Have you ever found out about someone leading a double life? They are one thing to one group of people and quite another to a different group. It’s a recipe for trouble and the makings of the mystery in Thicker Than Water by Liz Milliron. Thicker Than Water comes out on September 19, but Liz was kind enough to share a sneak preview!
About the Book
Pennsylvania State Trooper Jim Duncan responds to a call regarding a missing autistic young man. When the boy is quickly found, Jim thinks the case is closed…until the young man insists the police need to help a “sleeping blue lady” and leads them to a dead woman in an abandoned shack, clad in only her underwear.
Meanwhile, defense attorney Sally Castle is searching for a troubled young woman who wandered into her office wanting protection from an unnamed man…and disappeared before Sally could obtain any details. Sally is bothered by the incident and unnerved when she discovers that Jim’s dead body and her missing potential client are the same person.
Jim and Sally soon discover the young woman led a secret double life, with ties to the autistic boy who started it all. As Jim and Sally investigate, the case takes increasingly ominous turns, uncovering hidden money and a seamy underbelly of sex work, before turning into a desperate race to stop a killer. Can Jim and Sally solve the case in time to stop the murder of an innocent boy?
Tanelsa emptied the box and tossed it in the pile by the door. “At least the rent on this place is lower.” “Yeah, but it’s farther away from the courthouse. What we gain in savings, we lose in visibility.” “True. We get any new clients since we moved?” Tanelsa peeked in another box. “Hanging files. Where’d we decide to put the filing cabinet?” Sally waved at the opposite corner. “Over there. To answer your question, no. I’m still irritated that our former landlord wouldn’t let us hang a bigger We’ve Moved sign on the door. With all the construction work, I’m afraid no one will see it.” “We’ll have to think of creative ways to spread the word. You posted it on our social media, right?” “I did. Cross your fingers it works.” They worked until noon. The only conversation between them concerned ownership of box contents, how they wanted to arrange furniture and where to put the all-important coffee pot. Sally glanced at her watch. “What do you say we break for lunch?” “I was hoping you’d say that. Do we order in or go grab a sandwich from the place down the street?” Before Sally could answer, a soft cough sounded behind her. “Excuse me, are you the lawyers who used to have an office by the courthouse?” Sally turned to see their visitor. She was a petite redhead, not older than her early twenties. Designer clothing could not disguise a body that would make a Playboy model weep with envy. Her makeup and skin were flawless, with sooty eyelashes framing deep brown eyes. This was a girl who would draw attention in any room she walked into, but at the moment a hesitancy hung over her like a heavy cloak. “That’s us,” Sally said. “I’m Sally Castle. This is my partner, Tanelsa Parson. What’s your name?” “Madison Tilgher.” The girl’s voice was low-pitched, and it was easy to imagine her talking in sultry tones. “People call me Maddie.” “Nice to meet you, Maddie. How can we help you?” She took in the half-unpacked room. “I’m interrupting. I’m sorry.” She turned to go. “No, wait. We were only talking about lunch.” Sally glanced at Tanelsa. Her partner waved her on and held her hand to her head, fingers mimicking a phone. What do you want? she mouthed. Sally nodded. “Get me a turkey on rye, with Swiss, brown mustard, lettuce, onion, and tomato.” She darted after Maddie. “Hey, hold on.” The girl had reached the door. “I don’t want to keep you.” “It’s okay. It’ll take a while for food to arrive. Why don’t we go in here?” Sally gestured to the small conference room designated for client meetings. A long rectangular table took up most of the space. Sally removed two chairs from the stack in the corner. “Please, have a seat.” Maddie hesitated, then sat and held a purse with the Michael Kors logo in her lap. “I’m sorry to bust in on you like this. You must have just moved in.” “This morning, to tell the truth. We signed the lease on Monday. You’re our first visitor in this space.” Sally wished she could go grab a legal pad and pen, but she was afraid Maddie would disappear. “Did you see our sign?” “Yeah.” The young woman clutched the handbag. Her manicure, like her makeup, was perfect. “I’m not even sure you can help me.” “Why don’t you explain your situation and I’ll be the judge of that?” Sally was used to the hesitant type of client who wanted help, but either didn’t know how to ask or didn’t believe they deserved attention. Maddie bit a plump lower lip. “There’s this guy.” “Friend, boyfriend, co-worker?” “None of the above?” Maddie gave a weak laugh. “He’s…it’s complicated.” “Okay, don’t worry about that now. What’s he done?” “I want him to go away. But he insists on hounding me. He calls at all hours, when I’m in class, when I’m at the dorm, or even the library.” Sally leaned on the table. “You’re a student?” “Yes, a senior at St. Vincent’s College.” Maddie paused. “I’ve told him to beat it, but…” “He doesn’t follow instructions. I get it.” Maddie had a stalker. It didn’t matter the role in her life, at least not right now. “Is he also a student?” “No, at least not at St. Vincent’s.” “Has he hurt you?” “Oh, gosh no. But he says things, you know? I wouldn’t be surprised if I came out of class one day and he was waiting for me.” “I see.” Now Sally really wanted that pad. “Have you tried contacting the police?” “No.” Maddie sent her deep-red hair flying with her head shake. “I don’t think the cops could do anything. Like I said, he hasn’t hurt me.” “You’d be surprised. Wait here. Let me get a legal pad so I can take some notes. I’ll be right back.” Sally got up and went to her desk. Of course, that box hadn’t been unpacked yet. She yanked open ones containing books, files, and printer materials. Where were the office supplies? As she found the one she was looking for, slit through the tape on the flaps, and pulled out a pad, she heard the front door open and shut. Maybe it was Tanelsa, but Sally suspected she knew what had happened. Sure enough, when she returned to the conference room, it was empty.
A recovering technical writer, Liz Milliron is the author of The Laurel Highlands Mysteries, set in the scenic Laurel Highlands and The Homefront Mysteries, set in Buffalo NY during the early years of World War II. She is a member of Pennwriters, Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers and The Historical Novel Society. She is the current vice-president of the Pittsburgh chapter of Sisters in Crime and is on the National Board as the Education Liaison. Liz splits her time between Pittsburgh and the Laurel Highlands, where she lives with her husband and a very spoiled retired-racer greyhound.