River Writers. BURIED LEADS is the second novel in her Headlines in High Heels mystery series. Her debut, FRONT PAGE FATALITY, is an amazon and Barnes and Noble #1 bestseller. Nichelle Clarke’s next adventure, SMALL TOWN SPIN, will be on sale April 8, 2014.
LynDee adores her family, her readers, and enchiladas. She often works out tricky plot points while walking off the enchiladas. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, where she is working on her next novel.
- Twitter: @LynDeeWalker
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Buy the Books!
- FRONT PAGE FATALITY: A Headlines in High Heels Mystery (Henery Press, available now)
- BURIED LEADS: A Headlines in High Heels Mystery (Henery Press, available now)
- HEARTACHE MOTEL: Three Interconnected Mystery Novellas (Henery Press, available now)
- SMALL TOWN SPIN: A Headlines in High Heels Mystery (Henery Press, April 2014)
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