My name is DD McGil. My birth certificate reads Daphne December, but don’t ever call me that. It was a horrible compromise between my mother and father, so people use it at their peril. I freely admit to being female, blonde, smart-assed and stubborn. My favorite color is red, and being Scots, I’m always suspicious of what’s under the surface. I don’t admit to much else ever since the seventh grade when I learned to keep my chin up and never end a sentence with a preposition.
I used to be an assistant professor of English at a well known Chicago University where I happily taught 17th century English literature. Then murder intervened and ended that career. Now I’m an insurance investigator – a move my family calls climbing down the ladder. But I’m happy to be away from the academic backstabbing, and, like all the Scottish Buchanans in my family tree, I prefer to be in control and set my own agenda. And this work suits me. I don’t earn enough to dine at the Ritz, but I enjoy the challenges.
Today was one of those April days where it isn’t winter and it isn’t spring – just damp and windy, offering the promise of warmth but not delivering. I should be used to this crazy Chicago weather by now, but like the Cubs, I always expect it to be better every year.
My shabby-chic apartment in Wrigleyville has escaped the wrecking ball –so far. Most of the neighborhood has been gentrified into condos –all now smaller and much more expensive than my place. I guess that’s progress. My roommate is my Ragdoll cat, Cavalier. He wakes me every morning, so I don’t even own an alarm clock. He likes to breakfast together – he gets Mighty Cat and I get whatever’s in stock.
I usually run a little late, so I waived good-by to Cavalier and rushed out the door like a female Dagwood Bumpsted. It was then I spotted the white envelope on the floor. I scooped it up. It looked exactly like the other notes that had been slipped under my door in the past few weeks. My stomach did a big flip. Inside was a white card with neat block printing. My neck tingled as I read:
Someone left the note while I was sleeping. But who and why? Statistics say one in twenty adults is stalked in their lifetimes – that’s one-fifth of the population. They say you should firmly communicate to the stalker that you don’t want any contact with him or her. But how can you when you don’t know who the stalker is? Someone was watching my every move, and I didn’t even have a suspect.
My green Miata was a few blocks away where I’d parked last night. I jumped in, started her engine, fastened my seat belt, and pulled into traffic. I didn’t put the top down because I was going to be tailing a subject.
There’s no regular routine in my type of work. Today I was following one Claudine Romani. She’d filed an insurance claim related to severe back injury after a slip-and-fall at one of those big box stores. As I got to her street, she came out the door, destination unknown. That’s where I come in. United Insurance hired me to make sure she wasn’t scamming. In my experience, people are always doing something wrong. It’s an axiom I live by. But so far on this surveillance, Romani hadn’t done anything suspicious – just the usual shopping, doctors, and visits to neighbors.
I kept the Miata far behind her on Lake Shore Drive and executed some tricky maneuvers so she wouldn’t tumble to the tail. Truth-be-told, I was enjoying this job. Chicago is a magnificent city. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that a mere twelve thousand years ago the whole of it had been under a glacier – a glacier with ice miles thick that stretched all the way from the North Pole. Right now I was speeding along what had been the terminal moraine of that glacier where mastodons instead of cars would have roamed the wetlands.
As we took one of the curves where traffic slows down to 15 mph, my cell rang. I don’t have caller ID because I like surprises. It was Tom Joyce, my antiquarian bookseller friend. Our friendship goes back to before he and his bookshop, Joyce and Company Rare Books, became venerable Chicago institutions. He’s helped me out on a few cases, and we enjoy our intellectual sparring bouts. How was I to know that his phone call today telling me he’d found a hidden diary in a book collection he was appraising would lead to murder and to one of the greatest mysteries in history?
Find out what happens to DD and Tom, the stalker, the insurance scam suspect, and the hidden diary in the newest DD McGil Literati Mystery, The Conan Doyle Notes: The Secret of Jack the Ripper, the third book in the series published by MX Publishing. The first book in the series is A Cadger’s Curse. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.
Click HERE for “The Conan Doyle Notes: The Secret of Jack the Ripper” trailer.
About The Author
Diane Gilbert Madsen is the author of the award winning DD McGil Literati Mystery Series. She’s the former Director of Economic Development for the State of Illinois where she oversaw the Tourism and the Illinois Film Office and later ran her own consulting firm. She is listed in the World Who’s Who of Women and Who’s Who in Finance & Industry.
Diane is a member of the Pleasant Places of Florida Sherlockian Association as well as Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, International Association of Crime Writers, and Chicago Writers Association. She has published articles in The Baker Street Journal, The Hemingway Review, Mystery Scene Magazine, Mystery Reader’s Journal, Sisters in Crime Newsletter and The Write City Magazine.
Currently Diane lives with her husband Tom and Angel, their Japanese Chin, at Twin Ponds, a 5-acre wildlife sanctuary on Cape Haze in Florida.
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