Sunday sample: Gold records

A taste of the soon-to-arrive Dead Man Lying: Hawaiian Storm mystery #3

She watched Jeffrey pick up a pen that happened to be sitting on the end table beside the couch, take off the cap and put it on again. He turned to look out the window, and dissatisfied with the darkness, stood and looked closely at one of the gold records on the wall. “I never liked this song,” he said. “One of his biggest sellers. I never understood the appeal.”

Vanessa went to stand beside Jeffrey. “There’s Something in a Sunday.” Vanessa had always loved that song. She remembered sitting in her bedroom, playing it over and over again on her portable stereo, hitting the Back button so she could hear it again. When she was eleven, that song seemed to have more meaning than anything else in the world. She felt a tear well up in one eye. “That was the one that he said allowed him to quit working for a living,” she said.

“Never understood the appeal,” Jeffrey repeated.

Vanessa swallowed what felt like a brick. “Were you close with your father? Lately, I mean?”

Jeffrey turned quickly and stepped back, staring with wide eyes at Vanessa. “Close? Sure,” he sputtered. “We were father and son. We visited each other. I talked with him by phone a couple of times a week. And I managed his investments. Kept him solvent.”

“Did you have major disagreements?”

“Well, everyone has some disagreements. Nothing out of the ordinary.” Sangster returned to the couch and sat down, crossing his legs and looking out the dark window again.

“You said earlier that recording another album was another unnecessary risk. Why do you say that?”

“Because he’s spending a fortune on new electronic sound equipment, upgrading the studio, and paying that engineer, Josh Fong, a ridiculous amount. He even put him up in one of the guest apartments on the estate.”

“But he’s making a new album.”

“Another flop, you mean. It’ll cost more than it will ever make. He hasn’t had a hit in years. He hasn’t even played on stage in ten. Music has changed in the past twenty years. People don’t want the same things they did when Steve Sangster was topping the charts.”

It’s too bad. “You also characterized your father as ‘stubborn,’” Vanessa said.

“Well, he was stubborn. Everybody knows that. He insisted that his new album would make millions. He refused to take my advice. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t love each other.”

Vanessa looked at him closely. A vein throbbed in his forehead. She didn’t say anything, just watched him look at the empty window. She heard the sound of returning rain on the glass. After a minute of silence, Jeffrey turned to her again. “What am I being accused of?”

“Nothing, Mr. Sangster. No one is accusing anyone of anything.”

“He promised to leave the house and the grounds to me in his will, but if his estate carries a ton of debt from useless advertising, the value won’t mean a thing. He also told me that he wanted me to administer his estate after he … after he passed.”

That’s a strange thing to bring up now.

“Do you have any enemies, Mr. Sangster?”

About Dead Man Lying

FBI Special Agent Vanessa Storm returns to Maui’s rain-soaked coast to investigate the death of a once-famous singer. Teaming up with local police, she uncovers drug trafficking, stolen music and a string of mysterious deaths.

As a savage tropical storm traps every witness, and suspect, in the singer’s rambling home, Vanessa learns that they’re all lying.

But the biggest liar of all may just be the victim—the dead man, lying.

Available for pre-order at a special introductory price.

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