Bumped Off in Baltimore [A Toni Credella Mystery]
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by Louise Titchener
Description: Since the tragic day when she shot her abusive cop husband in self defense, dyslexic Toni Credella has been barely scratching out a living. To make ends meet Toni plays bodyguard to a beautiful opera singer with underworld connections and a violent boyfriend. When that boyfriend threatens Toni she knows she's in trouble again. Add a murdered activist socialite, a contract killer, a disappearing uncle, and a suspicious homicide detective to the evil mix and Toni realizes that if she's going to stay alive in Mysterious Baltimore she has to make sense of this mess before it messes her up for good. [Cover art Louise Titchener]
eBook Publisher: Hard Shell Word Factory, 2005
eBookwise Release Date: August 2005
20 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [237 KB]
Reading time: 149-209 min.
"Titchener has hit a home run with witty, tough, and thoroughly likable Toni Credella. I'll be anxiously awaiting her next adventure. 5 beacons"--Nora, Lighthouse Literary Reviews
"Written with a sharp, no-nonsense language and a touch of wit, this is the perfect book for readers who love light, past-paced mysteries. Toni is a very sympathetic character and her relationship with Sergeant Gus O'Dell brings a refreshing romantic air to the story without overwhelming the mystery. Titchener's book is a great addition to her Toni Credella series."--Mayra Calvani, TCM Reviews
This was an enjoyable read and I recommend it to mystery fans who like a tenacious but vulnerable heroine."--Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader
"I can always count on Louise Titchener to provide a good, rousing read. She's done it again with Bumped Off in Baltimore. This is a fast moving book with lots of action and many threads that seem to dangle in mid-air until the author skillfully weaves them all together to produce a bang-up climax. I love the finely drawn characters I can visualize Daddy pouring on the charm in the front of the restaurant while berating Mama in the kitchen if all is not ready to his schedule. Don't miss this third in the Toni Credella series."--Mary Ann Smyth, Bookloons
"The style is reminiscent of Robert B. Parker in his Spenser for Hire series with lots of short choppy dialogue and short scenes. While the story starts slowly, it picks up steam and toward the end, I couldn't put it down. I was pleasantly surprised how the pieces fit together and happy that I hadn't figured out the ending."--Susan, Novelspot
MY NAME IS Toni Credella. When I'm not struggling to keep my decorating business going, I work part-time for Angus Maloney. You might say we're a matched set in the low self-esteem section of damaged goods. He's an alcoholic, ex-BPD detective turned private eye, and I'm a spousal abuse survivor. Two days ago, Angus asked me to bodyguard Regina Fioni.
"Name sounds familiar. Who is she?"
He threw me a magazine.
I struggled with the title. "Op…op…"
"Opera Monthly." He pointed at the gorgeous brunette on the cover. "That's her."
Angus nodded. "Article inside says she's the most exciting young Carmen to come along in a decade."
"Why does this fancy songbird need a bodyguard?"
I tensed. "Some jerk is stalking her?"
"He's been following her around making nasty phone calls, doing stupid stuff. So far he's just a nuisance, but he's got her spooked."
"I can imagine." All too vividly. I put the magazine on his desk. "Angus, I'd like the work, but with my history—"
"Don't wimp out on me, Toni. I'll be with Regina most of the time. You'll just spell me when I need beauty sleep. Like I said, the guy's been harmless. Regina hasn't heard from him since she hit Baltimore. He's probably given up."
Gullible me. A few days later I was shepherding the glamorous opera star from a dress rehearsal to her classy Inner Harbor hotel.
We hurried to a white Cadillac limousine curbed in front of the Lyric Opera Theater. Wind whistled up my sleeves and set Regina's long dark tresses dancing around her fur collar like a hula skirt.
The driver opened the door for us. As Regina bent to get inside, I noticed the chauffeur's mirrored, wraparound sunglasses. They seemed odd considering the streetlights had already winked on under Baltimore's leaden November sky.
Before walking from my house in South Baltimore to Regina's hotel, I'd glanced through her file. I'm dyslexic, so I'd ignored the printed material and studied the photographs. I'd found a blurry picture of her and her "troublesome" ex, Darren Pescoso, posed at the beach in bikinis.
Regina looked great, but so did he. The man was obviously a bodybuilder.
Our chauffeur's ox-like shoulders threatened to burst out of his uniform. In fact, that uniform looked more than a size too small.
As he reached for Regina's elbow, I knocked his arm aside, stepped between them and yanked away his glasses.
"Oh, my God!" Regina screeched. "It's him! It's Darren!"
Confronting him, I searched my right pocket and found what I wanted. Too bad the wind was wrong. Meanwhile, Regina ignored my order to run.
"Regina," I insisted, "get the hell out of here!"
Finally, her high-heeled boots clattered toward the refuge of the theater's lobby. Unfortunately, Darren had recovered from his surprise.
"Out of my way, bitch!" He shoved me against the car and lunged for her. In three strides he'd managed to catch her, but I was in close pursuit. Angling so the wind would be at my back, I took out the fountain pen-sized telescoping baton I keep in my pocket. It was a handy little tool Angus had trained me to use for self-defense.
The bogus chauffeur had Regina by the wrist. I used the baton to whack the sensitive spot at the base of his elbow. Yelping, he released her and whirled toward me.
I pushed her to one side and sprayed him full in the face with pepper spray. He fell back coughing. While he clawed at his watering eyes, I seized her shoulder and dragged her through the lobby door.
Still coughing, his face flushed scarlet and his eyes streaming, Darren tried to follow. Some of the Lyric's staff had seen our struggle and barred his path.
"Bitches! Bitches! Stupid damn cunt! You'll get yours!" He aimed a kick at the theater's glass door, but he wore thin leather shoes. The blow hurt him worse than the door.
Cursing steadily, he limped back to the Cadillac. Minutes later it peeled away from the curb. Since he was still partially blinded, I hoped he wouldn't kill anybody in rush hour traffic.
Copyright © 2005 Louise Titchener.