Author: Kim Smith
Title: Avenging Angel: A Shannon Wallace Mystery
Electronic (eBook format)
Publisher: Red Rose Publishing (December 2008)
Genre: Mystery, Mainstream Fiction
First Sentence: “I could hear Rick rapping on his desk with his Mont Blanc pen before I reached the doorway.”
Shannon Wallace is having a bad hair week.
She’s been ditched by her job, dumped by her boyfriend, and implicated in his murder.
When she finds out her very private video collection is missing from the crime scene, it is all out war to find the disks before the cops do. The problem is, the killer has them. And he’s watched them.
Now Shannon’s at the top of his most wanted list.
Kim Smith was born in Memphis Tennessee, the youngest of four children. After a short stint in a Northwest Mississippi junior college, during the era of John Grisham’s rise as a lawyer, she gave up educational pursuits to marry and begin family life.
She has worked in many fields in her life, from fast food waitress to telephone sales. “I always got the seniors on the phone who were lonely and wanted someone to talk to. My boss couldn’t understand why in the world I spent so much time talking to them and not enough time selling. That was when I realized I love people and care deeply about their lives.”
After the birth of her two children, she gave up working outside the home for the more important domestic duties of wife and mother. When her kids decided they wanted to pursue theater as an extracurricular activity, she gave up her free time to drive them to rehearsals, training classes, and plays. During those years, she found herself bored with nothing to do to while away the hours stuck in a car. She began thinking of stories to entertain herself and pass the time. Before long she started telling her husband about her stories and he assured her she could write a book if she really wanted to. She put the idea away once she landed a job as a network administrator for a small corporation, and together the Smith’s started their own video production company.
Writing was a dream, hidden but not forgotten, and soon Kim began to talk again of trying her hand at it. She played with words, and wrote several poems, one of which was picked up for an anthology
One day in the early nineties her husband came home with a desktop computer and sat her in front of it. “Now you have no more excuses,” he said, and she realized the truth in his words. Procrastination, now no longer an option, she took off on the pursuit of penning her first book. Though that book, a young adult fantasy, was lost due to unforeseen circumstances, she kept going, writing a historical romance, and another YA.
When she decided to try out her hand at mystery writing, she discovered her true love and niche in the writing journey. She has since had four short stories, and her first mystery novel accepted for publication.
Kim is a member of Sisters in Crime, and EPIC. She still lives in the Mid South region of the United States and is currently working on her second book in the mystery series.
You can visit her website at www.mkimsmith.com.
My Aunt Nancy always told me to dress in my best clothes when I went out, because I never knew whom I might meet. This time, I hadn’t done the best I could to make myself presentable. Jeans, tee shirt, and a ponytail didn’t qualify for modern chic.
When the detective opened the door to the Homicide Office, I wished I’d worn a skirt and heels. In a moment of clarity, I understood my aunt’s concerns about going out half-ready.
The sexy, Hispanic man who raised an eyebrow and patiently waited for me to state my business was none other than Salvador Ramirez, formerly of Mississippi Junior College, the same school I attended back in the day. Of all the eligible men at college, he was the most highly sought after. Partly because he’d won the “sexiest legs” contest two years in a row, and partly because he had a bad boy quality, which made all of the girls want him.
Especially me. And damn the luck, I got a shot at him. When I discovered our date was based on a dare someone posed, I retaliated by publishing excerpts of his personal journal in the college’s monthly newsletter, The Bugle.
“Mr. Ramirez,” I said, trying to look harmless. “Of the award-winning legs.”
His expression changed as he looked at me and I knew he remembered our rocky past. My heart leapt into my throat. This was not the face of a man happy to see an old chum.
“Shannon Wallace, of the vigilantes for journalism,” he said, deadpan. “Mama said there would be days like this.”
Nope. He was not a happy cop.
He waved me into the room. “Come in.”
The entire office was a mess, most of it concentrated on two desks littered with papers.
“What are you doing here? Looking for a few good men to belittle in a new publication? Should I hide the personal notes on my cases?” he asked.
Sarcasm. I smiled. It was a beginning. He hadn’t forgotten, so that meant he intended on seeing I didn’t get a chance to repeat my past mistakes. Dandy by me. I just wanted to plead my case, and escape a free woman. If I never crossed the threshold here again, my feelings wouldn’t be hurt.
“I think you’ve held a grudge, but it was all in fun.”
“Fun?” He scanned the hallway before shutting the door. “You ruined every chance I ever had of getting a decent date. I never dreamed you would print my private journal for Christ’s sake.”
“It was no journal. It was a freaking scorecard.”
He frowned at me and turned away, muttering something in Spanish that sounded like curses.
Suddenly turning the details of my situation over to him didn’t seem like such a great idea. Had he harbored a desire for revenge all these years?
Dwayne’s words came to mind. I couldn’t have done it; criminals were innocent until proven guilty and all that jazz.
Would Sal see that?
“I’m not here to do an exposé on your life, Sal. I’m here about my own troubles. I need to tell a cop about a man who was murdered. But if you aren’t interested…”
He stopped clearing file folders from a metal folding chair and pinioned me with his Nestlé’s cocoa-colored eyes.
“Yes. Richard Fine. Is he your case?”
“You know he is. Or have you given up your journalistic aspirations?” He shoved papers into the files. “Have you graduated from theft to murder, now?”
I sat there for a moment trying to squelch the anger that surfaced.
“Would you stop being so disagreeable about what’s past between us and listen? You might get some information that could help you. I never intended to hurt you. It was a joke.”
“I don’t like your jokes.”
That was the final straw. “And I don’t like being made fun of. How much did they pay you to take me out on your little ‘dare date’ that night?”
He straightened, gripping the back of a nearby folding chair.
He carried the chair to where I stood, and I got a better look at him. He was a good deal taller than me, and even under the yellow Oxford shirt I saw he was well rippled with muscles, maleness, and menace. Sal seemed quite a different person from the jeans, golf shirts, and practical jokes days. The cologne was the same though. Aramis. I took a deep breath in appreciation.
The angry fire I’d stirred showed in his eyes. He skidded the metal chair a few feet forward. It made a scraping sound as it landed perfectly, facing his desk.
“Sit, Miss Wallace. Tell me why I should hear your story. And keep in mind I’m due for a meeting in about ten minutes.”
I sat and waited while he joined me behind his desk. It felt rather official all of a sudden. He crossed his hands and leaned forward, ready to hear my story.
“I was at Rick’s apartment at midnight. And when forensics finishes checking out his place, they’re going to find my hair and other assorted things.”
“Will they find your fingerprints on a knife?”
I thought about his question. We hadn’t done much cooking at Rick’s apartment, but there was the off chance that I had handled a steak knife. Or cleaver. I closed my eyes, and prayed Dwayne was right. I just knew I wouldn’t look good in a state uniform.
“They’ll find them on a lot of stuff. Do I need a lawyer present?”
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