Bad Samaritan (Sister Agatha Series #6) [NOOK Book]

Overview


Sister Agatha of the Our Lady of Hope monastery in Bernalillo, New Mexico has become reknowned—and occasionally infamous— for her crime solving skills. Now she must bring her skills to bear on her most important case yet—her friend and ally Sheriff Tom Green is a suspect in the brutal murder of his rival in the upcoming election.
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Bad Samaritan (Sister Agatha Series #6)

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Overview


Sister Agatha of the Our Lady of Hope monastery in Bernalillo, New Mexico has become reknowned—and occasionally infamous— for her crime solving skills. Now she must bring her skills to bear on her most important case yet—her friend and ally Sheriff Tom Green is a suspect in the brutal murder of his rival in the upcoming election.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Sister Agatha of Our Lady of Hope monastery in Bernalillo, N.Mex., sets out to clear her old college boyfriend, Sheriff Tom Green, of a murder charge in the Thurlos’ engaging sixth Sister Agatha mystery (after 2008’s The Prodigal Nun). The police suspect that the sheriff, who was running in a nasty re-election campaign against Robert Garcia, the mayor’s wealthy brother, shot Garcia in an isolated park area during a Fourth of July celebration. Green, who passed out shortly before the killing, thinks someone in on a plot to frame him drugged either the hot dog or the lemonade he was consuming. The astute, down-to-earth Sister Agatha, whose choice to become a nun the authors make persuasively real, gets on a trail that uncovers drug and spousal abuse. Hopefully, despite an impending move to Colorado, Sister Agatha will return to solve more crimes with her trusted former police dog, Pax, and the convent’s old station wagon she drives, the Antichrysler. (July)
From the Publisher

"The astute, down-to-earth Sister Agatha, whose choice to become a nun the authors make persuasively real, gets on a trail that uncovers drug and spousal abuse. Hopefully, despite an impending move to Colorado, Sister Agatha will return to solve more crimes with her trusted former police dog, Pax, and the convent’s old station wagon she drives, the Antichrysler."
--Publishers Weekly
 
"... a charming cozy with a Wild West setting."
--Booklist

Kirkus Reviews
Sister Agatha faces not only the closing of her beloved monastery but also the most important murder case of her life. The thought of leaving Our Lady of Hope Monastery in Bernalillo, N.M., to move to Colorado taxes Sister Agatha's faith. Just as devastating, however, is the news that Sheriff Tom Green, her old high-school flame, has been arrested for murder. Tom is accused of killing his political rival Robert Garcia at a rally and Fourth of July celebration in a crowded park after Garcia is found shot dead, a blood-smeared club in his hand and Tom unconscious at his side. Although both had apparently been drugged with a date-rape drug placed in their hot-dog relish, Garcia's powerful family, including the mayor, still insist Tom is guilty. With her faithful retired police dog Pax at her side, Agatha tracks down clues while facing threats from Garcia's backers. She learns that Tom's wife was planning to leave him, while Garcia's wife is hiding the secret that her son was not fathered by her husband, a controlling wife-beater. Agatha is a formidable sleuth with a long string of successful cases to her credit (The Prodigal Nun, 2008, etc.). But proving Tom innocent while facing her own problems will be no easy task. A case designed to appeal to Agatha's fans while keeping them waiting to learn the fate of Our Lady of Hope.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429950237
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 6/22/2010
  • Series: Sister Agatha Series , #6
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 104,176
  • File size: 250 KB

Meet the Author


AIMÉE and DAVID THURLO live in Corrales, New Mexico.

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Read an Excerpt


1
FAITH COULD MOVE MOUNTAINS AND CAST THEM INTO THE sea, but although Sister Agatha’s faith was strong, it was far from impregnable. There were too many chinks in her armor, and lately it seemed as if God had decided to test each and every one.
At the moment, it was one thirty in the morning and she was barely awake. Yawning and shaking the cobwebs out of her head to stay alert, she drove toward the small town of Bernalillo, creeping down the narrow blacktop at forty-five miles per hour. The anemic headlights of the Antichrysler—the monastery’s rickety old station wagon—barely parted the black curtain trying to envelop them.
Pax was sitting up straight on the passenger’s side. A former police dog, he was now the monastery’s pet and companion to the externs—nuns who didn’t take a vow of enclosure. Sister Agatha wondered if the old boy had somehow managed to understand the seriousness of their current situation, and his personal connection to it.
Until to night, she hadn’t really believed that things at Our Lady of Hope could get any worse. For the past few months their monastery had been bravely fighting against a death sentence. Though the final curtain hadn’t yet fallen, barring a miracle, the end was now near.
One slim hope still remained, but the threads that bound it were so fragile it didn’t seem wise to cling to them. That was why Sister Agatha had chosen to protect herself by preparing for the worst. Piensa mal y acertarás. It was a local Spanish saying that meant “Think the worst and you’ll be right.” Yet her attempt to remain realistic just left her feeling even more empty inside.
With effort, Sister Agatha pushed aside those concerns for now and focused on the matter at hand. Late phone calls to the monastery—like the one less than thirty minutes ago—ran the risk of not being heard and answered, since their only phones were inside Reverend Mother’s office and the parlor. However, to night’s caller had been insistent and the ringing had eventually awakened Sister Bernarda.
That frantic call for help had come on behalf of one of the monastery’s most loyal friends, and Reverend Mother had dispatched Sister Agatha immediately. As Mother had explained, Sister Agatha was the extern most used to handling “difficult” situations—and that description certainly fit the situation at hand.
Forcing herself to focus exclusively on what she had to do next, Sister Agatha drove directly to the sheriff’s station. The nearly full parking lot attested to the importance of what was taking place.
After finding a parking space at the end of the row, she put the big white German shepherd on his leash, then hurried down the sidewalk to the front entrance. The foyer led to an equally small lobby, where a young male deputy was attempting to calm a shirtless and extremely irate older man in plaid shorts and flip-flops. He’d obviously had too much to drink. Drunks of all ages, sizes, and shapes abounded on the Fourth of July holiday, when celebrations usually went well into the wee morning hours of the fifth.
Ignoring the ruckus, she led her curious dog around the duo and stepped up to the front desk. Sergeant Millie Romero rose from her chair and nodded to her.
“I’m glad you’re here, Sister Agatha,” she said loudly, trying to be heard over the noise the drunk was making. “Sorry for the circumstances. I imagine you want to see him now?”
“Yes, I do. While we’re walking there, could you tell me what the department plans to do with him? A high-profile officer like he is will need extra care. The second they put him in with other prisoners he’ll be in mortal danger.”
“That’s why he’s not in a cell. For now at least, he’s being held in one of the interrogation rooms,” Millie said, coming out from behind the counter. Holding open the half-door that led into the bullpen, she added, “Do you want to leave Pax here while I take you to see him?”
“That’s a good idea. This is his second home.” Sister Agatha unfastened the leash and saw Pax go beg a cracker from one of the sergeants at a cubicle.
As Millie walked down the hall with her, Sister Agatha could feel the woman’s tension.
“He could sure use your help,” Millie said in a quiet voice. “Officially, there’s not much we can do right now. Captain Chavez will keep an open mind, but things don’t look good.”
“Where’s Captain Chavez now?” Sister Agatha asked, looking around.
“He’s still at the crime scene.”
Sister Agatha slowed her steps. “Before we go in, can you tell me how he’s dealing with this?”
“Not well at all,” Millie said, nodding to another officer in the long passageway.
Sister Agatha swallowed back the sense of outrage that filled her. This man, of all men, deserved better. Nothing about the incident made sense to her.
A second later they stopped in front of a door that read INTERVIEW ROOM A. A thick window revealed the prisoner sitting in a wooden chair in front of a small table. His chin was resting on the table, and he looked half asleep.
Hearing the lock being worked, her old friend looked up, and Sister Agatha saw his face clearly for the first time.
Sheriff Tom Green looked exhausted. Bleary eyed and disheveled, he barely resembled the spit-and-polish professional his officers were used to confronting.
She and Tom went way back, and at rare times, Sister Agatha could still catch fleeting glimpses of a Tom Green the others couldn’t even imagine. To night, for one of those brief moments, she actually saw the reflection of her old college boyfriend. He had been a vulnerable, sensitive young man who’d claimed her heart before she’d been compelled to follow a higher calling.
He stood, squared his shoulders, and nodded to Millie. “How did you hear?” he asked Sister Agatha.
“One of your people called the monastery,” she said. “We were told you’d been detained.”
“Arrested,” he corrected. “My opponent in the sheriff’s race, Robert Garcia, has been murdered. The evidence at the scene and the facts I know to be true don’t match, but I didn’t kill Robert.”
“I believe you, Tom,” she said. “Your people know that’s true, too. So let’s see what we can do to straighten this mess out.”
“I’ll be down the hall if you need me,” Millie said.
Once the door shut, Sister Agatha focused on Tom. “I come into town often enough to know all about the campaign—the name-calling and the rest of it. But how—”
“Did I end up in this mess?” he interrupted, finishing her thought. “I wish I could tell you exactly what happened, but the details are all jumbled up in my mind. Worst of all, they don’t match the physical evidence—at least the bits I’ve been told about.”
“Tell me what you remember,” Sister Agatha said, taking a seat across the table from him.
He nodded. “I was in the park celebrating the Fourth, shaking hands, and basically meeting the public. Out of the blue Robert Garcia came up to me, carrying two hot dogs. He handed me one and asked if we could talk privately. He suggested that we go to the southwest corner of the park past the swings once the fireworks started. Nobody was likely to disturb us there at that time. I agreed. He then stepped away to speak to some of his people, and I continued talking to my constituents. After that, I picked up a glass of lemonade and kept campaigning. I’d started feeling really drowsy by the time I was supposed to go meet with Robert.”
“Your symptoms . . . were they like food poisoning?”
“No, not really. There was no nausea or stomach problems.”
“So what did you do about it?”
“Nothing. I sucked it up and went to meet Robert. When I reached him, everything was spinning, and I knew I was going to pass out. I wanted to tell him to get help, but I was having trouble putting words together. He said something just as my knees gave way. The last thing I remember was the startled look on Robert’s face.”
“How are you feeling now?” Sister Agatha asked, leaning forward and looking more closely at her old friend.
“I’m okay, and before you ask, I had a physical a few months back. No blood pressure issues. I’m in perfect health, so I’m guessing I was drugged. It was either in the hot dog or the lemonade. That’s all I had.”
“Didn’t you say that Robert had a hot dog, too?” Sister Agatha asked, clarifying.
“Yes, they looked like ones from the city’s kiosk. They were wrapped in those red, white, and blue napkins.”
“Okay,” she said. “Now tell me what happened after you regained consciousness.”
“I was flat on my back, and Millie Romero was crouched beside me. Millie said that Al Russo, Robert’s campaign manager, had called 911. According to her, Russo lost track of Robert, so he went looking for him. What he found was Robert’s dead body—killed by a gunshot—with a blood-smeared club in his hand. Since I have a bloody bruise on my head, the blood’s probably mine.”
“So basically, they’ll say you shot him before you went down,” she said, deep in thought.
“It’s as if someone framed me but gave me an out. I could plead self-defense, but since a club’s no match for a pistol, I’m vulnerable to charges of excessive force.”
“Which you would still beat. A police officer is authorized to use deadly force when he’s attacked.”
“Yes and no. I’d have a legal battle on my hands.”
“I wish I could visit the crime scene now while everything’s fresh,” she said.
Tom shook his head. “A crime scene needs to be worked by specially trained officers. You’d be in the way and might even unknowingly compromise evidence.”
“Even now you’re sticking to the rules?”
“Those rules were made and put in place for a reason.”
She sighed. That was the Tom she knew. “Anything else you can tell me?”
“I was told that they’d found a single footprint—a size ten and a half—that had been left in a muddy patch near the body. It doesn’t match my shoe size or pattern, or the victim’s. The thing is, it could have been left there anytime after the sprinklers got things wet. They go on every morning at seven.”
“The presence of a third person at the crime scene could help clear up some of the apparent inconsistencies,” Sister Agatha said.
“Maybe, or maybe not,” he muttered sourly. “All I know is that I have this bruise on my head, but I can’t remember getting it,” he went on, gingerly feeling the lump by his left temple. “Had I been conscious, I would have remembered a blow like this, and it wasn’t caused by the fall when I passed out. There was nothing in the grass that I could have hit my head on. I looked.”
“Verifying that you were drugged is crucial now. Have they given you a blood test?”
He shook his head and winced. “I’ve been asking for one ever since I was brought in. To me, it’s obvious. That’s the only way I can explain my inability to remember things more clearly. I’m being framed, but I’ll need a tox screen to back up my story.”
“So what’s the holdup?” Sister Agatha asked.
“Budget constraints. Our department has a policy that doesn’t allow for extra tests when the evidence appears so straightforward. In this case, it indicates that I shot Garcia about the same time he clubbed me,” he said. “My people will help me push for one, but what worries me is that by the time they get a tech here, it’ll be too late.”
“How can I speed things up? Is there someone I can speak to on your behalf?”
“I don’t think so. Gloria and my lawyer, Doug Sanchez, are working hard to get things rolling. They spoke to Captain Chavez, who’s acting sheriff right now, and he’s for it, but DA Springer is apparently throwing a million legalities in their way.” He rubbed the stubble that now covered his chin. “Springer owes his job to the Garcias.”
“No one who knows you will believe you’re guilty of murder,” Sister Agatha said firmly.
“That’s what I’d like to think, too. Problem is, with this run for office against the Garcia machine, I’ve now got as many enemies as I do friends.”
“I’m your friend, Tom, and trust me—I’ll find out what happened.”
“I know you will. Thanks,” he said with quiet gratitude.
“This is a very complicated frame-up, Tom. We need to find out why anyone would go to all the trouble, and exactly what’s behind this.”
“I wish I could tell you.”
“The evidence indicates that you were a bonus—but not the target. You were even struck on the head to give the impression that you’d acted in self-defense—a way out for you. Robert had to have been the real target, so I’m going to concentrate on him. As far as I’m concerned, the puzzle starts there.”
“Robert had a lot of enemies.”
“I imagine so, but nothing about this case—not even the logistics—makes sense. Why would Robert invite you to a secluded corner of the park, then attack you—an armed officer—with a big stick?”
“Exactly. Also keep in mind that if I’d wanted to take that branch away from him, I wouldn’t have needed a gun. I’m at least a foot taller than he was, and well trained in self-defense. But the bruise on my head and the fact that the branch in his hand had blood on it back up the wrong version of what went down.” He paused, then in a slow, deliberate voice added, “If Robert hadn’t been the victim, I would have sworn that he was behind the setup. He liked playing people.”
“You and he had differences even before the campaign, didn’t you?” she noted, accurately reading his tone.
“Robert used to be a deputy. He and I have a history that dates back to his years in the department.” He lapsed into what became a long silence.
“I’ll need to know more,” she prodded.
“I wish I could help, but those details are sealed. I’d just make my position worse if I told you. As it is, I’ve probably said too much already.”
“I’ll keep what ever you tell me confidential,” she assured him.
He considered it for several moments, then answered. “Here’s what I can tell you. Robert and I went head-to-head on just about everything. He quit about a year after I was elected sheriff and set up his own security firm. I figured he was out of law enforcement for good. Then came the primaries, and suddenly he was the other party’s candidate and in my face again.”
Sister Agatha felt a sinking sensation as she listened to Tom. Things were looking bad. Their current mayor, JD Garcia, was Robert Garcia’s brother, and no friend of Tom’s. Tom’s refusal to play small-town politics had made him an outsider—one certain people would be happy to see go down.
“The only thing that makes sense to me is that a third person was there—the killer,” Sister Agatha said. “We need to act fast and find out who that was. The longer the truth stays hidden, the worse it’s going to get for you.”
“I didn’t fire my weapon unassisted. I know that, but I have to prove it. Somehow, I’ve got to find a way to remember everything that led up to the moment I passed out.” He took a slow, deep breath and added, “Can you get me a list of everything that was found at the crime scene? It might help me.”
“Millie was there, so I’ll ask her. If she has orders to withhold that information from you, maybe Doug Sanchez can request it. They’re supposed to give the defense access to that information, aren’t they?”
“With Tivo Chavez on the case, Doug’ll probably be given a copy of what ever the deputies gathered up. I never thought much of defense attorneys—until now,” he added in a taut voice.
“You’ve got a lot of people that’ll be working hard to establish the truth, Tom. Hold on to that.”
“I’ve also got enemies who are ready to do what ever it takes to get a piece of me,” he countered quietly.
“Maybe so, but working from the standpoint that you’re innocent, I’ll be able to see things that others may miss.” She pointed to his hand. “Like that injury. Why is your hand bruised? The web between your thumb and forefinger is down to raw skin.”
Tom flexed his hand, making a fist, then opening it again. “Even after hours of practice at the range, I never bruised my hand firing my own weapon. This is evidence that supports my claim. The killer wrapped my hand around my pistol, then squeezed my finger against the trigger. That’s how he shot Robert. What he forgot to take into account was the recoil. That, coupled with an unconscious man’s sloppy grip, completely explains this type of bruising.”
“Did you point that out to the deputies at the scene?”
He nodded. “I had them take photos, too.”
“Good. Firing the weapon while it was in your hand tells us that the killer is savvy enough to know about gunpowder residue,” Sister Agatha said.
“Yeah, and the blow to my head offers an easy explanation for me being unconscious.”
Excerpted from Bad Samaritan by Aimée and David Thurlo.
Copyright © 2010 by Aimée and David Thurlo.
Published in 2010 by Minotaur Books.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.
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Table of Contents

1 Becoming the Crew Leader! 1

The Basics of Living with Multiple Dogs

Establishing Benevolent Leadership 2

Regular Exercise Makes For A Happier Crew 8

Calming Accessories are Your Friend 9

2 Doggone Relax Already! 17

Carving Calm Out of Chaos

Kitchen Relaxation 17

Living/Family Room Relaxation 19

Bedroom Relaxation 25

Doorway/Entry Way Relaxation 27

Yard and Porch Relaxation 30

3 Mealtime Manners 35

Dining Without Incident

Adding a New Dog 42

Foster Dogs 43

Real Life Mealtimes 44

Nutrition and the Multiple Dog Household 47

4 Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Where Do They All Fit?! 50

The Older/Infirm Dog 56

To Crate or Not to Crate 59

Foster Dogs 59

Real Life Sleeping Arrangements 61

5 Since You've Been Gone 65

When the Crew is Home Alone

Real Life Home Alone 72

To Kennel or not to Kennel 74

6 Taking It On The Road 77

Staying Upright While Group Walking!

Real Life Group Walks 88

Exercise and the Multiple Dog Household 90

Transporting the Crew 92

7 Choreographing the Crew 95

Group Training

Real Life Group Training 107

8 Play by Play 108

Kids Just Wanna Have Fun

9 Tails are Tucked 121

Signs the Bloom is Off

10 The Fur is Flying 128

What Should You Do If Your Efforts to Integrate Fail?

11 Tragedy in the Midst 132

Losing a Crew Member

12 And Puppy Makes Three 138

Adding a New Dog to Your Home

13 Proofing the Pups 144

The Training Basics Explained

Benevolent Leadership 145

What Does Positive Training Mean? 147

Capturing 148

Lures and Reward Explained 153

Quick Reference Guide to Proper Reward Usage 156

Attention Cue 158

Go To Mat 161

Wait 163

Drop It 166

Leave It 168

Jumping 171

Crate Training 173

Recalls 178

Loose Leash Walking 181

Effective Time Outs 184

Training Treats 185

Acknowledgements 189

Glossary 191

Resources and References 193

Index 198

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First Chapter

Bad Samaritan

A Sister Agatha Mystery
By Aimée Thurlo

Minotaur Books

Copyright © 2010 Aimée Thurlo
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780312367329

1
FAITH COULD MOVE MOUNTAINS AND CAST THEM INTO THE sea, but although Sister Agatha’s faith was strong, it was far from impregnable. There were too many chinks in her armor, and lately it seemed as if God had decided to test each and every one.
At the moment, it was one thirty in the morning and she was barely awake. Yawning and shaking the cobwebs out of her head to stay alert, she drove toward the small town of Bernalillo, creeping down the narrow blacktop at forty-five miles per hour. The anemic headlights of the Antichrysler—the monastery’s rickety old station wagon—barely parted the black curtain trying to envelop them.
Pax was sitting up straight on the passenger’s side. A former police dog, he was now the monastery’s pet and companion to the externs—nuns who didn’t take a vow of enclosure. Sister Agatha wondered if the old boy had somehow managed to understand the seriousness of their current situation, and his personal connection to it.
Until to night, she hadn’t really believed that things at Our Lady of Hope could get any worse. For the past few months their monastery had been bravely fighting against a death sentence. Though the final curtain hadn’t yet fallen, barring a miracle, the end was now near.
One slim hope still remained, but the threads that bound it were so fragile it didn’t seem wise to cling to them. That was why Sister Agatha had chosen to protect herself by preparing for the worst. Piensa mal y acertarás. It was a local Spanish saying that meant “Think the worst and you’ll be right.” Yet her attempt to remain realistic just left her feeling even more empty inside.
With effort, Sister Agatha pushed aside those concerns for now and focused on the matter at hand. Late phone calls to the monastery—like the one less than thirty minutes ago—ran the risk of not being heard and answered, since their only phones were inside Reverend Mother’s office and the parlor. However, to night’s caller had been insistent and the ringing had eventually awakened Sister Bernarda.
That frantic call for help had come on behalf of one of the monastery’s most loyal friends, and Reverend Mother had dispatched Sister Agatha immediately. As Mother had explained, Sister Agatha was the extern most used to handling “difficult” situations—and that description certainly fit the situation at hand.
Forcing herself to focus exclusively on what she had to do next, Sister Agatha drove directly to the sheriff’s station. The nearly full parking lot attested to the importance of what was taking place.
After finding a parking space at the end of the row, she put the big white German shepherd on his leash, then hurried down the sidewalk to the front entrance. The foyer led to an equally small lobby, where a young male deputy was attempting to calm a shirtless and extremely irate older man in plaid shorts and flip-flops. He’d obviously had too much to drink. Drunks of all ages, sizes, and shapes abounded on the Fourth of July holiday, when celebrations usually went well into the wee morning hours of the fifth.
Ignoring the ruckus, she led her curious dog around the duo and stepped up to the front desk. Sergeant Millie Romero rose from her chair and nodded to her.
“I’m glad you’re here, Sister Agatha,” she said loudly, trying to be heard over the noise the drunk was making. “Sorry for the circumstances. I imagine you want to see him now?”
“Yes, I do. While we’re walking there, could you tell me what the department plans to do with him? A high-profile officer like he is will need extra care. The second they put him in with other prisoners he’ll be in mortal danger.”
“That’s why he’s not in a cell. For now at least, he’s being held in one of the interrogation rooms,” Millie said, coming out from behind the counter. Holding open the half-door that led into the bullpen, she added, “Do you want to leave Pax here while I take you to see him?”
“That’s a good idea. This is his second home.” Sister Agatha unfastened the leash and saw Pax go beg a cracker from one of the sergeants at a cubicle.
As Millie walked down the hall with her, Sister Agatha could feel the woman’s tension.
“He could sure use your help,” Millie said in a quiet voice. “Officially, there’s not much we can do right now. Captain Chavez will keep an open mind, but things don’t look good.”
“Where’s Captain Chavez now?” Sister Agatha asked, looking around.
“He’s still at the crime scene.”
Sister Agatha slowed her steps. “Before we go in, can you tell me how he’s dealing with this?”
“Not well at all,” Millie said, nodding to another officer in the long passageway.
Sister Agatha swallowed back the sense of outrage that filled her. This man, of all men, deserved better. Nothing about the incident made sense to her.
A second later they stopped in front of a door that read INTERVIEW ROOM A. A thick window revealed the prisoner sitting in a wooden chair in front of a small table. His chin was resting on the table, and he looked half asleep.
Hearing the lock being worked, her old friend looked up, and Sister Agatha saw his face clearly for the first time.
Sheriff Tom Green looked exhausted. Bleary eyed and disheveled, he barely resembled the spit-and-polish professional his officers were used to confronting.
She and Tom went way back, and at rare times, Sister Agatha could still catch fleeting glimpses of a Tom Green the others couldn’t even imagine. To night, for one of those brief moments, she actually saw the reflection of her old college boyfriend. He had been a vulnerable, sensitive young man who’d claimed her heart before she’d been compelled to follow a higher calling.
He stood, squared his shoulders, and nodded to Millie. “How did you hear?” he asked Sister Agatha.
“One of your people called the monastery,” she said. “We were told you’d been detained.”
“Arrested,” he corrected. “My opponent in the sheriff’s race, Robert Garcia, has been murdered. The evidence at the scene and the facts I know to be true don’t match, but I didn’t kill Robert.”
“I believe you, Tom,” she said. “Your people know that’s true, too. So let’s see what we can do to straighten this mess out.”
“I’ll be down the hall if you need me,” Millie said.
Once the door shut, Sister Agatha focused on Tom. “I come into town often enough to know all about the campaign—the name-calling and the rest of it. But how—”
“Did I end up in this mess?” he interrupted, finishing her thought. “I wish I could tell you exactly what happened, but the details are all jumbled up in my mind. Worst of all, they don’t match the physical evidence—at least the bits I’ve been told about.”
“Tell me what you remember,” Sister Agatha said, taking a seat across the table from him.
He nodded. “I was in the park celebrating the Fourth, shaking hands, and basically meeting the public. Out of the blue Robert Garcia came up to me, carrying two hot dogs. He handed me one and asked if we could talk privately. He suggested that we go to the southwest corner of the park past the swings once the fireworks started. Nobody was likely to disturb us there at that time. I agreed. He then stepped away to speak to some of his people, and I continued talking to my constituents. After that, I picked up a glass of lemonade and kept campaigning. I’d started feeling really drowsy by the time I was supposed to go meet with Robert.”
“Your symptoms . . . were they like food poisoning?”
“No, not really. There was no nausea or stomach problems.”
“So what did you do about it?”
“Nothing. I sucked it up and went to meet Robert. When I reached him, everything was spinning, and I knew I was going to pass out. I wanted to tell him to get help, but I was having trouble putting words together. He said something just as my knees gave way. The last thing I remember was the startled look on Robert’s face.”
“How are you feeling now?” Sister Agatha asked, leaning forward and looking more closely at her old friend.
“I’m okay, and before you ask, I had a physical a few months back. No blood pressure issues. I’m in perfect health, so I’m guessing I was drugged. It was either in the hot dog or the lemonade. That’s all I had.”
“Didn’t you say that Robert had a hot dog, too?” Sister Agatha asked, clarifying.
“Yes, they looked like ones from the city’s kiosk. They were wrapped in those red, white, and blue napkins.”
“Okay,” she said. “Now tell me what happened after you regained consciousness.”
“I was flat on my back, and Millie Romero was crouched beside me. Millie said that Al Russo, Robert’s campaign manager, had called 911. According to her, Russo lost track of Robert, so he went looking for him. What he found was Robert’s dead body—killed by a gunshot—with a blood-smeared club in his hand. Since I have a bloody bruise on my head, the blood’s probably mine.”
“So basically, they’ll say you shot him before you went down,” she said, deep in thought.
“It’s as if someone framed me but gave me an out. I could plead self-defense, but since a club’s no match for a pistol, I’m vulnerable to charges of excessive force.”
“Which you would still beat. A police officer is authorized to use deadly force when he’s attacked.”
“Yes and no. I’d have a legal battle on my hands.”
“I wish I could visit the crime scene now while everything’s fresh,” she said.
Tom shook his head. “A crime scene needs to be worked by specially trained officers. You’d be in the way and might even unknowingly compromise evidence.”
“Even now you’re sticking to the rules?”
“Those rules were made and put in place for a reason.”
She sighed. That was the Tom she knew. “Anything else you can tell me?”
“I was told that they’d found a single footprint—a size ten and a half—that had been left in a muddy patch near the body. It doesn’t match my shoe size or pattern, or the victim’s. The thing is, it could have been left there anytime after the sprinklers got things wet. They go on every morning at seven.”
“The presence of a third person at the crime scene could help clear up some of the apparent inconsistencies,” Sister Agatha said.
“Maybe, or maybe not,” he muttered sourly. “All I know is that I have this bruise on my head, but I can’t remember getting it,” he went on, gingerly feeling the lump by his left temple. “Had I been conscious, I would have remembered a blow like this, and it wasn’t caused by the fall when I passed out. There was nothing in the grass that I could have hit my head on. I looked.”
“Verifying that you were drugged is crucial now. Have they given you a blood test?”
He shook his head and winced. “I’ve been asking for one ever since I was brought in. To me, it’s obvious. That’s the only way I can explain my inability to remember things more clearly. I’m being framed, but I’ll need a tox screen to back up my story.”
“So what’s the holdup?” Sister Agatha asked.
“Budget constraints. Our department has a policy that doesn’t allow for extra tests when the evidence appears so straightforward. In this case, it indicates that I shot Garcia about the same time he clubbed me,” he said. “My people will help me push for one, but what worries me is that by the time they get a tech here, it’ll be too late.”
“How can I speed things up? Is there someone I can speak to on your behalf?”
“I don’t think so. Gloria and my lawyer, Doug Sanchez, are working hard to get things rolling. They spoke to Captain Chavez, who’s acting sheriff right now, and he’s for it, but DA Springer is apparently throwing a million legalities in their way.” He rubbed the stubble that now covered his chin. “Springer owes his job to the Garcias.”
“No one who knows you will believe you’re guilty of murder,” Sister Agatha said firmly.
“That’s what I’d like to think, too. Problem is, with this run for office against the Garcia machine, I’ve now got as many enemies as I do friends.”
“I’m your friend, Tom, and trust me—I’ll find out what happened.”
“I know you will. Thanks,” he said with quiet gratitude.
“This is a very complicated frame-up, Tom. We need to find out why anyone would go to all the trouble, and exactly what’s behind this.”
“I wish I could tell you.”
“The evidence indicates that you were a bonus—but not the target. You were even struck on the head to give the impression that you’d acted in self-defense—a way out for you. Robert had to have been the real target, so I’m going to concentrate on him. As far as I’m concerned, the puzzle starts there.”
“Robert had a lot of enemies.”
“I imagine so, but nothing about this case—not even the logistics—makes sense. Why would Robert invite you to a secluded corner of the park, then attack you—an armed officer—with a big stick?”
“Exactly. Also keep in mind that if I’d wanted to take that branch away from him, I wouldn’t have needed a gun. I’m at least a foot taller than he was, and well trained in self-defense. But the bruise on my head and the fact that the branch in his hand had blood on it back up the wrong version of what went down.” He paused, then in a slow, deliberate voice added, “If Robert hadn’t been the victim, I would have sworn that he was behind the setup. He liked playing people.”
“You and he had differences even before the campaign, didn’t you?” she noted, accurately reading his tone.
“Robert used to be a deputy. He and I have a history that dates back to his years in the department.” He lapsed into what became a long silence.
“I’ll need to know more,” she prodded.
“I wish I could help, but those details are sealed. I’d just make my position worse if I told you. As it is, I’ve probably said too much already.”
“I’ll keep what ever you tell me confidential,” she assured him.
He considered it for several moments, then answered. “Here’s what I can tell you. Robert and I went head-to-head on just about everything. He quit about a year after I was elected sheriff and set up his own security firm. I figured he was out of law enforcement for good. Then came the primaries, and suddenly he was the other party’s candidate and in my face again.”
Sister Agatha felt a sinking sensation as she listened to Tom. Things were looking bad. Their current mayor, JD Garcia, was Robert Garcia’s brother, and no friend of Tom’s. Tom’s refusal to play small-town politics had made him an outsider—one certain people would be happy to see go down.
“The only thing that makes sense to me is that a third person was there—the killer,” Sister Agatha said. “We need to act fast and find out who that was. The longer the truth stays hidden, the worse it’s going to get for you.”
“I didn’t fire my weapon unassisted. I know that, but I have to prove it. Somehow, I’ve got to find a way to remember everything that led up to the moment I passed out.” He took a slow, deep breath and added, “Can you get me a list of everything that was found at the crime scene? It might help me.”
“Millie was there, so I’ll ask her. If she has orders to withhold that information from you, maybe Doug Sanchez can request it. They’re supposed to give the defense access to that information, aren’t they?”
“With Tivo Chavez on the case, Doug’ll probably be given a copy of what ever the deputies gathered up. I never thought much of defense attorneys—until now,” he added in a taut voice.
“You’ve got a lot of people that’ll be working hard to establish the truth, Tom. Hold on to that.”
“I’ve also got enemies who are ready to do what ever it takes to get a piece of me,” he countered quietly.
“Maybe so, but working from the standpoint that you’re innocent, I’ll be able to see things that others may miss.” She pointed to his hand. “Like that injury. Why is your hand bruised? The web between your thumb and forefinger is down to raw skin.”
Tom flexed his hand, making a fist, then opening it again. “Even after hours of practice at the range, I never bruised my hand firing my own weapon. This is evidence that supports my claim. The killer wrapped my hand around my pistol, then squeezed my finger against the trigger. That’s how he shot Robert. What he forgot to take into account was the recoil. That, coupled with an unconscious man’s sloppy grip, completely explains this type of bruising.”
“Did you point that out to the deputies at the scene?”
He nodded. “I had them take photos, too.”
“Good. Firing the weapon while it was in your hand tells us that the killer is savvy enough to know about gunpowder residue,” Sister Agatha said.
“Yeah, and the blow to my head offers an easy explanation for me being unconscious.”
Excerpted from Bad Samaritan by Aimée and David Thurlo.
Copyright © 2010 by Aimée and David Thurlo.
Published in 2010 by Minotaur Books.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.


Continues...

Excerpted from Bad Samaritan by Aimée Thurlo Copyright © 2010 by Aimée Thurlo. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 1, 2010

    Never mess with a nun who rides a Harley!

    There's a lot to like about Sister Agatha, feisty extern nun (that means she's not one of the cloistered ones for those who are unfamiliar with the term) who's the unlikely heroine of a delightful series of New Mexico mysteries by husband and wife writing team Aimee and David Thurlo. First, she rides a Harley. Wow.and, she never falls off; double wow! She's accompanied by her ever faithful canine companion, Pax, a white German Shepherd who's a former member of the local, police, canine unit. Truth to tell, he was the entire canine unit.

    In this latest adventure, Sister Agatha is being confronted by two crises: her beloved monastery, Our Lady of Hope, is about to close due to lack of donations and all the good sisters are being located to another convent in a different part of the state. (She can bring the dog with her, so that, at least, is a good thing.) Before she can leave, however, Sister Agatha must prove the innocence of her good friend, Sheriff Tom Green, who has been framed for the murder of his chief rival in the upcoming sheriff election.

    With the good Lord and several sympathetic townspeople-who know a lot more than they're prepared to tell, at first-on her side, how can Sister Agatha miss?

    Morale of story? Never mess with a nun who rides a Harley!

    Reviewed by: Susan Santangelo, author of "Retirement Can Be Murder" for Suspense Magazine

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  • Posted June 29, 2010

    Fascinating well-researched book!

    This book is a fascinating, well-researched and well-written book. I felt that I was part of the story and that the characters were people I knew...I never felt that I was just looking on from the sideline...It is a book that draws you into the story, lets you look at events through the eyes of the characters...
    I believe that this would also be a great audio book for those of us who enjoy this medium!
    Congratulations to the authors...when may we see, hear, read more of Sr. Agatha ?

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  • Posted May 9, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    entertaining regional amateur sleuth

    In Bernalillo, New Mexico Sister Agatha is sad with the closing of Our Lady of Hope Monastery and depressed with her pending relocation to Colorado. While she struggles with leaving the Land of Enchantment, her former high school boyfriend Sheriff Tom Green has been arrested for murder.

    The police accuse Tom of murdering his political opponent running against him for the sheriff's position, Robert Garcia at a Fourth of July celebration attended by many witnesses. The mayor's brother Garcia was found dead next to an unconscious Tom who was holding a bloody club. The victim and the accused were drugged with a date-rape drug found in the relish both placed on their hot dogs. Garcia's influential family demand Tom be tried. In the convent's Antichrysler, Agatha with Pax the retired police dog assisting her investigates the Garcia supporters that threaten her life and that of her K-9 companion. Agatha learns both sheriff contenders had spousal issues as Tom's wife is leaving him and Robert's hides his abuse and their son was sired by someone else.

    This is an entertaining regional amateur sleuth though in fairness with Sister Agatha's track record, (see The Prodigal Nun) amateur seems inappropriate. The story line is driven by the Sister who struggles with solving a case in which Tom is increasingly the most likely culprit, ignoring the nastiness of the political unhinged, and working through her own faith issues with the pending shutting of Our Lady of Hope doors. Fans of the series will appreciate her latest whodunit while new readers will seek the backlist of one of New Mexico's finest sleuths.

    Harriet Klausner

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    Posted September 15, 2010

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    Posted July 1, 2011

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    Posted February 4, 2011

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