Peg Herring believes books should be full of interesting characters. Hers include a man with a disability who becomes Elizabeth Tudor’s friend, a homeless woman, a dead detective, and an unwilling kidnapper. Putting intriguing people into strange and dangerous circumstances results in her mantra: Strong Women, Great Stories.
Peg lives in Michigan with an interesting husband, an interesting cat, and a lot of interesting friends who help when she runs into a plot knot.
Excerpt Chapter One – Her Ex-GI PI
***Hitching her purse strap higher on her shoulder, Carrie picked up the last trash can by its handles, feeling the cold metal through her gloves. The can smelled of mimeograph ink and something fruity, maybe peaches. It was full, and she concentrated on keeping it upright so as not to spill the contents as she entered the alley. Along the wall were the six cans she’d lugged back earlier, and she headed for the end of the line, waddling clumsily under the weight she carried.
Movement to her right caught her eye, and Carrie peered toward the opposite end of the alley. Two men stood over a third figure, all silhouetted against a lighter building across the street. Though Carrie saw only shapes, one man appeared to be searching the fallen one’s clothing while the other stood back, separating himself from the action. Surprise caused Carrie to tip the can she carried, and its lid dropped to the pavement with a clatter. The two standing men looked toward her, startled. An instant later they reacted, disappearing around the building.
Carrie stood for a moment in shock, struggling to take in what she’d seen. When she recovered her wits, she hurried to where the fallen man lay flat on his back, very still. “Are you all right?” He moaned softly in response. After checking the street to be sure his attackers were gone, she knelt beside him on the cold bricks.
He was about her age, with even features that were pinched with pain. In the shadowy light Carrie saw his corduroy jacket and tight-ribbed sweater were stained with blood that bubbled from a wound in his chest. Instinctively she put her hand over it, trying to stop the flow. Could he live through the loss of so much blood?
The man seemed aware of her presence. His mouth moved, and he tried to form words. She leaned close, still applying pressure to the wound. “Lie still. I’ll get help, and we’ll get you to a hospital.”
Surprisingly strong fingers gripped her hand, and the man tried again to speak, a whisper coming with each ragged breath. Carrie listened intently. Whatever he had to say was important to him.
“Tell Jack—Namwise, Kali—Shurenz. Please—Jack.”
Feeling the fingers begin to lose their grip, Carrie looked into the dying man’s eyes and said, “I’ll tell Jack exactly what you said. Now lie still.” A strangled sigh told her no doctor could save the man. Instead she stayed with him, holding his hand until the grip relaxed. Then, with tears in her own eyes, she closed his sightless ones and went to find a different kind of help. ***
Carrie Walsh is a 1960’s girl with a job she hates and a tendency to think of herself as unimportant. When she witnesses a murder in Flint, Michigan, Carrie’s life takes a new direction. Following the instructions the victim whispered as he lay dying, she goes to meet Jack Porter, a handsome, brooding Vietnam veteran mistreated by life and disabled by war. The two join forces to find out why his best friend and army buddy was stabbed in an alley. As she works with Jack over time, Carrie begins to feel less like the hopeless ugly duckling her mother believes her to be.
Suspense builds as Jack and Carrie look into the cases of other men who survived Vietnam only to die soon after they came back to “the world.” Just when they start to trust each other, Carrie discovers Jack brought secrets home from the war, secrets that create disappointment, uncertainty, and the very real possibility she’s the target for the next murder.