Excerpt from “Don’t Cry Over Killed Milk: A Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective Mystery” by Stephen Kaminski

2337babcdf58e3d302d7df70fc3fee6a_kp32Jeremiah Milk lived a life filled with emotional extremes. Amniotic band syndrome—a congenital condition—left his fingers and toes malformed. Ridiculed as a child, he became an adolescent hermit. As an adult, Jeremiah’s wounds healed when he landed a position as a park ranger and married a woman who loved him despite his physical appearance. But fate ripped his life to shreds when his wife and infant son died on the same night in separate calamities. Shortly thereafter, the tides turned once more as an act of Jeremiah’s ostensible benevolence translates into a financial boon. The book on Jeremiah’s life closes without mercy when he’s found murdered at Tripping Falls State Park.

Damon Lassard—Hollydale’s loveable civic leader, amateur sleuth, and Jeremiah’s neighbor—springs into action. He’s obstructed by a prickly lieutenant, but wriggles information unknown to the police from a colorful bevy of suspects. Aided by his best friend Rebecca and his reluctant ally Detective Gerry Sloman, Damon engineers a deep dive into Jeremiah’s past to solve the crime. Along the way, Damon strengthens his relationship with the breathtaking Bethany Krims, cracks a local horticultural mystery, and tries in vain to tame his wickedly sarcastic mother.

“Don’t Cry Over Killed Milk” is the second installment in Stephen Kaminski’s Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective series.

EXCERPT:

Just after the furniture had been rearranged, Mrs. Chenworth arrived with Cynthia. A chorus of “Surprise!” filled the space.

Mrs. Chenworth put her hand to her heart and breathed in deeply. “Oh my! What a surprise, indeed!” She bustled forward like a corpulent Moses parting seas of people. “I had no idea anyone would throw me a party. But just in case, I made a dish for the occasion!”

Mrs. Chenworth pulled foil from the top of a pie tin and set the offering on the table among a crowd of plates laden with food. She turned to Lynne, who was standing beside her. “Apple pie and meatloaf are my two best dishes.”

Lynne looked down at a flaky, lopsided pie crust. “Which is this?” she asked with a wicked grin.

Mrs. Chenworth’s mouth shot open wide, but then she smiled and slugged Lynne’s delicate left shoulder. “Oh, you kidder,” the birthday girl said and turned to a cluster of chattering woman making their way toward her.

Lynne rubbed her shoulder. “That hurt,” she said to Damon.

“You deserved it, Mother.”

***

27c14beabefb32f5b8db0e6935552676STEPHEN KAMINSKI is the author of It Takes Two to Strangle, the first book in the Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective series. He is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Law School. Stephen has practiced law for over a decade and currently serves as General Counsel to a national non-profit organization. He is a lifelong lover of all types of mysteries and lives with his wife and daughter in Arlington, Virginia.

Don’t Cry Over Killed Milk is available in paperback or electronic format:
http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Over-Killed-Milk-ebook/dp/B00EV45NAS/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1378301709&sr=8-3&keywords=stephen+Kaminski

Website: http://www.damonlassard.com

 

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RUBICON RANCH: RILEY’S STORY — Chapter 11: Jeff and Kourtney Peterson — by J B Kohl and Eric Beetner

Jeff stood with his back to it for a long time. He could hear the whipping of the yellow POLICE LINE tape wrapped impotently around the murder scene. When he approached he saw it but averted his eyes, not ready to take in the final resting place of his daughter. When he did turn around his eyes let loose again with tears he thought he’d used up. The desert tableau sent a shiver up his spine. The yellow frame, the broken TV, the footprints in the sand all around him like he’d missed a party.

When he left the house that morning he wasn’t sure where he’d end up. He needed air and Rubicon offered some of the best as a lure to people in colder climes to drop everything and move south. He sucked big lungfulls of the stuff and it did little to clear his head of the swirling thoughts that plagued him since the sheriff first came to his door. His feet took him to the spot by following some father’s instinct and the casual words the Sheriff let drop about where the body had been found.

With each passing hour he felt less like Riley’s father and more like the stranger he really was. Her real father would never have let this happen.

All that fresh air whistled in his ears. A dark green lizard darted out from under the TV set moving in stuttering bursts. Jeff wanted to crush it, to throw rocks and tell the creature not to use that discarded set as refuge. There could be no peace there.

He’d always told Riley she watched too much TV.

Jeff stepped over the yellow tape with little effort, angry at the police for their lack of understanding how sacred this place had become. He touched the edge of the hollow set, feeling tiny shards of the broken picture tube. His finger ran along the rim trying to imagine his daughter’s body fitting into such a small space and at the same time willing the image away, which worked about as well as the police tape.

Click here to read the rest of the chapter: http://rubiconranch.wordpress.com/2011/01/02/chapter-11-jeff-and-kourtney-peterson-by-j-b-kohl-and-eric-beetner/

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Rubicon Ranch is a collaborative and innovative crime series set in the fictional desert community of Rubicon Ranch and is being written online by authors of Second Wind Publishing.

RUBICON RANCH: RILEY’S STORY — Chapter 10: Seth Bryan — by Lazarus Barnhill

Consuela, the hostess, acknowledged Frio and Midget as they entered the café. By the time they were seated at the table with Seth and Melanie, she was beside them with their drinks. Coffee—with cream, no sugar—for the lieutenant and a large fruit punch for the deputy.

The officers stared at Melanie, clearly uncertain about why she was there and what they could say in front of her.

“This may be the most amazing development of this entire unbelievable morning, Deputy,” Seth said casually. “I just watched Miss Gray here put away two-thirds of Consuela’s Number Three Special in five minutes. Never said a word while she was eating.”

“That is amazing,” Midget said. “I’ve never been able to finish one myself.”

Frio laughed. “What caca! I’ve seen you down two Number Three’s at one sitting.” She nodded toward the civilian. “We need to talk and I’m not sure about your guest here.”

“What a coincidence,” the sheriff said. “She’s not sure about us. I’m bringing her on, unofficially, as a special consultant.”

Her chin tilted to one side, Melanie asked, “What makes you think I want to be some special consultant?”

You can find the rest of the chapter here: http://rubiconranch.wordpress.com/2010/12/26/chapter-10-seth-bryan-by-lazarus-barnhill/

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Rubicon Ranch is a collaborative and innovative crime series set in the fictional desert community of Rubicon Ranch and is being written online by authors of Second Wind Publishing.

RUBICON RANCH: RILEY’S STORY — Chapter 9: Melanie Gray — by Pat Bertram

Melanie stared out the window of the sheriff’s Navigator without seeing the houses they passed. What was wrong with her? She could have left the vehicle when he was talking to her next-door neighbor, the nurse with the out-of-control father, but she’d waited in the vehicle like a fool or a suspect. Or like a woman with no place to go.

Alexander’s death had left her rootless. She still had to honor the lease on the house, but they hadn’t lived in Rubicon Ranch long enough for it to become home. And anyway, Alexander had been her home. Through all the years of their roaming the world, he had been her one constant. She hadn’t needed anyone or anything as long as they were together, but now that he was gone, what did she have to show for it? Nothing. No husband, no children, a near empty bank account, only enough possessions to fit in the trunk of a car, but no car to put them in. They’d leased the car Alexander wrecked, and she didn’t have the energy to lease another.

And now here she was, driving around with this aggravating sheriff and his barely concealed sexual innuendos. What does he want with me?

Click here to read the rest of the chapter: http://rubiconranch.wordpress.com/2010/12/19/chapter-nine-melanie-gray-by-pat-bertram/

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Rubicon Ranch is a collaborative and innovative crime series set in the fictional desert community of Rubicon Ranch and is being written online by authors of Second Wind Publishing.

RUBICON RANCH: RILEY’S STORY — Chapter 8: Eloy Franklin — by Deborah J Ledford

Eloy Franklin limped into his two-story house. He closed the door behind him then dropped his cane into a brass umbrella stand. He winced as he straightened his back and squared his shoulders to regain his rigid military posture. Wringing his hands, cramped from holding their gnarled position for so long, he thought about the sheriff’s accusatory words.

He wondered if he held the clue the officer sought. He had witnessed little girl Riley earlier the day in question. She rode her bike right past him. Didn’t bother to lift her hand in return to his greeting. She hadn’t even looked his way. Typical. Young or old, no one ever did. That was fine with Eloy. He preferred it that way—invisible in plain sight.

The West Point graduate of class 1950 hated slipping into the hick monosyllables the man in charge of the investigation expected. If hotshot Sheriff Bryan had been one of his soldiers he’d have given him a stern dressing down, based solely on the look of disgust the cop had settled on “full bird” Colonel Eloy Templeton Franklin. But the retired regimental commander needed to keep up the guise. Had to appear stupid, feeble, clueless.

Click here to read the rest of the chapter: http://rubiconranch.wordpress.com/2010/12/12/chapter-8-eloy-franklin-by-deborah-j-ledford/

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Rubicon Ranch is a collaborative and innovative crime series set in the fictional desert community of Rubicon Ranch and is being written online by authors of Second Wind Publishing.

RUBICON RANCH: RILEY’S STORY — Chapter 8: Eloy Franklin — by Deborah J Ledford

RUBICON RANCH: RILEY’S STORY — Chapter 7: Mark and Jamie Westbrook — by Nichole R. Bennett

Mark Westbrook rolled over in the bed and breakfast’s queen-sized bed while Jamie Westbrook, sitting up next to him, scrutinized the Facebook page once again. Lace curtains billowed in the breeze from the open window and the birds were starting to sing their morning songs. “I swear it’s her.”

By the look on Mark’s face, he wasn’t so sure. “I hate it when you get on that thing.” A former computer programmer, Mark was aware of how easily a person’s computer habits could be their downfall.

It was a valid concern. The last thing the two wanted was the cops nosing around in their business. Their business. Most people wouldn’t call what they did a business. A scam. A con. A fraud. Those were words the average citizen would use to describe Jamie and Mark Westbrook. An opportunity seeker is how Mark had explained it to Jamie so many years ago.

“Everybody wants to believe in something, Sweets,” he’d said. “We just give them that glimmer of hope. We tell them what they want to hear and they pay handsomely for it.”

Mark had told her that nugget of truth after he rescued her from her short time living on the streets. At first, Jamie was convinced Mark must have been a pimp or drug dealer or worse. Luckily, he was just a con-man. A good one. They’d only been caught once in Iowa. But that was when they’d first teamed up and the couple had only a few close calls since then.

By changing their looks and names in every location, Jamie knew they were harder to trace. A little identity theft wasn’t as hard as it sounded and Mark’s computer skills helped.

 Click here to read the rest of the chapter: http://rubiconranch.wordpress.com/2010/12/05/chapter-7-mark-and-jamie-westbrook-by-nichole-r-bennett/

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Rubicon Ranch is a collaborative and innovative crime series set in the fictional desert community of Rubicon Ranch and is being written online by authors of Second Wind Publishing.

RUBICON RANCH: RILEY’S STORY — Chapter 6: Cooper Dahlsing — by Christine Husom

Not again. Dear God, not again.

Cooper Dahlsing woke up standing somewhere in the desert, surrounded by cool night air. He didn’t know where, exactly. Hopefully not far from home. It was dark, but not pitch black. The light of a gibbous moon offered some illumination. No wristwatch, no cell phone. From the position of the moon, he guessed it was two or three in the morning.

As his eyes adjusted, he recognized he was on a trail he often took for his hikes. He wasn’t miles from home, fortunately. He stood for a minute, getting his bearings. Moonbeams were highlighting the metal on an object to his left. The old abandoned television set the. He blew out a relieved breath. He knew where he was and began the trek home.

Cooper thought–had hoped against hope–it had stopped for good. He should have known he would never be freed from the constant threat of occasional night adventures that were better described as night terrors. Nightmares he was actually, physically, a part of. Ones he woke up in, wondering how in the hell he had gotten there when the last thing he remembered was falling asleep in his own bed.

Click here to read the rest of the chapter: http://rubiconranch.wordpress.com/2010/11/28/chapter-6-cooper-dahling-by-christine-husom/

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Rubicon Ranch is a collaborative and innovative crime series set in the fictional desert community of Rubicon Ranch and is being written online by authors of Second Wind Publishing.