Title: Hit and Run
Author: F J Donohue
Genre: Cozy Mystery
A hit and run? The police aren’t sure. But investigator Brad Petronella doesn’t like what he sees. Too many loose ends. If Brad can’t prove it, a murder in his small town will go unsolved.
If you like a cozy mystery, you will like Hit and Run, a short read novella, the first in the series of Upstate Mysteries.
The seasons were changing. Fall had not quite arrived but now the nights were clear and the summer heat long gone. The driver of the car was on his way home after having dinner and watching a movie at his soon to be wife's house. On the way home his car started to run rough and then the engine quit. It was not a lack of fuel as he had almost three-quarters of a tank of gas. Could be electrical but the lights, radio and navigation system were still working. He pulled the car over on the shoulder of the two-lane county road to see what he could do. He got some tools from the trunk and opened the hood to look around. No odor indicating an electrical or oil leak issue, just a funny sort of sweet smell from around the engine. He tried repeatedly to start the car but it only drained the battery. He would need to get the car towed to a repair shop. He called his local guy on his mobile phone and waited.
He was outside the car waiting when an oncoming vehicle slowed down a bit and flashed its high beams. He stepped out from the hard shoulder and waved his hands to make sure the driver saw him and the car. The oncoming car put on its right signal indicator showing he was pulling over. Standing near the middle of his car he waved at the driver. The driver slowed the car to about 30mph and then at around 60 feet from the disabled car with the driver standing next to it, he accelerated rapidly and struck both car and driver. The victim never had a chance. He tried to run to the front of the car but only got as far as the left front fender. The victim was smashed against the side of his car and killed instantly. He ended up 20 feet in front of his disabled car.
Spud found Mary Louise Eldridge in her office. For once, she had a minute to spare. She had been the DA for 7 years now. She was popular and had a good reputation. The office in the past had been used as a stepping stone to higher offices and as such had suffered from heavy-handed politics. When Mary Louise, then an Assistant District Attorney, decided to run for DA, she was not given much of a chance. However, during the campaign she showed that she was competent and committed to the office. Her good looks and athletic dancer’s build served her well also. She won decidedly and the good old boys had to find another avenue for career progression.
“OK Spud, what do you want?”
“Well you had asked me to take another look at the hit and run on Colesville road based on the information we obtained from the junkyard.
“I did and was there anything new?”
“Not conclusive but there is an odor here that does not seem to go away”.
"Well, we know Jake Hagan was killed by a hit and run driver on the side of the Colesville road," said Spud. "The hood and trunk of his car were open and tools were found on the road. It appears that he was attempting to fix his car. We never found the hit and run driver or his car. That vehicle must have been significantly damaged, based on the condition of Hagan’s car, but he or she did manage to drive away. No vehicle was ever recovered. The cops did a paint analysis from the crash site and determined that the vehicle was a white Toyota. It’s a common color used by Toyota for years on many of their models. Still in use today. We checked the body shops and salvage yards around Broome and surrounding counties and didn’t find any recent work done on a white Toyota”.
“OK Spud," said Mary Louise, "what do you want to do?"
“I’ve eight open cases on my desk now and this case will require a lot of time and research," replied Spud. "If we have something here, it will be hard to dig it out. So, I am wondering if we can bring Brad back on a limited basis and see what he can come up with. If anyone can make sense of this, he can."
“Call him,” said his boss.
Why is your featured book a must-read?
An accident? No, not this one. But how to prove it was murder? Brad Petronella digs deeply into the details and finds many unanswered questions. This is the first novella in the Upstate Murder Mystery series set in New York.
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I’m a retired International Sales Director, having worked in the commercial and military flight simulation industry for over 30 years. I lived in Brussels (Belgium) and Bonn (Germany) for eight years and met my British wife in Brussels. Before my career in the flight simulation industry, I was an Armaments and Electronics Maintenance Officer in the USAF during the Viet Nam conflict. We have three children and seven grandchildren.
Since retirement, I continue to chase an ever-elusive golf game.
Home is a small town in central New York State where the novellas are set.
I'm a volunteer mediator and Lemon Law arbitrator and this occasionally appears in the stories. An underlying theme in my novellas is people helping people. In spite of the difficulties and crime that may surround us, there is always hope in friendship and good neighbors