I’m happy to feature this new release from two Guelph authors.
What’s your life worth? If the price isn’t right….you die.
They call him Dr. Death. Not a surprise. He reminds his philosophy students that we never know when the Grim Reaper will come for us. Before Professor Lucas Stride’s lecture at the Quebec City morgue, he receives a threat. If the extortionist isn’t satisfied with the cash offer, Lucas dies.
Toronto cop, Jordan Blair, arrives for a tryst with private investigator, Darcy Piermont. Sightseeing, fine dining, and blissful hours in Darcy’s bed are on her wish list.
Her plans are derailed after Darcy agrees to try and locate a family friend, missing since the morgue tour with his class. In their search for the professor, Jordan and Darcy uncover a series of crimes that conclude with the reality of — death.
Chapter 6 Excerpt
Tuesday, 3:00 p.m.
Lucas had endured a distinct eau de dog emanating from the carpet in the visiting professors’ apartment at Université Laval. He’d had enough. To celebrate the end of the Death’s Reality summer course, and mark his impending retirement from academia, he checked into the luxurious Fairmont Château Frontenac. He had two full days to relax before the morgue tour. After that, home.
With a contented sigh, he settled into the padded gold and blue-striped easy chair and supported his arthritic knee on the ottoman. He couldn’t put off that knee replacement much longer.
The fifth-floor suite’s old world décor calmed his spirit. He shifted his chair to face the window alcove to watch the cruise ships and barges float along the majestic St. Lawrence River. The bedroom view was equally enchanting, overlooking the chef’s rooftop garden. Tonight, he’d crank open the window and let the scents of lavender and mint help him sleep.
The Rococo wallpaper reminded him of the hotel he and Jolene had stayed in during their trip to France, five years ago, before they knew she was sick. He reached for the tumbler of Revel Stoke Spiced Whiskey.
He inhaled the zesty aroma and savoured the smooth taste of his drink, reflecting back to the day he presented the proposal for this grad course to the department Chair at the University of Waterloo. These days, some department heads were nervous about exposing young minds to unpleasant experiences. To Lucas’s surprise, the Chair approved the proposal and welcomed the short course into the Philosophy Department’s curriculum.
Choosing Université Laval to teach a summer course had given him respite from his empty home in Waterloo, where he half-expected to hear Jolene’s voice calling to him from another room. Despite lecturing others on the stages of grief, he seemed irrevocably stuck in stage 2 — anger.
Enough with the self-pity. Back to work. He put on his glasses and flipped open the folder resting on his knees. Despite his lengthy teaching career, he still felt some apprehension when reading student evaluations. He breezed through fourteen forms, all providing positive comments. One student reported spotting a ghost at the cemetery they visited. Evidently, she considered that incident to be the highlight of the course. The professor shook his head and picked up the final sheet.
One word had been printed across the form in red pen. “SUCKED!!!!”
Lucas laughed out loud and reached for the whiskey bottle. Well, Mr. Jared Kavello, hope you aren’t too disappointed with your failing grade.
Something white slid under the door. He hobbled over and picked up a folded sheet of paper and opened it.
Random letters had been cut from newsprint and pasted on the page. After he read the first line, he supported himself against the wall.
I’vE BeEN PaiD TO kILL YoU, PrOFEsSOR.
WHaT pRICe WoULd YoU PAY mE TO LEt yOU LIvE?
PLACe AN aD iN toMoRRow’S QUEbEC ChROnICLE UnDEr CLAsSIfIEDS. INSErT tHe FIgURe yOU’D PAy iN ThE sPAcE bELOw. If YOu cALL tHE pOLiCE, YOUr GrANdSOnS’ nEW PlAYMaTE wILL BE THe GrIM ReAPeR. THE pHONE nUmBER Is fICtITIoUS.
CoUNtRY lOT FOr SaLE ALOnG THe JEaN-LAROSE rIVeR $_________. FIrm. CaLL 555-240-6767 FOr DETAiLs.
Who would do this? Could this be from one of his students? He had used the reference to the Grim Reaper more than once in class. Surely, not even Kavello would stoop this low. Should he warn his son, Greg, and leave the city tonight? Had he ever mentioned where his family lived? There was still Friday’s field trip.
He reached for the phone to call the police. But his fingers froze. No. Corbin’s and Travis’s lives could be jeopardized. He had no choice but to follow the extortionist’s instructions. His head throbbed.
He lay on the couch with a cold, damp washcloth on his forehead in an attempt to ease his headache. The phone clipped to his belt vibrated. He opened an email from his friend, Dorothée Dufresne. Would he meet her at the 1608 Wine and Cheese Bar in the Château at five o’clock? She wanted to introduce him to someone special. Lucas hit the reply key, ready to beg off.
He paused. Dorothée knew he was leaving Québec City in a few days. If he didn’t meet with her and convince her that all was well, she’d hunt him down and pry his secret from him. He accepted her invitation.
His heart raced as he noticed the time. He used his laptop to access the newspaper classified ads department. The English-language Chronicle-Telegraph was a weekly newspaper, publishing Wednesdays. Tomorrow. Twenty minutes until deadline.
How much cash could he access by Friday? With stiff fingers, he provided his credit card information, then typed in the phony ad details. Three minutes to deadline, he entered a figure and hit the Submit button.
Donna Warner’s novella, Targeted, published Nov. 2015, is book #1 in the Blair and Piermont crime thriller series. It’s set in the Caribbean on Roatán Island, Honduras. Book #2, Death’s Footprint, published Apr. 2017, takes place in Canada’s historic Québec City. Both Targeted and Death’s Footprint are co-authored with award winning mystery author, Gloria Ferris.
Before joining the fiction writing industry, first as a freelance editor and then as a published author, Donna was communication manager for the Canadian Network of Toxicology Centres. Prior to that, she tutored ESL students; taught college-level education courses for ten years; and founded a registered private vocational school.
A keen cottager, Donna enjoys the challenges of climbing in and out of her kayak without getting dunked and trying to outsmart fish. Home is a country property on the outskirts of Guelph, Ontario. She is a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers of Canada.
Gloria Ferris is the award-winning author of the Cornwall & Redfern mysteries that feature serious crimes and far-from-serious protagonists. Death’s Footprint is her second crime thriller, quick read, co-written with author, Donna Warner.
When not writing, Gloria works on character profiles, researches plotlines, reads everything, and is often heard to mutter, “I wish I’d written that!” She is a member of the Crime Writers of Canada, the International Thriller Writers, and the Alliance of Independent Authors. Gloria returned to her native Guelph, Ontario, after retiring from her job as procedure writer at a nuclear power plant. She spent more than twenty-five years in Kincardine and Port Elgin, small towns which inspire her mysteries.