Read Digging Up Death (A Mari Duggins Mystery) Online

Authors: Gina Conroy

Tags: #Christian Fiction, #mystery, #Cozy Mystery

Digging Up Death (A Mari Duggins Mystery)

PRAISE FOR GINA CONROY

“Dig into a fun story with Digging Up Death. It’s got all the dirt you want—a tangled mystery, a quirky heroine, hints of romance, and page-turning action. Conroy keeps the story real and delves into the clean and the not so clean parts of life. Highly recommended.”

-Christy Barritt, author of the Squeaky Clean Mysteries series

“Gina Conroy has written a smart, fast-paced mystery in which vulnerable characters rise to the occasion. Single-mom Mari’s life is anything but mundane. Scars from her past mingle with the danger of her present while romance and a journey of faith impatiently wait their turn for a walk in her five-inch leather boots.”

-Tanya Dennis, freelance editor, In the Daileis writer, blogger

“If you’ve ever wanted to see a mom rock the Nancy Drew role, this book is for you. Digging Up Death kept me equally enthralled with the subject of archaeology, the mind-boggling mystery, and the depth of characters. Besides being a fast-paced and fun read, this story stands out for its powerful message on forgiving yourself and unique perspective of redemption.”

-Angela Ruth Strong, author of
Love Finds You in Sun Valley, Idaho

For
Cherry Blossom Capers
:

“Kudos to Gina Conroy’s novella Buried Deception, a tale of love and mystery that kept me guessing and smiling until the very end. While this novella may be Conroy’s first, it certainly won’t be her last!”

-Award winning author Kathleen Y’Barbo

“Murder. Thefts of priceless artifacts. An ornery, little boy with a penchant for getting into trouble. Gina Conroy’s fast-paced debut novella, Buried Deception, has it all and takes readers on an emotional ride. A charming romance winds up this satisfying who-dun-it.”

-Vickie McDonough, award-winning author

“I don’t usually read light mystery or romances, which is what this collection is, but it was truly relaxing, and after spending a few days with these novellas, I totally understand why so many bookworms spend most of their time with these genres. This was particularly fun to read, because one of the authors is Gina Conroy, whose blog I read back in the early days of mommy blogs… It’s really exciting to see ‘one of our own’s’ dreams come true! Gina’s story ‘Buried Deception’ was full of excitement as Samantha Steele and former cop-turned security guy Nick get right in the middle of a mess when they begin uncovering forged artifacts replacing ones that have been stolen. She becomes a target, and so each page is filled with a new threat.”

-Jennifer Donovan, 5minutesforbooks.com

“I absolutely LOVED this entire collection …but Buried Deception, by Gina Conroy, was the novella that really gripped me. I was tossed around with the amazingly created characters and I never knew where I would land. As a single mom, I could relate to the struggles that Samantha had for wanting to be independent and care for her children. But, at the same time, hunk ex-cop Nick has trust issues. I totally can relate to him, too. Watching Nick and Samantha try to find the clues to the missing artifact while trying to keep their lives, was intense. So, between Nick and Samantha, I felt every issue, every emotion, every adrenaline rush as if it were my own. I LOVE that in a mystery. Mixed among the mystery is just the right amount of romance between Nick and Samantha, and the perfect amount of inspirational message for relying on God and trusting in Him to lead the way, no matter what situation you’re in.”

- Molly Edwards, reviewsbymolly.com

“Writing a novel is hard enough work for one person. Writing a novel with four authors, I can imagine, would be a challenge, but one every one of these authors pulled off with finesse. Each of these novellas in this collection was a great read. With characters that cross over into every one of the other books, the authors stayed true to the characters their co-writers had created. Cherry Blossom Capers includes great setting, good characters and talented authors that put it all together. My favorite stories were those by Cara Putman and Gina Conroy (debut author). It’s a quick read, one novella can be read in a short amount of time, but the authors didn’t scrimp on characterization or the importance of story. A fun and well-written collection!”

-Casey Herringshaw at Goodreads

“This was an entertaining collection of four modern, snuggly mysteries rolled into one delightful book. With backdrops of various locations in Washington, DC, the friendships of four women have formed via the proximity of their condos at Cherry Blossom Estates. In separate sagas, the girls find themselves involved in precarious situations, as well as navigating tumultuous paths that might just be leading them to find the guys who could potentially become their lifetime loves. Light and breezy, all four segments marvelously meshed to represent a pleasantly engaging read!”

-Mary Anne Benedetto, author of

Eyelash, Never Say Perfect
&
7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing

“This is the most fun book ever. It has 4 short stories by 4 different authors. Each story is a mystery with a little love story. The couples were adorable and quite believable. This book was fun and entertaining. Great Christian fiction!”

-Linda Weaver Clarke, author of the mystery series

The Adventures of John and Julia Evans

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Over the years, I’ve thought about who I would thank when this book was finally published. Would I remember every single person who played a role in the whole critiquing, editing, polishing, encouraging process over the last six years? Did I keep good enough records of all the experts who answered what had to be hundreds of questions? Probably not, so I’m offering my sincere apologies now to those whose names escape me. Your hard work and expertise helped to make this the best book it could be.

First, thank you to Jesus, my best friend, Savior, and Lord, who started me on this writing path a long time ago and walked with me all the way, sometimes carrying me, most times dragging me and drying my tears as I whined and fought the journey. If I had known Your plan included leading me down the road that required surrendering and letting go, I might not have pushed forward. Thank you for lessons learned. No matter how hard. I’ve finally tasted freedom when I gave it all to You. May those who read this book catch a glimpse of the truth You want them to learn and may they be faster learners than me.

Thanks to my mom, dad, and sister who believed in me and who are my biggest fans. To my family, who endured late dinners, leftovers, dirty laundry, and extra carpool duty so I could do what I love and feel called to do. May you find your true passions and calling and be lucky enough to have people in your life who support you unconditionally.

Special thanks to Candice Prentice, who was the first to set eyes on the initial mess of this story and who liked it. Your gracious words of encouragement were just what I needed.

Many writers helped shape the words and pages of this book. In several instances, when you read my words, you are reading theirs. In no particular order, thanks to Lynette Sowell, Mary Allan, Crystal Miller, Sabrina Butcher, Christa Allan, Wayne Scott, Camy Tang, Lena Nelson Dooley and my ACFW family. Especially those who were there in my humble beginning, ACFW Crit 25, and my WIN family, Carla Stewart, Vickie McDonough, Margaret Daley, Jan Warren, Therese Stenzel, Jeneal Rogers, to name a few, who tirelessly critiqued and edited my One Sheets, taglines, backcover blurbs, and chapters.

To Cara Putman, who first came to my critique group, then surpassed me on this publishing journey and continued to encourage me in mine. Thanks for looking back and extending a helping hand!

This story, many years in the making and many more years collecting dust in my hard drive, couldn’t have been written without the help of many very helpful and educated people. If I come across knowledgeable in the areas of archaeology, medicine, and police procedure, it is because of them, as are any mistakes purely my own.

Special thanks to Professor and Geoarchaeologist Paul Goldberg at Boston University who shared all the dirt on geoarchaeology and testing procedures, and Anthropology Professor George Odell at Tulsa University who gave me the grand tour of his offices which inspired me to create the university setting and archaeology lab at Lyndon University.

To Mark Mynheir, author and police detective who answered all my questions and shared his expertise as a former police officer, narcotics agent, a S.W.A.T. team member, and homicide detective. To Detective Steve Hunt who helped with police procedures and read some of my scenes when I begged him to make sure I got it right. To Wally Lind, retired Senior Crime Scene Analyst and owner of the Yahoo Group Crime Scene Writers. I am grateful to have found this awesome resource you offer for writers. Know that your work and dedication to answering our many, many questions is bearing fruit! To fellow writers Jill E. Nelson, Randy Ingermanson, and many others on the ACFW loop who answered my tedious questions about art theft, INTERPOL, and carbon dating. You make research a whole lot easier and much more fun!

Thanks to everyone who spent years earning their degrees and after working long hours found the time to answer my questions! Dr. Victoria Wilson, ER; Dr. Cheryl Garner, Anesthesiologist; Pharmacist Valerie Cooper; Paramedic and EMS Authority Christopher Stevens, and High School Principal Will Parker.

Thanks to Susan May Warren, who tirelessly helped me and many other hopefuls over the years, who always has an encouraging word to say no matter how many times I emailed, and who first introduced me to swing dancing. I didn’t know that night back in Denver would change my life forever and open my heart to pursue a new passion. For that I am forever grateful!

I can never say thanks enough to my agent Chip MacGregor for believing in this story and repeatedly reminding me that I was a good writer and one day it would happen. You were right about
that

To my ACA family of encouragers and readers Lisa Isgrigg, Karen Aspenson, Mia Chasteen, Vickie Cheeseman, and Becki Davis my biggest cheerleader and who would be a shoo-in for president of my fan club if I had one.

Last, but especially not least, my friends at Writer…Interrupted and fellow Journeymen who encouraged me when I was weary and picked me up when I couldn’t take another step, sometimes dragging me down the rocky path. Especially, Georgiana Daniels, Angela Strong, Danica Favorite, Jessie Gunderson, Gina Holmes, and Mick Silva. I consider it a privilege to walk this road with you. Thanks for the company!

To my agent, Chip MacGregor,

who saw something in me worth investing in

and never gave up on me or this story.

To unearth a killer you have to get your fingernails dirty.

CHAPTER ONE

Monday, 7:42 a.m.

Texas, Lyndon University
Basement

WHEN I STEPPED OUT of my dressing room into the dim hallway, I should have heard death’s gentle taunting. I should have seen it hovering in the glow of the flickering lights. I should have felt it drawing me closer to the abyss. Instead, I rushed through the hall toward the campus television studio, my heels clicking on the tile like a ticking time bomb.

I dug in my red Coach bag, found my compact mirror, and held it on top of my latte while I dabbed my shiny forehead. It would have to do. I couldn’t be late for the biggest show of my career.

The intoxicating aroma of fat-laden pastries wafted my way, tantalizing my taste buds. Mental note: Find the Einstein who put the breakfast buffet between my dressing room and the green room and have him lobotomized. At thirty-two, I had a hard enough time maintaining my weight to please that mother-in-law of a camera. An impossible feat for anyone over a size two, I know. But my stubborn Sicilian heritage kept me in denial.

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