A Day in the Life of Angela Richman by Elaine Viets

Brain StormI’m Angela Marie Richman, death investigator in Chouteau County, Missouri, home of the one-percent. At a death, the DI is in charge of the body. Police handle the crime scene. I work for the medical examiner. I was at the home of Ben Weymuller, ninety-two. He’d died at the bottom of his basement stairs. Ben’s daughter, Lucille, found him an hour ago. Now she was a murder suspect.

Ben lived in Toonerville, the snobs’ name for the community where the workers lived. Ben made carvings for chichi shops.

I hauled out my DI kit. I was shocked to see sixty-seven-year-old Lucille caged in a patrol car. A uniform wouldn’t let me comfort her.

To examine Ben’s body, I snapped on latex gloves, then fired up my iPad. The stomach-twisting odors of death overpowered the scent of fresh wood.

Ray Foster Greiman, my least favorite homicide detective, said, “Goddamn basement’s been trampled by a herd of buffalo. The daughter called EMS, and those assholes tried to revive him, even though he was DRT.”

Dead Right There.

I let him rant. EMS had to try to save Ben. The fine-boned old man lay on his back in a dark-red pool crisscrossed with footprints and dotted with medical debris. I photographed the scene, then moved in for closer shots.

Ben wore khakis and beige socks. His chest was burned by the efforts to restart his heart. IV lines trailed from his hands. I documented them and left them in place. His plaid shirt had been ripped off and tossed on the floor.

Ben’s snowy hair was matted with blood. The left side of his face and chest were purple-red. After Ben died, the blood pooled in his body: livor mortis. He must have died on that side.

I sketched the basement, diagramming the stairs splitting it between the storage and the workshop. Ben kept a neat basement.

“The daughter did him,” Greiman said. “She said, ‘It’s my fault.’”

I wasn’t sure that was a confession. Family members often blamed themselves for a loved one’s death.

“Why did Lucille say that?”

“She carried on, but I finally figured out she’d stopped by yesterday to bring her father lunch. She was in a hurry to go to the church volunteers’ lunch to get some two-bit award, and forgot to go downstairs to get him more canned soup. She says the geezer probably went downstairs himself about six. She thinks he fell because he wore those slippery socks.”

The stairs were made of reddish wood streaked with honey. “Why don’t the steps have treads?” I asked.

“He made the stairs himself. Thought treads would ruin them. Stubborn old coot. Ben had a bad heart, and she checked him daily. I figure she got tired of the demanding old guy and pushed him downstairs before she left for lunch. Those stairs are a death trap.”

“No!” I wanted to shout. But adult children did help demanding parents pass prematurely.

“They do look slippery,” I said. I counted the steps—twenty-four— and noted their slick surface and the forty-watt bulb that lit them.

I jiggled the handrail. It was sturdy. I photographed the blood streaked and spattered on the stairs, and measured the blood, including the clots painting the corner of the fourth step from the bottom.

Then I started the examination. Through the thick, crusted blood, I saw many bruises and scrapes on Ben’s scalp and face, and a “triangular-shaped indented defect” on his left temple.

“Did you see this blood on the fourth step, Ray? It looks like it matches the indentation in his head.”

“Not sure it’s a match,” he said. “If the daughter didn’t shove him, she clobbered him with a piece of wood. The tech is checking every stick.”

I photographed the bottoms of Ben’s socks. They were slightly gray, as if he’d walked around his house without shoes. I described the plain wedding ring on his liver-spotted left hand.

I took the room’s temperature, then made a slit below his ribs and recorded his body-core temperature, circled and initialed the cut in his skin.

A grumpy Greiman helped me turn Ben’s body, and I photographed more contusions and blood on his back, as well as the expected livor mortis on his left side.

“You done?” Detective Greiman asked. “Time to call the meat wagon.”

As the morgue attendants rolled Ben’s body to the van, I heard fresh sobs from Lucille.

Ben’s long, useful life had come to a violent end. But unlike Detective Greiman, I was sure Ben was killed by his own creation, not his only daughter.


Brain Storm is the first book in the NEW Angela Richman, Death Investigator mystery series, published by Thomas and Mercer, August 2016.

The ultrawealthy families of Chouteau Forest may look down on a woman like death investigator Angela Richman, but they also rely on her. When a horrific car crash kills a Forest teenager, Angela is among the first on the scene. Her investigation is hardly underway, however, when she suffers a series of crippling strokes. Misdiagnosed by the resident neurologist, Dr. Gravois, and mended by gauche yet brilliant neurosurgeon Dr. Jeb Travis Tritt, Angela faces a harrowing recovery.

It’s a drug-addled, hallucinating Angela who learns that Dr. Gravois has been murdered. . .and the chief suspect is the surgeon who saved her life. Angela doesn’t believe it, but can she trust her instincts? Her brain trauma brings doubts that she’ll ever recover her investigative skills. But she’s determined to save Dr. Tritt from a death-row sentence—even if her progress is thwarted at every turn by a powerful and insular community poised to protect its own.

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About the author
Bestselling mystery writer Elaine Viets has written 30 mysteries in four series. In Brain Storm, the first Angela Richman Death Investigator mystery, she returns to her hardboiled roots. Elaine passed the Medicolegal Death Investigators Course for forensic professionals to research the series.

She’s written short stories for Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and anthologies edited by Charlaine Harris and Lawrence Block. The Art of Murder, featuring South Florida PIs Helen Hawthorne and her husband, Phil Sagemont, is Elaine’s 15th Dead-End Job mystery. She’s won the Anthony, Agatha, and Lefty Awards. Elaine is director at large of the Mystery Writers of America. Connect with Elaine at www.elaineviets.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win an advanced reader copy (ARC) of Brain Storm. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end August 5, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!

33 responses to “A Day in the Life of Angela Richman by Elaine Viets

  1. Doward Wilson

    Love this author & can’t wait to read this new series. Thanks for the chance to win.

  2. This sounds good. Thanks for the chance to win.

  3. Linda Herold

    Elaine Viets is one of my favorite authors! I’d love to win one of her books!! Thanks for the chance!! lindaherold999@gmail.com

  4. Having suffered a stroke myself, I can certainly relate to Angela’s struggles to recover. This is a fascinating premise.

  5. I like the author’s other series and I bet this one will be good too! Thanks for a chance to win!

  6. Sounds like a great start to a new series. I really enjoy her other series with Helen Hawthorne.

  7. Interesting premise and Angela’s character is certainly unique. Thanks for the info on a new series.

  8. Barbara Hackel

    I have read and enjoyed her other series, and now it seems Elaine has turned to a deeper and thought provoking series. I can hardly wait to read this first book. Thanks Dru Ann for today’s blog. Thanks also to Elaine for the chance to win an ARC copy.

  9. WOW – this sounds like a terrific read!

  10. Elaine Viets

    Thanks for stopping by to read about Angela, everyone. This series is a new direction for me, and it took me eight years to confront what happened and write this book.

  11. Wow, Elaine Viet’s new book seems like it is a must read for me. Angela’s adventure is fascinating and one that sounds like it would keep the reader unable to put the books down. Thanks for the opportunity to enter the giveaway. robeader53@yahoo.com

  12. Sounds like a very captivating story! Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy!!!

  13. Strokes are sneaky things. And to misdiagnose one is terrible.

  14. I love Elaine Viets! Would love to read this book.

  15. Love Viets, Im sure this is another great book, would love to win ty

  16. Really enjoy Elaine Viets’ books. “Brain Storm” sounds like a great start to a new series. Can’t wait to read, adding to my TBR list.

  17. Looking forward to this new series.

  18. I want this book.

  19. Cynthia E. Blain

    It is so great that Elaine has had the courage and fortitude to spend many years writing this book and that is just wonderful. So happy for you, Elaine, and I am going to pass the information along to all of my reader friends who have always enjoyed your cozy mysteries and will now get to know your new talents in writing more serious stories. I definitely would love to become the recipient of this book, but I will be ordering it if I am not the lucky person. Wishing you much success with Brain Storm. Can barely wait to get it in my chubby hands and settle in to read all night!!! 🙂 Congratulations on the release.

    Sincerely,
    Cynthia B.

  20. Looking forward to reading the first in Elaine’s new mystery series.

  21. Sounds like an interesting read. New author for me and I’m going to look for some of her other series!

  22. Cheryl Corbitt

    Wow! This sounds like a fascinating book! Thanks for the opportunity to win an ARC of Brain Storm.

  23. Elaine Viets

    Thank you all for stopping by and for your kind words. I wish you could all win.

  24. Susan Slovinsky

    Sounds like a good read – something different. Thanks.

  25. Mary Jane H.

    Thank you for the chance to win an ARC of this book!

  26. Grace Topping

    Congratulations, Elaine, on your recent publications. I’ve always enjoyed your more cozy mysteries and look forward to reading your new series.

  27. Marilyn Watson

    I would like to read this. Please enter me. Thank you for the Giveaway and preview. Marilyn ewatvess@yahoo.com

  28. Wow, really looking forward to checking out Viets new book and slightly different genre. Thanks for the chance to win!

  29. Sounds like great read and interesting plot.

  30. I really enjoy all of Elaine’s titles. Have been wanting to read this one. Thank you for the chance!

  31. With a teeny over an hour to go I’m entering the contest and crossing my fingers, arms and everything else! Love Viets Dead End Job mysteries and would love to check out this new series! Ouch! I’ve got a cramp in my toe! 😀