“The first time I thought of killing him, the two of us were having chicken sandwiches at that fast-food place with the oversized rubber bird anchored to its roof. It didn’t seem right to kill him in a place that closes on Sundays.”
“Probably not.” I pushed a cup of coffee across my desk to a woman I hadn’t seen in twenty-six years.
“Besides Carrie,” she said, “being a lawyer, you can understand I didn’t want to do prison time. I decided it would be better to divorce your father.”
In all the ways I imagined reconnecting with my mother, I never thought it would be in my office discussing why she once wanted to murder my father. I rummaged in my desk for a packet of sweetener, wondering how anyone, especially my mother, could think of killing my father, the former minister of Wahoo, Alabama’s Oakwood Street Church.
Rather than ask, I waited. One thing I discovered before I washed myself out of the police academy to go to law school is that there’s no reason to rush. You can often learn more from silence than by asking endless questions. Still, I was curious how this blue-jeaned woman carrying a large plastic bag found out I’m a junior attorney for Carleton Industries or that I’d be in my office on a Sunday. When she placed a sealed envelope on my desk, I broke my rule.
She laughed. I had a faint recollection of a sound I last heard when I was three. “I asked around,” she said. Her finding me at work today instantly made sense. Wahoo is the kind of town where everyone is aware my father traded his pulpit for assisted living after we learned he was in the early stages of dementia. They also saw me grow up and know, other than my daily visits to my father, I’m a typical Carleton Industries employee – every day is a workday.
After my mother left, I fingered the sealed envelope. I owed it to my father to talk to him before I opened it. I should have gone to Sunshine Village immediately, but even on a Sunday, I had a project deadline. Consequently, I shoved the envelope into my pocket, pushed my mother from my mind, and finished my assignment before driving to the retirement home.
Signs everywhere announced today’s Sunshine Village Halloween children’s carnival, the brainchild of Carolyn Holt, my favorite retired children’s librarian and the one who most provided a woman’s touch in my life. She moved into Sunshine Village a few months after my father and immediately came up with the carnival idea to subtly encourage children and grandchildren to visit their older family members. Normally, I would have checked if she needed help with the carnival, but the envelope in my pocket spurred me toward my father’s room. I passed the people in the lobby, including a few tables of poker players displaced because the game room was being used for ghost stories. As I punched the elevator button, one of the poker groups invited me to play a few hands, but I declined.
I expected to be met by silence when the elevator doors opened on my father’s floor. Instead, a chaotic Code Blue was underway. Realizing the room number being called was Carolyn Holt’s, I pushed through the crowd and slipped by the Sunshine Village Mah jongg players guarding the door. Immediately, I knew the knife protruding from the woman’s Burberry clothed back would make CPR difficult and that my day had just gone from bad to worse.
Should Have Played Poker is the first book in the NEW “Carrie Martin And The Mah Jongg Players” mystery series, published by Five Star Publishing, April 2016.
Carrie Martin’s precarious balancing of her corporate law job and visiting her father at the Sunshine Village retirement home is upset when her mother appears, out of the blue, in Carrie’s office twenty-six years after abandoning her family. Her mother leaves her with a sealed envelope and the confession she once considered killing Carrie’s father. Carrie seeks answers about her past from her father prior to facing what is in the envelope. Before she can reach his room, she finds her mother murdered and the woman who helped raise her seriously injured.
Instructed to leave the sleuthing to the police, Carrie’s continued efforts to discover why someone would target the two most important women in her life quickly put her at odds with her former lover–the detective assigned to her mother’s case. As Carrie and her co-sleuths, the Sunshine Village Mah jongg players, attempt to unravel Wahoo, Alabama’s past secrets in this fast paced cozy mystery, their efforts put Carrie in danger and show her that truth and integrity aren’t always what she was taught to believe.
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Meet the author
Judge (ret.) Debra H. Goldstein is the author of Should Have Played Poker, a Carrie Martin and the Mah Jongg Players Mystery (Five Star Publishing – February 2016) and the 2012 IPPY Award winning Maze in Blue, a mystery set on the University of Michigan’s campus. She also writes short stories and non-fiction. Debra serves on the national Sisters in Crime, Guppy Chapter and Alabama Writers Conclave boards and is a MWA member. She lives in Birmingham, Alabama with her husband, Joel, whose blood runs crimson.
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