Monday, December 29, 2014

An Excerpt from Deadline for Murder, A Hilary Adams Mystery by Linda Y. Atkins

Omnimystery News: An Excerpt courtesy of Linda Y. Atkins
Deadline for Murder
by Linda Y. Atkins

We are delighted to welcome back author Linda Y. Atkins to Omnimystery News.

Linda visited with us last week when we discuss her latest legal thriller Deadline for Murder (Turquoise Morning Press; October 2014 trade paperback and ebook formats) and today we're pleased to introduce you to it with an excerpt, the prologue and first chapter.

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Deadline for Murder by Linda Y. Atkins


Six months previously …

YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN MORE careful. But with your insatiable need to grab readers using nothing more than malicious insinuation mixed with a giant helping of what ultimately amounted to unsubstantiated gossip, why should your recklessness come as a surprise?
  Now it's time for payback. So when you least expect it, you'll pay for the role you had in causing my pain. And I can promise you the pain you experience will be excruciating. Now it's your turn to lose everything you value in life — your reputation, your wife, your children, your friends, your career. But that won't be all you'll lose. Because in the end, when you think it can't get any worse, you'll also lose your wretched, worthless life.
  All those years ago, you were the lucky one. But your luck has finally run out. I warned you!
  That was all the unsigned typewritten note said. Holding it up to the bright overhead fluorescent tube lighting, he could see nothing unusual about the piece of notepaper he held in his hand. It looked to be nothing more than plain, old, run-of-the-mill, four-by-six, ivory-colored cardstock. Curious, he turned it over to see if anything of interest was on the reverse side. Nothing.
  The warning didn't scare him since it wasn't the first time he'd been threatened. It came with the territory. Slumping down, he nestled his head against the back of his swivel chair with its padded lumbar support — a comfort measure, made necessary from a career-ending football injury sustained while playing tight end for the local university. Looking up, he studied the indentation patterns pressed into the acoustical tiles overhead while trying to recall if he had ever been told by anyone in particular, other than his jackass of an editor, that he "should have been more careful." About what exactly, his editor had never been able to explain. And what was this about "payback?"
  He picked up a paper clip, threw it up in the air, and then caught it again in the palm of his hand. What kind of a wiseass would write this crock of shit? No one immediately sprang to mind. He had gotten lots of menacing warnings from all sorts of crackpots during his twenty-plus year career, and, early on, he had been self-important enough to take them seriously. But fortunately, since none of the threats had ever amounted to anything, he had become convinced they were nothing more than idle threats made by people who had nothing better to do. Without a doubt, his boss was a well-known pain in the ass, but he couldn't conceive of him stooping this low, even though their run-ins were legendary and the subject of lots of chatter in the newsroom.
  As the paper's crime columnist, there frankly was no tolerance for any sort of "recklessness" as alleged in the note. It certainly was no secret most of what he wrote in his daily column could be verified by looking at court records and transcripts of taped statements given by blabbermouth defendants who, for whatever cockeyed reason, wanted their fifteen minutes of fame recorded in the City section. All he did was piece the stories together. So being "careful" never really entered into it. His column was always factually driven. It had to be. Of course, he, on occasion, made good use of outside sources, better known as anonymous or confidential, but then every reporter had his or her own stable of gossips and snitches.
  These so-called lowlifes may have been considered by most anyone's standards, including his own, to be reprehensible, but they were indispensable when doing business in the newspaper world. Even his editor had to admit, albeit grudgingly, that his star columnist never reported anything that wasn't nailed down six different ways from Sunday by using other, more pragmatic methods of investigative journalism, regardless of where, how, or from whom the original rumor got started.
  He glanced down at the note one last time. Since it wasn't attached, he assumed the envelope it arrived in had been destroyed by handlers in the mailroom. No matter. Receiving threats like this just proved he had been doing the job he was hired to do for The Louisville Gazette. People were actually reading his column and, as a result, thinking about what he had written and forming their own opinions. If truth be told, he didn't give a rat's behind if readers' opinions of him or of his column were good, bad or indifferent. He still got paid, regardless.
  He wondered why he had even given this latest piece of garbage a second thought. Bending down, he pitched the note into the wastebasket at his feet, turned to face his computer and started typing. He couldn't screw around with this any longer. He had a deadline to meet. And he was already late. As usual.

Chapter One

Tuesday, May 20

"Where in the hell am I?" A simple question. But to Blake Hunter, who was never known to be at a loss for words, the answer remained strangely elusive. Feeling weak and aching all over, as if he had been clobbered by a bad case of the flu, he cautiously pulled himself upright in the chair. Inadvertently, his hands brushed up against spools of yellowed stuffing escaping from beneath strips of rotted fabric that, at one time, must have been wrapped snugly around each of the now fractured armrests. The interaction made his hands feel uncomfortably gritty and sticky with some kind of residue. He jerked them away and then wiped both right and left palms against his thighs. But whatever it was still clung to his hands like skin on a snake.
  Trying hard to overcome his growing sense of panic, even though a cold chill was inching its way up his spine, he glanced around, taking stock of his surroundings. The effort, however, immediately caused sharp pains to shoot through the left side of his head, making any further such exertion much too ambitious. Debilitating dizziness, disorientation and an overwhelming need to give in to sleep became overpowering sensations. Exhausted, Blake slumped back in the chair before trying once more to get his bearings. Seconds ticked away. It was so tempting just to remain sitting limp, like a rag doll. But instinctively, he knew he had to get up and keep moving.
  Easing around an exposed coil sprouting like a prickly weed from the seat cushion, which he quickly realized felt alarmingly damp to the touch, he managed to stand up, but just barely. Shivering, he knew that whatever had dampened the chair had now transferred itself to the back of his trousers. And since the room temperature was somewhere close to frigid, he knew it wasn't sweat. And that realization was all the incentive he needed to remain upright. Tentatively, with one hand still planted firmly on the back of the chair and the other splayed on the wall behind it for added support, he fought back the vertigo, and then the nausea, all of which seemed to roll over him in waves of varying intensity.
  Taking a deep breath, he slowly inched his way forward by placing one hand, then the other against the wall's cold surface. His objective was simple. Head in the direction of the only window in the room. He staggered forward. Out of breath and still reeling from the throbbing pain in his head, he reached out and, hoping to regain his balance, clutched at the short drapery panel that covered the window. The action, however, prompted a plume of accumulated dust to waft through the air and, like lint on a black suit, promptly deposit itself on his face and fingers. Again, Blake attempted to wipe off the grime on his dampened gray flannel slacks but succeeded only in making himself cough, which resulted in his head hurting more, if that was even possible.
  Cautiously lifting the hem of the drapery to eye level, he could see that just outside the three-byfive-foot window was a large metal pole capped twelve feet above with a rectangular neon sign in Pepto-
  Bismol pink letters that blinked "Vacancy" in rhythmic unison to an incessant buzzing sound. Taking advantage of the blinking light, which illuminated the room every two seconds, he studied his watch. Exactly 5:12 a.m. The first blush of color heralding a late spring sunrise was just beginning to spread across the early morning sky. Looking past the Vacancy sign, he searched for the name of the motel, but no name was visible from his rather limited vantage point. Peering around to the left and then to the right, he saw nothing that looked even vaguely familiar except for his Jeep parked three spaces down from the exterior door. Frustrated, he tried but couldn't remember driving here, wherever here was. Dropping the corner of the drapery, Blake turned to take a quick inventory of the room, which had only one low wattage bulb in a floor lamp anchored near one of two twin beds pushed together, but not quite all the way. Both coverlets looked to be pulled back in muddled disarray as if each bed had been slept in. In the area between the beds, he could make out a small pie-shaped section of well-worn shag carpeting. Not surprisingly, even from a distance and with limited light, he could tell that this too was stained. With what, he didn't want to hazard a guess.
  Not knowing who, or what, had brought him there, Blake tried once more to think. But his only recollection of recent events seemed trapped in a mass of jumbled, disjointed conversations with people he couldn't identify — people whose distorted faces seemed to puddle together like wax melting from a hot flame. Nothing was making any sense. And the more he tried to recapture the memories, the more they seemed to fade into nothingness like wisps of smoke.
  With care, he angled his way toward the beds with an overwhelming desire, in spite of the filth, to plop down and sleep off whatever it was that had caused his loss of memory, lack of coordination, and this mother of all headaches. He was in no condition to drive, so sleep, he convinced himself, was the best, if not the only, option he had at the moment. With that goal in mind, he again stumbled forward, his hands involuntarily fluttering around in a useless effort to try to remain standing. Silently, he urged himself on — you're almost there — just two more steps to go before you can lie down and sink back into oblivion. But then, all of a sudden, his knees buckled, and he once more lost control of his movements. Just in time, before falling face down on the floor, he reached out and managed to grab hold of the corner of one of the mattresses. Using all the strength he had left, he pulled himself up and, maneuvering his body as best he could, crawled onto the edge of the bed closest to where he had been standing, slid slowly across it on his belly, cautiously straddling the two mattresses where they remained joined at their shared headboard. But once there, something stopped him cold. What was it he had just touched? He rose up, steadied himself on both elbows, and dared to look. It was a hand. He shifted his weight, and with one arm now free, he pulled back the bedspread. In spite of his fuzzy headedness and overwhelming sense of fatigue, what he saw caused him, without thought as to his present condition, to rear back and jump off the beds.
  Trying to steady himself on still-wobbly legs, he stepped backward, falling against the nearby wall. Leaning on it for support, he stared, transfixed at what had been rolled up, cocoon-like, in the bed covers. A woman's body. And from the coldness of the hand he had touched, he was pretty damn sure she was dead. Stone cold dead.

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Linda Y. Atkins
Photo provided courtesy of
Linda Y. Atkins

Linda Y. Atkins has practiced law in Louisville, Kentucky since 1982. She began her career as a prosecutor in the Jefferson County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office, working her way up through the ranks to become the Director and Chief Prosecutor of the County's first domestic violence unit. Married with two children (and three cats) she now practices law with her husband, concentrating in medical and legal malpractice claims. And of course, she uses her extensive knowledge of the law to write the Hilary Adams mystery series.

For more information about the author, please visit her website at, or find her on Facebook.

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Deadline for Murder by Linda Y. Atkins

Deadline for Murder
Linda Y. Atkins
A Hilary Adams Mystery

Defending a crime reporter accused of a double-homicide puts Hilary Adams to the test once more. Can she meet the deadline for murder?

Attorney Hilary Adams makes the difficult decision not to run for another term as Louisville's top prosecutor. She's determined to return to the defense side of the justice system. The only hitch is that her newfound resolve isn't resonating too well with her husband Peter Elliott, Louisville's police chief.

On the first day after her incumbency has ended, Hilary receives an unexpected and very hard to resist offer from Winfield Bennett, the managing partner of Louisville's biggest white-shoe law firm. He wants her to head up a newly formed criminal litigation division. Unable to turn down such a prestigious position and the obscene salary package that accompanies it, Hilary accepts. She soon realizes, however, that the job comes with a hefty price tag — take on every case Win throws her way, including the representation of his old college chum, journalist Blake Hunter, a happily married man who can't seem to remember how he woke up that morning in a seedy motel room with a very dead young woman.

Then, in quick succession, another murder victim turns up. Blake's new boss is found brutally beaten and stabbed in exactly the same manner as the young woman. Evidence, including DNA left at each of the crime scenes, points to only one person as being the culprit in both slayings — Hilary's errant client, Blake Hunter.

As always, Hilary has her work cut out for her. Once again, she's up to the challenge. Print/Kindle Format(s) Print/Nook Format(s)  iTunes iBook Format  Kobo eBook Format


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