Well, loyal readers, first HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Be safe but please have fun. All things in moderation, (including moderation). Not only is today Halloween but it’s also the last day in the series of A Crime Collection interviews we’ve been having all week. Last, but certainly not least, I’m proud to welcome Renee Pawlish on the site. Master Wordsmith Renee is the award-winning author of the bestselling horror book Nephilim Genesis of Evil, the first novel in the Nephilim trilogy, the Reed Ferguson mystery series (This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies, Reel Estate Rip-off,The Maltese Felon) and the short story Elvis And The Sports Card Cheat, Take Five, a short story collection, the Noah Winters kids adventure series (The Emerald Quest), and The Sallie House: Exposing the Beast Within, a non-fiction account of a haunted house investigation in Kansas. She lives in Colorado and can be reached on her Website. You can find her books on Amazon, and follow her Blog as well.
I love mysteries and I like to laugh and joke around, so it’s natural for me to have a private eye who wisecracks throughout the stories. And I enjoy taking the readers on a journey to discover who the bad guy is. This series has been a lot of fun to write.
I have two cats, Hugo and Harley. They are shelter cats and they had to be adopted together because the shelter felt they were so close to each other that it would be detrimental to separate them. And the shelter was so right! I’ve never seen two cats love each other so much. They hang around together and are almost always around me. And they are both very affectionate with me. Things can be going horribly wrong but those two will make it all right.
This is from This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies
“I want you to find my dead husband.”
“Excuse me?” That was my first reaction.
“I want you to find my husband. He’s dead, and I need to know where he is.” She spoke in a voice one sexy note below middle C.
“Uh-huh.” That was my second reaction. Really slick.
Moments before, when I saw her standing in the outer room, waiting to come into my office, I had the feeling she’d be trouble. And now, with that intro, I knew it.
“He’s dead, and I need you to find him.” If she wasn’t tired of the repetition, I was, but I couldn’t seem to get my mouth working. She sat in the cushy black leather chair on the other side of my desk, exhaling money with every sultry breath. She had beautiful blond hair with just a hint of darker color at the roots, blue eyes like a cold mountain lake, and a smile that would slay Adonis. I’d like to say that a beautiful woman couldn’t influence me by her beauty alone. I’d like to say it, but I can’t.
“Why didn’t you come see me yesterday?” I asked. Her eyes widened in surprise. This detective misses nothing, I thought, mentally patting myself on the back. She didn’t know that I’d definitely noticed her yesterday eating at a deli across the street. I had been staring out the window, and there she was.
The shoulders of her red designer jacket went up a half-inch and back down, then her full lips curled into the trace of a smile. “I came here to see you, but you were leaving for lunch. I followed you, and then I lost my nerve.”
“I see you’ve regained it.” I’ve never been one to place too much importance on my looks, but I suddenly wished I could run a comb through my hair, put on a nicer shirt, and splash on a little cologne. And change my eye color – hazel – boring. It sounded like someone’s old, spinster aunt, not an eye color.
She nodded. “Yes. I have to find out about my husband. He’s dead, I know it. I just know it.” Her tone swayed as if in a cool breeze, with no hint of the desperation that should’ve been carried in the words.
“But he’s also missing,” I said in a tone bordering on flippant, as I leaned forward to unlock the desk drawer where I kept spare change, paper clips, and my favorite gold pen. Maybe writing things down would help me concentrate. But I caught a whiff of something elegant coming from her direction, and the key I was holding missed the lock by a good two inches. I hoped she didn’t see my blunder. I felt my face getting warm and assumed my cheeks were turning crimson. I hoped she didn’t see that either.
Perhaps I was being too glib because she glanced back toward the door as if she had mistaken my office for another. “This is the Ferguson Detective Agency? You are Reed Ferguson?”
“It is and I am.” I smiled in my most assured manner, then immediately questioned what I was doing. This woman was making no sense and here I was, flirting with her like a high-school jock. I glanced behind her at the framed movie poster from the The Big Sleep, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. It was one of my favorites, and I hung the poster in my office as a sort of inspiration. I wanted to be as cool as Bogie. I wondered what he would do right now.
She puckered pink lips at me. “I need your help.”
“That’s what I’m here for.” Now I sounded cocky.
The pucker turned into a fully developed frown. “I’m very serious, Mr. Ferguson.”
“Reed.” I furrowed my brow and looked at my potential first client with as serious an expression as I could muster. I noticed for the first time that she applied her makeup a bit heavy, in an attempt to cover blemishes.
“Reed,” she said. “Let me explain.” Now we were getting somewhere. I found the gold pen, popped the top off it and scrounged around another drawer for a notepad. “My name is Amanda Ghering.” She spoke in an even tone, bland, like she was reading a grocery list. “My husband, Peter, left on a business trip three weeks ago yesterday. He was supposed to return on Monday, but he didn’t.”
Today was Thursday. I wondered what she’d been doing since Monday. “Did you report this to the police?”
She raised a hand to stop me. “Please. I already have and they gave me the standard response, ‘Give it some time, he’ll show up.’”
That one puzzled me. The police wouldn’t file a missing persons case for twenty-four hours, but after that, I was certain they would do something more. “They didn’t do anything?”
“They asked me some questions, said they would make a few calls to the airlines.” Amanda paused. “They were more concerned about my relationship with Peter,” she said, gazing out the window behind me. The only thing she would see was an incredible view of a renovated warehouse across the street. For a brief moment, her face was flushed in as deep a sadness as I’d ever seen. Then it was gone, replaced by a foggy look when she turned back to me. “You see, Peter wasn’t exactly what you’d call a faithful husband.” She frowned, creating wrinkles on an otherwise perfect face. “Well, that’s not completely true. He was faithful, to his libido at least. But not to our marriage.” I paraphrased the last couple of sentences on the notepad. “He travels quite a bit with his company, computer consulting, so he has ample opportunity to dally. And he never tries hard to conceal what he’s doing.”
“Did you tell the police all of this?”
“Yes. I believe that’s why they’re not doing that much. That, and the fact that there appears to be no foul play, has kept them from doing little more than paperwork.”
“You’re afraid they’re not treating his disappearance seriously.”
I scratched my chin with the pen. “I’d have to disagree with you about that.” I didn’t have much experience – okay I didn’t have any experience – but in the tons of detective books I’d read and all the movies I’d seen the police would take someone of Amanda’s obvious wealth with some concern. At least until she gave them a reason not to.
“They don’t have the resources to track him down,” she countered. “That’s left up to me, which is what I’m here to do.”
“And this way you also keep any nasty details private.”
“Why come to me?”
Amanda glanced around the sparsely furnished office and the stark white walls decorated with noting more than movie posters, as if she were second-guessing her choice of detectives. “You came recommended. I know you’re not licensed but…”
“You don’t have to be in the state of Colorado,” I interrupted. Anyone who wanted to could be a detective here, just hang up a sign. Hell, you didn’t even need a gun. I could testify to that. Never had one, never shot one.
She waved a hand at me. “I don’t care if you’re licensed or not. I know your background. You come from a well-to-do family; you know when to be discreet.”
I came recommended. Now that caught my curiosity. The only thing I’d done was to help a wealthy friend of my father track down an old business partner. It was slightly dangerous but not noteworthy, and at the time I didn’t have an office or a business. I had been between jobs, so I decided to pursue an old dream. I hung up a shingle to try my hand at detecting. I loved old detective novels, had read everything from Rex Stout and Dashiell Hammett to Raymond Chandler and James M. Cain. I’d watched Humphrey Bogart, William Powell, and all the classic film noir movies. I pictured myself just like those great detectives. Well, maybe not. But I was going to try.
“Who recommended me?” I asked. The list was surely small.
“A friend at my club.”
“Paul Burrows. Do you know him?”
I shook my head. “Does he know my father?” I assumed he was someone who’d heard about me helping my father’s friend.
“I don’t know, but Paul said you were good, and that you could use the work.”
She was right about that. I lived comfortably off an inheritance from my obscenely rich grandparents, plus some smart investments I’d made over the years, so I’d never had a real career. I had always wanted to work in law enforcement, but my parents had talked me out of that. Instead, I got a law degree, flitted from job to job, and disappointed my father because I never stuck with anything. I hoped being a detective would change all that; it was something I’d always wanted to do, but my father still thought I was playing around. I needed to solve a real case to prove him wrong.
“Are you a fan of old movies?” Amanda asked, noticing the posters for the first time.
I nodded. “I like old movies, but especially detective film noir.”
I pointed to a different poster on another wall of The Maltese Falcon, one of Bogie’s most famous movies. “Movies with hard-boiled detectives, dark themes, and dark characters.”
“And dark women?” Amanda said.
I kept a straight face as I gazed at Lauren Bacall. “Yeah, that too.”
“I hope you’re as good as Sam Spade,” Amanda said.
I watched her cross one shapely leg over the other, her red wool skirt edging up her thigh. Trouble. Just like I’d thought before. I should have run out of my own office, but I didn’t. I know what you’re thinking, it’s her beauty. No, it was what she said next that complicated things immensely.
“I’m prepared to pay whatever it takes.” Saying that, she pulled a stack of bills from her purse. I crossed my arms and contemplated her. This sounded like I’d just be chasing after a philandering husband. Not exciting at all, even though I had little basis for making that assumption, other than what I’d read in books. But a voice inside my head said that making money meant it was a real job, right?
I named my daily wage, plus expenses. It was top dollar, but she didn’t blink. And I had my first real case. What would my father say to that?
Five first-in-a-series mystery novels by up-and-coming authors Betta Ferrendelli, R.S. Guthrie, Simon Jenner, Emily Kimelman and Renée Pawlish. These spellbinding stories, filled with twists and turns, murder, intrigue and suspense with captivating and unforgettable characters, have been reviewed more than 1,600 times and have earned more than 750 five-star reviews.