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Death Runs in the Family
Death Runs in the Family
Book Three in The Alvarez Family Murder Mystery Series
A Novel by Award-Winner Heather Haven
Release: May 31st, 2012
Editor: Fiona Young-Brown
Line Editor: Penny Ehrenkranz
Cover Designer: Delilah K. Stephans
Lee Alvarez’ ex-husband, Nick—a man she divorced with joy in her heart and a gun in her hand—sprints back in her life only to disappear again. She’d love to leave it at that, but could he be responsible for the recent death of her cousin, who keeled over at the finish line of a half-marathon in front of hundreds of spectators? As PI for the family-run business, Discretionary Inquiries, Lee follows the clues to Vegas, where she joins forces with Shoshone PI, Flint Tall Trees. Together they uncover a multi-million dollar betting syndicate, a tacky lounge lizard act, and a list of past but very dead runners, plus future ones to be offed. At the top of the ‘future’ list is the love of her life, Gurn Hanson. Hoping to force the culprits out in the open, Gurn and Lee’s brother, Richard, plan to run San Francisco’s famous Palace to Palace 12K in only a few days. Lee aims to keep the two men she loves from hitting the finish line the way her cousin did—not in a dead heat, but just plain dead! With more at stake than she ever dreamed possible, Lee is in a battle against time to stop the Alvarez Family’s race with death.
Another Mrs. Papadopoulos?
I threw back the covers and staggered to my front door, commanded there by the insistent ringing of the doorbell. Ordinarily, after the night I’d had and it being eight o’clock in the morning on a Sunday no less, I would have just let it ring, hoping whoever it was would go away or fall into a sinkhole. But this ringer wouldn’t stop and the bell sounded more and more like an air raid siren to my hung-over eardrums.
My name is Liana Alvarez. Everyone calls me Lee except my mother and the less said about that the better. My email reads Lee.Alvarez.PI@DI.com, but I don’t always respond in a timely fashion, especially when I’m in the middle of a case. DI stands for Discretionary Inquiries, the family-owned investigative service, and everybody knows what a PI is. I’m thirty four-years old, five-foot eight, 135 pounds on a good day, with thick, brown/black hair. The love of my life, the gorgeous Gurn Hanson, says my eyes are the color of twilight. At the moment, however, they mostly resembled a beady-eyed hippo’s.
The previous night, Lila Hamilton Alvarez, mother and CEO, fobbed off a last-minute job on me, one not so good for my California lifestyle. Due to our close relationship, my designer-clad mom knows she can do this. So, instead of being at home playing with my cat and sucking down a Jamba Juice, I was imbibing huge amounts of alcohol in an effort to get the tipsy girlfriend of a software thief to reveal where he’d got to. Said girlfriend dished, but my liver will never be the same.
Me being about as hardboiled as a two-minute egg, the following morning found me sleep deprived, alcohol poisoned, and feeling enormously sorry for myself. But I still remembered to look out the peephole instead of throwing open the door because L.H. Alvarez did not raise a stupid child. Not seeing anyone, I leaned against the framework in a hangover-induced quandary. Was someone there or not?
But the ringing continued, so shrill and loud that it had to be an affirmative unless my front door’s electrical system had gone wiggy. I squinted into the little round circle of glass again, strained my eyeball downward, and spied what looked like the back of a curly, platinum blonde, female head. I left the chain on when I opened the door, because my mother did not raise…never mind.
Facing away from me, the blonde female continued to lean into my doorbell for all she was worth, oblivious to my presence. A serious shrimp, she wore a pair of fire engine red spike heels and still didn’t clear much over five foot two. Looking pretty harmless unless she came at me with one of those six-inch spikes, I undid the chain and opened the door.
“All right, all right. I’m here. Get off the bell.”
Startled, red stilettos wheeled around and faced me. “Hi,” she said in a voice with no bottom to it, reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe, but not nearly as sexy. “I was beginning to think you weren’t here.”
For as self-confident as her body language had been earlier, she seemed to become unsure of herself, shy almost. Although how anyone could pull off shyness in that getup I’ll never know. The killer heels were a perfect complement to the red satin miniskirt, scanter than a Dallas cheerleader’s costume, and the plunging neckline of the yellow and green floral blouse emphasized cleavage aplenty. A thin, black polyester sweater, way too small, was buttoned haphazardly below her breasts. Clanking gewgaws hung from her ears, neck, wrists and fingers. In fact, she looked like a walking display case of gaudy jewelry. Before me stood a young lady who could send any self-respecting fashionista screaming into the night.
“You’re Lee, right?” she said in a barely audible voice.
“That’s me,” I croaked, and I tried to clear my throat, which didn’t do much good. “And you are?”
“Why, I’m Kelli, with an ‘i.’” The name was pronounced as if it should mean something to me.
She waited a beat, expectantly.
I was clueless.
“Kelli with an i?” Although in my condition, it came out more like ‘Kawawaya?’
“Yes, Kelli. With an ‘i.’”
There was the damn pause again.
She stared at me, as if me not knowing whom she was made me too stupid to live. I stared back in complete agreement. I think I hiccupped.
“Nick’s wife,” she said, in a manner reserved for the slow of mind.
“Nick’s wife?” I stuttered.
I only knew one Nick and that was a Nick I’d divorced four years prior with joy in my heart and a gun in my hand. “When you say, ‘Nick’s wife,’ you don’t you mean, Nick Papadopoulos, as in my Nick or rather my ex-Nick, by way of being my ex-husband, Nick? You’re talking about someone else, right? Another Nick I can’t quite place…” My voice trailed off because she was nodding in the affirmative every time I said his name.
“You’re Nick’s wife?”
She nodded again just as Tugger, my adolescent orange and white cat, came out of the bedroom and trotted down the hallway followed by my boyfriend’s grey and white Persian mix, Baba Ganoush, named for the eggplant dish. My boyfriend, Gurn, was in Washington D.C. and I was catsitting this darling, little green-eyed girl until his return.Baba entered quietly but Tugger caterwauled the entire time, obviously complaining about being awoken at such an ungodly hour of the morning. He sauntered over, sat down in front of me, stared up at this Kewpie doll of an intruder, and gave a long, wide mouthed yawn. My sentiments exactly.
About the Author:
Heather Haven has been putting pen to paper all her life, with novels, television treatments, plays, ad copy, short stories, comedy acts, blogs, even ghost-writing a book. She is the proud author of the successful and humorous Alvarez Family Murder Mystery Series, Murder is a Family Business, A Wedding to Die For and the soon to be released, Death Runs in the Family. Living in the foothills of San Jose, California, Heather is married to a wonderful guy, a musician when he’s not teaching, and has two very intelligent, obedient cats…well, maybe not so obedient.
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