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Authors: Linda Peterson

The Devil's Interval

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Advance Praise for

The Devil's Interval

“Murder and music, discord and harmony, guilt and innocence, domesticity and passion, smooth talk and rough sex: In
The Devil's Interval
—Linda Lee Peterson's virtuoso second novel—journalist-sleuth Maggie Fiori scores all the notes. Maggie, like the book, is smart, stylish, and surprisingly steamy.”

— J
ON
J
EFFERSON
(Jefferson Bass)

New York Times
bestselling crime writer

“Smart and sexy, with the schemes of high society on full display,
The Devil's Interval
takes readers on a tour of everyone's favorite city, San Francisco. As Maggie Fiori attempts to solve this intricate mystery, what will happen to her damaged marriage? You'll be turning pages to discover the answers.”

— N
AOMI
H
IRAHARA

Edgar Award-winning author of the Mas Arai mysteries


The Devil's Interval
is an entertaining mystery, and shines with crisp prose, layered characters, and a gripping plot.”

— J
ONNIE
J
ACOBS

bestselling author of the
Kate Austen and Kali O'Brien mystery series

“An intelligent and gripping novel. Maggie Fiori is a witty, feisty protagonist, and Linda Lee Peterson deftly weaves a compelling tale of how far a mother will go to save her child.
The Devil's Interval
is a roller-coaster ride through the streets and alleys of San Francisco that will evoke Robert Parker's Spenser novels with a dash of Janet Evanovich. Get out the flashlight. You'll be up late.”

— R
OBERT
D
UGONI

New York Times
bestselling author of
The Conviction

Praise for

Edited to Death

“Strong focus, admirable prose, and a nifty story line.”

—
Library Journal

“Brave, if blithely arrogant, character Maggie Fiori [is] a thirtysomething something Oakland writer/know-it-all sleuth/Volvo-driving wife and mom who solves the murder of her boss, the urbane editor of a chichi regional magazine.”

—
San Francisco Chronicle

“If you are a Susan Isaacs fan, you will love Linda Lee Peterson's journalist-turned-sleuth, Maggie Fiori. This is a San Francisco and Oakland story with sparks flying as wisecracking Fiori, with her razor-sharp wit and rampant curiosity, sets out to find out who killed her editor boss. I couldn't put the book down. A very satisfying read for mystery lovers.”

— J
ACQUELINE
W
INSPEAR

New York Times
bestselling author of the
award-winning Maisie Dobbs mysteries

Learn more about Linda Lee Peterson at

www.lindaleepeterson.com

THE DEVIL'S INTERVAL

By

Linda Lee Peterson

Copyright © 2013 by Linda Lee Peterson

This book is a work of fiction. With the exception of a few musicians, names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Published by Prospect Park Books

969 S. Raymond Avenue

Pasadena, California 91105

www.prospectparkbooks.com

Distributed by Consortium Book Sales & Distribution
www.cbsd.com

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data

Peterson, Linda Lee.

 The Devil's Interval / by Linda Lee Peterson.

pages cm

 ISBN 978-1-938849-12-1

 1. Mothers--Fiction. 2. Murder--Investigation--Fiction. 3. San Francisco

 (Calif.)—Fiction. I. Title.

 PS3616.E8434D48 2013

 813'.6--dc23

2013017922

Cover design by Howard Grossman.

For Ken Peterson, my toughest and kindest critic

Contents

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Afterword: The Girl in the Black Hat

Acknowledgments

About the Author

PROLOGUE

A
few minutes before Grace Plummer died, she remembered that someone other than the regulars at the Crimson Club had called her Amazing Gracie. She was drifting, conscious of the sweat-sticky leather upholstery underneath her, vaguely wondering about the faint dome light overhead. What did it illumine, there in the back seat? Lumen, luminous, illumination…. Other, disconnected thoughts floated in and out—who had sung the “Evening Benediction” in
Hansel and Gretel
at the opera last season? “When at night I go to sleep/Fourteen angels watch do keep.” And was it cinnamon or something else with a “c”—cloves, cardamom—on top of the tiny holiday pastries her grandmother made? She didn't really struggle for the answers to these questions. She felt a pleasant little disconnect, like breathing deeply of nitrous oxide; feeling pain, but not really caring about what hurt or why. Or who was doing the hurting. But it was a surprise, wasn't it? The one with the cruel hands. And then, she remembered—it was cardamom, for sure
.
With that memory came the image of her grandmother, tall, shoulders back, one beautiful white braid wound around her head, teasing her, “Come, try one more, Amazing Gracie, just one more bite of the eplekake.” And then, she felt hands on her head, like her grandfather's blessing at bedtime, and she was gone
.

CHAPTER 1

H
ere's a piece of useful fashion advice: Don't wear a metal underwire bra if you're visiting San Quentin Prison. They'll turn you away at the jailhouse door, when the underwire sends the metal detector into overdrive. And you can't just take the bra off, because braless ladies are not allowed inside. Those are just a couple of the things I learned when I found myself in the middle of an attempt to spring an innocent man from Death Row.

It all began when I took a break from a bookshelf purge in our family room, slapped the dust and stray dog hair from my hands, poured a cup of coffee, and sat down with
The Wall Street Journal
. Love that paper. Their editorials suck, since they perversely take political sides in opposition to my own, but wow, what great writing. The WSJ goes in for stubbornly conservative editorials, whereas I, a journalistic giant myself as editor of San Francisco's trendy, superficial, but oh-so-readable city magazine,
Small Town
, am an unreconstructed, knee-jerk liberal. Sitting there, surrounded by bags and boxes of dusty hardbacks and paperbacks that were slated to go directly to the book drive at our sons' school, I began reading a front-page story about publishers sending remaindered books to prisons. Inmates, with time on their hands and a less-than-great selection on the prison library shelves, regularly write to publishers and ask for their overstock to be donated. “Most grievously word-hungry,” read the
Journal
, “are the Death Row inmates with their segregated, pitifully stocked library.”

I lowered the paper and surveyed the family room floor. Our German shepherd, Raider, apparently exhausted from watching me work, had fallen asleep in the midst of the mess. Books, books, and more books. Bags and boxes of books. “Hey, babies,” I said softly. “You're going to jail.”

Within a few minutes, I had a polite community affairs officer at San Quentin on the phone.

“Bags of books,” he said patiently. “You want to bring me bags of books?”

“Right,” I said. “For the Death Row Library.”

He sighed. “
Wall Street Journal
article?”

“Right again,” I said.

“Prison,” my husband, Michael, corrected me that evening when I told him where our extra books were going. “Jail's where you go to wait, prison's where you end up. There's a technical explanation, but it's more than you need to know.” We were dawdling over coffee, enjoying the half hour between post-dinner and hardcore homework nagging. Though our three-story, sixty-plus-year-old rambling house teetered on the edge of permanent disorder, the dining room somehow managed to rise above the detritus of sports paraphernalia, pieces of electronics, and Raider's innumerable chew toys everywhere else in the house. Maybe there just weren't enough surfaces to clutter. Deep, deep forest-green walls seemed to take the noise down a notch, and my grandmother's chandelier sparkled soft light onto the table. We ate there every evening, a family agreement to slow down and feel civilized at least once a day.

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