The dead are not altogether reliable. Colleen, my best friend, calls herself a Guardian Spirit. I can’t argue with the facts at hand: She’s been dead seventeen years, and she watches my back. I’m a private investigator, so situations arise from time to time wherein my back needs watching. Technically, Colleen’s afterlife mission is to protect Stella Maris, our island home near Charleston, South Carolina, from developers and all such as that. Since I’m on the town council and can’t abide the notion of condos and time-shares on our pristine beaches, protecting me falls under her purview.
Solving my cases, however, does not. She’ll tell me that in a skinny minute should I happen to mention how she could be more helpful. But she has been known to toss me the occasional insight from beyond that provokes a train of thought, which, upon reflection, proves useful. Here’s the thing: Colleen shows up when she detects I’m in danger. Sometimes she warns me in advance. Occasionally she drops by just to chat. But she doesn’t come whenever I think of her or call her name. It rarely works like that.
One Monday in December, I really could’ve used Colleen’s perspective. We were closing in on Christmas, and I was getting married on the twentieth—in five days. I was a teensy bit distracted, is what I’m saying.
It was a little after ten in the morning, and I was at my desk in the living room of my beachfront house, which doubles as my office. I was deep into research on a criminal case Nate, my partner and fiancé, and I were working for Andy Savage. Andy was a high profile Charleston attorney, and while this case didn’t amount to much more than fact-checking, we hoped it would lead to a lucrative relationship for Talbot and Andrews, our agency.
I stared at my computer screen and reached for one of Mamma’s Christmas cookies. My phone trilled out the ringtone named Old Phone. Old Phone was reserved for old friends. I grabbed my phone instead of the cookie.
Robert Pearson. He’d been a year ahead of me in high school, the same age as my brother, Blake. He’d married one of my best friends. Robert was also our family attorney, and he and I were both on the Stella Maris town council.
I tapped the green “accept” button.
After we exchanged the usual pleasantries, he said, “I wondered, if you’re not too busy, could you drop by this afternoon? There’s something I want to run by you.”
“I have an appointment at one that’s going to take most of the afternoon.” Multi-toned highlights are a maintenance issue, especially with hair as long as mine. My natural sandy blonde would turn Tweety Bird yellow if Dori looked at it wrong. She always took her time, but five days before my wedding she’d be excruciatingly meticulous. I couldn’t walk down the aisle with yellow hair.
“Noon?” he asked.
“Sure. See you then.”
“Thanks, Liz. I really appreciate it.” He sounded way too grateful for such an ordinary request. This is what should’ve tipped me off that something was up.
If I had known then everything that would follow, I would’ve still gone to gone by to talk to Robert. But the Pearson case hit closer to home than any other since my Gram died. Pull up a chair and I’ll tell you what happened. . .
You can read more about what happens next in Lowcountry Bordello, the fourth book in the “Liz Talbot” mystery series, published by Henery Press. The first three books in the series are Lowcountry Boil, Lowcountry Bombshell. and Lowcountry Boneyard.
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on November 9 for your chance to win a print copy of Lowcountry Boneyard. (US entries only, please.) Good luck everyone!
About the author
Susan M. Boyer is the author of the Liz Talbot mystery series. Her debut novel, Lowcountry Boil, is a USA Today Bestseller, an Agatha Award winner for Best First Novel, and a Macavity nominee, among others. Susan loves beaches, Southern food, and small towns where everyone knows everyone, and everyone has crazy relatives. You’ll find all of the above in her novels.
Susan lives with her husband and an inordinate number of houseplants in Greenville, SC. Visit Susan at her website.