Death by Choice
Click on image to enlarge.
by Christine A. Boyle
Description: What kind of person murders pregnant women? That's the question baffling Kansas City, Missouri police, and secretarial temporary, Lenore D'Angelo. When she fills in at a women's clinic where Pro-Life activists are demonstrating, Lennie learns that her pregnant friend, Roxanne Giblin, was killed earlier that morning. Although the police think Roxie's murder may be tied to the recent deaths of three other women, they don't seem to be doing much to find the killer. Lennie decides to take matters into her own hands. Once a juvenile delinquent, known as "Lennie The Angel," she can't quite shake her larcenous past ... and she won't hesitate to use her skills to catch a killer. Not even when her former fiance, Detective Sergeant Jimmy Lopez, threatens to dump her in jail, and leave her cat, Baryshnipaws, at the mercy of her wacky but well-intentioned landlady, Mrs. Finnigan. Lennie quickly discovers reasons to suspect Roxie's abusive husband. Or, it might be members of a local Neo-Nazi cell whom Roxie may have tried to expose. Then, again, it's possible the handsome doctor Lennie is meeting for dinner Saturday night has murder on his menu. Follow Lennie on the trail of a killer with a twisted stand on the abortion issue in Death by Choice. [Cover art Mary Z. Wolf]
eBook Publisher: Hard Shell Word Factory, 1996 Hard Shell Word Factory
eBookwise Release Date: October 2002
16 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [292 KB]
Reading time: 183-256 min.
All Other formats: Printing DISABLED, Read-aloud DISABLED
"Let me be among the first to introduce you to a dazzling new author and her sparkling brain-child, Lenora D'Angelo, temp extraordinaire. Death by Choice is a mystery and the first of a series, so grab it now and read faster and faster as you watch Lennie solve a mystery and get herself into a world of trouble in the doing. The characterization in Death by Choice is superb, the wit is sharp, the dialog is inspired, and the setting, Kansas City, MO, is almost another character. Hurry with the next book, Ms. Boyle, I am eagerly anticipating my next meeting with Lennie D'Angelo, who is bound to be on every mystery lover's A-list of sleuths. Highly Recommended!"--Under the Covers Book Reviews
THE SEARCHLIGHT from a helicopter centered on a team of divers as they pulled a woman's body from the Missouri River. Detective Jimmy Lopez winced at the sight of her swollen abdomen, clearly outlined beneath her oversized pink sweatshirt. A yellow, diamond-shaped sign on the front proclaimed in black lettering, "Baby On Board".
The four divers gently placed her on a black plastic body bag. One stayed behind, speaking briefly with the man from the Jackson County Coroner's office, while the other three turned in unison and returned to the river. The rapid flaring of the police photographer's flashbulbs added an unnatural, strobe-like effect as the coroner's assistant began his on-scene assessment.
Lopez exhaled heavily, shaking his head as he trudged across the narrow stretch of trash-littered waterfront. There were times when he wished he'd listened to his mother and entered the priesthood.
Mordecai Dugan rose and squinted at the detective through his thick eyeglasses. As he removed his latex gloves, he and Lopez watched two attendants zipper the bag, then push the gurney through semi-frozen mud to the back of an ambulance.
"I swear, I've got serious deja vu," Dugan said. "One a week, the last three weeks -- all pregnant. She's number four."
Lopez pulled a misshapen ultra light cigarette from a crumpled package.
"Those're gonna kill you."
"So's this job. What've you got?"
"Broken neck. After the autopsy, 'course, I'll know more, but if she's anything like the others..." Dugan shrugged.
"I know -- clean as a whistle. Healthy of body and mind. No reason for suicide. No enemies. Zilch for help."
"Sorry, Lope, but unless we find something to make us think otherwise, she'll prob'ly be classified accidental."
"Yeah, well, I'm thinking this one stinks," Lopez said, taking a deep drag and exhaling at the waning quarter moon. "We get an anonymous tip some gal drove a vehicle into the water. How does the caller know it's a woman?" He stretched his arms wide. "No house, or any other building for miles. No place to call from, unless he used a car phone, but the check on mobile calls turned up nada.
"Next, why the hell is she driving around here, all alone, in the middle of the night? Even in daylight this access road's not easy to find, much less drive on. And once she gets down here, what's she gonna do? Go moonlight fishing in a ten-degree wind chill? She's got a craving for catfish, glows in the dark?"
Dugan snorted at Lopez's reference to the pollution-tainted fish no one in his or her right mind would eat.
Both men glanced to the left as the winch of a tow-truck whined and growled. The rear-end of a red Toyota pickup gushed to the surface. A grayish Teddy bear bobbed in the back window of the water-filled cab.
"Christ," Lopez swore, the familiar ache of too many such scenes pulling his shoulders into a slouch. "Call me when you guys are finished with her, Doog."
"Of course, but it'll prob'ly be late tomorrow--" He glanced at the lightening eastern horizon, amending, "Today. It was a bad night. Got three shootings ahead of her."
"I'd appreciate you upping the priority on this one. I think the circumstances warrant it."
"Take a number. Besides, Irwin and Blye want the reports on their cases superpronto."
"Yeah, but they can't bring you Mama Lopez's chocolate cheesecake."
Dugan grinned. "You just won the lottery."
Lopez shivered involuntarily as one diver resurfaced from the black water, clutching what looked like a handbag.
"Lopez! You wanta have a look?" yelled a uniformed officer who stood next to the dripping pick-up.
The officer handed him the purse. Jimmy opened it and removed a small, black leather day-planner. In one of the plastic slots for credit cards he found the driver's license. A pretty blonde smiled up at him from the thumbprint-sized picture. He didn't need to read the information.
Sniffing, Lopez looked in the direction of the gray sunrise. The wind picked up, pelting his face with icy droplets that ran down his cheeks and mingled with his tears.
He hadn't given her more than a cursory glance, hadn't recognized her a few minutes ago, he realized guiltily. He brushed his cheeks with the back of his hand, shoved the leather case into the purse, returned it to the officer, and strode to his car. He would handle his own grief and self-recrimination later, when he could spare the time. But, now, he had to break the news to her husband, and her mother.
Then, he remembered another person he must tell -- personally. Someone who would expect quick answers to questions he hadn't even begun to think of, yet.
"God," he muttered, "how the hell am I going to tell Lennie?"
Copyright © 1997 by Christine A. Boyle