Last night was like something out of a nightmare. A medical helicopter was shot down just as it was making its final approach over the Mississippi River to land at the University of Minnesota Medical Center. Two pilots killed, dozens of students injured, rotor blades carved into the side of the Science Building, debris scattered everywhere. To top it off, a cooler containing a human heart crashed through one of the dorm windows. I’m Afton Tangler and even though I’m a family liaison officer with the Minneapolis Police Department, I was one of the first responders who helped retrieve that mangled heart.

Just a few hours later, I was sitting in a meeting with a deeply troubled deputy chief, three world-weary detectives, a guy from the NTSB, and a tech from our IT Department. After watching footage hastily gleaned from three different cameras, the consensus on the crash seemed to be either terrorism or sabotage. But I thought there might be more going on here. I even ventured my opinion that the transplant patient, Leland Odin, the man who was literally lying on the operating table, waiting for his unsalvageable heart, was somehow involved.

Odin’s a millionaire, you see. A business tycoon who headed Diamond Shopping Network, a major home shopping company. On the surface Odin looks squeaky-clean, but I think someone wanted him dead. Could be a business rival or maybe even an associate within his own company. Whatever the case, I’m guessing that Odin crossed the wrong person – and made them angry enough to exact a clever and spectacular revenge. Because now, with no donor heart available, Odin will probably die within a matter of days.

Obviously we jumped on Odin’s family and business associates immediately. Met with his wife, partner, attorney, and step-daughter, tried hard to pound out some answers. They all claimed to know nothing at all, told us Odin had no enemies.

Clearly he did.

But we just lucky, we got a break. The University of Minnesota Police located what they guessed was the shooter’s nest. The third floor of the Huang Sheng Noodle Factory where the surface-to-air missile was fired. When I arrived at the Noodle Factory on the opposite bank of the river, it was a total bugout. Tactical Response’s shiny black SUV’s were parked everywhere, accompanied by a huge contingent from Crime Scene, MPD, UMPD, and even INS.

When I was finally allowed to take a peek upstairs, it looked like the perfect place to shoot down a helicopter. A narrow window afforded a bird’s-eye view directly across the river, right up a leafy green riverbank to the University of Minnesota Medical Center and their private helicopter landing pad.

There weren’t a lot of clues, but we’re going to work with what we found. A cigarette butt from a pack of expensive Chinese cigarettes, a brand called Double Happiness. And shaky descriptions of two Asian people who rented the upstairs room, but left after only a few hours. But here’s the weird thing – the occupants were a young man and an old woman.

We immediately covered the airports and bus terminals, hoping to detain our possible suspects before they made a hasty exit. Instead, things got even stranger. Because we just received word that Jay Barber, Odin’s business partner and one of the people we interviewed, has been kidnapped. Apparently, Barber went out running to clear his head and disappeared in a pouf of smoke. All that was found of him was one scuffed running shoe that was tearfully identified by his wife.

You can read more about Afton in Shadow Girl, the second book in the “Afton Tangler” thriller series.

The brutal murder of a business tycoon leaves Afton Tangler and the Twin Cities reeling, but that’s just the beginning of a gruesome crime spree. . .

Leland Odin made his fortune launching a home shopping network, but his millions can’t save his life. On the list for a transplant, the ailing businessman sees all hope lost when the helicopter carrying his donor heart is shot out of the sky.

Now with two pilots dead and dozens injured, Afton Tangler, family liaison officer for the Minneapolis Police Department, is drawn into the case. As she and her partner investigate family members and business associates, whoever wants Leland dead strikes again—and succeeds—in a brazen hospital room attack.

The supposedly squeaky clean millionaire has crossed the wrong person—and she’s not finished exacting her revenge. The case explodes into an international conspiracy of unbridled greed and violence. And as Afton gets closer to unearthing the mastermind behind it, she gets closer to becoming collateral damage. . .

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About the author
Gerry Schmitt is the author of Shadow Girl, an Afton Tangler Thriller, and Little Girl Gone, the first book in the series. Writing under her pen name Laura Childs, she is the New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty-nine mysteries that include the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbooking Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. Her books have also been on the USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly bestseller lists as well as having won the prestigious Favorite Character Award from the Romantic Times Book Review. Gerry is the former CEO of her own marketing firm, has won dozens of TV and radio awards, and written and produced two reality TV shows. She and her professor husband enjoy travel and their two Shar-Pei dogs.

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a hardcover copy of Shadow Girl. US entries only, please. The giveaway ends August 4, 2017. Good luck everyone!

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