- N. N. Light
Shopping Can Be Deadly by @quirkymysteries is a Best Books of '21 pick #mystery #bestbooks #giveaway
Title: Shopping Can Be Deadly (A Discount Detective Mystery #3)
Author: Charlotte Stuart
When gunshots echo off the shopping mall walls, the phrase “shop till you drop” takes on new meaning.
Single mom, Cameron Chandler, is an investigator with Penny-wise Investigations, a discount detective agency conveniently located in a suburban shopping mall. She is approaching her office with a cup of Guatemalan dark roast in her hand when she hears a gunshot and sees a young man collapse just a few feet away. Chaos breaks out in the packed mall as people try to escape. Cameron runs over to the gunshot victim and kneels beside him, but before she can help, she is grabbed from behind and forcibly dragged toward a mall exit.
". . . fans of Janet Evanovich's work will likely enjoy this book." -Kirkus Reviews.
When you wake up in the morning, the only thing you know for sure is that you are still alive. You may think your day will be like any other—get up, get dressed, see your kids off to school, take the dog out for his morning constitutional, then go to work. But in an instant, something can happen that will turn your day and your world upside down. Intellectually I know this to be true. But when one familiar day follows another familiar day, it is easy to start feeling as though you can anticipate what will happen next.
One Friday morning in early spring, my routine had gone as usual, and I was on my way to work. My employer is Penny-wise Investigations, a detective agency located in a suburban shopping mall. Even though we deal mostly in small cases brought to us by walk-in clients, it still gives me a thrill to introduce myself as a private investigator. Before I landed a job with the agency, I had been unemployed for far too long. A widow and single mom with a PhD and no prospects. Until the morning PW Griffin of Penny-wise Investigations gave me an opportunity to reinvent myself. I’ve been employed there now for almost two years.
When I arrived, the mall was bustling with activity because of a three-day sales event. There were shoppers moving purposefully through the wide concourse. They all seemed to be carrying shopping bags, pushing their way through the crowd so as not to miss out on any one-time-only bargains. I noticed there were sale signs in the windows of the stores on either side of Penny-wise: Ye Olde Candle Shoppe on the left and Sew What? on the right. Scented candles, private investigators and sewing supplies. An odd trio of goods and services, but today we all had one thing in common. Both adjoining shops announced 50% Off Select Items. Pennywise didn’t need a sale sign; we already advertised ourselves as a discount detective agency. Our motto—Vigilance You Can Afford.
I was a little later than usual because I had stopped to pick up dog food on my way to work. The last time I’d gone grocery shopping I’d forgotten to buy any, and I try to follow the vet’s instructions about what to feed the dog to keep him healthy. It would devastate Jason, if anything happened to his canine companion, but, unfortunately, my son’s love for the dog didn’t extend to taking care of his day-to-day needs. That fell to me.
As I passed a kiosk with its tempting coffee aroma, my nose told my feet to stop. Every molecule of my body demanded a cup of Guatemalan dark roast. Our office coffee tends to be bland. No specialty beans ground just before brewing. No filtered water or fuss. Just dump some coffee in the filter and hope for the best. Unfortunately—or fortunately, depending on how you look at it—the mall is home to quite a few coffee stands. A costly but satisfying alternative to drinking office brew.
The line was short, so it didn’t take long before I was headed for the office, taking my first sip, enjoying both the aroma and the acidic sweetness of the blend, when I heard a loud report that resonated off the high ceilings in the main concourse. The open space runs in a straight line the full length of the mall with the occasional side corridor leading to the outside. I glanced around, looking for the source of the sound. I could have sworn it was a gunshot. But how was that possible? This was a mall in a conservative area outside of the city. Santa’s yearly appearance was the most exciting thing that took place here.
Then I saw a young man collapse, falling to the beige vinyl floor without making any attempt to cushion his descent. I started running toward him as a second shot rang out and another man dropped next to the first. Someone screamed. Then another person joined in. And another. A chorus of terrified voices. Accompanied by chaos as people tried to figure out what was happening and which way to run.
Instinctively, I yelled “Run! Hide!” It was the survival strategy I’d been taught if you found yourself in a mass attack situation. The third commandment was to fight, but as a last resort. Not obeying my own command, I didn’t try to run away but continued toward what I assumed was a gunshot victim. I was just a few feet away when I saw blood trickling out of his jacket sleeve and across his hand.
The shouting rose to a crescendo as people tried to escape, not knowing which way to go. It’s hard to determine the direction of a gunshot in an enclosed space where the high ceiling becomes an echo chamber, amplifying sounds that seem to be coming at you from every direction. Unless you had eyes on the shooter, running and hiding was not an easy thing to do.
I knelt beside the young man to check his vitals just as another shot sliced through the sounds of panic. It crossed my mind that maybe I should be taking my own advice and running away instead of kneeling there in the middle of the mall while someone was shooting at people. I didn’t want to make my kids orphans. My mother would never forgive me.
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
A random shooting in a mall, a mysterious client involved in a secret international operation, a hero who doesn’t remember what happened but takes credit for it anyway, a mother with a pink Glock 43, and a detective agency in a suburban shopping mall whose motto is “Vigilance You Can Afford.” From page one, PI and single mom, Cameron Chandler, finds herself in dangerous situations with laugh lines. If you want a fast-paced story with lots of laughs and plot twists, this tale is for you.
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In a world filled with uncertainty and too little chocolate, Charlotte Stuart has a passion for writing upbeat mysteries with a pinch of adventure and a dollop of humor. She has three mystery series, all featuring female protagonists. Recently she won a Speak Up Talk Radio Firebird Book Award for humor and a Distinguished Favorites NYC Big Book Award. Charlotte has a PhD in communications, spent nine seasons commercial salmon fishing in Alaska, and is the president of the Puget Sound Sisters in Crime.
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