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Isn't it gorgeous? Fire and Ashes, the second Angela Richman, Death Investigator mystery, will be published July 25. Here's how it opens:
Five fire engines, two ladder trucks, a portable light truck, a battalion chief’s van, and what looked like every cop car in Chouteau County were fighting this fire. Death investigator Angela Richman knew it was already too late—she was summoned only for death. Tonight, someone had died in that blazing building, choked by the smoke and seared by those flames. Angela oversaw the bodies at Chouteau County crime scenes or unattended deaths. The death investigator reported to the county medical examiner.
Who was it? Angela didn’t know yet. The detective’s call was cryptic: “Luther Ridley Delor’s house is on fire. One body so far. They’re bringing it out. Get over there now.” Seventy-year-old Luther called himself a financier to take away the sting of how his family made a trainload of money: running a nationwide chain of payday loan companies. People—especially desperate ones—knew the slogan “You get more with Delor.” Was the old man dead? Was the victim his young fiancée? Or did a friend or servant die in that hellish fire?
As FIRE AND ASHES opens, Chouteau Forest death investigator Angela Richman watches flames destroy a multi-million-dollar mansion. The owner, seventy-year-old Luther Delor, is a bed-hopping drunk with a chain of sleazoid payday loan storefronts. He's also dead, consumed by the fire. His fiancée, twenty-year-old Mexican-American manicurist Kendra Salvato, is blamed for his death. After all, she's an outsider who's already made off with $2 million of the old lech's money. She's also accused of setting arson fires in this posh neighborhood. Angela senses this whole scenario is faulty, and begins gathering evidence to derail Kendra's fast-march to death row.
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