Title: Missing: The Lady Said No (A Chandler County Novel)
Author: Jacquie Biggar
Genre: Cozy Mystery
The Race is on to find a Killer in the heart of Kentucky horse country.
Detective Augustus Grant is faced with his most baffling case to date. Well-respected race horse breeder, John Jorgenson, is murdered in his den days before the Kentucky Derby and the list of suspects is growing.
Complicating matters, Gus’ ex-girlfriend is the last person to have seen the victim alive.
Rebecca Hayes owes the Jorgenson family her loyalty. They gave her a new life after a disastrous affair leaves her alone and pregnant.
With all the evidence pointing in Becky’s direction, will Gus do his duty?
Or follow his heart?
This is part of a multi-author branded series titled Chandler County.
A few days before the Kentucky Derby, esteemed breeder John Jorgenson is found murdered in his den. Detective Gus Grant is on the case and just when the list of suspects can’t get any bigger, ex-girlfriend Becky walks back into his life and is the last person to see the victim alive.
Becky’s known heartbreak and his name is Gus Grant. She’s built a nice life for herself and her young daughter since he abandoned her a few years ago. There’s no room for love, least of all from the one man who stole her heart. She puts on a brave face but her resolve crumbles when Gus discovers the truth. Is there any hope of them being a family or will Gus discover what really happened in Mr. Jorgenson’s den?
I love the Kentucky Derby and Biggar brings it to life in this delightful mystery. Gus reminds me of Columbo, from his crinkled attire to the way he fumbles around the crime scene. A mind of steel hidden behind a bumbling exterior, that’s the perfect description of Detective Gus. His past relationship with Becky collides with his duty as a detective and he must decide what really matters.
Missing: The Lady Said No is an addictive mystery filled with cagy characters with the backdrop of the greatest horse race known to man. There’s a lot to uncover yet Biggar only reveals what she wants the reader to know at the time. Gripping sub-plots will keep you turning the pages, all leading up to an explosive climax. I read it in one sitting … yes, it was that good. Can’t wait to read all the books in the Chandler County series!
My Rating: 5+ stars
Gus followed the stiff-necked manservant to the door of the den, though his emotions were tugging him back to Rebecca like a starved man to a banquet.
He couldn’t believe how beautiful she’d become. She’d always been pretty, but now there was an added maturity to her features that suited her face. The tomboy figure he fondly remembered had become hills and valleys he ached to explore. They’d been best friends, then lovers, then enemies. It’d been his fault, that was the worst of it. He’d let his drive for a career ruin the only good thing in his life. He could tell himself he’d done his part. After getting his degree and returning to Bourbonville he had tried to find her. But she was right, he hadn’t tried hard enough.
Their relationship had already been floundering; it had seemed easier to let it die a natural death. He regretted that now. One glimpse of her had brought back all the old feelings. Memories of happier times.
Ernest reached for the door knob and was stopped by the officer on guard.
“Sorry, only trained personnel are allowed.”
Ernest glared at him. “I’ve worked in this household for years; I believe I am trained.”
The sergeant exchanged a helpless glance with Gus. “I’m sorry, sir. Those are the rules.”
Gus stepped between the two men before a full-scale war broke out. “It’s okay, sergeant.” He flipped open his badge. “I’m Detective Grant. The…” He waved a hand toward the butler.
Ernest lowered his brows. “Manservant.”
Gus nodded. “Manservant, was just showing me the way to the crime scene.”
The officer checked his badge, then reached back to open the door. The stench of death was immediate, a toxic mix of human waste impossible to forget. Gus turned his head to draw one last clean breath and met Rebecca’s anxious gaze.
That look gave him pause.
Why was she worried? Just how well did Rebecca know the owner of Balmoral?
“Coming, Detective?” The sergeant’s voice interrupted his musings. Gus shrugged off his misgivings and followed the man into the room, sliding past the grim-faced Ernest.
Nancy knelt by the victim, her hands covered with white gloves and booties on her feet. She glanced up when he walked in and pointed at his shoes. Gus dug through his coat pockets until he found his booties, put them on, nodded to the sergeant, and made his way over to her side.
“It’s a bad one,” she said, turning attention to her preliminary findings. “Single shot to the temple, through and through. Near as I can tell, time of death was sometime between midnight and three a.m., no sign of defensive wounds.” She stopped and gazed at him with world-weary eyes. “Who would do this, Augustus?”
Gus observed the brain matter splattered on the leather tufted chair and rich, red Aubusson carpet and his stomach churned. His first thought was crime of passion. There had been some effort made to set the scene up as a suicide. The gun rested in the victim’s open hand, finger wrapped around the trigger. A cut crystal tumbler lay on its side nearby, a stain wetting the carpet. Gus touched the wet spot and sniffed, rubbing the tips of his fingers—bourbon. The good kind. Not something a man bent on ending his own life would let go to waste.
“I’m not sure, Nancy, but I do know the brass will be all over this one, so take your time, okay? We don’t want to miss anything.”
She huffed out an indignant breath. “You telling me how to do my job, now?”
He held up a hand to halt her blistering tongue. “The Jorgensons are big news, that’s all I’m saying. Don’t they have a horse in the Derby this year?”
The sergeant, who had remained by the door, and watched their exchange with interest, piped up. “Forever Humble. Lots of money riding on that colt.” His face became animated. “You ever see him race, Detective? He’s some kind of fast. Likes to run the outside track. Gives me a heart attack every time.”
Gus smiled. “You a betting man…?”
“Fish, sir. Everyone calls me Fish.”
Nancy chuckled and the young man’s neck turned brick red.
“I’m not a gambler, no sir, but I admit I like to spend a Saturday now and then down at the track. It’s some exciting. You ever been, Mr. Grant?”
Gus shook his head. “No, can’t say as I have. Not that fond of horses, though I guess that’s the wrong thing to say in this house.” He admired the landscape watercolor on the wall, rolling hills with a herd of wild horses barreling straight at him, eyes crazy and manes flying as though they were about to burst the confines of paint and canvas.
“Augustus, there’s something you need to see.” Nancy’s voice was muffled as she stretched, shapely butt in the air, to reach something under the leather chair. She grunted and tugged until a bronze sculpture came into view. When she stood it on the carpet, he saw it was about twelve inches in height, a warrior on a horse, raised arm carrying a spear.
“There’s blood and hair fragments,” she said, turning it carefully to inspect the evidence. “I can’t be sure until I get it to the lab, but this looks like a match to our vic.”
Well, that explained why there were no defensive wounds. The poor sop probably didn’t know what hit him. Gus looked around until he found the suspiciously empty spot on the desk. He gave a wide berth to the corpse, conscious of Nancy’s critical gaze. The desk was one of those massive claw-foot affairs, mahogany maybe, rich and elegant instead of simply functional. He pulled a linen handkerchief out of his pocket and checked the drawers. An assortment of papers greeted him, some on household expenses, most on Jorgenson’s passion—thoroughbreds. Nothing that looked like a cause for murder.
Gus was about to replace the documents when a slip of yellowed paper lodged in the back of the drawer caught his eye. He reached in, using the hankie, and retrieved the handwritten note.
Do what I told you to do, or the truth will destroy you
The threat inherent on the scrap of paper chilled his blood. There was trouble brewing in the Jorgenson household, and Gus was afraid Rebecca was somehow involved.
JACQUIE BIGGAR is a USA Today bestselling author of Romantic Suspense who loves to write about tough, alpha males who know what they want, that is until they’re gob-smacked by heroines who are strong, contemporary women willing to show them what they really need is love. She is the author of the popular Wounded Hearts series and has just started a new series in paranormal suspense, Mended Souls.
She has been blessed with a long, happy marriage and enjoys writing romance novels that end with happily-ever-afters.
Jacquie lives in paradise along the west coast of Canada with her family and loves reading, writing, and flower gardening. She swears she can’t function without coffee, preferably at the beach with her sweetheart. 🙂
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