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100 years of secrets in Las Vegas
The wealthy McNamara clan -- plus a few angry ex-wives -- gather on the eve of the city’s centennial. When writer Olivia Wright tries to add flesh and blood to the memoirs of the family matriarch, she finds more blood than she bargained for.
Monday, December 6, 2004
Las Vegas, Nevada
"She’s got one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel," Andréa Cousteau said as she popped open her compact and checked her teeth for arugula and spinach residue. "And I’m not getting any younger either. I need the complete manuscript yesterday."
Satisfied with her teeth, my editor applied a dash of lipstick the color of brackish water to her full lips. Andréa’s name was French, but her accent was Brooklyn all the way.
"Yesterday!" she said again, punctuating the proclamation with a loud snap of the compact.
She had flown to Las Vegas from "the city so nice they named it twice" and my literary agent, Coco Jones, had flown in from the Left Coast to, as they put it, "work with me."
This was in the same spirit that Ice-pick Louie and Nasty-man Knuckles might fly in from Moline to work with a gambler behind on his debt payments. We’s got a layaway plan youse might like to know about. Get it? Lay away?
We were sitting in an ersatz outdoor café in Caesar’s Forum. The faux Mediterranean sky never changed, and the noise level never dropped. From far down the promenade I could hear the boom of Neptune’s voice as he rose on cue in his magical fountain.
Coco took off her rose-tinted sunglasses so I could feel the full wattage of her black-eyed stare. She spoke to Andréa, but her eyes were locked on mine. "I’m sure Olivia is nearly finished."
There followed a pregnant pause that I was supposed to fill with something about Fed Ex-ing copies of the manuscript to both of them in some single-digit number of days, but I just nodded and said, "Nearly." I was nearly finished with the book on Clara McNamara Kellem in the same way a twenty-foot rope ladder off the top of a fifty-foot building nearly reaches the ground.
I knew Coco wanted to practice her martial arts on me right about then, but since she was technically working for me, she leaned back and smiled at Andréa.
"What about Eileen McNamara?" Andréa persisted. "Her story’s got to be included and you haven’t even talked to her yet. As far as I can tell, Eileen getting away with murder is the high point, publicity-wise, of the McNamara family saga."
Andréa the Astute had landed with both feet right on the weakest part of my story. I was getting apprehensive on the subject of Eileen McNamara, who hadn’t returned any of my calls. I’d first gone to her house in Beverly Hills and on to her house in the Mission District of San Francisco, only to find she’d flown back to Beverly Hills then driven to Las Vegas. I’d flown back to Vegas myself that morning, barely in time for my brunch meeting with Andréa and Coco.
I had reason to be encouraged on the Eileen McNamara front, however. Her agent swore to me that Ms. McNamara would call me that evening or first thing in the morning. And this time she’d given me Eileen’s cell phone number instead of the brushoff.
"I’m going to see Eileen tomorrow," I said with more certainty than I felt. "And don’t worry about Clara’s age. Lots of people are living to one hundred these days."
"Not any editors," Andréa snapped. "Our lives are shortened by worry."
"Well, the sooner I get back to work, the sooner you can ease your worried mind. Both of you." All three of us.
Lynnette Baughman is the author of four mysteries set in New Mexico and Nevada. She’s working on a romance set in her new home state of Washington. She lives on the Olympic Peninsula.
"Baughman's setting, atmosphere, sharp, witty dialogue and full-sleshed characterization make A Spy Within an absorbing novel. It's literally a cliffhanger!" -- Elaine Coleman in the Los Alamos Monitor
"Murder, historic intrigues...and a newsroom romance are all part of Lynnette Baughman's hot new page-turner."-- S. Derrickson Moore in the Las Cruces Sun-News
"Lynnette Baughman's writing is as sharp and clear as the skies above her beloved New Mexico. A Spy Within is distinguished by a sense of place, fully developed characters, and a plot-line that catches the breath. A sure winner." -- Jack Olson, Edgar Award winner and author of "Hastened to the Grave."
“Baughman scores again [in THIN DISGUISE] with Olivia Wright, a sleuth who clearly has a wealth of life experience and knows how to use it!” -- Derrickson Moore, A&E Editor, Las Cruces (NM) Sun-News, May 2001
Book Publisher: Wings ePress
No. of Pages: 328
Paper Weight (lb): 13.2
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