Romance. Death. Intrigue.
It’s all there in Frederick Lee Brooke’s new release COLLATERAL DAMAGE.
A love story. When Annie Ogden’s ex-boyfriend Michael Garcia reappears, she has to confront a lie dating back to her time in Iraq. Will she go back to hot, passionate Michael, who has developed a disturbing interest in meth, or will she stick with her pudgy PI partner and fiancé, Salvatore?
A murder. The calculus changes when Michael is arrested for murder. When Salvatore refuses to help investigate, Annie is forced to try to find the killer herself. Meanwhile her sister’s creepy husband, Todd, is making more of an ass of himself than usual.
An obsession. Annie’s problems with three obsessive men suddenly pale in significance when she realizes the killer has set his sights on her.
And now meet the author.
Frederick Lee Brooke is the author of the widely-acclaimed Annie Ogden mystery series, which includes Doing Max Vinyl, Zombie Candy, and Collateral Damage. The books do not have to be read in order. Having lived in Switzerland for the past two decades, Brooke has taught English, run a business and learned French, German and Italian. You can find him online at www.FrederickLeeBrooke.com. Sign up for his newsletter and read all about his travels, recipes, and upcoming works!
On each stop on this blog tour, a chapter from this new novel has been shared with you. Just begin at the first stop on the tour and every day after that another chapter is waiting for you!
But that’s not all!
Win a $25 Amazon gift card AND a signed paperback edition of any book by Frederick Lee Brooke! To win, all you have to do is visit every blog on the 26-day Collateral Damage Excerpt Tour and leave a comment showing that you read the excerpt.
Today is the last day of the tour but there’s still time for you to go back through the list. See the blog list below and happy reading …
Russell Mathers lived on the other side of Tampa. The gatehouse to his subdivision was grander than the house Michael and Husker lived in. Two guards came out, and I saw another inside. Both sported handguns on their belts, mirrored sunglasses, and khaki ball caps. The subdivision was so luxurious you couldn’t even see any houses, only a winding road that led into a kind of jungle.
“What’s your business?” said the guard when June rolled down her window.
“Century 21 Realtors.” June palmed a card out the window. It was her mother’s card.
“Showing a house?”
“Would be nice if we could still get in before the sun goes all the way down. I don’t even know if the electric’s turned on.”
“I didn’t get a message,” the guard said. “What’s the address?”
June named a house we had found on the Century 21 database, using her mother’s password. It had been vacant six months and was half a mile down the street from where Russell Mathers lived.
June read off the address from her printout. “That anorexic bitch in my office was supposed to call. It’s always me. Excuse my French,” she said.
“Drive on.” The guard pressed a button to open the barrier.
“I didn’t know you were such a good actress,” I said.
“I’m in sales, Annie. Goes with the territory.”
The houses were massive single story ranch houses with three-car garages, wide green lawns, rock gardens, palm trees, and fishponds.
We pulled up in Russell’s wide driveway, where a burgundy Lexus was parked next to a white Mercedes. His and hers, I thought. June rang the bell. It was after five. A fortyish man with a mustache, built solidly, heavily suntanned, answered the door. The family resemblance to the senator was remarkable. The alcohol on his breath made my eyes water.
“Who the hell are you?”
“My name’s June Sanderson and this is Annie Ogden. We’re good friends of your brother.”
“Oh,” Mathers said.
“I’m sorry for your loss,” June said. When Mathers just stood there staring at us, without inviting us in, she went on. “Annie was Michael Garcia’s girlfriend in Iraq. She and Michael were out for dinner, away from the party, at the time of the murder. But the police are holding Michael Garcia as their prime suspect.”
“What’s this all about?”
“We’ve been in touch with the police,” I spoke up. I didn’t mention that the information came via Kosh, my lawyer. “They’re barking up the wrong tree. Michael couldn’t have done it.”
“How did you get in here? What makes you think you can harass me about my brother?” Mathers said. His face was the picture of rage and grief. His fists balled up as if he wanted to fight.
“We loved your brother. We fought in Iraq side by side. He was a good man. He didn’t deserve to be murdered at some party,” June said.
“Garcia was a terrible influence on Owen. Now he’s dead. Whether or not Garcia put the knife in him, my brother is dead because of that bastard. I hope he gets the death penalty.”
“They were best friends,” I said.
“What do you know about it?” Mathers sneered. “I’m calling security.”
A woman walked up behind him, dark blond hair in a ponytail, clad in an expensive jogging suit. “What’s going on, Russ?” she said.
“Go back inside. These women say they knew Owen in Iraq.”
“The real killer is still free, walking around town. Is that what you want?” I stood my ground.
“You’re out of your gourd,” Mathers said. His wife still stood behind him, listening. “The police told me Garcia’s fingerprints are all over that bayonet. How’s that possible, if he didn’t do it?”
“He was showing it to people at the party. The killer picked it up, went in your brother’s bedroom, and murdered him.”
“So a couple of tourists are smarter than the police.”
“Russell,” the man’s wife said. Roughly, he shook off her hand.
“We were hoping you could talk to the police. They won’t listen to us. Your brother knew the killer well enough to let him into his bedroom,” June said. “That’s the only way it could’ve happened. This was a crowded party. Nobody noticed when the killer came out and your brother didn’t.”
“Which all points to that dirtbag, Garcia.”
“He wasn’t even at the party when the murder occurred,” I said.
“We were at the Papaya, all the way across town. People saw us leaving the party while Husker was still alive.”
“You’re his ex,” Russell said. “What’s your game in protecting Garcia?”
“Michael told me how you rescued them, offered them detox,” I said, choosing words carefully. According to Michael, Russell had also fired them. “We were thinking you might have some idea who they were in contact with. Did your brother fight with anyone in the days leading up to the party? Maybe someone was mad at him. We thought you might know.”
“The police already asked me this,” Mathers said. “You’re wasting your time. My brother got along with everyone. He was a lovable kid. Nobody would ever want to murder him. Garcia was always poison. Garcia got him hooked on that garbage. I should’ve left Garcia there to die, like an animal. Then Owen would be alive today.”
“Michael didn’t have any quarrel with him,” I said. “You should’ve seen his face when he found out what happened. His pain.”
Mathers sighed. “I wish I could help you ladies. Let the police do their job. I’m going to assume they’re capable.”
He closed the door in our face. At least he seemed to be over his anger.
“He looks like he wants another martini,” June said as we walked down the driveway. “But he’s no murderer.”
I had to concede she was right.
A note to my dear readers ~ If you have a moment to leave a word or two, please do. All of the participating blogs for this release are having a little contest to see who can collect the most comments … we do enjoy friendly competition! THANKS!