Shadows in the Night [Hawkman--Book 12]
Click on image to enlarge.
by Betty Sullivan La Pierre
Description: George and Maggie Hampton had three friends who died untimely deaths at Morning Glory Haven, a facility for the elderly and Hawkman is commissioned to look into this suspicious murder. Hawkman was skeptical at first, but soon discovers murder does not normally happen in an old folk's home.
eBook Publisher: SynergEbooks, 2009 SynergEbooks
eBookwise Release Date: November 2009
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [346 KB]
Reading time: 206-289 min.
I'm pleased to recommend this fun read to anyone who enjoys mysteries or a good read full of great characters. Once you've read this one, you'll be looking for this author's other works. They're all good reads. Enjoy. I certainly did.
~ Anne K. Edwards
Monday morning Hawkman arrived at the office in Medford, and had just put the coffee on to brew when he heard a loud banging. It sounded like it came from the stairwell. When it quit, he figured the noise had traveled from somewhere on the block. Then it started again and he swore he could feel the vibration in the floor. His curiosity finally got the best of him and he opened the door. An old man with flighty white hair, dressed in a long black overcoat, stood at the bottom of the steps with his cane raised to strike the banister.
"Hey, what's going on?" Hawkman yelled.
The fellow shaded his eyes and looked up. "I should have called you on the phone. I can't climb stairs, and I don't have the time or energy to go find another private investigator. I need to talk. So you're going to have to come down here."
Hawkman grinned. "Sure. Want some coffee?"
The old fellow leaned on the staff and nodded. "Sounds good."
"Cream or sugar?"
After pouring a couple of cups, Hawkman went down the stairs and handed him a steaming mug. The old codger sat on one of the lower steps, so Hawkman leaned against the hand rail, and studied his face. "What's your name?"
Hawkman held out his hand. "Pleasure meeting you, Mr. Hampton."
After they shook, he looked up at Hawkman with sparkling, yet faded blue eyes. "Let's not start that formal stuff; call me George. I know you as Hawkman." He raised the mug, took a sip of the hot liquid and continued. "Granted, it's your nickname. Your real tag is Tom Casey, but I like Hawkman better, so that's what I intend to call ya." He pointed to the sign at the top of the stairs. "I've kept my eye on you ever since you came into this town and hung your shingle above the doughnut shop."
Hawkman suppressed a smile. "How come I don't know you?"
George raised his bushy eyebrows. "Never needed your services until now."
"What can I do for you?"
"I want you to investigate some murders at Maggie's senior home."
"Never heard of the place," Hawkman said, scratching his sideburn. "Is it around here?"
"No, no, that's not its name. My wife lives there and her name is Maggie."
"Sorry, I misunderstood."
"It's called, Morning Glory Haven."
"Oh, yes, I know the place. It's on the outskirts of town, near the hills, behind the new mall. Beautiful area."
"Yeah, it's the right home for Maggie. She's been there three years, come the first of next year, and she loves it. After she fell and broke her hip, it never healed right because of her arthritis, and she couldn't drive anymore. Then she got pneumonia. Just about lost her. Once she got over the worst part, she needed to get out and go places. I knew I couldn't take her everywhere she wanted to go with my bad knees and back, so after much discussion, we decided she needed to be where she'd have people and things going on all the time." He wiped his eyes with the back of his sleeve. "I go see her every day. I sure miss her."
"I'm sure you do," Hawkman said, sitting down on the stair next to George.
"The house is way too quiet. If it weren't for my dog, Pesky, and the television, I'd go stark raving mad."
"Tell me about this murder. I don't recall reading anything about it in the paper."
George shook his head, then pointed a crooked finger at Hawkman's nose. "You won't either. When you're at one of these old folks' home, they just blame death on age, and say you died of natural causes. Well, I don't buy it." He angrily slapped his thigh.
Hawkman felt a cool autumn breeze whirl around his shoulders. "Are you warm enough? We could get in my SUV."
He waved a hand. "Naw, I'm fine." Repositioning his body, he pulled the coat around his chest. "Sybil Patterson and Maggie were best friends. They shared a two bedroom unit at the haven, and did everything together. It really helped me, knowing Maggie was happy. Then yesterday morning they found Sybil dead in her bed. No apparent reason. Maggie had played a game of cards with her the night before and said she was fine."
"What did the doctor say?"
He glared angrily at Hawkman. "They'll tell you anything. Said she had a bad heart and it just finally gave out. I don't believe it and Maggie is hesitant about accepting the diagnosis as Sybil had never shown symptoms of a heart problem." He let out a loud sigh. "I'm about ready to pull my wife out of there, but she says there's no way she'd leave."
"You said there were other murders."
"Yeah, a couple just recently and no telling how many I don't know about."
"What were their names?"
"The first was old Fred Horn. I'd see him walking the halls and paying visits to all the ladies. I used to tease him and tell him to stay away from my Maggie. He'd laugh and tell me since I was there all the time, I really put a damper on his flirting."
"How did he die?"
"The very next day, when I went to see Maggie, she told me Fred had passed away in his sleep. It really seemed farfetched as the man had been walking the halls, fully dressed, and joking with everyone he saw. He sure didn't act sick."
"Who else passed away, making you question a natural death?"
"My checkers buddy, Eddie Parker. He went last week, and I really miss the guy and our nightly games. We'd meet in Maggie's room every evening after supper. She'd have the table all set up for us and then retire to the chair in the corner and do her knitting. She really enjoyed us laughing and carrying on."
"Did he go the same way?"
"Yep, in his sleep. Don't you see a pattern here?"
"Sounds suspicious. Do you know if autopsies were done?"
George shook his fluff of white hair. "I don't know, but I really doubt it. These people were all old, and like I said, death is expected in these places."
"This sounds like it could be complicated. If I do take this case and discover foul play, I'll have to bring in the police."
"I understand. I just fear for my Maggie. I don't want to go visit her some morning and find her dead in the bed." He turned and gazed into Hawkman's face. "I'd like her watched from the time she gets up until nightfall. I usually go in the morning, stay a couple of hours, go back later and have dinner with her, then remain until she goes to sleep. I can't be by her side all day, because I do have responsibilities at the house. Plus, she doesn't want me hanging around constantly."
"I could arrange for someone to be there on the hours you're not available, but it would cost you a pretty penny."
"Cost doesn't bother me. I'd do anything to keep my sweetheart alive."
Hawkman rubbed the back of his neck. "If you want to hire me, I need to get your signature on a contract and explain the terms."
"I don't need no signed paper; a handshake will do."
"I appreciate it, but legally I have to present you with the document. It protects us both."
Hampton sighed in resignation. "If you insist."
"I won't put you through the agony of climbing the stairs. Instead, I'll get everything ready and bring it to your house. You set up a convenient time in the next day or two."
George checked his watch. "How about tomorrow morning at ten?"
"Sound good. It'll give me time to round up all the items." He took a pen from his pocket and a small pad of paper he always carried. "What's your address and phone number?"
After writing down the information, Hawkman stood and helped Mr. Hampton stand. George gripped the banister, then lifted his cane from the railing.
"You okay?" Hawkman asked.
"Yeah, just have to let everything get back in sync before I take a step; otherwise I'd fall flat on my face." He sniffed the air. "What's that delicious smell?"
Hawkman pointed toward the doughnut shop. "Clyde fires up those ovens about this time in the morning and bakes his pastries for the day."
"Oh, my, I'm surprised you're not as fat as a butterball with such a business sitting just below your office."
"It's not easy," Hawkman chuckled.
"I think I might stop by and pick up a treat before going to see Maggie. She'd like that."
"I can guarantee they're delicious."
Hawkman watched George's slow, swinging gait, clunking his cane against the concrete with each step, as he swung around the corner toward the shop.