A Deadly Hand – A Dana Sloan Mystery – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat and Think With Your Taste Buds – Desserts
“Slim pickins,” he said, letting his body slide into the reclining position against the sturdy dumpster. He reached into another pocket of the filthy overcoat he wore and pulled out a pint-sized bottle of wine. He held it up to the light. It was almost empty. Shrugging his thin shoulders, the man drank from the bottle, draining it in a few swallows. Then, he struggled to his feet and pitched the bottle into the dumpster. Turning around, the derelict suddenly realized that he was no longer alone in the alley. A stocky figure dressed in a dark overcoat and a wide-brimmed hat had joined him. “Hey, buddy,” the bum called out. “Can you spare a dollar?” The newcomer stopped and took a piece of currency out of his overcoat pocket and waived it at the derelict with a black-gloved hand. Delighted by this gesture, the derelict stumbled forward to meet his benefactor. With his eyes fixed on the currency, he didn’t notice that the stranger had taken out another object from another pocket. The derelict was still concentrating on the currency, intent on making it his. He made only the slightest sound of disbelief as the bullet entered his stomach…Satisfied that his prey was dead, the shooter stood back and looked down at the stranger who had just been murdered. Then, the gloved hand reached into a pocket once more and withdrew the final item. One by one they were dropped onto the lifeless man’s body. Five playing cards from an ordinary deck were now a part of the murder scene. The cards were the Ace, King, Queen, Jack and the Ten of Spades…a Royal Flush.’
Dana Sloan is an investigative reporter for The Globe. Her boyfriend is Detective Al Bruno. The combination of an investigative reporter and a police detective make for a very touchy relationship. Dana’s boss Sam comes to her with his belief that his mentor and friend, retired reporter Leona had been murdered and not died of natural causes while living in the Peaceful Pines retirement home. After talking to the director of the home, and confirming that Leona was murdered, Dana decides to go undercover working as a receptionist for Peaceful Pines. Bruno, who is busy trying to turn up clues as to who the “Royal Flush Killer” might be, doesn’t have time to listen to Dana’s suspicions. Not even when the murder of a political figure’s wife seems connected to her investigation.
While running on a shaky relationship to begin with, Dana is hit extra hard when Bruno ends up arresting her when he finds she has given refuge to his number one suspect in for the Royal Flush killings. So, who is right? Dana believes he is totally wrong in his suspicions and Bruno feels the same about hers. Will this become a no win situation for both of them? I’ll give you one clue…they are both wrong.
As I read A Deadly Hand, I was tossed from one suspect to another and like Dana and Bruno, I too was wrong. This was an ending I simply didn’t see coming. This is my kind of mystery!
Avalon Books (Hardback)
Worldwide Mystery (Mass-Market Paperback)
Review Stir, Laugh, Repeat at Amazon.com