I’m halfway through book #3 and it’s occurred to me more than once that you all might want a sneak peek. Am I right? Let me set it up for you. In Chapter 1 Minnie is having lunch with her friend and mentor, Dan Horowitz, an Albany Police Department Detective. Things are going along pleasantly enough and Minnie is very proud that she’s held to her diet. And then . . . Dan speaks first.
“I ordered it with extra broccoli. No special occasion. I just wanted to treat my favorite amateur sleuth to lunch.” He stopped talking and stared over my shoulder. My back was to the counter where the wait staff picked up their orders so I couldn’t see what had caught his attention.
“Don’t look.” His voice grew tense as he dropped his eyes. “Meathead Mulovich is right behind you picking up a pizza.”
Gulp. Meathead was a character of no small reputation. The Albany Times Union had recently done a front-page piece on his latest indictment. Russian and Ukrainian refugees were coming into the country in record numbers, and a sizable group made their first contacts in cities like ours. Some rougher elements were beginning to come to light, and people like Meathead were being accused of drug smuggling, mail order bride scams, and welfare fraud.
The air crackled with tension from across the table. Dan was making an exaggerated attempt at looking calm, but his eyes gave him away.
“So, about the extra broccoli,” I said trying to help him along. I slurped my soda loudly.
He unglued his eyes from Meathead’s back and looked at me. He was in a trance-like state, as though he couldn’t remember who I was.
“Uh, sorry, Minnie,” he said. “It’s just that I got some new information on this guy a few hours ago and seeing him like this is weird.”
“And I suppose you can’t tell me anything, huh?”
“Sorry,” he said, wincing, “but when he leaves I’m going to follow him.”
“Are you sure?” I asked, a little alarmed that I might be the last person to see Dan if something went wrong. “Do you want me to alert the department or something?”
“No,” he said, and a slow grin crept over his face. “It won’t be another World of Tanks shootout if that’s what you’re thinking. I only want to get an idea of his public movements, what kind of car he drives, that sort of thing. I’ll be fine.”
“You know I can help. Do you need anything checked out or any calls made?”
He didn’t have time to answer. He threw a few bills on the table, patted my shoulder, and wandered after Meathead while I looked around for someone to bring me a box for my leftover white pizza. Our pretty, dark haired waitress zipped past me with a loaded tray, but never came back to my side of the room. I waited five more minutes then got out of the booth and headed for the counter. Angry voices erupted from somewhere back in the kitchen and I caught a glimpse through the glass pane in the kitchen door of a young man in a white apron arguing with a woman. The guy was the one who had handed Meathead his takeout order. He flew back through the door, eyes blazing, and barged up to where I stood at the counter.
“Hi,” I said, trying not to flinch. “May I have a container for my leftover pizza?” I handed him the bills Dan had left on the table.
He stepped back, reached into the paper goods storage bin and grabbed a box in one fell swoop. “Oh, sure,” he answered. At the moment he leaned back to hand me the box, the glass in the door window shattered, and a woman screamed. He ducked, and so did I as another bullet whistled past our heads and lodged in the far wall. There was a third shot. General pandemonium broke out as the other pizza customers scrambled out of their seats.
“Evelina!” The young man shouted and bolted for the kitchen. The door flew open, and the waitress he’d been arguing with lay in a pool of oozing blood. He knelt beside her, and I grabbed my cell phone.
Two things hit me at once. Dan Horowitz wasn’t going to answer my call, and the pizza guy had a wicked Russian accent. I also needed a Taffy Tail real bad.
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