Spun Tales: The Black Widow Agency


The ladies at the Black Widow Agency are back, bringing justice to wronged women like themselves, with their trademark blend of computer forensics, surveillance technology, and women's intuition.

In this sexy sequel, Katie, Alexandria, Jane, and Margo – with a little help from Antoine and Marcus – find themselves playing bodyguard to an unpublished manuscript. Its famous author, whose controversial medical thrillers have made her a target for...
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The ladies at the Black Widow Agency are back, bringing justice to wronged women like themselves, with their trademark blend of computer forensics, surveillance technology, and women's intuition.

In this sexy sequel, Katie, Alexandria, Jane, and Margo – with a little help from Antoine and Marcus – find themselves playing bodyguard to an unpublished manuscript. Its famous author, whose controversial medical thrillers have made her a target for adoring fans, angry fanatics, and powerful pharmaceutical interests, is in need of some protection too. But the Black Widows have a few other problems to untangle: Alexandria's unexplained disappearances, the pesky reappearance of reporter Chelsea Mattox, and Katie's unresolved feelings for her ex, Joe Kennedy.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

In this sequel to The Black Widow Agency, the ladies are trying to keep a best-selling but controversial author alive long enough to get her current manuscript to her publisher. Recommend this to patrons who are looking for a gentle mystery without a murder but featuring a few heart-wrenching scenes and brimful of dry humor.
—Jo Ann Vicarel

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780738713106
  • Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
  • Publication date: 7/1/2008
  • Series: Black Widow Agency Series
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Felicia Donovan (New Hampshire) is a recognized expert in the field of law enforcement technology and currently works at a New England-based police department as a civilian Information Systems Manager. Swearing by the adage “every keystroke is recoverable,” she has worked on the forensic recovery of computer crime files and has assisted the FBI on cases related to digital photography.

Donovan is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the New Hampshire Police Association. She also founded CLEAT (Communications, Law Enforcement and Technology), an organization of law enforcement professionals in the New England region.

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Read an Excerpt


“Ready, Alex?” Katie Mahoney asked Alexandria Axelrod as she handed her a black leather briefcase. Alexandria nodded. “You’re sure about this?” Katie asked with some hesitation. “You know you don’t have to do it. I can just tail him all the way.”

“It’s fine.”

“And the bailout word is?”


“If either of us has any problems, or even if something doesn’t feel right, that’s the emergency word. And if either of us has any emergency cravings, that’s the solution,” Katie added, laughing. Alexandria gazed at her vacantly. “Remember, the only thing I need is the room number,” Katie said as she glanced out the one-way window toward the street. A heavyset, middle-aged man with gray hair and thick, tortoise-shelled glasses suddenly came into view.

“Okay, it’s showtime.”

Katie pointed the video camera out the window of the white van that had “Divinity Florals” painted on its side. “That’s him,” she said pointing, “navy-blue suit, white shirt, floral tie, gray hair, coke-bottom glasses.” She motioned Alexandria to come over so she could see her target. Without thinking, Katie touched Alexandria’s elbow to pull her closer. Alexandria immediately recoiled.

“Sorry,” Katie said casually. “You see him?” Alexandria nodded. “Wait … wait … okay, go.”

Katie sat back and watched as Alexandria, with her long legs and wide stride, easily caught up to the man and fell into stepbehind him as he approached the entrance to the Constitution Hotel on Bolton Avenue. This was a routine case—although she knew from her years as a police officer that there was danger in letting one’s guard down and feeling complacent. Still, all the wife wanted was the incriminating evidence before she filed for divorce and, so far, it had been an easy case to work—the husband having enjoyed the company of one of the new assistants routinely every Tuesday at two p.m. All they needed now was the video to finalize the case and they could wrap things up and start on the next one.

Business was booming at the Black Widow Agency, where disgruntled wives and girlfriends hired Katie and her co-workers to get the goods on their errant husbands and boyfriends. When they weren’t in the field using the latest covert video surveillance cameras, they were back at the offices using the latest computer foren-sic software to digitally analyze amorous e-mails, recover deleted e-mail orders for flowers and trinkets, and uncover undisclosed bank accounts. It was hard work and long hours, but the women of the agency, all of whom had been scorned in one way or another by a man, were more than up for the task, especially if it meant helping a woman in need.

Katie swiveled in the mounted chair and switched to the remote cameras and microphones located in the briefcase Alexandria was carrying. She watched and listened on her headset as Alexandria, without giving the man so much as a glance, stepped into the elevator behind him. He turned around and politely asked her what floor she needed him to press. Alexandria deliberately fumbled around in her purse until she saw him press “six.”

“Sixth floor, please,” she said pulling out her cell phone and taking a few discrete pictures of the man while they rode up. As the elevator doors opened, the man stepped aside to let her exit first. Alexandria stepped out of the elevator and fumbled around again in her purse for a small compact. With her back to the man, she pretended to freshen up her lipstick. She pressed the small lid release in the front of the compact; a mini camera zoomed in, giving Alexandria a clear shot of the hallway directly behind her. She noted the door the man knocked on and could hear a woman’s voice as it was opened. With her back still toward him, Alexandria captured the woman embracing the man and drawing him in. As soon as the door was shut, Alexandria removed her shoes, tiptoed down the hall, noted the room number, and headed down the stairwell.

Upon hearing three successive raps on the van’s back door, Katie opened it and held out her hand to help Alexandria up, but Alexandria ignored the gesture and grabbed onto the door to hoist herself up.

“Six-twenty-two,” Alexandria announced as Katie jotted down the room number on a “Divinity Florals” receipt.

“Wish me luck,” Katie said as she grabbed the gift basket that Margo Norton, their office manager, had assembled for them earlier. In it were Lindt chocolate truffles, a bottle of champagne, glasses, and some imported cheese and crackers. Woven through-out the basket were tiny remote buttonhole cameras disguised as the heads of flowers.

Katie pulled her “Divinity Florals” cap down low on her head and, without saying another word, hopped out the back of the van. She walked into the main lobby of the hotel with a confident stride, as if she went there every day. The concierge looked up briefly at her. Katie smiled and waved to the young man as if they’d met many times before, and held up the basket. He nodded toward her and waved back. Without a word, she stepped onto the elevator and rode up to the sixth floor.

She knocked on the door and waited.

“Who is it?” a man’s voice called out.

“Delivery,” she said loudly. She deliberately smiled at the peep-hole and held the basket up in front of her.

The man opened the door just a crack. His tie was off, his shirt was half-unbuttoned and his belt was loosened. Katie glanced behind him and saw a young woman on the bed, wrapped only in a hotel robe.

“Delivery,” Katie said again and, without asking, tried to push past him and walk in.

The hefty man positioned himself in the door frame and put his arm out to stop her as he pushed his thick glasses back up on the bridge of his nose. “There must be some mistake,” he said, “we didn’t call for any delivery.”

Katie frowned and showed him the receipt. “Constitution Hotel, room six-twenty-two.” The man took the receipt from her and studied it.

“What is it, Saul?” the young woman sitting on the bed asked.

“I’ll take care of it,” he said, glancing nervously over his shoulder. He pointed to the receipt and showed Katie. “It says ‘Harrington’,” he said. “You must have the wrong person,” he added as he handed her back the receipt.

Katie pretended to study the receipt more closely, then glanced at her watch.

“Oh shit. They must have already checked out. Damn!” she said, glancing nervously back and forth. “Look, I’m going to catch all kinds of crap if I bring this back to the shop,” she said. “I was supposed to be here for this morning but that damned traffic … Do me a favor, would you, and just keep it anyway, okay?”

“But we didn’t —” the man started to say, but the young woman with the long, dark hair sauntered up behind him and placed her hand on his shoulder. She was half his age and not altogether attractive. Her nose was a bit too large for her face and her hair was a variation of colors from auburn at the roots to brunette at the tips, as if she couldn’t quite decide what color she wanted it to be. She was well-endowed and the robe was open enough for Katie to see her biggest assets.

“Ooh, is that champagne?” the young woman asked in a nasal tone as she leaned closer. She slipped her arms around the man’s waist and oozed out, “I wouldn’t mind a little champagne before we …”

The man glanced nervously at Katie and back out the door. “Okay, whatever, we’ll keep it.”

Katie shoved past him and set the basket on the dresser directly in front of the bed. “You two have a real good time,” she called out over her shoulder as she hurried back toward the elevator.

“Let’s see what’s on our favorite channel,” Katie said as she took a seat in the back of the van. Alexandria was already at the console, monitoring several views from the cameras.

“That’s the most expensive gift basket they’ll ever get,” Katie said, referring to the cost of the hidden cameras. The view was incredible. “Excellent video quality.”

“Those are the VT-twenty-threes,” Alexandria explained with some pride. “They have three hundred and eighty lines of resolution, a point-five low lux rating, the latest CMOS imager, and a built-in, three-point-five-millimeter lens with a sixty-degree field of view.”

“Let’s just hope his wife appreciates the fine quality of the video,” Katie said as she watched the woman undo the man’s belt.

“Looks like he has a sweet spot,” Katie chuckled. Alexandria watched with no expression whatsoever on her face. “Or should I say,” Katie corrected herself, “a sweet and low spot.” She leaned back a bit as the sordid action began to unfold in front of her. A few minutes later, she commented, “If that’s him all worked up, it sure doesn’t look like there’s much to work with.” Katie rocked the chair back and forth and the two women watched in silence for several minutes.

“Is it just me,” Alexandria said after a few minutes, “or does it look like he’s swaying?”

Just as she uttered the words, they watched on the monitors as the man slumped forward on top of the young woman, his body weight forcing her back onto the bed. Katie and Alexandria glanced at each other for a second in disbelief, then back to the monitor as they watched the young woman struggle to climb out from under the collapsed body.

“Oh, boy,” Katie said as she grabbed her cell phone and dialed the office of the Black Widow Agency.

“What are you doing?” Alexandria asked.

Margo Norton answered the phone immediately. “Hey, Margo, it’s Katie.”

“How’s the action?” Margo asked. “You learning anything new, Girlfriend?”

“Yeah, that sex can kill.”


“Listen, I need you to get on an untraceable line right away and call 9-1-1 for a possible heart attack at the Constitution Hotel, room six-twenty-two. Got that?”

“Constitution Hotel, room six-twenty-two,” Margo repeated back. “Got it.”

They continued to watch the video monitor as the young woman finally managed to extricate herself from underneath the body. She shook the man repeatedly and called his name. He didn’t move. The young woman picked up the hotel phone, held it in the air for a second, then quickly set it back down.

Katie and Alexandria watched in shock as the young woman gathered up her clothes, slipped her dress back on, and stole out of the room, leaving her fallen lover to fend for himself.

“Nice,” Katie said, shaking her head. “Must be true love.” She nodded toward Alexandria. “Okay, let’s go,” she said.

“Go where?” Alexandria asked.

“We can’t just leave him there. Let’s go.”

“But our cover …”

“Isn’t going to matter one bit if he’s dead,” Katie replied. “There’s light coming from the hallway, so she probably left the door open when she took off. Come on.”

“What are we supposed to do?” Alexandria asked with a small edge to her voice.

“Well, we can’t just leave him there to die,” Katie said. “Come on, Alex, seconds count.”

“But we …”

“Now!” Katie said more firmly. Without waiting, Katie jumped out of the back of the van and walked quickly toward the entrance to the hotel. Neither woman said a word as they walked into the hotel lobby and past the Concierge’s desk.

“Busy morning?” the concierge said in a friendly tone.

“Beats a dead morning,” Katie threw back as they entered the elevator. At the room, the door was slightly ajar. The man’s body was pitched forward, half slumped on the bed, with his upper body on the mattress and his lower body sagging toward the floor. Katie thought it looked a little like he was praying. He’d better be, she thought to herself.

“Alright, Alex, here’s what we’re going to do,” she said very calmly. “I’m going to pull his head and shoulders back and you’re going to take his legs and straighten them out so we can get him flat on the floor on his back.” Katie straddled the man’s body from around his back and grabbed him under the shoulders and pulled. Alexandria stood nearby, motionless.

“Now would be a good time to help, Alex,” Katie said, with more than a tad of sarcasm in her voice. “Like right now,” she said again as the full weight of the man’s body pushed back against her and forced her back into the dresser.

Alexandria came forward very reluctantly and with a disgusted expression, grabbed the man’s legs and pulled them. Both women struggled to pull the dead weight of the man around. Katie immediately knelt down beside him and felt for a pulse. When she couldn’t find one, she bent her head down to his exposed chest and listened.

“Do you know CPR?” she asked Alexandria as she straddled the man’s body and felt for the location of his sternum.

“No … I couldn’t,” Alexandria answered.

“Come on,” Katie said in between thrusts to the man’s chest. “Start blowing.”
Alexandria’s eyes grew wide. “I … I can’t.”

Katie glanced at her rather sharply. “He’s not breathing, Alex, come on. Just lift his chin up, clear his airway, put your mouth on his, and blow,” Katie said.
Alexandria knelt down very slowly. She brushed away her short, black hair and got close to the man’s face.

“Seconds count, Alex.”

Alexandria started to bend down toward the man’s mouth, but backed away. “I can’t,” she said quietly.

“You have to,” Katie said in between thrusts. “He could suffer brain damage if you don’t. Come on, Alex, you can do this.”

Again, Alexandria bent forward, got close to the man’s mouth, and again she immediately sat upright.

“I … I just can’t,” she said.

Katie shook her head. “If you can’t do this, then for God’s sake go find me someone who can.”

Alexandria watched for a few seconds as Katie shifted her posi-tion, lifted the man’s neck with the heel of her hand and arched his head back. Katie covered the man’s mouth with hers and breathed in very slowly, checking to see that his chest was rising. She looked up for a second. “Damn it, if he has some disease or something, I’ll kill him myself,” she said.

With that, Alexandria walked out.

After a few minutes of alternating between rescue breathing and compressions, Katie was beginning to wonder how much lon-ger she could last. Her muscles were tiring, her back ached, and she felt slightly dizzy and short of breath. After one more set of breaths, she noticed a small rise in the man’s chest followed by a slight movement in his arm. She stopped and felt a weak pulse. He at least appeared to be breathing on his own again. She kept a finger on his carotid pulse as the ambulance crew and the hotel security officer showed up.

“Cardiac arrest,” she told them. “He’s been out for approximately six minutes and I’ve been doing CPR for the last four. Subject’s name is Saul Levine and he’s probably got ID on him in his wallet.”

The EMTs knelt down and relieved Katie of her duties as they started hooking him up to a portable EKG machine.

“Are you related?” one of them asked.


“Staying with him?”

“No. I was just here to make a delivery,” she said as she pulled herself up. Katie quickly grabbed the gift basket before anyone else could ask her any more questions and bolted out the door. She saw Alexandria standing by the elevator with her back turned. Ignoring her completely, Katie pressed the down button. As the elevator doors opened up, she saw two blue uniforms. She quickly jerked her baseball cap way down and held the basket up to obscure her face. The last thing she wanted was to be recognized by one of her former fellow officers and have to explain what she was doing there. Alexandria got on the elevator behind her and they rode down in silence. Neither spoke until Katie got behind the wheel and announced, “I need a drink.” Alexandria said nothing.

Katie pulled into The Blue Line, the bar owned by her former partner Sean McCleary.

“Katie, my girl, how are you?” Sean McCleary yelled as he waved to her. Sean’s once-red hair was now mostly gray but his eyebrows were still distinctively red and bushy.

“Pissier than thirsty and too thirsty to piss,” she answered back sharply. Cocking her thumb back over her shoulder she said, “This is Alexandria.”

“A pleasure,” Sean said extending his hand, but Alexandria just stood there.

“She doesn’t like to touch or be touched,” Katie announced rather loudly, glaring at Alexandria as if to dare her to say anything.

Sean looked curiously at the tall, thin woman and pulled his hand back. “So what can I get for you ladies?” he asked.

“I’ll have a Smuttynose Ale,” Katie replied.

Sean looked at her curiously. “Have you given up your beloved scotch entirely, Katie?” he asked. “This is my version of a health-food kick,” Katie said. “Less alcohol, more water.” “I see,” Sean said as he pulled from the tap. “And for you?” he said nodding toward Alexandria. “Diet soda, please,” Alexandria said quietly. Katie rolled her eyes.

Sean placed their drinks on the bar and Katie grabbed them up and gestured toward a booth. It was early and the Blue Line was nearly empty.

Katie knocked back a good portion of her beer and set the glass down loudly on the table. Alexandria jumped slightly.

“Tell me one thing, Alex,” Katie began, “let’s say that had been me back there. Let’s say I keeled over and wasn’t breathing. Would you have helped me?”

“Of course.”

“How?” Katie asked.

“I would have gotten you help,” Alexandria answered.

"What if I needed CPR? What if I choked right now and needed the Heimlich?” “Do you need the Heimlich right now?” Alexandria asked. Katie picked the glass back up and finished off the rest of the beer. Sean looked over, but she waved him off.

“I don’t understand, Alex,” Katie began. “I just don’t get it.” “What don’t you get?” “You. This thing. This aversion to being touched.” Katie deliberately reached across the table as she said the words and put her hand on Alexandria’s arm.

Alexandria immediately pulled back.

“He could have died, Alex.”

“But he didn’t. You saved his life. Your being there made the difference.”

“But what if I hadn’t been there?” Katie asked. “What if it had been me in trouble.

Or Margo? Or Jane? Geez, Jane could go any minute with all those hot flashes she’s having. God only knows how screwed up her body is right now. Would you have just stood by and said, ‘Sorry, I can’t help because I don’t like to touch people?’”

“He didn’t die, Katie.”

“Alex, all I’m saying is that you’re missing out on a lot of life because of this … this thing you have. Maybe it’s time you talked to someone about it. Maybe someone could help you work through this and figure out the reason.”

“What makes you think I don’t know the reason?"

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