Sample Sunday: Human resource headache

An excerpt from the upcoming Dead Man Lying

Her phone buzzed. “Excuse me,” she said, walking down the teak paneled hallway toward the kitchen.

It was Al King, her boss, the Special Agent in Charge of the Honolulu Division. “I just heard you’ve been shot at,” he said, without preamble as usual.

How does he know, already? It’s eerie. “We’re not sure I was the target,” she answered, pausing at the kitchen door. “I was there with the Maui detective in charge of the investigation, Lani Ferreira, and the victim’s son, Jeffrey.”

“What was a civilian doing at a crime scene?”


Vanessa heard her boss take a deep breath. “How are you doing?”

“I ruined a jacket, and I don’t think these shoes will survive either. But other than that, I’m fine.”

“Vanessa, this assignment began as a formality, but a shot fired at a federal agent makes it a lot more complicated,” King said. Vanessa pictured him, sitting at his desk, cradling the phone against his shoulder as he flipped through pages on his desk, his jacket rumpled and his tie working itself looser. “I’m sending Terakawa to back you up.”

Alan Terakawa was her partner in the Oahu office. He had not accompanied Vanessa to Hana because, as SAIC King had said, the whole thing appeared to be a formality, and there was an economy drive going on through the Bureau. Whenever they could save resources, they did so.

“I don’t think that expenditure of resources is necessary,” Vanessa said. She looked across the kitchen to wide sliding doors that gave a view of a broad lawn, surrounded by thick rain forest that rose up the side of Haleakala, Maui’s southern volcano. Overhead, clouds thickened, making the afternoon darker than normal. “Alan has plenty on his plate already.”

“Vanessa, leave it to me to decide how much should be on Alan’s plate,” King said. “It doesn’t matter who the shooter was aiming at. He put a federal agent in his line of fire. I don’t want any of my agents to be—” A short beep interrupted him, but King continued as if he had not heard it. The beep came again a second later, the signal that another caller was attempting to contact her. Vanessa let the call go to voicemail. “—vulnerable like this. Terakawa will be there as soon as possible.

“That being said,” he continued, and Vanessa heard him sigh again. “The weather here has socked in all flights from Oahu to Maui, so you’ll be depending on the Maui force for support until it clears up. Trust Ferreira—she’s a good cop.”

“Good to know.”

“One more thing. Your training course deadline is coming up fast. You need to complete at least one more module by tomorrow. The system will notify me as soon as you do, and then I’ll authorize you to go to the next level.”

“Really? I have to worry about that now?”

Vanessa felt a headache brewing. Family conflicts and secrets made the Sangster case complex enough, without having to pile on stress from Human Resources.

“You signed up for it, remember?” King said.

“Can’t I get an extension since I’m on an assignment, away from the office?”

“Sorry, Vanessa, I don’t make the rules. You’ve had three extensions already. Look, just finish one more module after you knock off this evening, and I’ll authorize it. Then, I’ll be able to authorize another extension for the next level, but the system won’t let me until you finish one more module. Okay?”

Vanessa sighed as her phone beeped again. She glanced at the screen at a text message. “Okay. I’ll do it tonight,” even though I hate online exams. All exams. “I have my tablet and my notebook computer.” She hoped her boss didn’t hear her sigh.

“Good. I’ll watch for the notification. And Vanessa?” King added. “Be careful. These celebrity cases have a way of getting more and more complicated.” He clicked the line closed.

Vanessa sighed as she tucked her phone into a pocket. It’s going to be another late night on the computer.

Dead Man Lying will be available in paperback and e-book on all platforms on March 15

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.

Pre-order now and save!

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