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Five, Six - Deadly Mix
Back cover blurb ...
Casey Fremont has a knack for solving mysteries…
She also has a habit of ending up in danger… And this time both may get her killed!
In FIVE-SIX, DEADLY MIX, Casey Fremont lands in the middle of a combined local police/FBI investigation into fraud and theft at a local hospital. Also, two women have suspiciously fallen to their deaths before Casey reports for work in her undercover role.
Once again, Casey brings her roommates, Effie Tremayne and Aaron Kincaid along to lend a hand.
As usual, the rest of Casey’s life is in turmoil as well. Love interests shift and change, someone close to Casey falls ill and she receives a visit from an uncle she’s not seen in years. This all forces Casey to make decisions that affect her while she edges ever closer to the truth of the hospital case, once more putting that life in deadly peril!
FIVE-SIX, DEADLY MIX is the third Casey Fremont mystery from author John Achor. Intrigue and real-life drama collide for Casey once again in this exciting volume of dedication and death! From Pro Se Productions.
My name is Casey Fremont, and I've been making a decent living working temporary jobs since my husband dumped me. I may get the last laugh yet. Bambi, his girlfriend, left him. Now he has become the dumpee.
Today I'm heading for an initial interview to prepare for my latest temp job. The last two didn't work out that well; both put me in the middle of multiple murders and mayhem. I vowed this position would be different―no troubles, no dead guys, just a good paycheck for a while. Well, a gal can hope, can't she?
I’m in this current mess because my on-again off-again boyfriend, Dennis Epstein, asked me to “join him.” I thought he was asking me out on a date, but he told me I could do him a big favor by acting as a Confidential Informant. Only he referred to it as being a CI―as those in the law enforcement call it. I was up for the adventure, but disappointed that our relationship was being put on hold. Did I mention Dennis is a detective sergeant with the Little Rock Police Department?
Federal agencies suspect Medicare fraud at Little Rock General Hospital. In addition, there have been a couple of strange deaths of hospital personnel. Nothing provable but nonetheless, unexplained. To worm my way in, I went through Rutledge Trublood, a semi-likable letch who owns the TrueTemp Employment Agency. He made all the contacts so I didn't have to show up cold and arouse suspicions. I also like this company because a good friend and confidant, Rebecca Rider, works there as his receptionist. Becca assisted me solving the cases I’ve stumbled into.
The Feds are involved because of the Medicare fraud, and Special Agent Montgomery Williams of the FBI asked Dennis to join the investigation since the deaths at the hospital could be related to the suspected fraud. Dennis invited me along because he knows me: I’m a damn good investigator and persistent as hell.
Before I show up at the hospital, the FBI Special Agent assigned to the case wanted to meet with me, and according to Dennis, he “needed to assess my capabilities.” Big whoop. Tomorrow I am scheduled to report to the hospital for a specific job assignment. I wondered what the FBI agent planned to do if I didn't pass muster.
Dennis and I met him at a restaurant out where the buses don’t run; far enough from the hospital to avoid being recognized. I looked around as we entered, and headed for a booth on the right and so far back it was barely inside the building.
Dennis said, “Casey, this is FBI Special Agent Montgomery Williams. Montgomery, meet Casey Fremont.”
With the formalities behind us, Williams took over the conversation. Following a couple of perfunctory comments, he said, “Of course, Casey, I will be your handler and we will meet at least three times per week, and―”
“Whoa, Hoss,” I said. “Do you have any idea why I made a beeline to this table?”
“Well, I assumed Dennis described me...”
He wore a haircut from back in the day―clippers all around, white sidewall style. The close-cut hair was topped with a cropped flattop. I wondered if he thought he was fooling anyone; his forehead must have been two inches lower when he first adopted that style. I shook my head. “I recognized you as soon as I came in here.” He started to say something, so I held my hand up, palm toward him. “As soon as I stepped inside this place, your appearance screamed Feeb―FED, and I don't need to be meeting with anyone who can jeopardize my cover that quick. Is this the first time they put you on an undercover operation without adult supervision?”
Dennis was sitting next to the agent. I shifted my gaze to him and was pleased to see the hint of a smile. “Who would you like to meet with, Casey?” he said. “I could do it.”
“Oh, Dennis, you're nearly as bad. I want Becca to meet with me.” I turned to the agent and said, “She’s with the TrueTemp Employment Agency―and she can report to one or both of you.”
I saw a frown on the Feeb’s face. Dennis put a hand on top of mine and said, “Becca has been a great help to Casey. In the past, she’s been instrumental in helping solve a couple of cases.”
“Ms. Fremont, what got you involved in solving crimes?” the agent said.
“At first it was just something to do and keep my mind occupied. I needed the extra activity to wiggle out of the blue funk my ex-husband left me in.”
Williams stared at me for a minute before frowning. He said, “Bad marriage, eh?” I gave him and eye roll and thought this guy has all the deductive reasoning of a squid. I started to respond, thought better of it and concentrated on my coffee cup.
Dennis came riding to the rescue, and his attempt at conversation fell flat.
Williams didn’t seem in the mood for further discussion. He confirmed a couple of points with Dennis and excused himself. Dennis slipped back into the booth opposite me.
When Williams was out the door, Dennis said, “Wow, Casey; I don’t think you made any friends with your comments.” “Did I say anything that was untrue?”
“No, but damn, Casey, you didn’t have to verbally body slam him. I barely recognize you―sort of out of character. When I first met you, you didn’t have the temperament to do that.”
I said, “Then I guess I’ve come a long way in the self-esteem department.
“Yes, you have,” Dennis said. “You told Agent Williams you needed to get out of a blue funk. How are you doing?”
“At first, all this sleuthing was just a diversion for my mind. But the more I do, the more I enjoy being able to lead a group―even if we are amateurs―and hold my own against the bad guys. I’ve proved a great deal to myself.”
“I’m proud of you for leaving that ex in the dust and getting on with your life.”
I gave Dennis my best smile. “I’ve got to get out of here. It's getting late and I need to set up some ground rules with Becca.”
“Before you go, there’s something else you should know. You may have a deadline to get the goods on this bunch,” he said.
Dennis went on to explain that he had sources on the street who told him the fraud and thefts may be coming to an end. “I don’t have anything firm on a date, but the best estimate I can make is mid-June, so let’s use June fifteenth as our deadline.”
“If the scams are working, why would the perps call it quits?”
“The word is, they want to stash several million for the main players, close down the operation and emigrate to a country without extradition treaties with the United States.”
“They’ll need passports for that. Can’t Homeland Security or the FBI trace that in short order?”
Dennis let out a long sigh. “Even with all the tight security, it's not that hard to come up with a fake ID. If they apply for the passports using an alias, there’s no way to track them. My informants haven’t been able to give me any leads on the fake names.”
“Well, June fifteenth is two and a half months away. That should give us ample time to wrap this up,” I said.
“Let’s hope so.”
I gathered up my belongings and headed for the TrueTemp Agency to catch Becca before she left for the day.
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