Read The Lady Who Cried Murder (A Mac Faraday Mystery) Online
Authors: Lauren Carr
Tags: #mystery, #police procedural, #cozy, #whodunit, #crime
Who Cried Murder
A Mac Faraday Mystery
The Lady Who Cried Murder
All Rights Reserved © 2013 by Lauren Carr
Published by Acorn Book Services
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission of the author.
For information call: 304-995-1295
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Designed by Acorn Book Services
Publication Managed by Acorn Book Services
Cover designed by Todd Aune
Published in the United States of America
To the arrogant, envious, rude, self-centered, demented, and twisted souls amongst us.
For without you, murder mystery writers would be without inspiration.
Cast of Characters
(in order of appearance)
Retired homicide detective. His wife had left him and took everything. On the day his divorce became final, he inherited $270 million and an estate on Deep Creek Lake from his birth mother, Robin Spencer.
Spencer police chief. Son of the late police chief, Patrick O’Callaghan. Mac Faraday’s best friend and half-brother.
Deputy Chief Arthur Bogart (Bogie)
: Spencer’s Deputy Police Chief. David’s godfather. Don’t let his gray hair and weathered face fool you.
Mac Faraday’s late birth mother and world famous mystery author. As an unwed and pregnant teenager, she gave him up for adoption. After becoming America’s queen of mystery, she found her son and made him her heir. Her ancestors founded Spencer, Maryland, located on the shore of Deep Creek Lake, a resort area in Western Maryland.
Police Chief Patrick O’Callaghan:
David’s late father. Spencer’s legendary police chief. The love of Robin Spencer’s life and Mac Faraday’s birth father.
: Mother of Khloe Everest. Her sudden death sets the wheels in motion for murder.
Editor and research assistant to world-famous mystery author Robin Spencer. She is now Mac Faraday’s lady love.
Ex-best friend of Khloe Everest.
Senator Harry Palazzi’s son and heir apparent to his father’s political legacy, and don’t you forget it.
Mac Faraday’s German shepherd. Another part of his inheritance from Robin Spencer. Gnarly used to belong to the United States Army, who refuses to talk about him.
The lady who cried murder.
The producer of E-Entertainment Live. She and her crew came to Spencer for a story about Khloe Everest and got more than they bargained for.
Television show hostess.
Dr. Dora Washington:
Garrett County Medical Examiner.
Paralegal for Ben Fleming, Garrett County’s Prosecuting Attorney. House guest at Spencer Manor. David O’Callaghan’s first and current love, he hopes.
Chelsea’s service dog, trained to sense and warn of seizures.
Garrett County prosecuting attorney. He’s one of the good guys.
Mac Faraday’s lawyer. Senior partner at Willingham and Associates. He chased Mac Faraday for three city blocks to tell him that he had inherited a fortune beyond his dreams. First lawyer Mac ever met who he actually liked—maybe because he works for him.
Manager of the Spencer Inn, the five-star resort owned by Mac Faraday. His therapist is on speed dial.
Murder victim. The media attention her murder garnished inspired Khloe to cry murder.
Murder victim. Was a model in Hollywood before she ran into our killer.
Murder victim from Mac Faraday’s past.
Catherine Davenport Fleming:
Ben Fleming’s lovely socialite wife.
Senator Harry Palazzi:
Former sheriff, now United States Senator.
Senator Harry Palazzi’s lawyer.
Spencer Inn’s chief of security.
Pennsylvania State Police Homicide Detective. Amber Houston’s murder is her case.
Cameron’s twenty-five pound Maine Coon Cat. You’d have issues, too, if you looked liked a giant skunk.
Cameron’s husband. Hancock County Prosecuting Attorney in West Virginia. Together with Cameron Gates, they are the Lovers in Crime.
Burglar who spends the evening playing with Gnarly at Spencer Manor.
Private Investigator, former police officer.
Khloe Everest’s gay best friend—at least, that is what he claimed on her reality show.
Nick Field’s unfortunate next door neighbor.
Nick’s wife ... or sister ... or sugar momma, or maybe she’s a killer.
Nick Field’s defense attorney.
Spencer Inn’s head chef.
Officers Brewster, Zigler, and Fletcher:
Spencer police officers.
The truest characters of ignorance are vanity and pride and arrogance.
Spencer Mountain on Deep Creek Lake, Western Maryland—Three Years Ago
“Are you ready for this?” Mac Faraday asked David O’Callaghan, Spencer’s chief of police.
The two men peered through the window at the fleet of vans and SUVs blocking the mountain road. A mob of journalists and their camera operators filled the small front yard of the log A-Frame home built into the side of Spencer Mountain. The rear of the luxurious mountain house provided a bird’s view of the valley floor and Deep Creek Lake.
“There sure are a lot of them,” David said in a low voice.
Mac looked over at the handsome young man. A gold police shield was pinned to his chest. Shining, it stood out against his uniform’s white shirt. Somehow, it seemed unfair that the police chief, only in his early thirties, should be introduced to the media with such a horrible case. Baptism by fire.
“You’ll do fine,” Mac said. “Use your officer’s training from the Marines. When you go out there, take command. They’re going to try to take control from you—don’t let them.”
“You make it sound like I’m going into battle.”
“You are.” Unable to look at the journalists, desperate for something to report—anything, no matter who it hurt; Mac turned away.
David followed him into the front sitting room. “When you were a homicide detective in DC, did you ever have to give a statement to the media?”
“Are you kidding?” Mac replied. “I’m the last person my superiors wanted speaking to one of those vultures.” Grasping David’s arm, he softened his tone. “You’re going to do fine. We’ve practiced your statement. Remember, no questions because—”
“It’s an open police investigation,” David finished.
“It’s okay to be firm with that,” Mac said. “You’re in charge of this investigation. A young woman is missing. Your first objective is bringing her home to her mother—not playing up to the cameras.”
“I almost wish I wasn’t chief of police,” David muttered. “I remember how much Dad despised having to do things like this. They always seemed to take one thing he would say and twist it—”
“I know.” A smile came to Mac’s lips when he thought about the feelings he and his birth father shared, even though they had never met. There was something to genetics.
He caught a look in David’s eyes, which were identical to his own. They had both inherited their deep blue eyes from their father, as well as his tall, slender build. The only noticeable difference was in David’s blond hair, inherited from his mother. Mac had inherited his birth mother’s dark hair, touched with gray at the temples that had crept in after he had hit forty.
As a teenager, Robin Spencer had given birth to Mac out of wedlock. Her parents had immediately whisked him away to be adopted. While Mac’s mother went on to become a world famous murder mystery author, his birth father, Patrick O’Callaghan, had become Spencer’s police chief. Eventually, he married and had a son.
It was only upon Robin Spencer’s death forty-seven years later that Mac Faraday, a homicide detective in Washington, DC, had discovered the truth. She had left her entire estate, which included a mansion on Deep Creek Lake, to him. She had also left her journal to Mac. From that, the multi-millionaire had learned about his parents unending love for each other and his half-brother, who lived in the same town.
“I’m glad you’re here to help me, Mac,” David said.
Mac shrugged his shoulders. “It’s better than losing another tennis match to Fleming.”
Arthur Bogart, Spencer’s deputy chief of police, came in from outside. “The natives are getting restless out there, Chief.”
“I’m ready.” David picked up a clipboard with his notes from the coffee table to go over his statement one more time.
“I’ll give these to our officers to pass out to them.” Bogie picked up a stack of papers that contained a drawing of their suspect and handed some to Mac.
They looked up the stairs leading to the upper levels of the home. Florence Everest was making her way down. Archie Monday, assistant to the late Robin Spencer, was behind her.
Focusing on the case of Florence’s missing daughter, Mac pushed away the thought of how lovely Archie was. For the last four days, the petite blonde had been acting as friend and confidante to the distraught mother.
When Robin Spencer had left her estate worth two hundred and seventy million dollars to Mac, she had further increased his good fortune by stipulating that her assistant, Archie Monday, was permitted to live in the guesthouse for as long as she wanted. Mac had no desire for the emerald-eyed blonde who loved to go barefoot to leave. It isn’t every man who inherits a house with a live-in beauty.
Under normal circumstances, it would be difficult to gauge Florence Everest’s age. She was a tall, slender woman with the look of a movie star from the days of the silver screen or a runway model. Her presence was flawless. An interior decorator, she knew all about style, and she had used her talents to become successful in business as well as in high society, which was how she had risen up from a single working mother to the cream of Deep Creek Lake society.
For those on the A-list, Florence Everest was the only interior decorator in town.
Casting a fearful glance out the window at the crowd that seemed to be closing in while David’s officers pushed them back, she asked, “Do I need to go out there?” Her eyes were puffy from a recent flow of tears.
“No,” David said. “If you’re out there, they’ll be focused on you. I want them to listen to me and look at our pictures from the sketch artist.”
A ruckus outside caused them to return to the window. The journalists looked like they were about to mow down the dozens of Spencer and Garrett County officers trying to hold them back when the front door opened.
A young woman and man rushed inside and slammed the door behind them.
While the woman rushed to hug Florence, her chubby companion hung back to glare at David and Mac. His penetrating gaze bore through his small dark eyes under his dark eyebrows and flabby cheeks.
“Ms. Everest, have you heard anything yet?” the woman asked. “I saw on the Internet that the police chief was going to make an announcement. Does that mean they found Khloe?”
“No, Lily,” Florence said. “We’ve heard nothing yet.”
“I wish I had insisted on Khloe going home with me.” With a sob, Lily glanced over at the row of pictures that lined the fireplace mantel. “I saw that she had had too much to drink. None of this would have—“
“It’s not your fault.” Florence draped her arm around Lily’s shoulders.
Everyone’s eyes turned to the mantel, which contained an array of pictures of the dark-haired beauty. Like her mother, her hair that fell in a thick wave past her shoulders. Her dark eyes stood out against her alabaster skin. Many of the photographs were professional shots that displayed her striking features that had won her leading roles in the local community theater circuit.
“We’re passing out pictures of the man that you saw Khloe talking to down at the lake on Friday night,” David explained. “If we can get it out across the media, maybe someone will recognize him.”
“That’s all?” Lily’s friend exploded. “You’re passing out drawings of this guy? Why aren’t you out there looking? Why aren’t you bringing in suspects to question? She’s been missing for the last four days and all you bunch of boobs have been doing is hanging around looking at the view and contemplating your navels.”
“Now look here, Bevis,” Bogie said, “We’ve been doing everything possible. You don’t know—” The silver-haired deputy chief who possessed the solid build of a wrestler was more than impressive enough to cause Bevis to back up a step to avoid contact with him.
“I know all about abduction cases.” Bevis tried to avoid the imposing form of the deputy chief. “Back when I was a kid, my mother and her friend were kidnapped, and my father caught their killer. He was a sheriff in Frederick County in the 1970s, and he knew his job. He worked hundreds of abduction and murder cases, and it’s because he was so good at what he did that they elected him senator. I know all about how this works. I also know that your handling of this case is totally unacceptable!” Threatening to strike the police chief in the chest, he poked a finger in David’s direction. “If you morons would have listened to me four days ago, Khloe would be home now, and her kidnapper would be in prison.”
There was something about the smug expression on Bevis’ face that made Mac want to slap it. Sometimes, Mac wondered if it was who Bevis’ father was that rubbed him the wrong way. Senator Harry Palazzi, a former sheriff, had earned every bit of the reputation of a sleazy politician. He could see by David’s clenched jaw that he had the same effect on him.
“Everyone is on edge right now, Bevis,” David said in a steady tone. “So I’m going to excuse your comments as simply that.”
“Spoken like a man with no balls,” Bevis replied. “How did you get appointed police chief anyway?” He cast a glance in Mac’s direction before scoffing. “I’m sure rubbing elbows with the owner of the Spencer Inn had nothing to do with it.”
“That’s enough, Bevis.” Florence stepped in to cut Bogie off before he was about to grab the young man by the front of his shirt to take him outside for a little talk about respect.
Seeing Bogie coming, Bevis backed up. His legs buckled and he fell backwards to land on his rump on the floor.
Without missing a step, Gnarly, another part of Mac’s inheritance, scurried around from where he had moved in to trip Bevis and sit down next to his master. A huge German shepherd with a mind of his own, Gnarly and Mac had a love-hate relationship. When he listened to Mac, or took it upon himself to act in Mac or Archie’s defense, it was love. When he was committing petty larceny, it was hate.
At this moment, it was love. “Watch yourself,” Mac told Bevis, “that first step is a doozy.”
Bevis pointed at the dog whose tongue was hanging out the side of his mouth in what appeared to be a laugh. “He tripped me on purpose.”
Lily offered her hand to help him up. “Really, Bevis, he’s a dog. They aren’t capable of doing things on purpose. What is it with you two? You’ve been paranoid about him ever since you met him.”
“I don’t like the way he looks at me.” Shoving his cell phone into his pocket, he smoothed his hair with both of his hands. “I know he stole my phone the other day. That’s why I had to go out yesterday to buy a new one.”
“Why would a dog steal your cell phone?” Lily asked.
When Mac cast a glance in Gnarly’s direction, the dog scurried over to hide behind Archie.
“The sooner we get this started, the sooner we get it over with.” David moved to the door with Bogie directly behind him. Mac, Bevis, and Lily fell in behind them. Archie grasped Gnarly’s collar to hold him inside with her and Florence to watch through the window.
As soon as the media saw David step out of the house, a hush fell over the journalists. Cameras were poised to frame him in their shot when the police chief stepped up to the bank of microphones that they had set up on a makeshift podium in the driveway.
Bevis leaned against the porch railing with his arms folded across his chest. His tubby stomach rolled over his belt. Mac wondered if that smirk ever left his face. It seemed to be permanently etched there. Behind him, Lily chewed on her pinky finger.
Bogie, Mac, and two of David’s officers positioned themselves behind him in a show of support when the police chief began his statement:
“Four nights ago, on Wednesday night, twenty-one year old Khloe Everest, accompanied by two friends, went out for an evening of clubbing. During the course of the evening, she became separated from her friends. Khloe Everest did not make it home. Witnesses have told our investigators that they saw Khloe parked at a boat launch on Deep Creek Lake. She was seen speaking to a young man. On Thursday morning, her mother, Florence Everett, who was out of town on a business trip, received a phone call from her daughter’s cell phone, in which she was screaming and crying for help during what seemed to be an attack. They were abruptly cut off. Ms. Everest immediately contacted our police department. Since that time, we have been searching for Khloe Everest. All of you have received pictures of Ms. Everest. We are still searching for the young man with whom she was last seen. At this time, I would like to distribute composite pictures that have been made of him based on witness descriptions.”
“Is he a suspect?” a journalist yelled out.
“Right now, we only want to talk to him,” David said. “He is wanted for questioning.”
“Do you think Khloe’s disappearance is in any way connected to the Amber Houston disappearance and murder in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania?” another journalist shouted out. “They are about the same age and disappeared in the same way. Could it be the same killer?”
Another journalist agreed. “Have you checked the dumpsters belonging to motels in the area… like the one in McHenry?”
“We are examining all possibilities,” David said. “Until we get evidence suggesting otherwise, we’re operating on the assumption that Khloe is alive.”
Over the heads of the journalists, Mac saw a car pull up as far as it could go on the blocked road and turn off to get out of traffic. Squinting, he could see a young, dark-haired woman behind the wheel. She fluffed her hair with her hands and checked her lipstick in the rearview mirror before opening the door and sliding out of the driver’s seat. With a broad grin on her face, she sashayed up the driveway in her high heels and fire engine red short skirt.
Mac was still trying to find the words to express his surprise when Lily abruptly screamed, “Khloe!”
It took a full moment for the journalists to react. Cameras followed the line of Lily’s pointing finger to the young woman in the driveway striking a pose for the cameras.
“What’s going on?” she asked with a giggle in her voice. “Has someone been killed?”
While the journalists mobbed the subject of the search, David turned to gaze at Mac in stunned disbelief.
Not only was Khloe Everest alive, but, judging by the glee on her face while posing for the cameras, she was doing extremely well.