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Authors: Alice Kimberly

The Ghost and the Dead Deb

BOOK: The Ghost and the Dead Deb
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Table of Contents
Praise for Alice Kimberly’s first Haunted Bookshop Mystery
The Ghost and Mrs. McClure
“Part cozy and part hard-boiled detective novel with traces of the supernatural,
The Ghost and Mrs. McClure
is just a lot of fun.”—
The Mystery Reader
 
“[The] enigmatic townspeople come alive in this quirky mystery, and readers will eagerly anticipate future installments—and the continuing easy banter and romantic tension between Jack and Penelope.”—
Romantic Times
 
“A charming, funny and quirky mystery starring a suppressed widow and a stimulating ghost who is attracted to her even though they can only meet in her dreams. He is hard-boiled in the tradition of Phillip Marlowe, and she is a genteel Miss Marple; yet the two opposites make an explosive combination. Alice Kimberly definitely has a hit series if the first book is anything to go by.”

Midwest Book Review
 
“A deliciously charming mystery with a haunting twist!”
—Laura Childs, author of
The English Breakfast Murder
 
“This is such a well-written cozy . . . a fabulous first mystery. I highly recommend this book! You won’t want to put it down.”—
I Love a Mystery
 
“Ms. Kimberly has penned a unique premise and cast of characters to hook us on her first of a series.”

Rendezvous
 
“What a delightful new mystery series! I was hooked from the start. . . . I adored the ghost of Jack. . . . Pairing him with the disbelieving Penelope is a brilliant touch.”

Roundtable Reviews
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
 
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product 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. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
 
THE GHOST AND THE DEAD DEB
 
A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author
 
PRINTING HISTORY
Berkley Prime Crime mass-market edition / September 2005
 
Copyright © 2005 by The Berkley Publishing Group.
 
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without
permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of
the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
 
eISBN : 978-1-101-00781-5
 
BERKLEY® PRIME CRIME
Berkley Prime Crime Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
The name BERKLEY PRIME CRIME and the BERKLEY PRIME CRIME design are trademarks
belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
 
 
 

http://us.penguingroup.com

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Sincerest thanks to literary agent John Talbot
and Senior Editor Christine Zika for their valued support—
an intangible yet invaluable commodity
in making ghosts come to life . . .
and making this sort of living.
Thanks also to Kimberly Lionetti
for the all-important start.
And very special thanks to
Major John J. Leyden, Jr. (Ret.),
former field operations officer, Rhode Island State Police,
and Corporal Michelle Kershaw,
detective bureau, Rhode Island State Police,
for helpful answers to procedural questions.
 
 
 
 
AUTHOR’S NOTE
 
Although real places and institutions are mentioned
in this book, they are used in the service of fiction.
No character in this book is based on any person, living
or dead, and the world presented is completely
fictitious.
I did not lead a very wise life myself, but it was a full one, and a grown-up one. You come of age very often through shipwreck and disaster, and at the heart of the whirlpool some men find God.
 

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
by R. A. Dick (a.k.a. Josephine Aimée Campbell Leslie)
PROLOGUE
I’m licensed as a private detective. . . . The police don’t like me. The crooks don’t like me. . . . My ethics are my own . . . and I’ll shoot it out with any gun in the city—any time, any place.
—Race Williams in
The Snarl of the Beast
by Carroll John Daly, 1927 (cited as the first hard-boiled private detective novel)
 
 
 
New York City
July 19, 1946
 
“PACKED AND STACKED,” muttered Jack Shepard, gazing down at the sweltering Manhattan rush hour. Cars, trucks, taxis, and people—swarms of them. Pouring out of buildings, spilling down avenues, racing back to Cracker-jack apartments and cramped rowhouses, smoky bar cars, and roomy Victorians in the suburban north, land of do-right guys and fair-play Janes, chubby-cheeked kids, and manicured shrubbery.
“Excuse me, but are you Jack Shepard?”
The perfume reached him before the words. Not cheap and obvious, like his gum-chewing secretary’s, but subtle, delicate, and dripping with pedigree.
“Look at ’em,” said Jack, still staring out the window. “Most of ’em hungry and tired and crazy to get out of the summer heat. All of them, from this height, small enough to swat like flies.”
“One of them did get swatted,” said the dame. “That’s why I’m here.”
Without turning, Jack rubbed his neck. Beneath his thin dress shirt, shoulder muscles rippled. His sweat box of an office was no place for a jacket. He’d tossed it hours ago, loosened his tie, rolled up white sleeves. His rod stayed where it was, strapped in a holster, just under his arm.
Checking his watch, he turned to his desk, slid open a drawer. Like an old friend, the liquid gold greeted him. He pulled out one glass, poured two fingers.
“Quitting time,” he said, flat as a pancake. The week had been a long one. He’d done the job he’d been hired to do, but he hadn’t liked it. Or himself for doing it.
“Does that mean you want me to return on Monday?”
Slowly, Jack glanced up. When the world went bad, a man had two means of escape. A bottle. Or a dame. The sight of this one matched her sound and smell—cultured and subtle in a pink polkadot halter and white gloves, her golden locks upswept beneath a wide-brimmed hat. She looked to be in her late twenties, had a long white neck, and smooth, firm shoulders.
“Stay awhile,” said Jack, nudging the glass. It slid a few inches across the battered wood.
She stepped forward, slowly took off her gloves—a blue-blood striptease. She picked up the glass. Jack reached in the drawer for another.
Her big brown ones studied his muscular forearm as he poured his own, then her long, blonde lashes slowly lifted and she took in the V of his torso, the narrow waist and broad shoulders, the dagger-shaped scar across the flat, square chin, and the gunmetal gray eyes, staring down her own with sharp interest.
She swallowed nervously, put the shot glass to her glossy pink pout, and tentatively sipped. A delicate eyebrow rose in surprise—no doubt at the high quality of the hooch. It made no sense with his battered wooden desk, davenport of cracked brown leather, and old metal file cabinets. But Jack wasn’t cheap where it counted.
“Thanks,” she said softly. Her teeth were right and straight, white and perfect.
Jack knocked back his own in one gulp and pointed to a wooden chair across from his desk. “Take a load off.”
She did. Pulling up her skirt, she crossed million-dollar gams in strappy sandals, giving him a happy glimpse of bare skin. One long limb swung nervously.
With a sigh, Jack moved to his worn leather chair and sat down, putting a mile of desk between them. This rich, blonde honey may have flowed easily through his door, but honey wasn’t always sweet. Sometimes when you reached for a taste, you got stung.
“You look as though you’re having a bad day,” said the dame from across the wide, brown desert of his desktop.
“What are you? My bartender?” Jack’s lips gave a wry little twitch. His eyebrow arched a fraction. “I’m the one pouring.”
The dame studied Jack’s face, took another genteel sip. “I don’t believe men really tell bartenders anything.”
“Why’s that?”
“Because men don’t like to reveal their weaknesses to other men. In my experience, men are more likely to tell women what’s vexing them.”

Vexing
. Now there’s a two-dollar word. Barnard? Or Sarah Lawrence?”
“Vassar, actually.”
“That was number three on my list.”
“Come now, Mr. Shepard, I’m sure my higher education is not what’s vexing you.” This time it was her eyebrow arching, her own wry smile teasing.
“Tracked down a clipster running a con on a suit,” Jack found himself confessing. “Only the con turned out to be minor, fifty bucks even on a check-bouncing grift—and the clipster just a little old guy down on his luck after losing a legit job. The suit hires me. Easy for him, ’cause he’s sitting on wads of dough, but he got his ego bruised, you know, the kind who’s mortified to be smarted out of one dollar, let alone fifty—so he pulled some strings with his judicial buddies after I bring the old man in. Now gramps is gonna do hard time.”
BOOK: The Ghost and the Dead Deb
6.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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