WITH VICS YOU GET EGGROLL | dianevallere
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WITH VICS YOU GET EGGROLL

Mad for Mod Mystery #3
Hardcover ISBN: 9781941962466
Paperback ISBN: 9781941962435
eBook ISBN: 
Audio ISBN: 9781520064222

“A sense of danger and menace pervades the entire novel, but it is lightened by Mad's genuine likability and strength. Vallere has crafted an extremely unique mystery series with an intelligent heroine whose appeal will never go out of style.” – Kings River Life Magazine

Interior Decorator Madison Night has her hands full with a demanding client and a product endorsement, but when the news shifts from reports of recently abducted women to the discovery of a dead body, she can’t deny the danger. Evidence from the scene links the flirtatious Lt. Tex Allen to the crime, taking him off the case.

As more abductees are either released or killed, Tex struggles with his suspension, on the brink of turning vigilante. Madison’s own life is complicated by the return of her hunky handyman, Hudson James. When seemingly unrelated events lead back to the abductions, she exposes a secondary agenda, a copycat crime, and a vengeful plot to destroy someone she loves.

Can Madison expose a serial killer with a dangerous agenda?

With Vics You Get Eggroll is the third exciting Madison Night mystery. If you like unique mysteries with intelligent heroines and twisty turns, then you’ll love Diane Vallere’s well-constructed book.

Buy With Vics You Get Eggroll and sink your teeth into a can’t put down mystery today!

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

 

The flashing red and blue lights remained visible in my rear view mirror far longer than I would have liked. I accelerated through the twists and turns of Gaston Avenue’s residential streets, almost lost control and swung wide when the road cut to the right, but kept going. If the police officer behind me wanted to catch up with my zippy Alfa Romeo, he was going to have to put pedal to the metal.

He’d been pursuing me for over a mile. Up ahead, the tall parking lot lights of the Whole Foods grocery store loomed. It was after ten and the neighboring businesses had long since been closed. I put on my signal, turned into the vacant lot, and parked under a row of streetlamps by the store’s east-facing exit.

The royal blue Dallas police car pulled up behind me. The glass of the car’s windows were tinted, telling me nothing. I double checked that my doors were locked and kept my engine running. My heart sped like a leaky faucet with a rapid drip.

A gloved hand tapped the window. I cranked the lever until there was a two-inch opening, and looked up at the officer. He held a flashlight that he shone into my car. His expression changed from serious to concerned, probably as he noted the smudges of concrete and dirt from the construction site I’d been at all day. His eyes dropped to the navy blue coveralls I wore, and then moved to the yellow hard hat that had fallen from the passenger side seat onto the floor.

“License and Registration, ma’am,” the officer said.

“May I see your identification first, officer?” I asked.

He held what looked like a small black wallet in front of the window. One side held his police badge. The other had a photo identification. I cranked the window down another turn so I could read his credentials more clearly.

Officer Brian Iverson. Lakewood Police Department. That was Lt. Tex Allen’s precinct. I reached into my bag and pulled out my wallet. My hands shook. I fumbled while trying to get the license out of the plastic sleeve. When I finally did, I handed it to him.

“Madison Night,” he read. “Wait here.”

He strode back to his car. I waited until he was seated inside before reaching for my phone. I flipped it over twice before making the call.

“Lt. Allen? This is Madison. I just got pulled over.”

“Where are you?” he asked, a trace of panic in his voice.

“The Whole Foods parking lot by the Lakewood Theater.”

“Did you get a badge number?”

“I saw his badge. Officer Iverson. Blond, fit. Looks to be in his forties or fifties.”

“Brian Iverson.  He turned thirty last month. Lives a hard life. Not sure what the job is going to do to him in the long run, but he’s a good cop. You’re safe with him.”

I tipped my head back against the head rest and closed my eyes, imagining the tension leaving my body. It was okay. Tex knew the police officer who had pulled me over. He wasn’t the Lakewood Abductor.

“What did he get you on?” he asked, the tone of his voice shifting from concern to flirtation.

“I don’t know yet.”

“You should have told him you know me. Might have saved you from a ticket.”

“I don’t like using our relationship like that.”

“It’s not like you’re using it for anything else. One of these days you’ll see me for the prince I am.”

“And until then I’ll see you as a frog.”

“It’s not easy being green. Remember that.”

Officer Iverson returned to my window. “I have to go,” I said to Tex.

“Call me when you’re home.” We hung up.

 I took the paperwork from Officer Iverson, slid my license back into my wallet, put the registration inside the front cover of the Alfa Romeo car manual, and put the manual back into the glove box.

“Do you know why I pulled you over?” Iverson asked.

“No.”

“Broken tail light.” He tapped the end of his pen against a metal clipboard that held a form I sincerely hoped wasn’t a citation.

“Doesn’t Lt. Allen work in your precinct?” I asked.

His head tipped to the side and smiled. “That’s how I knew your name. Madison Night. You were there when Lt. Allen got shot.”

“Yes.”

He tapped his pen a few more times and looked at the form in front of him. “I sure wish you’d told me that when I first pulled you over. I already wrote up this ticket.” He looked torn between protocol and doing me a favor. “Tell you what. This is a warning. Get the tail light fixed in the next five days and take this paperwork to the courthouse.” He pulled a piece of the multi-layered form off and handed it to me. “I couldn’t help noticing that you gave me a little chase before you pulled over.”

I took the form. “The only thing on the news these days is about the missing women and the Lakewood Abductor. The reports say we shouldn’t pull over for anybody unless we’re in a public parking space or a crowded area.”

“That’s right. Glad you’re paying attention. Are you headed home now?”

I nodded.

“Your address says Gaston Avenue. Home’s close?”

“A couple of blocks.”

“Good. Be careful, Ms. Night.”

I waited until Officer Iverson was back in his car before I backed out of my space. It was true that I was only a couple of blocks from my apartment, but I’d lied when I called it home. There was a time when it was the place where I felt most comfortable, but I hadn’t been staying there lately. Nobody had.

I drove down Gaston Avenue, past my apartment building, and then took a side street to Greenville, double checking the rearview and side mirrors frequently. My heart still raced.

From Greenville I turned left on Monticello and slowed when I reached the house I’d inherited a few months ago. I parked the car in the detached garage, hustled past the tomato plants to the porch and let myself in. This was where Rocky waited for me, and in my book, home is where you keep your pet.

Now two years old, his hyper puppy nature came and went in spurts. Anybody entering the house was cause for an outburst. He bounced around my feet and stood on his hind legs, paws on the back of mine, while I set a plastic milk crate filled with files on the dining room table. I put the hardhat next to the files and stepped out of the dirty blue coveralls.

Ah, the glamorous life.

Rocky bounded over to me and I scooped him up. “Hey there, cutie! Are you happy that I’m home?” He licked my check and nuzzled his face into the side of my neck. I locked the front door behind me and locked the door between the front door and the kitchen. After turning on the TV in the living room, I carried Rocky upstairs. I set him on his dog bed, a custom-made, heavily padded circle with a one-foot high border. The whole thing was covered in turquoise bar cloth printed with black radials and white squigglies, all reminiscent of the atomic era I specialized in with Mad for Mod Decorating. The dog bed had arrived as a very large package delivered to my studio a few weeks ago. To Rock, From Hudson. It was the only gift to mark the occasion of  my forty-eighth birthday, and even though it was clearly for my Shih Tzu, I found the timing pleasantly suspicious.

The bedroom was hot. I kept a window AC unit ready to roll at bedtime, but otherwise preferred to spend my time on the first floor of the house. Under the coveralls I’d worn a belted light blue wool tunic and matching blue cotton trousers from my latest estate sale bid. I made a habit of making offers on estates of people I learned about from the obituaries, and while most of the time it was the wife who outlived the husband, in this case, the husband had been the one to maintain their midcentury modern ranch after his wife had passed away. Her closet had been filled with clothes from the late sixties—a large portion still with the tags on them.

They were slightly groovier than my usual early to mid sixties wardrobe, but I wasn’t one to look a gift horse—in this case, in the form of forty-five year-old new-with-tags merchandise—in the mouth. The dirty clothes went into the wicker hamper in the corner. I showered and dressed in a paisley caftan and went downstairs. Rocky followed. I made a salad from the lettuce in the crisper and the half chicken breast leftover from last night, and carried it to the living room, and then doubled back to the kitchen for a glass of white wine.

“We have breaking news on the identity of the Lakewood Abductor,” a female reporter said as I took my seat on the sofa. She stood at the end of a parking lot, an empty field behind her. I speared a chunk of iceberg and crunched on it. The photo of a woman flashed onto the upper right hand side of the screen.

“The body of Stacy Grimes was found by two Lakewood residents who were hiking by Lockwood Park earlier this evening. Stacy, a pre-med student at Loyola University, was in town visiting family. Her family reported her missing, and the police have been looking for leads. A witness from the Organic Foods Market in the Casa Linda shopping center said he saw a woman matching Ms. Grimes’s description get into a black sedan last week. According to the police, evidence found near her body confirms that the abductor was impersonating a police officer. She has been dead for several days.”

The report was chilling. Stacy’s car was found abandoned in the parking lot of the Casa Linda shopping center last week, only a few miles from where I lived. Her handbag and keys were on the passenger side floor. The two security cameras in the parking lot of the organic food store had malfunctioned so no video had been recorded.

I knew the Casa Linda shopping center well. It was the same strip mall that held The Mummy Theater, a restored movie house that showed old movies on the big screen. I volunteered there on occasion. 

Images of three other women joined that of Stacy Grimes on the screen. Below each image was the victim’s name. “We are still on the search for the four other women who have been reported missing in the past two weeks. The Dallas Police have reason to suspect that the perpetrator being referred to as the ‘Lakewood Abductor’ may be driving what appears to be an unmarked police car.” The blonde reporter turned to the police chief. “Chief Washington, what can you tell us about your findings today?”

Chief Washington looked like a linebacker in a black made-to-measure business suit. He leaned toward the microphone that the reporter held, but didn’t take it from her. “Initial reports from the medical examiner state that she’d been dead for less than a day. We found ligature marks on her wrists that were consistent with marks made by handcuffs. The recent rain washed away any evidence of footprints, but we’re still combing the immediate area for something that will give us a lead on the guy behind this.”

“Are you any closer to revealing a profile?”

“Since the first abductions, we suspected he was impersonating a security officer or a law enforcement officer. New evidence supports this theory.”

“What is this evidence?”

“We’re not releasing that information yet. Maybe this man met her before she was abducted or maybe they had a previous relationship. We have identified a person of interest and are in the process of finding out what his connection to her—to all of the women—is.”

A sixty-something woman in jeans and a white button down shirt screamed behind the police chief. “I want him locked up--I want him arrested! He killed my little girl!” she yelled hysterically. “He was a cop. He was supposed to protect her and you let him kill her!”

The reporter kept the microphone in front of the chief. “Is that true? Is your suspect a member of the police force?”

The chief looked uncomfortable. “Right now he is not a suspect, but until we have a chance to understand the nature of his relationship to Stacy Grimes, he is a person of interest. We are pursuing this lead with all of our resources.  If one of our officers is involved in the abduction and murder of Lakewood residents, we will show no leniency.”

I thought about how Tex’s world would change if one of his fellow officers was responsible for these heinous crimes. It would be an uphill battle that would severely damage the reputation of the Lakewood police department, possibly long term.

The mother of the victim stood off to the side of the crowd, her hysterics subdued by her sobs. The reporter raised the microphone and spoke directly to the camera.

“So tonight, a murder victim provides a clue to the possible identity of the man terrorizing the Lakewood/White Rock Lake area. What that means to the residents of Lakewood is unclear. Chief Washington is still urging everyone to be careful. Chief?”

This time the chief took the microphone. “We encourage everyone to follow these safety tips: If you see a police vehicle behind you, do not pull over until you reach a crowded or well-lit parking lot. Do not turn off your engine. Ask to see his badge. If he is a legitimate officer, he will be aware of these safety issues and will act accordingly. If he does not, call 911 and head to the nearest police station. You will be safe there.”

Suddenly the hysterical woman broke away from the crowd and charged the police chief. She grabbed the microphone from him. “You don’t protect the citizens of Lakewood, you protect your own! I know you found a badge by my daughter’s body. You know who killed my daughter. I want Lt. Tex Allen arrested for murder!”

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