By Jordan Kelly Bingham from Victoria Abbott’s book collector mysteries
It’s good to be back at Killer Characters again. A lot has happened since I last visited here. Usually I get to tell you about my wonderful life as researcher to the well-known curmudgeon and book collector, Vera Van Alst. I may even brag a bit about the crumbling historic pile that is Van Alst House and the terrific meals prepared by Signora Panetone.
I pussyfoot around my relationship with Officer Tyler “Smiley” Dekker of our Harrison Falls police. I know he’s got a thing for me and I really would like to reciprocate fully, but as I am the first person in my family to go straight, my relatives continue to be horrified that I would make a life with a police officer. Even though they accept that I am living as an honest citizen, having a cop in the family seems just plain wrong to them. Has the clash between our two worlds let to friction between us? Oh yeah. Bigtime. As some of you may remember, I figured we were over more than once. The man in your life should never arrest you!
Smiley has made two big steps to make things work: first he sold his house and got a job in another town. That helps with the conflict of interest problem. Then in a dramatic flourish, he purchased non-refundable tickets and upscale accommodation for a week for the two of us in San Francisco. That’s right. The city by the bay. The city where Dashiell Hammett tapped out most of his novels. After a lively ‘discussion’, Vera agreed to give me the time off as long as I came back with a rare signed first edition of Hammett’s Red Harvest. Nothing could go wrong there, right?
Of course, some of you suspicious types will not be surprised to learn that Smiley has been keeping a big secret from me. I was stunned, but even more startled to be pushed from a cable car by an unseen pair of hands, nearly run over and, well, you won’t believe what happened to me in that elegant little hotel. Luckily, I still have some of those skills I learned growing up to help me get into and out of tight spots. And I have the many Kelly family legends about Uncle Seamus who could escape from any jam.
Still will it be enough? The lesson we learn from Dashiell Hammett’s game-changing books is that you can’t trust anyone. Should I trust Smiley? Will we get out of this latest mess with both of us alive, intact and speaking? Can I live happily ever after?
If you’re brave enough to leave a comment about any of this, please do. Your name will go into the hat for a draw to receive this snappy fedora in a nice shade for fall. What? You were expecting lockpicks? A signed first edition? Sorry. You will love the hat.
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