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Authors: L.L. Bartlett

Tags: #mystery, #paranormal, #amateur sleuth, #brothers, #brain injury, #psychological suspense, #mystery novel, #mystery detective, #lorna barrett, #ll bartlett, #lorraine bartlett, #buffalo ny, #murder investigation, #mystery book, #jeff resnick mystery, #mysterythriller, #drag queens, #psychic detective, #mystery ebook, #jeff resnick mysteries, #murder on the mind, #cheated by death

Dead In Red

BOOK: Dead In Red
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Bartlett presents her second
supernatural mystery featuring Jeff Resnick, a down-and-out
insurance investigator who acquired hard-to-control psychic powers
after sustaining brain injuries in a mugging. Jeff is now living
with his brother, Richard, in Buffalo. Better but still weak, Jeff
is struggling to adjust to his strange new abilities. While minding
his own business in a local bar, he’s asked by the bartender to
look into the murder of his cousin. Jeff instantly gets a flash of
a red, rhinestone-studded high-heeled shoe. Add to that the visions
of bloody hands, and he knows he must take the case. Richard
insists on helping him, and Jeff acquiesces even though he remains
mired in guilt over putting Richard in the line of fire yet again.
Their investigation leads them into a world of fetishes and drag
queens. Jeff risks his health and possibly his life, but knows he
must continue, or someone he cares about will be in danger.
Bartlett’s hero is complicated and mesmerizing, making for a
gripping and energizing mystery.
--
Booklist

 

 

 

Dead in Red

L.L. Bartlett

A Jeff Resnick Mystery

 

Copyright © 2008
by L.L. Bartlett.
All rights
reserved
.
This book may not
be reproduced in whole or in part by any means existing without
written permission from the author.*

 

* This also pertains to uploading to free
download sites, which is considered piracy and does not recognize
the labor of this author or her livelihood from that work. Please
discourage piracy and purchase works (other than those offered by
the Author or Publisher as "Free Books"). Thank you.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters,
places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s
imagination, or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to
actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

 

Originally published by Five Star/Cengage
Learning, June 2008

 

Smashwords
Edition, License Notes
:

This ebook is licensed for your personal
enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to
other people. If you would like to share this book with another
person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you
share it with. If you're reading this book and you did not purchase
it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should
return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for
respecting the hard work of this author.

 

 

The Jeff Resnick
Mysteries

Murder on the Mind

Dead In Red

Cheated By Death

Bound By Suggestion (2011)

 

 

 

DEDICATION

For Frank

 

 

Acknowledgments

Every author I know has a group of friends
who read and critique her/his work, and I’m no different. My first
readers come from my Sisters In Crime Chapter, The Guppies. My
thanks to Nan Higginson, Marilyn Levinson, Liz Eng, Lisa Black,
Sheila Connolly, and especially to Sharon Wildwind for their
comments and suggestions.

Thanks also go to Michelle Martin and Judy
Stock for their expertise on running small bakeries; Hank Phillippi
Ryan gave me pointers on journalism, and Michele Fowler shared her
knowledge about theater and wardrobe. D.P. Lyle, MD, provided his
expertise in medical matters. (Likewise, Sharon Wildwind, RN.) Any
errors in that respect are definitely of my own making. I can’t
forget my staunchest cheerleaders and critique partners Liz Eng and
Gwen Nelson, nor my agent Jacky Sach and editor Hugh Abramson.

Thank you all!

 

 

 

DEAD IN RED
A Jeff Resnick Mystery
by L.L. Bartlett

 

(Smashwords Edition)

 

CHAPTER 1

 

My footsteps echoed on the pavement that
cold night in early March. Huddled in my old bomber jacket, I
dodged the mini skating rinks that had once been puddles on the
cracked pavement. Preoccupied. By the creepy thing I’d experienced
only minutes earlier. By thoughts of a new job. Of the fifty bucks
I’d just won playing pool at the little watering hole near my
apartment. Five months of unemployment had cleaned me out. I was on
a roll and determined not to let anything spoil it.

Then two imposing figures stepped out of the
darkness, demanded money. I gave them what I had. It wasn’t enough.
One of them grabbed me, decided to teach me a lesson.

Not if I could help it. I yanked my arm
back, kicked one of them in the balls—and paid for it.

Backlit by a streetlamp, I saw the baseball
bat come at me, slam into my forearm, delivering a compound
fracture that sent skyrockets of pain to obliterate my senses.

Couldn’t think, too stunned to move as the
bat slammed into my shoulder, knocking me to my knees.

The bat came at me from the left, crashed
into my temple, sent me sprawling. My vision doubled as I raised my
head and the bat walloped me again.

“My cousin’s dead.”

The voice brought me out of my reverie, or
rather the nightmare memory that claimed me at inopportune
moments.

Tom Link’s bottom lip quivered and he looked
away. Heavyset, with a barroom bouncer’s countenance, I hadn’t
expected him to reveal any trace of what I was sure he would call
weakness.

My fingers tightened around the cold pilsner
glass as something flashed through my mind’s eyes: The image of a
sparkling red, woman’s high-heeled shoe.

I tilted the glass to my lips to take a gulp
of beer. Bursts of insight—if that’s what they are—bring with them
a certain creep factor, something I doubted I’d ever get used
to.

I concentrated on breathing evenly as I
sipped my beer and waited for Tom to continue. It isn’t often a
bartender confides to a customer. I know. Years before I’d spent
time on that side of the counter, listening to the stories of
lonely men—and women—who had no other confidants.

Tom wasn’t just a bartender at the little
neighborhood sports bar that teetered on the verge of going
under—he was also the owner of The Whole Nine Yards. I’d been
patronizing the unassuming place for the past couple of months,
getting the feel of it, a part of me hoping I could one day be a
part of it.

I’d heard about but hadn’t known the
murdered man—Walt Kaplan. He’d opened the bar early in the day,
whereas I’d never been there before eight p.m.

“How can I help?” I asked.

Tom’s gaze shifted to take in a group of
regulars crowded around the large-screen TV bolted to the wall,
before turning back to me. “You said you used to be an
investigator—”

“Before I got my head caved in,” I said,
referring to the mugging I’d suffered some three months before. I’d
read about Walt’s murder in the paper, but Tom probably knew more
about it than the news had reported. “What happened?”

Lips pursed, Tom ran a damp linen
cloth over the old scarred oak bar. “Walt worked here part-time. He
left here on Saturday afternoon and never came back.” His worried
brown eyes met mine. “Your name’s Resnick. We’re
landsman
, Jeff. Would you be willing
to look into it? I’ll pay you.”

We weren’t “
landsman
.” I was a lapsed Catholic, not Jewish,
but now wasn’t the time to dispute that. Besides, the idea
intrigued me. I’d been hanging out at the little neighborhood
tavern with the idea of eventually asking Tom for a part-time job,
and now he was offering an employment opportunity far different
than what I’d anticipated.

“What about the cops? Don’t you trust
them?”

“I’ve been robbed four times in the last
twelve years. Did they ever catch the guys? No.”

Part of me—the smart part—knew if I accepted
his offer I’d be sorry. Another part of me wanted to jump at the
chance to feel useful again. I tried to keep my eagerness in check.
“Tell me more about Walt.”

Tom’s jowls sagged. “You woulda liked him.
He was a lot like you.”

My stomach twisted. “How so?”

A small smile twitched Tom’s mouth. “Quiet.
A loner. He wasn’t one to talk about himself. You’ve been coming
here for a couple months now and I know your name and what you used
to do before your accident, but that’s all.”

He had me pegged there. Spilling my guts to
strangers wasn’t in my program. At one time I’d been a top
insurance investigator, but office politics weren’t my forte. I
screwed myself one time too many and ended up on the unemployment
line. On the eve of starting a new job, I’d been mugged by a couple
of street thugs. The resulting brain injury had changed my life
forever.

“The newspaper said Walt was found by the
Old Red Mill. That he was stabbed and had apparently been
robbed.”

Tom nodded. “His wallet was missing. So was
a big diamond ring he always wore. His father gave it to him when
he graduated from high school. I went to the mill. Nothin’ much to
see but some crime tape.” His gaze met mine, hardened. “But you’ll
get more than I did.”

Get more?
The
words made my insides freeze. How did he know? I could count on one
hand the people who knew I was—that I could
. . .

Cold sweat broke out on the back of my neck.
The word “psychic” didn’t really apply to me. Since the mugging,
I’d been able to sense strong emotions. Not from everyone I met—but
sometimes from those who were no longer alive. Sometimes I just
knew things—but not always. It was pretty much haphazard and damned
disconcerting when it happened. And often these feelings and
knowledge brought on migraines that so far drugs hadn’t been able
to quell.

Tom’s gaze bore into mine.

“Get more?” I prompted, afraid to hear his
answer.

“Being a trained investigator, I mean.”

I heaved a mental sigh of relief.
“Yeah.”

“When can you start?”

As a teenager I’d ridden my ten-speed all
around Snyder and Williamsville, and could still recall some of my
old routes. The area behind the Old Red Mill had always been weedy,
with a steep embankment that loomed near a rushing stream. No way
would I risk my neck to take a look in the dark. “Tomorrow
morning.”

Tom nodded. “It wouldn’t hurt for the
regulars to get to know you. Dave”—he indicated the other bartender
drawing a beer at the brass taps across the way—“doesn’t want
Walt’s early shift. You up to working here at the bar three or four
afternoons a week?”

I looked at my reflection in the mirrored
backbar. My hair had grown back from where some ER nurse had shaved
it, but the shadows under my eyes and the gaunt look and sickly
pallor were taking a lot longer to fade. I'd been living with my
physician brother for the past three months. While I was grateful
he'd rescued me, allowing me to recover at his home, I was tired of
the enforced inactivity he’d insisted upon. The idea of actually
having something to do and somewhere to go appealed to me.

“I’d like to try.”

“Okay. Show up here about eleven tomorrow
and I’ll give you a run down on how we operate.” He turned, took a
cracked ballpoint out of a jar and grabbed a clean paper napkin, on
which he scribbled a few lines. “This is what you have to do. I
don’t need workers’ comp or the IRS breathing down my neck.”

My hand trembled as I reached for the
napkin. Who would have thought that a part-time job in a
neighborhood bar would make me so nervous? A warm river of relief
flooded through me as I read the short list. “I can do this.
Thanks, Tom.”

 

* * *

 

“A bartender?”
My half brother, Richard Alpert, looked up from his morning
coffee, his expression skeptical. His significant other, Brenda
Stanley, lowered a section of newspaper to peer at me. The three of
us sat at the maple kitchen table in the home Richard’s
grandparents had built decades before in Buffalo’s tony suburb of
Amherst, the egg-stained breakfast dishes still sitting before
us.

“I need a job.”

“Okay, but why a bartender?” Richard
asked.

I’d been rehearsing my answer for an hour.
Now to make it sound convincing.

“I’ve done it before. It’s pretty much a
no-brainer, which is something I can handle right now.”

Richard scowled, studied my face. Being
twelve years older than me, he’s felt the need to look after me
since the day our mother died some twenty-one years earlier. Back
then I was an orphaned kid of fourteen and he’d been an intern with
generations of old money behind him. “Have you thought about the
consequences of this kind of social interaction?” he asked.

BOOK: Dead In Red
8.46Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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