Read Meow or Never (Vanessa Abbot Cat Protection League Cat Cozy Mystery Series Book 3) Online

Authors: Nancy C. Davis

Tags: #detective, #cozy mystery, #Amateur Sleuth, #mysteries, #Cats, #cat, #woman sleuth

Meow or Never (Vanessa Abbot Cat Protection League Cat Cozy Mystery Series Book 3)

BOOK: Meow or Never (Vanessa Abbot Cat Protection League Cat Cozy Mystery Series Book 3)
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Meow or Never

Nancy C. Davis

©2015 Nancy C. Davis

Copyright © 2015 
No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse-engineered or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known, hereinafter invented, without express written permission from the author.
This book is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and dialogue are drawn from the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. While reference might be made to actual historical events or existing locations, the names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Thank you

Your Gifts

Books in the Series

Chapter 1

Vanessa Abbot and Pete Wheeler strolled
down the main street of Caspar Crossing. Their joined hands swung to the rhythm
of their stride. Pete stopped in front of the bank. “I should get back to work.
My lunch break is over.”

Vanessa nodded. “Will I see you later?”

“I have to go to a department meeting
tonight,” he told her. “Why don’t we put it off until tomorrow?”

“I can’t see you tomorrow,” she
replied. “I’m meeting the state representative from the Cat Protection League.
What about Friday?”

He laughed. “Listen to us. We have to
plan our meetings around our social schedules.” His phone jingled in his pocket
and he examined the screen.

 “I have to go. There’s been an accident over
at the aluminum plant.”

“What happened?” Vanessa asked.

He held up his phone. “The call-out
says a ruptured gas line caught fire. Someone has been killed, and two others
wounded.”

Vanessa grimaced. “How awful.”

“Why don’t you come with me?” he asked.
“You can help me with the investigation.”

Vanessa backed away. “I don’t think
that’s such a good idea. What would Captain Jameson say?”

“He won’t mind,” Pete replied. “He
knows you helped solve the last two cases. Besides, you’re just coming along.
You won’t be doing any real police work.”

“Are you sure about this?” she asked.
“What if you get into trouble?”

“I won’t,” he replied. “I wouldn’t
offer if there was any chance of that happening. Come on.”

Vanessa smiled. “All right.” She fell
in at his side.

“But we won’t be able to hold hands,”
he told her. “We have to keep it strictly professional.”

“Right,” she replied.

They crossed the town, passed the rail
station, and arrived at the aluminum plant. Police cars and uniformed officers
cordoned off the site, but they waved Pete and Vanessa through. Pete checked in
with the guard at the front gate, who directed them to the foundry on the east
side of the plant.

Fire trucks, ambulances, water tankers,
and dozens of people surrounded the building as a dense black cloud of smoke
billowed out of the roof. Pete sidled up to another plain-clothes detective.
“Do you know what happened?”

The other detective shrugged. “One of
the gas lines blew. It was one of the lines supplying the main furnace, and
when the line gave out, the pilot light of the furnace ignited the gas. There
was one huge explosion. The first victim was Ronald Eastman, one of the pipe
fitters. He was fixing a hinge on the cover of the main forge. The impact
knocked him off his scaffolding and he fell fifty feet onto the floor below.
The fall killed him instantly. The other victims were already on the floor, and
they were only injured.”

“Does anyone know what caused the line
to fail?” Pete asked.

“It could have been anything,” the
other detective replied. “Maybe it had some weakness. Who knows?”

“Is the building secure?” Pete asked.

The man gestured toward the fire crew.
“Ask them. I haven’t been inside to find out.”

Pete nodded and went to talk to the
fire crew. He came back to Vanessa’s side. “They say it’s secure. Let’s go in.”

Vanessa glanced up at the smoke. “Are
you sure this is a good idea? The place could explode again.”

He shook his head. “The gas is turned
off. The power is turned off. The whole plant has been shut down until we find
out what caused the accident. Now come on.”

He led her through the bustle of
emergency personnel to the main door. They tiptoed into the foundry and peered
around. Everywhere on all sides, gleaming metal equipment towered to the
ceiling. Only one giant container with pipes running all around it stood black
and destroyed in the middle of the main floor.

“I guess that’s the forge that blew
up,” Vanessa remarked.

Pete nodded. “I don’t think we’re going
to get a chance to inspect the gas line that broke either. It must have blown
up in the explosion.”

“So how can you investigate the accident?”
she asked. “You have no clues.”

He shot her a grin. “There is one thing
I’m sure of, though. Even if we can’t look at it to find out, I would say this
explosion was no accident.”

“What makes you say that?” she asked.

He led her to the blackened forge.

“Look at this.” He rubbed his thumb
over a thin tub of metal. The soot smeared away under his touch, and bright
orange metal gleamed underneath.

“Copper. The gas lines that feed into
this forge are manufactured to a very narrow specification range. They don’t
leave the factory with weaknesses. That gas line didn’t just fail by itself.
Someone must have tampered with it.”

“How do you know someone didn’t
accidentally bang it, dent it and weaken it?” she asked. “The gas lines in this
foundry must have been installed a while ago. Anything could have happened.”

“That just goes to show how it is when
you’re President of the Cat Protection League instead of a detective,” he told
her. “The plant owner put in all new gas lines two years ago. And look at this.”
He gestured toward a wall behind her.

Huge posters covered the wall. They
listed every detail of the plant’s safety regulations, including where and
under what circumstances scaffolding could be erected around the forge to
conduct repairs.

“See this?” Pete asked. “This is a
roster of all the fitters and engineers who worked on the forge. It lists the
times and locations of all their repairs. None of them could have accidentally
damaged that gas line.”

“But you’re saying someone deliberately
sabotaged the gas line to make it leak and blow up,” Vanessa pointed out. “That
would be.....”

Pete nodded. “That would make this
accident a murder scene.”

Vanessa caught her breath. “What do we
know about the victim, Ronald Eastman?”

Pete checked the wall chart. “He was
one of ten pipe fitters on shift at the time. He was working over there, on the
other side of the secondary forge.”

“But that’s nowhere near this forge,”
Vanessa pointed out. “It must have been an incredible explosion to throw him
off a scaffold all the way over there.”

“Here’s what I don’t understand,” Pete
replied. “Let’s say someone tampered with the gas line to make it blow up. How
could they know it would blow right at the moment Eastman was on the scaffold?
They couldn’t have timed the explosion that perfectly unless they had some kind
of explosive device planted on the gas line to make it blow right at that
moment. See what I mean?”

Vanessa nodded. “Maybe they didn’t care
who they killed. Maybe this is a case like Ollie Fleetwood planting that poisoned
wine in Sergio’s restaurant. Maybe the killer only wanted to kill somebody,
anybody, to discredit the plant.”

“I don’t think so,” he replied. “I
don’t think they would go to all that trouble. Look at this place. This plant
takes safety very seriously. They couldn’t operate if they didn’t. Everyone in
this plant is highly trained and regulations are tight. How could the killer
sneak in here to sabotage that gas line?”

“We’re assuming the killer was after
Eastman,” Vanessa added. “Maybe he wasn’t the intended victim at all. Maybe the
killer was after someone else in the plant.”

Pete stroked his chin. “We can ask the
foreman if Eastman was scheduled to be working on that scaffold, or if he was
taking someone else’s place. In the meantime, we can look into Eastman’s
personal life and find out if he had any enemies.”

“We should also look into the plant
owners and managers,” Vanessa suggested. “Maybe they have an ex-employee who
wanted to damage the plant or hurt someone.”

“That’s a good idea,” he replied. “But
that could be anyone. You know how it is when someone gets fired or leaves
under a black cloud.”

“We can still check,” she told him.
“I’m sure the plant employment records will tell us if anyone got fired
recently.”

“There could also be employees with behavior
problems still working at the plant,” Pete replied. “We could see if any of the
current employees are under disciplinary review or have been given warnings.
There’s no one who would have a better opportunity to sabotage the plant than
the current employees.”

The sound of voices interrupted their
conversation, and four men in yellow hard hats crossed the floor. The man in
the lead waved his hand. “You can’t be in here. This is an accident scene. The
place could blow up again at any moment. You’ll have to leave.”

Detective Wheeler pulled himself up and
faced the man. “I’m a homicide detective, and I’m investigating this accident.
The fire crew told me the place was secure.”

The other man bristled. “I don’t care
if you’re the President of the United States. I’m Douglas Middleton. I’m the
manager of this plant, and I’ll be the one to decide who comes and who goes.
Now get out of here before.....”

Pete cut him off. “Before what? Before
you call the police? Go ahead. I am the police, and I’m investigating a
homicide here. Now,
you
get out and stop obstructing justice or I’ll
arrest you.”

The plant manager frowned. “This was
not a homicide. It was an accident.”

Pete shook his head. “No, it wasn’t.
Someone must have tampered with the gas line.”

“You’re an idiot and we have work to
do. We don’t have time to stand around arguing with you about it.” The plant
manager waved to his men. “You men get to work to restart the forge. We have a
dozen orders waiting, and every hour the plant stands idle is money lost.”

Pete raised his hand and his voice
thundered through the plant. “Stop right there. Any man who lays a finger on
any piece of equipment in this foundry is contaminating the scene of a crime.
Middleton, get your men out of here before I have all of you hauled away in a
paddy wagon.”

Middleton glared at Pete, but his men
backed away and disappeared out the door. Middleton growled in disgust. “You
won’t get away with this.” He followed his men outside.

“Wow,” Vanessa murmured. “He didn’t
want you investigating this crime, did he?”

Pete shrugged. “He’s probably just
anxious about getting the plant up and running again. That’s only natural.”

“I don’t know,” Vanessa countered.
“He’s the plant manager. He should be as concerned about safety as he is about
production. Besides, he should have known as well as you did that the gas line
didn’t just fail by itself. Maybe he has something to hide.”

Pete elbowed her with a playful grin.
“You let me know if you spot any other potential suspects.” He pulled out his
phone. “I better call Captain Jameson and tell him what we found. We should get
the crime lab over here to go over the building.”

“What can they hope to find?” she
asked. “Everything will have been destroyed in the blast.”

BOOK: Meow or Never (Vanessa Abbot Cat Protection League Cat Cozy Mystery Series Book 3)
4.7Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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