To Love and Die in Dallas

To Love and Die in Dallas

3.5 2
by Mary Elizabeth Goldman

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Rich in both "rowdy" and big city sophistication, Dallas is a city of paradox. It's a city with attitude where men don't walk, they "stride," women with "big hair" speak with a distinct drawl because they want to. It's a city that has experienced, endured, thrived, and even capitalized on the reputation and scars of assassinations, protests, and murder.



Rich in both "rowdy" and big city sophistication, Dallas is a city of paradox. It's a city with attitude where men don't walk, they "stride," women with "big hair" speak with a distinct drawl because they want to. It's a city that has experienced, endured, thrived, and even capitalized on the reputation and scars of assassinations, protests, and murder.

To Love and Die in Dallas unfolds through the pages of ill-gotten diary that recalls the teenage years of four best friends. It recalls a time of innocence when Dallas teenagers were bopping at sock-hops to the tunes of Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis, cruising around White Rock Lake, and hanging out at the drive-in on Garland Road. But time changes everything.

It is now the twenty-first century and those carefree teenagers are the power players in Dallas. The murder of one of the friends, Lindsay "Rose" Mitchell, the wife of US Senator James "Buddy" Mitchell turns Dallas high society upside down. Her funeral brings the three best friends back together again, where they vow to find out what really happened. But some stones are better left unturned. Each one of them has deep secrets and they soon realize that anyone of them could be a suspect.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Skeletons popping out of 40-year-old Dallas closets create havoc for four old school friends in Goldman's heartfelt but unconvincing debut. Back in Gaston Junior High in the years before JFK's assassination forever stained the city's name, the alphabetical seating chart in their classroom made Lindsey Wilson and Annie Williams best friends. They shared tastes, dreams, confidences and even a boyfriend. Now Lindsey, unhappily married to Sen. James "Buddy" Mitchell, is dead after a drug-aided fall that wasn't suspicious enough to be investigated-or was covered up by one of her husband's influential friends. David Matthews, the former Gaston bad boy who cleaned up his act and became a criminal-defense attorney, has come into possession of Annie's journal, which is full of earth-shattering revelations: forbidden romance, abortion, secret childbirth. Nor is the journal the only thing that's floated to the surface. So has Annie, who's continued to be close to David even though she's never met his wife Taylor. And bad-girl Roberta "Butter" Duplissey, another Gaston alum who resurfaces just long enough to get shot to death. And Annie's old friend Frances Zacchoias, a Greek restaurateur who knows more than he's telling about malfeasance past and present. Goldman's model seems to be Jackie Collins, but her vintage secrets are so predictable and decorous that the result is more like an updated Peyton Place shorn of absorbing characters (even David, whose wife hopefully calls him "a very complex man," doesn't seem to be up to much), genuine mystery or even any detailed evocation of a specific milieu-all of these goodies are repeatedly invoked rather than created. The story hopscotches among so manypotential centers of interest-from Lindsey's blind mother to police detective Jake Malone to a pair of grave robbers-for-hire-that it has no time to bring any of them to life.
From the Publisher
"A fascinating mystery that gives the reader a tantalizing glimpse into the bold, exciting world of Texas in the 60's."—Kat Martin, New York Times bestselling author of Scent of Roses

"To Love and Die in Dallas by Mary Elizabeth Goldman shimmers with intrigue and sparkles with insight. It is the author's first novel but if I'm of any judge of these things the American public will soon be demanding many more."—Kinky Friedman, bestselling author of Cowboy Logic

"A twisty mystery rich with details of life, and girl life, in Dallas. The characters seem real, and the writing kept me turning the pages. I loved it."—Sparkle Hayter, author of Naked Brunch and Bandit Queen Boogie

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PART ONETHE DECEPTION1From the beginning, there was something more than any schoolgirl friendship between them and while neither of them had the experience to recognize the attraction, in retrospect, they were both aware that something exceptional had occurred from the beginning. 
When Lindsey and I met in the ninth grade I thought she was the prettiest girl in Gaston Junior High School. With dark brown eyes and delicate features, she had a natural beauty that didn't need her freshly applied makeup, the subtle brushing of mascara, and the cherry-red lipstick.We met because we were assigned desks alphabetically, and because her last name was Wilson and mine was Williams she sat behind me in sour-faced Mrs. Dobson's homeroom class. This seating arrangement allowed Lindsey to speak nonstop to the back of my head and each weekday morning she managed to maintain a whispered commentary about the other students in our school--what they were wearing, what they did over the weekend, what happened last night, who wasdozing at their desks, who was playing with himself, and who was smoking in the girl's room.Everybody liked Lindsey and everybody wanted to be her friend. But that first day in class she made it clear we were going to be friends, best friends--me, a skinny, shy, and bespectacled girl wearing my sister's hand-me-down clothes.I was the youngest of four girls and lived with my family in Lake Highlands on the then easternmost border of Dallas at the edge of White Rock Lake. We had outgrown our old house, close to downtown near the railroad tracks on the frugal side of Turtle Creek, and we moved to the lake the summer I turned six years old.A large two-story house on a hill, our new home with dormer windows trimmed in white had a basement game room finished with knotty pine paneling lacquered with a glossy finish. A small white picket fence thickly entwined with red climbing roses enclosed the front yard.The lake was at the bottom of the hill. In the summer we could walk--or in my case run--down to the bathhouse, pull the chain for the mandatory outdoor shower, and swim "free" from 9:00 to 11:00 each weekday morning from Memorial Day through Labor Day.That first summer at the lake I broke my arm and then one of the kids at the end of our street came down with polio. Our parents and every parent on that side of the lake was terrified of the crippling disease and my sisters and I were confined to the house during the hottest hours of those summer days. Each afternoon, after lunch, Caroline, Letty, Maggie Louise, and I made pallets on the floor in the living room in front of the fan and used our cooling-off time reading aloud to each other.As the cicadas shrilled at fever pitch and the outside heat spiraled up from the sidewalk, we read of Call of the Wild's great dog Buck, stolen from his master, deliveredinto bondage, and whipped into pulling a heavy sled through the frozen Klondike. We shuddered at the fierceness of Kazan, the wolf-dog. We laughed when our mother imitated Aunt Polly calling Tom out over some prank and we felt sticky from the spray of sea salt when Melville's whale did battle with Ahab and his deadly harpoon. We cried over Black Beauty and careened around dusty back roads in a green coupe with the Hardy boys, hiding in eerie night shadows as their mysteries unfolded one page at a time.In spite of the plastered arm and the threat of a disease a six-year-old cannot understand, it was still an idyllic summer by the lake.Lindsey, on the other hand, lived alone with her mother, Dena, in a small rented house on Centerville Road in Casa View, a planned community with row after row of cracker box houses and miles from the serenity of the lake. Lindsey spent that summer--and every summer--watching her mother leave for work, watching her struggle to make ends meet, watching her ever-changing parade of friends, boyfriends, and bill collectors.But now we were teenagers and we'd become "best" friends and I was spending the night with Lindsey. Her mother had a date and had already left when my father dropped me off curbside at her house. I knocked on the door and when there was no answer I opened it and called out as I stepped inside. I found Lindsey in the kitchen, searching the pantry shelves for something to eat.Another knock from the front porch and there was Butter at the door, her overnight case in hand. Before the door closed, I could see her father's car pulling out of the driveway. Like me, she'd been dropped off.I was jealous of Butter. Categorized as one of the "cute" girls in our school I feared she might take myplace and become Lindsey's best friend and that I would be forgotten.Smiling and confident, Butter walked straight into Lindsey's bedroom and returned with two pillows. She tossed one to each of us and threw a couple of the sofa cushions on the floor for herself."Did you get it?" Butter asked as she folded her legs under her and fluffed and stuffed another cushion into her lap.Lindsey ducked around the corner into her room and quickly returned, fanning the pages of the paperback novel.Banned throughout the Bible Belt as well as Dallas, Lindsey had nevertheless obtained a copy of Peyton Place. With the good parts underscored and the pages flagged with little shreds of paper, Lindsey plopped on a sofa cushion on the floor and Butter passed out the cigarettes. Shoulder to shoulder with me, Lindsey began to read "the best parts" from the forbidden book.Until that night, I had masked my sexual ignorance with silence, but that evening, filled with revelation and laughter, I lost my inhibitions. Every time we reached an erotic passage, my friends explicated it for me--then expanded on it with scandalous gossip and lascivious speculation. They looked forward to elaboration, and I was ecstatic with this carnal edification.Lindsey's mother didn't come home that night and I volunteered to fix the three of us breakfast that next morning. Standing in front of the opened fridge I reached for the cold new pack of Winstons, tapped the unopened cigarettes and calmly pulled that thin red strip. Taking out the first new cigarette, I rapped the filtered tip against the back of my hand, placed the unlit Winston loosely in the corner of my mouth, and stared indifferently into the almost empty refrigerator. It was useless. I closed the fridge door and walked into the livingroom, retrieved the lighter from the sofa table, and for the first time with one hand, flicked the lighter to a flame and took a long drag on that first delicious cigarette of the morning.What was left of that spring semester in the ninth grade dragged. Since that portentous night at Lindsey's, I had learned to like Butter, but vague uncertainties and not-so-vague insecurities kept me from feeling completely comfortable with her.By the end of May, Lindsey was taller, leggier, and tittier. And now she had a boyfriend, Tommy Lee Horton, older by two years and with a car of his own. Her life was perfect, and I was a spectator living my early teens vicariously through this very real Dallas beauty.The beginning of summer was marked by one event--the last day of school. Most of the silliness we'd gone through at Gaston Junior High was behind us. We were maturing, some of us more than others, and we were desperately trying to keep from being bored while being "good girls."And so it was a guileless and virginal summer.Dena had settled down with one regular friend, a Dallas cop, but was still seldom home. With her frequent absences we had the house on Centerville Road to ourselves.Lindsey was a free spirit that summer and that translated to no curfews--day or night. She and Tommy Lee spent a good deal of the summer cruising around the lake in his white convertible with the top down. "See and be seen" was the objective. Most nights they'd swing by my house and I'd crowd into the front seat of the Chevy and the three of us would drive to the Hi-D-Ho on Garland Road and share an order of curly fries served by carhops at the drive-in diner.Secure against the door and happy to be included, I maintained my third-wheel position. Since there wereno exceptions to my curfew they would drop me off in front of my house on Peninsula Drive at ten o'clock.But even with the imposed and inflexible deadlines, I was content with my peer standing. There was satisfaction knowing that Butter didn't have a boyfriend either. I could wish and I could dream--and I wrote it all down.Every thought, every fantasy, every desire I recorded in my diary. I hypothesized these private journals were in the same sacred category as the United States mail, the ark that preserved the tablets of stone, or the tag sewn onto the seam of mattresses and pillows and sofa cushions that warns against removal and promises penalty of imprisonment for such an arrogant deed. No one would ever dare to violate those sanctified passages written in my book.I got a job as a clerk at Mott's five-and-dime in Casa Linda, an early shopping center with its distinguishing Spanish tile roof connecting all the shops and the landmark flying Red Horse on top of the Mobil station at the intersection of Garland Road and Buckner. All day friends from school would come in and out of the five-and-dime and whether they bought anything or not was of little consequence to me. It was my turn to "see and be seen."Until Skillern's Drugs opened on the corner, Mott's was the best place to shop for most anything--cosmetics, fabrics, notions, toys, goldfish, small appliances, school supplies, Christmas decorations--it was all there. Mott's didn't sell major appliances, those could be bought next door at the Western Auto or at Sears and Roebuck on Ross Avenue, but that's the only thing that couldn't be found at the five-and-dime.On the other side of the street Tommy Lee worked at Ashburn's Ice Cream Shop. I worked flexible shifts, sometimes split shifts, but he came into Mott's every day while I was working just to say hey. Lindsey, on the otherhand, rarely came by and when she did, she bought something.Saturday nights were the best nights of the week. Monday through Friday Mott's closed at 9:00 P.M, but on Saturday the store closed at 6:00 P.M. and was never open on Sunday. Sunday was the Sabbath and, for the most part, the community kept it holy. After all, the Texas blue laws were there to remind us of our ancient covenant.A courtyard separated Mott's and the record shop and in the middle of the brick pavement was a small Spanish fountain and several iron benches. Concrete planters, filled with blooming annuals in the spring and summer months, marked the corners of the outdoor retreat.Sequestered behind this shopper's cloister but still part of the complex were a few professional offices, the optometrist's center, the barbershop, and the second most popular establishment in all of White Rock--Teen Timers.Home of the original dirty dancing, the birthplace of the Casa Linda Low Life, Teen Timers was so full of smoke, noise, and packed bodies, that we could barely see, hear, or breathe. Amateur bands imitating Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Reed, and Buddy Holly played nonstop for the dancers and listeners alike. It was a blissful sanctuary where rumors not only circulated wildly, but originated right there in the girl's room. In short, Teen Timers was a dimly lit haven with parental blessing.That September we were high school students and while we were the low dogs, according to our school pecking order, Lindsey and I had a certain advantage. Tommy Lee was a senior and by now he and Lindsey were going steady.Santa Clara Drive was not close to Peninsula Drive, it wasn't even on my side of the lake, but Tommy Lee and I had become friends that summer and he drove from hishouse on Santa Clara to my house every morning to give me a ride to school. I thought he would have given me a ride anyway, but Lindsey had a way of making it clear that Tommy Lee was doing her the favor by giving me a lift. We had to pass the high school to pick up Lindsey where we inevitably waited in the kitchen. We'd help ourselves to coffee and sit at the drop leaf table arranged next to the back window while she finished getting dressed.The tardy bell rang as we took the steps two at a time into the school, and I spent a good deal of time in detention, but considered it a small price to pay for being part of the entourage.Traditionally the Texas State Fair is held each October in Dallas and one day has always been designated as Dallas Student Day at the fair, and every student in the city is given a holiday from class and a complimentary gate pass for that weekday event.Lindsey and I rode the city bus to the fairgrounds that afternoon. Tommy Lee had intended to meet us there later. Even without a rendezvous point, it was assumed that running into one another that night would be easy among thousands of milling people.But while we were waiting in line by Fletcher's corn dog stand, Tommy Lee and a friend of his--a tall guy with dark hair combed back into a ducktail, a tough-looking stranger in a black leather jacket--walked up behind us. Lindsey and Tommy Lee exchanged cool greetings and for the first time, I caught myself paying more attention to the "other" guy.I watched the unlit cigarette that dangled from his lips. Never once taking his eyes off me, he flipped the hinged lid of his Zippo and brought the end of the Lucky Strike into a bright glow. With a flick of the wrist he slipped the lighter back into his jacket pocket.That's all it took. A Zippo lighter, a near smile, and the course of my life had suddenly changed.Lindsey and Tommy Lee were soon arguing. Maybe he was late--maybe we were late--nobody ever knew why they fought, but by that time they fought more often than not.I was still fixated on the stranger when Lindsey grabbed my arm, broke my trance, and pulled me away. When I turned around I saw Tommy Lee and his buddy laughing, dodging mock jabs at each other, and making their way through the crowd toward the midway, in the opposite direction.After that, Lindsey and Tommy Lee became an on-again off-again kind of couple. From that first summer of young love, their relationship was now in a state of deterioration. Like a game between them, they fought about anything and everything. I was caught in the middle. Then one night just minutes after I'd hung up the phone listening to Lindsey declare the relationship was over, Tommy Lee called and asked me to ride down to the Hi-D-Ho with him.This was the moment I had dreamed about for a hundred lifetimes. There couldn't be anything wrong with me going out with Tommy Lee, just two good friends out to get a Coke. What was the harm?I couldn't go I told him. I'd already promised Butter I would be right over. Then he offered to fix her up with this friend of his who'd just moved into the neighborhood from back East. The four of us could go.Butter's dad nixed our plans. As promised I went to her house but spent the evening sulking about my ill-fortune.Before long Lindsey and Tommy Lee were back together again and the next time Tommy Lee called me he suggested I go out with them and this same friend of his. I would not be sitting next to Tommy Lee but was happy to be included.It was early spring and Tommy Lee had the top down when he and Lindsey picked me up. We drove byAshburn's and picked up my date, the same guy I'd seen with Tommy Lee at the State Fair, who was getting off from work. From there we cruised through the parking lot of the Hi-D-Ho, checking to see who was there. We didn't stop, but drove down Garland Road just past the spillway--that marks the line between wet and dry--to the Pig Stand, another choice hangout where an older crowd gathered.On that end of Garland Road--where East Grand picks up, past Tennison Park, past the old Brownies restaurant--neon signs glow or flicker above several liquor stores. Carhops at the Pig Stand stayed the busiest, serving beer and burgers two hours after the HiD-Ho closed on Saturday nights.Still not stopping, we turned around and headed back up Garland Road past Casa Linda and Lochwood, turned right, and crossed the railroad tracks on Barnes Bridge Road. Everybody that was somebody in our limited world was there. Dozens of cars were already pulled over, lining a path on undeveloped land, and more were still arriving.Tommy Lee was there to race and my date and I got out of the backseat. Lindsey took the scarf draped above the rearview mirror and placed it on her head, wrapping the ends around her neck and tying it snug in the back. She smoothed her blond bangs to the side and tucked them into the edges of the scarf.With engines revving, headlights on high beam, the night vibrated with high-pitched excitement. Silhouettes were outlined among the thick dust. Shadowy forms darted out of harm's way and joined together in rows. The race was about to start and we stood on the hoods of the parked cars with our friends to get as good a view as possible.The finish line was at the far end of the caliche road and as the two cars sped past, the crowd rushed in behindthem only to be covered with dirt and dust. Nobody could see, but when the cars swung around and came back to the start, Tommy Lee was happy and had his arm around Lindsey.We didn't stick around, but drove back to the lake and out to Winfrey Point, the pavilion set high on a hill that overlooks White Rock Lake. Tommy Lee and Lindsey changed seats with us. We got out and walked around and as we did they scrambled over the seat to the back.The twisting and rocking, the giggles and sighs, the inevitable gasp in the backseat were intensified in the dark night. At once, I was reminded of the "good parts," the really good parts, in "the" book.Sitting next to the door on the shotgun side, I was nervous. My "boyfriend" slid in close. He had his arm across my shoulders and with his other hand he turned my face to his and gently kissed me on the lips. Again and again until those sweet gentle kisses got harder and harder.He whispered for me to open my mouth. Surprised at the spoken words, I was nevertheless compliant as he slipped his tongue into my mouth. Years earlier my friend Davy had pinned me down while wrestling in the backyard and kissed me, but until that night out by the lake, that playful smack somewhere between my lips and right cheek had been the sum total of my sexual encounters.Mother was waiting on the porch when Tommy Lee pulled into the driveway. We were late and it was one of life's most embarrassing moments. I was humiliated in front of my dearest friends.Another summer came and passed and I continued to work at the five-and-dime. I didn't date but when the Christmas holidays came, Tommy Lee's friend asked me out again. But this time, we wouldn't be double-dating.Curfew was the last thing on my mind and once Iclimbed in the yellow Bonneville, slid over to sit close to my date, I never gave it a thought--until we pulled back into the driveway a little past midnight.I knew then exactly what time it was because there was Mother standing under the porch light in her chenille robe, asking me if I knew what time it was. I glanced at my watch and when I looked up, my whole body felt flushed. As I walked past her she followed me in the house, never stopping the verbal assault. I never said good-bye to my date and that was the last time I went out with the handsome tough guy in the black leather jacket.I was being mothered to death.Copyright © 2007 by Mary Elizabeth Goldman All rights reserved.

Meet the Author

MARY ELIZABETH GOLDMAN is the lead publisher for the Republic of Texas Press, the author of Texas Trail Writing, and the co-editor of Forever Texas. She lives in Medina, Texas.

Mary Elizabeth Goldman was born in Dallas, Texas and grew up in a home overlooking White Rock Lake. She was the managing editor for the Republic of Texas press and the author of A Trail Rider’s Guide to Texas and co-editor of Forever Texas. A seventh generation Texan, she now lives with her husband on their ranch in Bandera County, Texas.

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3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
loloofaz More than 1 year ago
I read this in a few days. Not a real page turner but it did keep my interest and I am glad I did read it. Seemed to go by rather quickly and I still wonder if it really was 550 pages on my Nook. I tend to purchase only books over 300 pages for the Nook so my hands don't get too heavy.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Lindsey and Annie met in ninth grade at Gaston JHS in Dallas and became best friends. Lindsey could have any boy in the high school, but when she started dating Tommy Lee she often brought Annie with them. On the down side, a White Rock Lake neighbor of Annie, David always was irritating her even more than her overly protective mother.---------------- Decades later Annie calls David pleading with him to help her. David¿s wife is unhappy that Annie has returned into his life because it reminds her that she will always be second fiddle. Annie needs David to recover an incriminating diary that another of their high school friends Butter took. The diary implies that Annie was involved in the shocking recent murder of Lindsey, wife of a US Senator. Unable to say no, he meets her at an old hangout, Frances¿ restaurant the Cellar. David is hooked, but he does not know yet in what. Everything he learns points towards Annie as either a killer or a conspirator in Lindsey¿s death while at the same time that Dallas County Homicide Detective Malone begins to unravel the bizarre knots and twists of the movers and shakers who know how TO LOVE AND DIE IN DALLAS.-------------------- This is an interesting police procedural with a fascinating climax that will shock the audience. The story line uses extracts from the diary to tell the teen years of mostly Annie and Lindsey through the perspective of the former. That provides insight into their personalities, but also slows down the prime plot of did Annie murder Lindsey although other suspects surface. Still this is a well crafted whodunit with a strong fully developed cast. Once the reader starts TO LOVE AND DIE IN DALLAS, it will prove difficult to stop as Mary Elizabeth Coleman hooks fans with the need to know if Annie killed her best friend and why.--------- Harriet Klausner