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While investigating the murder of a beautiful socialite Detective Lanny Boone uncovers a corrupt gambling cartel that eliminates opposition from any quarter. Having made the connection between the murder and the cartel Boone presses for evidence to convict â€¦ and is drawn into a crossfire he might not survive.
"Iâ€™m telling you, Lieutenant, I liked to never got Melba to stop screaming. She ainâ€™t never seen nothing like that. Me either.â€
I was standing near where theyâ€™d pulled the body from the water, talking to Tommy Barnes. He wore a baseball cap, T-shirt, shorts and running shoes, though I suspect with his paunch he didnâ€™t do much running. His wife sat on a park bench, arms folded, shivering, rocking back and forth and staring at the ground. Two police cruisers were nearby, their flashing bar lights painting the scene blue.
"What time was that, Mr. Barnes?â€
"Tommy. You can call me Tommy. Round six, I reckon. Melbaâ€™s gotten to where she makes me get up early and walk. Weâ€™d started on our first lap around the park. When we came by here where the path comes close to the water--thatâ€™s when Melba saw her.â€
"Melba saw her first?â€
"Sort of.â€ He took off his cap and ran his fingers through his hair. "Melba pointed at what looked like a rag floating on top of the water. â€˜Look at that,â€™ she said. â€˜What?â€™ I said. â€˜That litter somebody threw in the water. Makes me mad.â€™ Well sir, as soon as we got closer I saw something wasnâ€™t right.â€
"What wasnâ€™t right?â€
"I saw right off it was more than litter. You remember how when you was a kid and youâ€™d float face-down in the swimming hole at the creek, and bob along a little bit?â€
"Thatâ€™s what it looked like, like she was bobbing on purpose and would raise her head in a second. I stopped walking and took hold of Melbaâ€™s arm and stopped her. â€˜Hon,â€™ I said, â€˜wait here a minute.â€™â€
"You knew it was a person?â€
"Yeah, or I thought somebody could have been playing a prank and put one of them store dummies in the water. What do you call them, the things they put dresses on?â€
"Yeah, manikins. Anyway, when I walked on down to the water Melba followed me. Sheâ€™s hardheaded and all, wonâ€™t listen to nobody, least of all me. There we saw her. Floating like I said, her blonde hair waving in the water, minnows kind of drifting around her body. Wouldnâ€™t have been long the turtles would have been at her. Thereâ€™s lots of turtles in the lake, you know?â€
"Yes, I know,â€ I said. "What did you do then?â€
"Well, Melba commenced to screaming. And she was yelling, â€˜Get her out. Get her out.â€™ I made Melba sit on a bench and I went and waded in. Then Melba came sloshing out after me. Water wasnâ€™t but about a foot deep. I suspected sheâ€™s dead but I didnâ€™t know for sure so we pulled her out. I almost got sick when I saw sheâ€™s dead. If Iâ€™d known for sure sheâ€™d been dead Iâ€™d of left her be until the police got here. Know what I mean?â€
"I know.â€ I didnâ€™t tell Tommy Barnes heâ€™d done the right thing because I didnâ€™t know what the right thing was. I did know Iâ€™d have waded in and pulled her out just as heâ€™d done.
"Lieutenant, what do you reckon happened?â€
"Donâ€™t know,â€ I said. Iâ€™d seen the body. The bruises on her arms and throat and her torn nails indicate sheâ€™d fought off an attacker. I didnâ€™t think sheâ€™d drowned in a foot of water but this was no time for me to be speculating on what had happened.
Tommy Barnes pulled at his chin. "I was looking at where she was floating in the water and I was thinking she might have walked out on that concrete culvert right there and slipped and hit her head and fell in. Reckon she could have done that?â€
"I donâ€™t know,â€ I said. "Anything else you can think of?â€
"Donâ€™t reckon, only I thought it was strange sheâ€™s wearing a dress. Fancy one, looks like. Most people that come to the park this early in the morning have on shorts or warm-ups. She looked like she was going to a party, or had come from one. Had on high heels. Well, one high heel. Other shoe is probably in the water. Donâ€™t you think?â€
"I donâ€™t know,â€ I said. I donâ€™t like saying "I donâ€™t knowâ€ a lot but there wasnâ€™t much else to say.
Ben Douglas is the author of several books of nonfiction and numerous newspaper and journal articles. His popular mystery, Finding Elmer Lee, continues to bring praise from all who have read it. Douglasâ€™ three children having flown the nest, he lives with his wife, three cats and a hound dog in Madison, Mississippi where he is at work on another Lanny Boone mystery.
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 318
Paper Weight (lb): 13.4
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