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LOWCOUNTRY BOIL by Susan M. Boyer
Private Investigator Liz Talbot is a modern Southern belle: she blesses hearts and takes names. She carries her Sig 9 in her Kate Spade handbag, and her golden retriever, Rhett, rides shotgun in her hybrid Escape. When her grandmother is murdered, Liz high-tails it back to her South Carolina island home to find the killer. She’s fit to be tied when her police-chief brother shuts her out of the investigation, so she opens her own. Then her long-dead best friend pops in and things really get complicated. When more folks start turning up dead in this small seaside town, Liz must use more than just her wits and charm to keep her family safe, chase down clues from the hereafter, and catch a psychopath before he catches her.
The dead are patient. I know this firsthand. My best friend Colleen drowned in Breach Inlet the spring of our junior year in high school, and I didn’t hear a peep out of her until last March— a month after my thirty-first birthday. It was a Friday night, a few minutes past nine, and I had just chased a rabbit into Falls Park, in the West End of Greenville, South Carolina. The rabbit was fast, for one so big. At the foot of the rock steps that led down from the street, he darted under the Liberty Bridge. We’d had a cold snap, and while the sidewalks of downtown Greenville bustled with restaurant traffic, the park was deserted except for me, the rabbit, and my partner, Nate Andrews.
Nate stopped one level up and sprinted towards the bridge. He passed the rabbit, cut through a planting bed, and jumped off the rock retaining wall into the rabbit’s path. Nate raised his hands in a stop motion. “That’s far enough.”
The hare hesitated. He took a step towards me, and then glanced into the Reedy River. For a few seconds, we all listened to water rushing over rocks.
“Don’t be stupid,” I said.
Naturally, the rabbit pulled a gun.
He pointed it at me, then at Nate, waving it back and forth. “I’m not giving that bitch a dime.”
Nate said, “Hey, buddy, we don’t care.” He reached towards his jacket.
The rabbit lunged in Nate’s direction, pointing the gun like a sword.
Nate raised his hands.
While the rabbit was distracted, I grabbed my Sig Sauer 9 from the holster at the waistband of my jeans. “Put the gun down. Now,” I said, as though bored with the routine task of whipping out a nine mil. I wasn’t nearly as nonchalant as I sounded. It was rare for me to draw my weapon.
The rabbit swung back to me, waving what looked like a .38 caliber. “How ’bout you drop yours, blondie.”
Nate slipped his gun from his shoulder holster and pointed it at the rabbit’s foot. “You can’t shoot us both.”
The rabbit heaved his furry shoulders and burst into muffled sobs.
“Lower the gun, slowly,” I said. “Put it on the ground and step back.”
The bunny complied.
“Now take off the headpiece to that costume,” I said. That evening, our subject had been playing Harvey in a local production of the Pulitzer-Prize-winning play about a six-foot-three rabbit visible only to gentle soul Elwood P. Dowd. Nate and I had staked out the theatre. We’d thought we’d be there another couple hours, but we caught a break when the rabbit stepped outside for a smoke. Harvey doesn’t get much stage time.
He pulled off his furry mask.
“Peter Tyler?” The rabbit’s name really was Peter. Once the mask was off, I knew it was him. His wife, our client, had given us a photo.
“Yes,” he spat. He wiped his cheeks with his paw.
Nate handed Peter the subpoena. “You’ve been served.”
I picked up his weapon, removed the bullets, and handed it back to him. “Have a nice evening.”
Peter sat heavily on the low rock wall and dropped his head in his hands.
When I walked towards the steps, my long-dead best friend Colleen appeared on the swing that hung from a trellis beneath the bridge. I stopped short. I almost didn’t recognize her. She looked fantastic, for a ghost. Her skin was clear and luminous, her long red hair a cascade of molten curls. She looked like a perfect version of herself, as if she’d spent a month at a high-dollar spa. But I’d known Colleen Stevens my entire life. It was her–-her funeral fourteen years earlier notwithstanding.
Tears pooled in her eyes. “Liz, come home.”
Nate walked up behind me. “Let’s grab a drink.”
“I think I need one.” I wasn’t ready just then to own the truth that Colleen’s presence signified.
“Come home,” Colleen repeated. Then she vanished.
Susan M. Boyer has been making up stories her whole life. She tags along with her husband on business trips whenever she can because hotels are great places to write: fresh coffee all day and cookies at 4 p.m. They have a home in Greenville, SC, which they occasionally visit. Susan’s short fiction has appeared in moonShine Review, Spinetingler Magazine, Relief Journal, The Petigru Review, and Catfish Stew. Her debut novel, Lowcountry Boil, is a 2012 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense recipient and an RWA Golden Heart® finalist.
Links to Susan M. Boyer’s website, blog, books, etc.
Fiction Addiction: http://www.fiction-addiction.com/si/9781938383045n.html