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Fleeing Beauty by @motownmysteries is a Best Books of '22 pick #mystery #romance #giveaway
Title: Fleeing Beauty
Author: Mark Love
Jamie Richmond used to live a nice, quiet life. But last fall she witnessed the shooting of a police officer and figured out who did it. Then this winter saw her best friend targeted by a stalker and kidnapped. Yep, Jamie solved that one and came to the rescue. Now it’s summertime and the living is supposed to be easy. All she wants to do is write her novels and spend free time with Malone, the guy who has been by her side since all this craziness began. But that’s not likely to happen.
Jamie’s father was a very successful sculptor who tragically died more than twenty years ago when she was just a child. What she remembers about him is little more than bits and pieces. A storeroom filled with crates of his work is discovered in an old, converted factory. This potential fortune in artwork has been waiting for her all these years.
Jamie recruits Malone and a few close friends to help her unpack the crates and bring her father’s gifts out to the light of day. News of this discovery leads to a robbery. Now Jamie is determined to figure out who is behind the crime.
When I was working as a reporter, I’d made it a practice to keep the details on any of the people I interacted with on a regular basis. I’d broken it down into folders with different professions. There were attorneys, judges, cops, contractors, editors, and other reporters. Flipping through the lists, I started making calls. It was interesting how quickly I fell back into reporter mode.
Three calls and I found someone in the know. Not only that, but they were willing to make an introduction. Now it was time to hurry up and wait. I spent the time online, doing more research. It took an hour before my phone rang.
“I would like to speak with Miss Jamie Richmond,” a deep, cultured voice said.
“This is Jamie.”
“A mutual friend suggested it would be our best interest to meet. Tomorrow evening at six-thirty you will find me in the Rugby Grille. You may have one hour.”
“How will I know you?”
There was a pause and a dry chuckle. “That will not be necessary. I will know you.”
I couldn’t help but mimic his tone. “I will have an associate present.”
“Very well, I will see you tomorrow evening.”
With a click, he was gone. Before I could lose my nerve, I hit the speed dial number for Linda. She answered on the second ring.
“Bring a change of clothes with you tomorrow. We have a meeting after six.”
I gulped. “We’re meeting with Harrison Mundy.”
“Is that a name I’m supposed to know?”
“Sorry, sometimes I forget we don’t always swim in the same information pools. Harrison Mundy is alleged to be one of the greatest art thieves of all time.”
“Bring a dress and some heels. I’ll see you in the morning.”
We arrived five minutes early. Something told me Harrison Mundy was not the type of man who would like to be kept waiting. A distinguished looking man with a full head of silver hair was already seated. As we drew closer, he rose smoothly and extended his hand.
“You must be Miss Richmond.”
“Please, just call me Jamie,” I said, lightly taking his hand.
“Thank you, Jamie.” He turned smoothly to Linda. “May I presume that you are Miss Davis?”
She took a step back in surprise before taking his hand. “I prefer Linda.”
He flashed a charming smile at both of us. “I would be pleased if you will call me Harry. Let us sit down.”
“How did you know who I would bring along?”
Mundy’s smile was almost blinding in its brightness. “I prefer to know as much as I can about the people I am meeting. Even though I am retired, I like to keep my senses sharp.”
“So you’ve retired from a life of crime?” I asked.
“Really, Jamie, you know I am not a criminal. Is there a particular area of my expertise that appeals to you?”
“I would like to know about art thefts, particularly the best way to do it. Did you always have a buyer in mind?”
He chuckled dryly. “Jamie, what makes you think I know anything about thievery?”
“Perhaps in your studies of the subject, you learned how thieves work.”
“That is a very good answer,” he said. “May I presume your interest stems from the recent discovery of your father’s work?”
“He really did do his research,” Linda said quietly.
“You may,” I replied somewhat sullenly.
“Miss Davis is quite correct. Before I accepted your inquiry, I researched your background. It is somewhat unsettling to discover how much information can be so readily available on the Internet. Shall we dispense with the formalities and the subterfuge?”
“What the hell. I’d appreciate that.”
“Then tell me what it is you are really interested in?”
“If you were going to steal some of Peter’s artwork, how would you do it?”
Mundy leaned back in his chair. “Suppose I give you a hypothetical example of the theft of some artwork. Would that be helpful to your situation?”
“That’s exactly what we want to know,” Linda said. “If you were going to do it, how would you manage it?”
Mundy began to weave a tale that sounded like something out of Hollywood. After being trained by his father and grandfather on the basics, he utilized technology to beat the latest security systems. Mundy turned his attentions to insurance companies and collectors, using his skills to recover stolen pieces of priceless art and jewelry and return them to their rightful owners.
“So if you were hypothetically going to steal some of Peter’s artwork, how would you go about it?”
“There are many ways to execute a perfect crime. But each one takes a great deal of careful planning and preparation. Contingencies must be calculated as well. I will need some time to consider various options. I must ask your indulgence.”
I realized Mundy was now on his feet.
Harrison Mundy dropped his linen napkin on the table. He shot his cuffs.
“Our meeting was for one hour. That time has passed. He turned slightly toward Linda and lifted her hand. Smoothly he bent forward and grazed his lips across her knuckles. “It has been a delightful pleasure to meet you both.”
Linda’s cheeks flared red. “Thank you,” she stammered.
Mundy turned to me. “Your reputation is well deserved, Jamie. I must admit being intrigued by your—situation. When the time is right, I will be in touch.”
With that he gently, but firmly, took my hand and did the knuckle grazing kiss. I felt a flush run through me. Who was this guy?
Dumbfounded, I stood there. Linda appeared beside me.
“What just happened?” Linda asked.
“It beats the hell out of me.”
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
There are many aspects of Jamie’s life that readers can relate to. She’s an independent woman, who is about six months into a new romantic relationship. Jamie has a small circle of good friends, with her own career and interest. She’s juggling work, family, friends and her romance when the discovery of the artwork occurs. The characters in this story help keep Jamie on her toes and draw the readers in. This is a great way to kick off the year
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Mark Love lived for many years in the metropolitan Detroit area, where crime and corruption are always prevalent. A former freelance reporter, Love honed his writing skills covering features and hard news. He is the author of the Jamie Richmond romance mysteries, Devious, Vanishing Act and Fleeing Beauty, and the novella Stealing Haven. His short story, Don’t Mess with the Gods, was written with Elle Nina Castle and included in the Magic & Mischief anthology. Love also writes the Jefferson Chene mystery series, WHY 319? and Your Turn to Die and The Wayward Path. Love resides in west Michigan with his wife, Kim. He enjoys a wide variety of music, books, travel, cooking and the great outdoors.
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