Pacific Coast Private Eyes
Excerpt from book:
Dark shadows drifted across the tiny office window. Even the lights strung along the ferryboat across the way could not chase away Donna Gallagher's tickle of unease as she gazed out at San Diego Bay. Rain beaded on the glass, a winter storm. The vessel was already crowded in spite of the weather. In the upcoming three weeks, the number of visitors would swell as eager Christmas shoppers came over from the mainland and overnight guests arrived for the Hotel del Coronado's holiday festival. Twinkling white lights, ice-skating, fireworks and hot cocoa. The perfect Christmas in the beautiful island town of Coronado.
Every year since she could remember, her father, Bruce, had accompanied Donna, her three sisters and their mother to the festival. Every year, until now.
The pain in her chest started up again and tears pricked her eyelids. In the corner of the office stood a small pine tree, decorated with handmade ornaments. Each daughter had taken great pains to craft the perfect ornament for their father's office tree, except two years ago when Donna hadn't made one. The unfairness of it burned in her. This year, she was fully recovered and ready to make up for lost time. It was the holiday that would finally erase her disastrous rebellion, bury it firmly under a pile of happy memories.
The Gallaghers were all healthy, Candace finally on her feet after her husband's death in Afghanistan five years prior and Donna recovered from the crash, physically, anyway.
She had not yet put the finishing touches on her wooden cable car, a remembrance of their trip to San Francisco, where she'd turned back to God and decided to start living again, thanks to her father. But now it was too late. Christmas held no joy for Donna this year, and she wondered if it ever would again.
Besides the grief, something dark and frightening poked at her instincts. Bruce, her father, her hero, had been murdered, she was certain of it. All around her, on every inch of floor and the sleek wooden tabletop, lay stacks of files that she'd extracted from the cabinet. The answer to his death lay inside, she was positive. Wind rattled the office windows. She jumped.
She could not shake the sensation that someone was watching her, waiting to make sure she didn't find her answers. Paranoia? Exhaustion? Her sisters would probably say both. They thought she was in denial, her imagination exacerbated by grief and stress. And guilt, her heart added. There was no murder, they insisted, just an accident.
And her impulse to sift through her father's cases and play the part of a private investigator, as he had been?
A ludicrous attempt to take control of her grief. She was a veterinarian, after all, not a detective. But ever since she'd started looking through Bruce Gallagher's paperwork, there had been hints of danger.
Nerves, she told herself. The vehicle that appeared in her rearview mirror too often, the repeated hang-up phone calls on the office line. She looked out onto the darkened street. A truck drove slowly along, pulling to the curb outside. Was it the same truck she'd imagined was following her? Heart thudding, she stood behind the screen of the curtain, watching. A soft glow from inside, the flicker from a cigarette. Who would stop for a smoke here? Stomach tight, she watched.
One long minute and the vehicle drove away. The breath whooshed out of her. Paranoid, Donna.
She picked up her father's most recent file from the "active" tray on his desk. The neat label, Mitchell, P., rang a bell deep down in her memory. Mitchell, P. Her memory supplied the full name. Pauline Mitchell.
It was not Pauline's face that sprang into her mind but the face of Radar, her German shepherd. Something SEARCHING FOR THE TRUTH
Coast Guard rescue swimmer Brent Mitchell wants only one gift for Christmas: to find his sister. When he discovers that her disappearance is tangled with the death of private eye Bruce Gallagher, he joins forces with Bruce's daughter Donna to investigate. Grieving Donna is as tough as the determined military man
and both will stop at nothing to find the truth. But the duo soon discovers that a murdered father and a missing sister merely top a looming pyramid of secrets on Coronado Island. Deadly secrets. These unlikely partners have vowed to stick together until their most important case is closedbut they may pay with their lives.
Pacific Coast Private Eyes: Sisters Fighting Crime