Award winning mystery author W.S. Gager has lived in Michigan for most of her life except when she was interviewing race car drivers or professional woman's golfers. She enjoyed the fast-paced life of a newspaper reporter until deciding to settle down and realized babies didn't adapt well to running down story details on deadline. Since then she honed her skills on other forms of writing before deciding to do what she always wanted with her life and that was to write mystery novels. Her main character is Mitch Malone who is an edgy crime-beat reporter always on the hunt for the next Pulitzer and won't let anyone stop him. Her third book, A CASE OF HOMETOWN BLUES, was a finalist in the 2012 Daphne Du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. A CASE OF VOLATILE DEEDS, her fourth in the Mitch series will be out this February.
A Case of Volatile Deeds
The police scanner next to my computer screen squawked tones that dispatched the Grand River Fire Department. Late Friday afternoon wasn’t the usual time for me to be at my desk but I was trying to write some sappy features for the weekend edition. I wanted the evening off for a hot date. In the newspaper business these days, the mantra is do more with less. While feature writing didn’t galvanize my creativity, I could string some adjectives together that wasn’t half bad, if I do say so myself. The newspaper business was changing and I needed to appear to toe the line and be more versatile in the tough economic times or I would be next good reporter collecting unemployment like several of my former colleagues.
When the tones continued calling a second station and then a third, I reached for my jacket. Fluffy features were fine but I was a crime beat reporter and fires were big news. My adrenaline kicked in as I snagged the long-thin notebook and shoved a pen in its spine across the top. The tools of my trade slipped into the back pocket of my jeans. I paused and waited for the dispatcher to announce more information to tell me where this monster fire was, if it needed three stations. Instead another set of tones sounded. The honking sounds didn’t finish until five stations had been called--a record in my years at the Grand River Journal.
My nerves tingled and I felt in my pocket for other essentials. Cell phone, check. Camera, got it. I grabbed another empty notebook and put it inside my leather jacket.
“Explosion. Fifth and Division. Unknown casualties.” The nasal sound clipped out its sharp message telling me this was no ordinary dispatch but was akin to a nuclear disaster.
“Shit.” The excitement of a major story momentarily made me forget the reason I was stuck in the office on a Friday afternoon struggling to find the right flowery language. My date.
“Is the building stable, is it safe?” Agitation clear in the voice that responded to the missive.
“Unknown.” The dispatcher’s voice stressed.
The noise sent shivers up my spine as I realized my ear was next to the speaker. I couldn’t delay. Shades of the World Trade Towers video flashed through my mind. In Grand River? The second largest city in Michigan? I sprinted to the bank of windows to join a weekend reporter, copy editor and night editor. Most other reporters had hit the road for their weekend off. A huge plume of smoke filled the sky.
My dinner date forgotten. I had to move. The story of the century was unfolding if this was terrorism in Grand River. Even if it was accidental, this was a national news story and needed to carry the Mitch Malone byline.
I snapped a quick photo out the window. I would love to give the photo department a heads up but knew the story was evolving without me and I didn’t have time. The editors would send someone when they quit gawking. The location was about twelve blocks due south and a vehicle wouldn’t do me any good.
“Malone, we need to coordinate coverage.” I heard the editor yell but I never slowed down. I didn’t work with anyone.
I flew down the escalator barely hitting the moving steps and out onto the sidewalk in front of the two-story building that commanded respect on one of the busiest corners in the city. I jogged the twelve blocks, arriving out of breath cursing my diet of doughnuts but getting a good handle on the chaos from the visage on the way in. Glass littered the street below the building as people rushed from the scene fleeing in terror. After 9-11, no one trusted a building to stay standing anymore. Fire trucks established a ring around the building at the end of each block. The fire fighters had learned too. I looked up. Smoke and small pieces of debris still rained down but the dense cloud from New York’s disaster wasn’t apparent. Then again it took several minutes for those buildings to come down.
Police officers and firefighters helped people exit but not a single emergency professional looked in a rush to tackle the building. Each wondered if it would be the last they would enter. I felt no such hesitation. While the professionals plotted their attack, assisted people leaving, and probed the building for stability, no one paid attention to me. All efforts focused on evacuation, not a reporter sneaking in. I thought about my own mortality. Only my date would miss my presence.
W.S. Gager will be giving away a single copy of each of the first three books in the Mitch Malone Mystery series: A CASE OF INFATUATION, A CASE OF ACCIDENTAL INTERSECTION, and A CASE OF HOMETOWN BLUES from comments made on her blog: http://wsgager.blogspot.com or on her guest blogs from the Murder We Write Mystery Tour.
A CASE OF VOLATILE DEEDS Book Blurb: (Coming out in February)
Mitch finally scores a weekend dinner with a cute receptionist, but true to his reporter instincts an explosion in a high rise office building makes him stand up his date as he runs for an exclusive. When he investigates, he learns his date is the only casualty in a botched robbery at a real estate office. When femme fatale Patrenka Petersen returns, Mitch learns that much of what he knows about his date and her work aren’t what they seem. His world continues to twist when the police captain asks for his help and a city hall informant is found floating in the river. Mitch must keep his head down or a cute dog with a knack for finding dead bodies will be sniffing out his corpse.
“A Case of Hometown Blues” Synopsis
When Pulitzer-winning reporter Mitch Malone's editor presses him for a favor, Malone breaks his vow to never return to his hometown. It seemed simple enough--lead a seminar for Flatville, MI's newspaper, keep a low profile and get back to the city post haste. But memories of his parents' death swarm him, and, to avoid solitude, he stops for a beer. In the crowded bar, Mitch is dismayed to see many of his former classmates--including the still-lovely Homecoming Queen, Trudy. Once the object of his teenage crush, Trudy joins Mitch. He quickly realizes she is upset and inebriated. Always the gentleman, Mitch sees her safely home, and returns to his B&B, still trying to shake memories of his parents' sad demise. The next day, he is stunned to learn Trudy was murdered and he is the prime suspect. The locals treat the murder charge as a slam dunk, and Mitch realizes he must track down the real killer to keep his butt out of jail. As he investigates, facts he thought he knew about his family unravel, and danger ratchets up. Can Mitch discover the truth that will allow his parents to rest in peace, or will he be resting with them?
Author of Humorous Whodunits
A Case of Infatuation, A Case of Accidental Intersection, A Case of Hometown Blues-Now Available
A Case of Volatile Deeds - Coming Fall 2012
A Case of Hometown Blues buy link:
Website: http://wsgager.comBlog: http://wsgager.blogspot.com