Charlie was ten minutes into her gym workout when the phone chimed in her earbud. The treadmill’s digital display illuminated 6 a.m. so it was probably her mother. But it could also be a client. Charlie loosened the phone from her waist clip to look at the caller ID. It was Mandy. She turned the speed on the treadmill to 3, and glanced at the man running next to her who seemed focused on cable news.

“What’s wrong, honey?”

“Don just called. He tried to reach you, but you didn’t pick up. He said the mayor’s office wants a meeting at 8 a.m.”

“The mayor?” Charlie said louder than she’d intended. Her neighboring runner’s attention shifted to her.

“Hold on.”

She stepped off the treadmill and headed to the locker room. The gym was packed this morning with Detroit’s young professionals, die-hard health buffs, and a few of the city’s movers and shakers who were walking, riding, gliding, lifting, and pumping before they had to tackle one of Detroit’s dreary February workdays.

“I guess that’s it for exercise. I was going to see Ernestine before I went into the office. I guess that’s off, too.”

“How is your mom?”

“She met with her doctor yesterday. I want to look at the results of her test.”

“When you see her, go slow. She needs to be in charge for as long as the Alzheimer’s will let her.”

“I know. Gotta go. I’ll see you tonight.

* * *

The best thing Charlie’s ex-soldier, ex-husband, Franklin had taught her was the 5-minute shower, and she was dressed and in the office by 7 a.m. Don and Gil were already there, and they must have rousted Judy, because she was making coffee.

“Who made the call?” Charlie asked Don.

“The press secretary.”

“Shit. That means Kilpatrick is in another mess, and they want us to run interference.”

“If we take him as a client, we’ll risk our reputation with the business community, and our county government networks,” Gil warned.

“Right, but I don’t see how we can ignore the invitation to meet. We’ll all three go. Don, call DPD. See if any of your police pals know what’s going on. Gil, you’ll be wearing your lawyer hat. We may need a legal reason to say ‘no’ to the mayor.

“I imagine you’ll be doing your black-woman-in-charge act,” Judy said smiling.

Judy’s office manager talents were the least of her assets. She was an astute strategist, liar, and massager of egos, skills that had more than once given the Mack Private Investigations agency an edge over its competitors.

“It’s a tried-and-true way to operate in Detroit,” Charlie replied. “After all, black women have had to solve complex problems all our lives. We know how to put two and two together, see past the BS, and cut through red tape.”

“Excuse me while I get in touch with one of my contacts at headquarters,” Don interrupted. “I’ll be ready to leave in 15 minutes.”

Judy shared a look with Gil and Charlie. In a stage whisper, she offered her assessment. “I guess Don will be driving again.”

“Whatever, Novak,” Don hollered over his shoulder.

“No worries, Judy. I learned a long time ago the best way to maintain control is to give some of it away,” Charlie said.


You can read more about Charlie Mack in Bury Me When I’m Dead, the first installment of the “Charlie Mack Motown” Mysteries.

Charlene “Charlie” Mack is a PI in Detroit. Born and raised in the city that America forgot, Charlie has built a highly respected firm through hard work, smart choices, and relentless ambition. But she also secretly struggles with her sexual orientation, and supports a mother with early-onset Alzheimer’s. When Charlie and her crack team of investigators head to Birmingham, Alabama following the trail of a missing person, what should be a routine case turns into an intricate chase for answers. Shady locals, a southern patriarch with dark secrets, and the FBI obscure their path. It seems like everyone has something to hide, including Charlie. When the case turns violent, with a double murder and an attack on Charlie on a neighborhood street, everything suddenly becomes personal. Who can Charlie trust, and how will she solve the riddles of the Magic City?

Bury Me When I’m Dead was a 2017 Lambda Literary Award Finalist for Lesbian Mystery.

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Meet the Author
A Detroit native, Cheryl A. Head now lives on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. She navigated a successful career in public broadcasting before focusing on fiction writing. Her debut work, Long Way Home: A World War II Novel, was a 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist in both the African American Literature, and Historical Fiction categories. The next book in the Charlie Mack Motown Mysteries, Wake Me When It’s Over, will be available May 2018. Head is the Director of Inclusion for the Golden Crown Literary Society. Visit her at: cherylhead.com.

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