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= Mystery Novel Preview =
One, Two - Kill a Few
 

Spider & Web

 

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Reader reviews about this Casey Fremont story:

My three girls gave me a Kindle a few days before I got your e-mail. Your book was my first purchase. One, Two - Kill a Few is great! I mean it!! It is an attention grabbing, don't want to put it down kind of book.

Glenda B.

Read your mystery, One, Two, Kill a few, and enjoyed it very much. I've been a mystery fan for 50 years and read just about every Sherlock Holmes story from Arthur Conan Doyle and Hercule Piorot/Miss Marple stories by Agatha Christie. Most of Agatha's paperbacks were read multiple times and I finally donated 2 plastic bags of them to my local library. Since all of those stories were set in the distant past and mostly in England I wasn't sure how I would respond to a modern mystery set in Little Rock. Bottom line - I found your book not only a refreshing change from the aforementioned scenarios but a very enjoyable and interesting read.

Robert B.

John Achor draws the audience into the mystery immediately with "raining bodies". The reader's curiosity is hooked as the story progresses with the addition of friends to help solve the mystery. A growing romance with the police detective holds the reader's attention as the killers are tracked through the evolving story. I enjoyed every page and would recommend it to all who read mysteries. I'm looking forward to more Casey Fremont books. Thank you.

Rita D.

 

Excerpt: One, Two - Kill A Few (two chapters)

Back cover blurb:

Struggling to recover from a disastrous marriage and contentious divorce, Casey Fremont would prefer to make ends meet with her paycheck from a temp job; but now her goal of personal and mental renewal, becomes one of staying alive as she solves a riddle of murder and mayhem.  Casey Fremont is on her way to interview for a temp job when a falling body nearly lands on her. Three days later, a second man, this one from her office, dies in a similar manner and Casey is drawn into the intrigue. From her investigation and the office grape vine, she confirms her suspicions. With her friend in the hads of kidnappers, Casey barely escapes being the third body to go over the railing as she solves the mystery.

One, Two, Kill a Few is a 280 page mystery featuring a female amateur sleuth who is battling to regain her self-esteem and recover from an abusive husband who dumped her for his secretary. She overcomes this as well as other short comings as she unravels the crimes.

CHAPTER 1

My name’s Casey Fremont. Lots of folks shorten my nickname even further, to KC. I used to go by those initials, but got tired of answering the question, “Does KC stand for somethin’?” Well of course it stands for something, Dimbulb. I even tried “Ms. Fremont,” but that made me sound too old. My mother wasn’t frightened by the Initial Imps, though something must have scared her. I’ve never been able to get her to tell me where she came up with Acacia, which is the long version of Casey.

*****

This morning started out so well, I thought I was on a roll. I hoped the rest of the day would be as great. It wasn’t, but how could I know it would be raining bodies before noon.

I put on one of my best business suits. It’s a dark, dark gray pin stripe. The jacket is double-breasted and the slit skirt doesn’t quite make it down to mid-thigh. I’ve never been turned down during an interview, but it never hurts to flash a bit of leg at a male interviewer. It’s fun to watch where their eyes wander during the discussion. A lot of men have trouble looking a woman in the eye. More often they are gazing at the assets a good bit south of the face.

I was heading for Little Rock’s Midtown Atrium Towers Building, a new expanse of glass and steel in the downtown area. In keeping with the new architecture, an atrium reaches to the top between two buildings. I would be talking to a Wayne Harmon at Cyber-Technology, a computer and internet consulting firm.

At quarter past nine, fifteen minutes before my appointment, I walked through the huge glass doors, which opened for me with an automatic whoosh. The main floor entrance was through a curved glass wall going up all twelve floors. A similar wall of glass faced me from the rear of the lobby and the sign over the far doorway read: Parking Garage. I glanced around the lobby at the large planter areas replete with foliage and flowers. There were even a couple of imported palm trees; far from native to Arkansas. Buildings stretched upward to my left and to my right. The structure smelled like a new building. The faint but pungent aroma left from new carpet glued to the floor drifted past me. I checked the directory and learned Cyber-Technology was in Tower B, the one on the right.

The elevators were glass and brass clinging to the walls of the atrium. It would be an interesting ride — I’m not afraid of heights, but I don’t like looking straight down at nothing between me and a sudden stop at the bottom. I was almost across the lobby when I heard the shout from behind me.

“Damn, look out!”

The last word was shouted in my ear as something slammed into my back. I hit the polished marble floor with a thud knocking most of the air out of my lungs. Then a crushing weight on my back forced the rest of the air to be expelled. I was gasping for breath. I heard a sickening thud, and a couple of seconds later there was another sound. More of a plop than a thud.

“Are you okay, lady?” said the man lying on my back.

“I will be as soon as you get the hell off me.”

“I’m sorry.” He rolled away, struggled to his feet and offered his hand.

With effort, I managed a sitting position, slapped his hand aside and tugged at my skirt. “What the hell was that all about?” I used my most annoyed voice and scowl.

“The guy took a header off an atrium balcony. He damn near fell on top of you.”

I looked over my shoulder and saw it. It… was a body, sprawled in a grotesque position, about six feet from me. The eyes were open, but they saw nothing. One leg and one arm lay at angles normal limbs are unable to assume. Blood oozed from a flat spot on his head, from his mouth and from the ear turned toward me. The blood spread out on the light-colored marble and seeped into the expansion joints.

That’ll be a bitch to clean up. “I’ve got to get upstairs; I’ve got an interview.” I said.

I shook my head in disbelief at myself; strange, the thoughts that run through a mind under stress not to mention putting my needs ahead of the dead body.

“Better stay here. I think the cops will want to talk to you,” my Good Samaritan said.

“Why me? I didn’t see anything.”

“You are still a witness.” He extended his hand again. This time I took it and let him pull me to my feet. Building security was already milling around the lobby, and I could hear sirens approaching outside.

CHAPTER 2

How did I get here this morning? I suppose I should bring you up to date. Yesterday morning started out so well — I was thinking: I got it made. All my bills covered for another month. Today would clinch the fact there was more money than month left. I pulled on a pair of baggy, gray sweatpants, an old Liz Claiborne T-shirt, and took the elevator to the ground floor of my condo building to get the mail. Good old Ted the Postman was taking his usual sweet time sorting letters. I sat on a couch, on the far side of the lobby, and watched and waited. Once upon a time, I stood near the boxes with the hope it would expedite the sorting process. Didn’t work. Ted had time to doze each time his hand dipped into the huge leather pouch for another batch. Slow, rhythmic — the movement resembled an ancient and long forgotten martial arts sequence of exercises. I learned to hover at a discreet distance. Lurking nearer seemed to slow the process beyond anything bearable.

Fifteen minutes of my life later, ritual complete, Ted swung the hinged cover shut and locked it. That was his cue to us waiters — I was joined by three other hopefuls during the wait — the mail now resided in its proper bin and was available for retrieval. I covered the distance to the boxes with as much speed as I could while maintaining a bit of decorum. My sneakers squeaked on the marble floor and drew stares from Ted and the other denizens of my building.

“I forgot. It’s Mother’s Day,” Ted said, looking at me.

I pulled up short of the boxes, eyebrows raised. “What?”

“Over in the projects, they call it Mother’s Day. The day the welfare checks come.”

I screwed on my most indignant scowl and said, “It’s not welfare. It’s due-fare.”

“What?” It was Ted’s turn.

“I put in almost fifteen years with that asshole. Half of the time I was supporting him. Now the fare is due me — it’s alimony. In his case, you could call it: the screwin’ he’s getting for the screwin’ around he did.”

Two additional pairs of eyebrows slid up their owners’ foreheads and I heard a gasp of air escape from each of the ladies. This time it was from my co-waiters, standing in front of their own mailboxes. Two of the three appeared to be on the verge of apoplexy, even their ears turned red.

Kenley Longstreet, a first-name, same-floor, nod-of-the-head type neighbor, took it in stride. “The swine,” he said. “I can’t imagine anyone treating you in such a manner, Casey.”

I reached down and tugged the legs of my sweats up to my calves.

“What, dear lady,” Kenley said, the tone still dripping honey, “causes such a reaction?”

“It’s getting deep around here, and I wanta be ready to wade through ankle deep bullshit.” I grinned and Kenley returned a wink.

Two mailbox doors slammed in unison behind me. I turned in time to see Mrs. Abigail Rosewood, from the third floor, purse her lips and give Mrs. Martha Farley, who lives one floor above me, a terse head shake. The color on both their faces matured to a deeper shade of crimson and spread downward, causing already bulging tendons to appear more obvious. They stomped toward the bank of elevators and I saw Kenley’s features light up like a morning glory opening and turning its face to the sun.

“Well spoken, Casey. I apologize for the earlier turn of phrase, and I did so enjoy how your words affected the Brewster sisters,” he said.

He must have noticed my confused expression.

“Oh, I know their last names are different, but Abby and Martha Brewster … the two old busy-body sisters who poisoned their gentlemen callers — Arsenic and Old Lace — the movie. I’m certain you must remember the movie?”

I nodded and went back to my reason-for-being this morning. I unlocked my box and extracted the latest issue of Self and half-dozen envelopes. I tucked the magazine under my arm and shuffled through the letters. Must have missed it. I reshuffled the stack of envelopes one… by… one… and verified my first conclusion.

“Shit!” The word exploded from my mouth — louder than I intended — loud enough to jerk Kenley back out of the elevator.

He stood there holding the door open. “Is the asshole late again with the alimony check?” Kenley said. He’s overheard enough of my rants to know about Jarvis and the alimony. I smiled at him and for the hundredth time, tried to guess his age — one of the “ever young” faces. I pegged him at sixty, though I knew I could be a decade off, either direction.

I nodded. “Yep, Jarvis Parnell Sheffield da Third, Esquire, has once again screwed the pooch. I’m certain he has fifty reasons for being late, but believe you me … he will pay.” I got into the elevator car and rode up to the eighth floor with Kenley.

I shook my head and entered my condo. I fought off one of those moments of insecurity which plagued me more and more these days, and decided it was time to get in touch with my second favorite asshole — the one at TrueTemp.

*****

An hour later I pushed open the door at True Temp. In reality, I shoved it so hard it slammed into a chair inside. Becca Rider was startled by my entrance and glanced up from her receptionist’s desk. She gave me a nod and a shrug that said oh-it’s-you-again and spoke into her headset, “TrueTemp, your full service temporary employment agency. How may I help you?”

I mouthed a “Hello” to Rebecca and took a seat. I knew she would get me in to see her boss as soon as she was off the phone. There was a young lady in the waiting room who could pass for a teenybopper. She looked about the age Jarvis, my ex, would chase around a desk. There was a bright expectant look in her eyes, but I could tell by her well-worn clothes she was in desperate need of a job. She’d be lucky to get into an interview, let alone survive one looking this bad. I assessed what I saw — she wasn’t dirty, she needed a new dress, some grooming tips and in all probability, some interview skills.

There you go again, Casey, I thought. Ready to take on the rest of the world’s woes. Settle for your own — you need a paycheck to get to the end of the month.

Becca finished her call by setting an appointment with the person on the other end of the phone. She pushed what must have been an intercom button, and spoke loud enough for me to hear. “Rutledge, Casey is out here in the waiting room. There seems to be a fire in her eye.” Becca winked at me and continued, “I think you better see her right away.”

Becca pumped her head up and down and jerked a thumb over her shoulder toward the office of TrueTemp owner, Rutledge Trueblood. I was familiar with the creep. In the days following my divorce, I signed on with his agency because I was in desperate need of money.

Jarvis the Rat, in his case it’s the easiest way to spell lawyer, acted as his own counsel in our divorce and screwed it up in the worst way. The judge awarded me a large settlement as well as the hefty alimony commitment, which was due the first of each month. Jarvis the Rat remained true to character. Now he contested the lump sum figure and every month came up with new reasons why he was late with my alimony check. I learned his fervent prayer was that I would default on the condo mortgage and be thrown out on the sidewalk with few, if any, material belongings.

I said I was desperate, but not desperate enough to accept the care and concern offered — nay, thrust upon me — by Rutledge the Rutter. The second time I came to this agency, he invited me into his office. His big mistake was not closing the door. He put both his hands on my breasts and murmured how attractive I was. My response — I brought my right hand up between his legs and got a firm grasp on his family jewels. As my fingers curled around his privates, he relinquished his hold on me and let out a horrific howl.

Becca and another applicant stuck their heads into the office. I asked Rutledge to explain to them what he was up to. He declined and my grip tightened.

“I - I - I was… fondling… Casey’s breasts,” he said. The words were interspersed between rasping gulps for air.

I presented my demands: he was to be available to me whenever I called, he would expend two hundred percent on my behalf, find me a paycheck within twenty-four hours of my call, and protect both my witnesses, Becca and the applicant. In return I would not sue for sexual harassment or do what he feared the most — I would not tell his wife and the newspapers.

My final words to him were, “Rutledge, if I even hear you are forcing yourself on somebody else, I swear by all that’s holy, I’ll see you rot in hell… and on the front page.” With Becca as my inside operative, we’ve managed to keep ol’ Rutledge more than an arm’s length from all his female clients.

Becca and the applicant would both participate in my good fortune. Since then, all I need to do is let Rutledge know I need money and I’ve got a position by the following day.

Becca and the applicant would both participate in my good fortune. Since then, all I need to do is let Rutledge know I need money and I’ve got a position by the following day.

Again today, I saw the fear of retribution on his face, and within thirty minutes I was on my way out of the TrueTemp agency. The note in my purse contained a name, address and an interview time for the following morning.

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