Synopsis | Reviews | Excerpt
The blues were born out of pride, anger and need. Murder comes from those same dark places.
One of Memphis' most seductive and notorious socialites has disappeared. She's either off on another of her drunken escapades or the disappearance is something much more frightening. What begins as an ordinary day's work for Detective Billy Able of the Memphis P.D. quickly grows into a high-level spider's web of tragedy, mystery, suspicion, passion, and sordid secrets--including a few of Billy's own.
Along with Mercy Snow, the estranged sister of the missing socialite, Billy follows a twisted path of human frailty and corruption to disturbing truths that undermine everything he thought he knew about himself and the people he loves.
"A fun mystery of the south, highly recommended." -- James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief, The Midwest Book Review
"I positively loved this Southern mystery…" -- Nicola Manning, Back to Books
"This was a very good book. A page turner and on the edge of your seat book. Written very well it won't be the last book I read from Lisa Turner. If you like an old fashioned mystery with some twists and turns you will love this book.” -- Just Books Blog
"This is a wonderful mystery with appealing and despicable characters, interwoven mysteries, and a bit of humor at just the right places." -- Gargoyle Reads blog
"Edge-of-your-seat suspense, a clever and twisting plot, and complex and realistic characters...a masterful job of leading the reader through the investigations and unravelling one shocking truth after another." -- Minding Spot blog
"I loved this book! It has the perfect mix of mystery, Southern politics and family tradition, mixed with a good old police procedural to keep you hooked til the last page! ...I'm going to keep this one!" -- Bless Their Hearts Mom Blog
"I was engrossed every minute and when I had to tear myself away to do something, I couldn't wait to get back to this book...full of twists and unexpected turns...This is a super book." -- View From the Countryside Blog
"Lisa Turns spins a gritty southern mystery with riveting plot twists and an unpredictable ending. ...a highly entertaining page-turner." -- Fresh Fiction Reviews
The sturdy shoulders of Byhalia Washington blocked Detective Billy Able's view as he entered the front hall. She stood rooted at a doorway that opened into a dining room. He followed her gaze past the dining table to the buffet on the opposite wall. A gallery light over the buffet illuminated a large sepia-toned photo of a family grouping.
Lou and an elderly black woman stood facing each other near one end of the buffet. Miz Lady's hand had disappeared into an open drawer. In slow motion she withdrew a .38 pistol. Slowly, she placed the barrel in her mouth.
"Hold on now," Lou said.
She cocked the hammer. Officer Washington drew her service revolver.
Lou raised his hands, palms forward. "Now, lady. . . I mean Miz Lady, no sense hurting yourself." His voice cracked.
Miz Lady stood erect for a woman her age. Her blue dress hung loose down her thin chest, her nails sparkled pink against the electrician's tape wrapped around the gun's butt. She wore stockings on this hot morning and white heels. From the look of things, Billy figured she'd hit her husband on the back of the head, cleaned the house, bathed and dressed. And now she was ready to meet her Maker.
For a cop, this was as dangerous as it gets.
"Let's put the gun down and talk," Lou said. "I'll hold it for you."
Miz Lady's eyes widened, and the gun trembled as Lou took a step forward. Billy felt Officer Washington tense beside him.
"Okay." Lou began the familiar talk-down. "You keep the gun and I'll stay here."
Resolve glinted in the woman's eyes, but she was listening.
"My name's Lou. Accidents happen. There's no one to blame here, really. Men can be an aggravation. They retire, they get under foot, they spoil a woman's routine. It's understandable."
That's right, Billy thought. Stay with the program. He noticed the hammer ease up, and he took a breath.
"Your man wouldn't listen. Sometimes men do the wrong things," Lou said.
Lady Tuggle nodded. The gun barrel slid lower in her mouth.
"Men," Lou said, warming to his subject, "good men do bad things. Especially as they get older. Something weakens inside a man. They let their families down. You understand that don't you, Miz Lady? They disappoint the ones they've promised to look after."
Wherever Lou was going with this, it seemed to be working. The gun barrel slid from Lady Tuggle's mouth. Lou extended his hand. The .38 seemed to hesitate of its own accord, then she clasped the grip in both hands and leveled it at Lou's chest.
"Uh, ummh," rumbled Byhalia Washington, "that done it."
"I warned him." Miz Lady's voice sounded clear, calm. "He kept on, every morning. Doing his business off the porch. I keep a decent house. My momma didn't raise me to live like trash."
Lou's body stiffened. "You need to put the gun down."
The woman's chin went up. "Preacher Allen said mens are the Devil's fallen creatures. Stealing, murdering, hurting girl chirrun. Far as I'm concerned, all you mens can go to Hell."
Lou's head jerked up. "Pull that trigger and see firsthand what God thinks of murders. Go on, shoot!"
"I'll do it. I will."
"Go on then."
Lou's gaze focused on the gun, and his body began to weave. The gun barrel followed. He was provoking her to shoot him. They all knew it.
Washington brought her revolver to shoulder level and trained it on Miz Lady's chest. She had every right, even a duty, to shoot, but it might not save Lou. Washington glanced at Billy. Her expression said, Do something or I will.
The dining table stood between Miz Lady and Billy. He'd never get to her before she pulled the trigger. Only option left was to break the spell.
He exhaled, slipped his hands in his pockets and strolled into the room as if he were a guest. He approached the framed photograph on the wall. For a moment he studied the photo, then stepped back in surprise.
"Isn't this the Caledonia Free Will Baptist Church outside of Pontotoc, Mississippi? Pastor Bean is still in the pulpit after forty years, I believe." He bent forward, looking at the photo. "Miz Lady, is this your wedding party?"
"Leave it," Lou breathed, his voice still heated.
"Is it, Miz Lady?" He could tell she was listening, but he couldn't see Lou's face or the gun.
"That's my wedding day."
"Is your momma in the white hat or is she the lady with the lace collar standing down the steps?"
"Momma's in the hat. Aunt Jet wore the lace collar. She carried my veil down from New York." Her voice warmed with emotion.
"Is that so. Are you wearing your momma's wedding dress?"
Her shoulder's stiffened. "Momma didn't have a dress. She saved every cent for school to make a lawyer when she met Daddy. He said he'd pay her way through school if she'd marry him."
"Do I see your daddy here?"
"Next to Walter. My husband." She said the name coldly.
"Where?" Billy assumed the gun was still trained on Lou. If he grabbed her, Lou was sure to take a bullet in the chest. Out the corner of his eye he saw Miz Lady back toward the picture.
"The bald man with the belly. That's Daddy."
Billy angled his head for a better look at the woman. She had turned the revolver on him and was glaring at the photo. The gun quivered in her hand. He should be nervous, but all he could see was this trapped woman making a final grab for self-respect.
"Daddy beat Momma so bad he broke something in her head. She couldn't read after that. She couldn't go to school, so she took in wash. Momma wanted me to have what she never got. Then Walter starts . . . he wouldn't listen. Damn you, Walter!"
In one motion she swung the gun around and fired.