Since last visiting Dru, I’ve solved a murder mystery and opened a detective agency. I love my new life as Private Investigator Maggie Dove. I have an office, a badge, stationery and two business partners. Everything is perfect, except for one small problem. I have no clients.
Not a one.
Occasionally one of the patients from the dentist’s office next door meanders into my office and asks questions, but I suspect they’re just killing time until the numbness passes. Cassie Fletcher wanted to hire me to find her driver’s license, but it was in her wallet, so I couldn’t see charging her. Though I did make up a folder. Old Henry Stample wanted me to do genealogical research for him. That seemed promising, but then he died.
Under other circumstances, I would pray over it. I’m a Sunday School teacher (when I’m not detecting) and pray a lot, but I couldn’t see asking God to bring me business. Detectives thrive on misery: on people whose spouses are cheating or employees who are stealing or family members who are lost. I couldn’t bring myself to pray for misery when I’d spent a good portion of my 62 years trying to avoid it.
Still, when the first of October arrived and we’d gone four months without a client, I began to feel the prickles of anxiety I associate with waiting rooms. We can’t stay in business without business forever. If the detective agency closes, I’ll be forced to return to the staid and somewhat melancholy life I’d been living before these adventures started and I don’t want to go backwards.
That was when I noticed Racine Stern walking down Main Street. It’s easy to spot Racine because she always wears a red beret. She’s the daughter of the richest woman in my small village, Darby-on-Hudson. They live in the vast Stern Manor in Belvedere park, and they’re proud. They sit three rows in front of me at church, but they never speak to me. Only to the minister, and God, I suppose.
When I saw Racine striding along, banging into Joe Mangione and his coffee, and then bumping into Mr. Cavanaugh and his little dog, I imagined she was on her way to the train station and some appointment in New York City. So you can imagine my surprise when she stopped right outside the door to my detective agency. I had only enough time to quickly push aside the book I’d been reading, The Brothers Karamazov, and then, there she was, in my office.
“How can I help you?” I asked.
“I want to hire you,” she said.
“Fabulous!” I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote down the word “hire.” Then underlined it three times.
“What do you want me to do?”
Racine licked her lips. They looked chapped, and I noticed her wrists were flaked with dry skin. “Do you believe in evil, Maggie Dove?”
That startled me, but I remembered a night last April when evil had come close to taking my life. I could still smell the honeysuckle. Cold prying eyes that sought to destroy me. “Yes, I said, “I believe in evil, but I don’t know that I’m equipped to deal with it. Can you tell me what scares you?”
“Oh, I’m not scared,” Racine said. “But my sister is evil, and I want you to stop her from coming home.”
That made me shiver. Couldn’t help myself, because I feel I’m about to be tested in ways I never have before. I just hope I’m up for the job.
Maggie Dove’s Detective Agency is the second book in the Maggie Dove mystery series, published by Alibi, November 2016.
As Susan Breen’s compelling cozy mystery series continues, Maggie Dove’s budding detective agency has given her a new lease on life. Only one thing stands in the way of success: her clients—or lack of them.
After catching the killer who shook her small Hudson River town, former Sunday School teacher Maggie Dove stumbled onto an exciting new career and found a way to take her mind off her own tragic past. Now, despite her best efforts to promote the agency, Maggie can’t seem to land any new cases—until Racine Stern, one of the village’s wealthiest residents, offers her a thousand dollars to convince her “evil” sister, Domino, to stay out of town.
While Maggie’s business partner thinks she’s crazy for turning down a potential client, she doesn’t want her agency to get a reputation for accommodating bizarre requests. However, Maggie is soon caught up in the family drama anyway. Racine may fear for her life—and her inheritance—but it’s Domino who takes the fall when she plunges to her death from a tower at Stern Manor. Was it an accident or something more sinister? Maggie’s investigation will test her faith—and her ability to survive.
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About the author
Susan Breen is the author of the Maggie Dove detective series, published by a digital imprint of Penguin Random House. Her second book, Maggie Dove’s Detective Agency, was published on November 8, 2016. Susan’s short stories have been published by a number of magazines, among them Ellery Queen’s Detective Agency and Best American NonRequired Reading. An upcoming issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine will include a new Maggie Dove story. Susan lives in a small village in the Hudson Valley with her husband, two dogs (cockapoos) and a cat. Her three grown children are flourishing elsewhere. Her website is www.susanjbreen.com.
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