Despite a looming deadline, Maggie thinks she has what it takes to help friends Jason and Stephen unclutter their large Victorian in time for its scheduled renovation. But before she can fill a single bin with unused junk, Jason leaves for Texas on an emergency business trip, Stephen’s injured mastiff limps home—and Stephen himself lands in jail for murder. Someone killed the owner of a local Chinese restaurant and stuffed him in the freezer. Stephen, caught at the crime scene covered in blood, is the number one suspect. Now Maggie must devise a strategy to sort through secrets and set him free—before she’s tossed into permanent storage next . . .
“Fans of Feliz’s first book as well as newcomers to the series won’t be disappointed…Moves forward quickly with freshness, a few surprises and a couple of real scares.” —Kirkus Reviews on Scheduled to Death
About the Author
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According to popular wisdom, there are few things more dangerous than mixing friendship with one's professional life. But organizing is a personal business and I tend to make friends with all my clients.
From the Notebook of Maggie McDonald, Simplicity Itself Organizing Services
Thursday, February 16, Morning
"Maggie, we've got a crisis," Jason had said the last time I'd talked to him. "I know you insist on working with both halves of a couple —"
"But I'm also a problem solver. What's up?"
"That spate of tornadoes and flooding in Texas, that's what. I've been deployed. I can't back out or delay our departure. Those people are hurting, and it's the first test of my new auxiliary law-enforcement team. A group of TV journalists is reporting on our project for some newsmagazine. Our funding and the future of programs like this depend on our success." Jason rattled off the sentences breathlessly, without giving me a chance to comment or interrupt.
I understood his predicament. He'd been working on establishing a rapid-response law enforcement team for as long as I'd known him. The short version of the saga was that the team, with all its supplies, could swoop into a disaster area and support law enforcement efforts under local authority. The idea was to prevent looting, keep people safe, provide skilled guidance to volunteers, and eliminate many of the problems experienced by civilians, volunteers, and first responders following Hurricane Katrina and other disasters. Jason's team and others like it hoped to plug gaps between what FEMA and the National Guard could provide and what community resources were designed to accomplish.
"No problem," I said. "We'll start after you get back."
"Stephen's ready to start, like, yesterday, and the demolition is only two weeks away."
"Ah ..." I began, stalling for time. "To be successful, any system we develop will have to include you. If it's going to work long term —"
"Look, Maggie, I've got to go. They're loading our containers on the cargo plane. Stephen and I talked about priorities and goals last night. We made a list. I gave him parameters for tossing my stuff, and I promised not to divorce him if he gives away my favorite baseball glove. If that works for you, great. If not, take it up with Stephen. Arrange something —"
The phone cut off. I was left with the decision of whether to begin or postpone. I spotted several potential problems with Jason's plan. Among the stumbling blocks was the fact that they might waste time and money creating a system that would work for Stephen, but not for Jason. When I'd spoken to Stephen, afterward, he considered my advice but ultimately decided to go ahead.
"No matter what Jason says, he's going to have trouble making time for this project, even once he's home again," Stephen said. "Damn the torpedoes ..."
That was two days ago. I'd decided Stephen was right. With Jason's full-time job as a police detective he was never in full control of his own hours. Stephen was a retired US Marine who worked unpredictable hours volunteering with veterans and their canine counterparts, creating civilian partnerships. If we were going to have their house ready to start a major remodel, there was no time to waste.
Today, Stephen and I were meeting to start purging their belongings, deciding what to save, and fine-tuning our organizational strategy.
I knocked on the front door of their sprawling Victorian near the Palo Alto border. There was no answer to the bell. No resonant woof from Stephen's huge mastiff, Munchkin. I peered through the front window, leaving the print of my nose on the glass. Only dust motes moved inside.
I sat on the front step and texted Stephen:
My calendar says we're meeting at 8:30 today. Do I have that right?
Stephen was an early riser, so I'd agreed to meet him as soon as I dropped my teen boys at the middle school and high school. He'd promised me coffee and bagels. At the thought of food, my stomach rumbled and my mouth filled with saliva. I was starving and caffeine deprived. My golden retriever, Belle, thumped her tail, whined, and leaned into me, looking up with yearning. Normally, I didn't bring Belle to work with me, but Stephen was a friend of mine, a dog person, and Munchkin was Belle's BFF.
"They'll be back soon," I told her, referring to both Stephen and his seldom-absent canine partner. "I'm sure everything is fine. How often are they ever late?"
Belle made a polite sound in response.
"Right," I said. "Never ... Well, nearly never."
Extreme and unrelenting punctuality was a fault of Stephen's, an artifact of his time in the military. Some of his friends found it annoying, but I shared the trait and appreciated his timely arrival whenever we got together. I bit my lip, sighed, and squinted into the sun to scan the neighborhood. There was no car in the drive. He must have had a last-minute errand that went longer than he had planned. Unexpected traffic tie-ups were a recurring Silicon Valley problem. With the high-tech economy, growing population, and high-density building projects booming, the area was home to a record number of people. More people meant more cars. A trip to the dentist that took fifteen minutes a month or two earlier could easily take thirty minutes or longer today, even without a rush-hour fender bender creating gridlock. The problem grew worse daily and there was no easy solution.
I looked at my watch. Any minute, I expected to see Stephen and Munchkin loping up the street from one direction or the other. At six-foot-four inches, accompanied by a dog that weighed almost as much as he did, Stephen was hard to miss.
I paced in front of the house. This situation reminded me too much of a client session I'd begun four months earlier, standing on a front porch a few blocks away when my client was late. That morning had culminated in the death of a dear friend. I shivered, drew my fleece coat closer to me, peered at my phone, and dialed Stephen's number.
The phone rang before I could finish punching the buttons.
"Hello?" I said. The phone responded with crackles and pops.
"... police station ... jail ..."
"Hello? Who is this? I'm not going to fall for that trick. My kids are safe in school." I disconnected the call. Our entire town had been plagued with phishing phone calls from crooks pretending to be our children or grandchildren. The calls all followed the same pattern: a distraught young voice claiming to be kin begged for money to be wired immediately. Most people, like me, recognized it for what it was and hung up the phone. But older people, those in the beginning stages of dementia or vulnerable in other ways, grew distraught. A friend of my mom called her daughter nearly every day to be reassured that the children and grandchildren were safe. The scams were criminal, disruptive, and downright cruel.
I shook off my righteous indignation and dialed Stephen again. In the process, I noted that the crooks, whoever they were, were getting crafty. My phone reported that the phishing call originated from the police station in Mountain View, the town that abutted Orchard View's southern border. I made a mental note to tell Jason about the call the next time we spoke. When he wasn't helping flood-ravaged towns in Texas, Jason was an Orchard View detective. He'd know who to notify about calls from people impersonating the police.
My call went to voice mail.
"Stephen?" I said. "I'm here at your house for our meeting and to get started on the front room. I can begin without you, but I'm a little worried. Can you please call and let me know what's up and when you'll get here? If you're in a bind and want to reschedule, that's fine. Just let me know you're okay."
I heard the tension in my voice. I was worried. But the best cure for fear was action, so I let Belle into the backyard through a side gate and started unpacking the tools of my trade from my trunk.
I unfolded a collapsible wagon and filled it with portable garment racks for sorting clothing. I added a dozen flattened cardboard boxes for storing anything we decided to keep and move. On top of the pile I added my newest find: a stack of flat-bottomed paper bags generally used in towns that required them for yard clippings. I'd marked them with an assortment of color-coded stick-on labels: garbage, recycling, and donations. The flat bottoms made it easy to set the bags up anywhere and their double-walled sides were stiff enough that the bags stayed open, making loading easy. Anything we wanted to keep would be put on a garment rack or in a box. I asked my clients to touch everything they needed to make decisions about, but to handle each item as few times as possible.
It would be a bit tricky to make decisions about Jason's belongings in his absence, particularly since his team had been asked to avoid making phone calls from the disaster area. When a widespread disaster occurs, communications networks quickly become overwhelmed by public safety officials making emergency calls, and hundreds of thousands of people checking on loved ones. Jason's emergency team was intended to help the situation rather than compound the problem. Hence, they were allowed to send and receive texts, but Jason had asked us to avoid calling and told us not to be concerned if we didn't hear from him. He was going to be very busy, working long, hard days to help the people of Texas restore their lives.
We'd agreed to temporarily store Jason's belongings in the garage for him to sort through after he returned. Part of my job was to organize those items in a way that would streamline the decision-making process.
I rattled the wagon up the front walk and unloaded it so I could get everything up the steep porch steps. If Stephen were here, he could have carried the wagon for me. I glanced up and down the street again, searching for man, dog, or car. Where were they?
I'd arranged my supplies neatly on the porch when I stopped again to glance at my phone for messages. Stephen was now more than half an hour late. Momentum was important to clients who were doing the hard work of sorting through years of belongings. Every time they hit a snag, they were tempted to stop, which made starting again twice as difficult. That was part of my job as a professional organizer: keeping things moving forward and smoothing out the inevitable frustrations.
Belle barked from the backyard. It wasn't a bark I recognized but she sounded alarmed. She scratched at the gate and barked again, louder this time. Something was wrong.
"What's the matter, girl?" I bustled down the steps and around the corner of the porch to the back gate. "Are you lonely? I've got the key, but I'm not sure I want to go inside without Stephen and Jason here. It's not an emergency, after all."
Belle barked again with a sharp tone that sounded remarkably like Is too!
I sighed. I'd call Stephen one more time before giving up and going home to tackle some dreaded paperwork. But then I heard something and looked up. I squinted. "Munchkin?" Belle barked again and I took a few steps toward the distant shape slowly approaching on the sidewalk. It moved somewhat, but not quite, like the big mastiff. But it couldn't be him, could it? If it was, where was Stephen? I could count on one hand the number of times I'd seen one of them without the other.
I broke into a run as soon as my brain sorted out the clues. It was Munchkin, but he was limping badly, walking stiffly, and his head drooped. I winced, empathizing with his pain.
I sank to my knees as I reached him, tempted to scoop up the dog in my arms to comfort both of us.
He growled quietly to warn me off, then whimpered, looking up with an expression of pain and a brow that wrinkled more than usual. He whimpered again as he sat, leaning heavily to the right to take weight off his left leg and hip.
"I'm no veterinarian, but something is very wrong with that leg, Munchkin. You poor thing." His fur was dirty and matted with mud, leaves, and an alarming amount of blood. Close up, I could see a deep laceration on his bad leg. Several clumps of hair seeped with the bright crimson of an actively bleeding wound. A dotted line of blood marked the sidewalk behind him.
I looked at the neighbors' houses and listened for sounds that might tell me someone was home ... a car starting up, a lawnmower, a dryer thumping with damp tennis shoes or clanking as a zipper went round and round. It was dead quiet.
I sat back on my heels. "Okay, boy. Do you think you can make it back to the house? You're going to need some cleaning up, and maybe a veterinarian for some stitches. Yup, that's a certainty, I'm afraid. He can check you over and make sure there's no damage we can't see." My knees creaked as I stood, reminding me that I hadn't been paying enough attention to my stretching and strength-training regimen.
Munchkin groaned as he lumbered to his feet. I patted his shoulder in what I hoped he'd understand was encouragement.
Belle helped, barking from beyond the gate.
Munchkin was a mess and smelled terrible, as if he'd been raiding dumpsters or playing with the undead.
"Where have you been, old boy? And where is Stephen?"
Belle threw herself at Munchkin as we came through the gate. He growled and bared his teeth, warning her to back off, even as he wagged his tail to let her know they were still friends. Belle jumped back, but then whined and crept forward slowly. I pushed her gently back with my foot. "Give him a moment, Belle. He's hurting, but we'll get him sorted out."
Belle responded to the tone of my voice, looking up at my face for reassurance. "Heel!" I said and she gratefully glued her head to my left pant leg, keeping her eyes focused on mine for more instructions.
"Bath first." Stephen had an old washtub he often filled with water for the dogs to drink from and play with. I wasn't sure whether the injured Munchkin could climb into the tub, and cold water from the hose didn't seem like the right thing to inflict on an injured animal. If I were home, I'd use old rags we marked as "dog towels" and kept in the barn and by the back door.
I pulled out my key to the garage and told both dogs to sit, lie down, and stay. Munchkin settled slowly with an enormous sigh. Belle sat, but then squirmed sideways to lean against her friend, looking from me to him for reassurance. They both sank their heads on their front paws and sighed again. I hoped I could live up to their confidence in my ability to salvage the situation.
The garage was unlocked, but dim. I flicked on the light and took in my surroundings. Typical of this part of California, a washer, dryer, and laundry tub were aligned on the wall next to steps going into the kitchen. Above the appliances, rough shelving supported by utilitarian brackets held soap powder, bleach, stain remover, and the odds and ends that tend to accumulate on the flat surfaces of garages and laundry rooms. At the end of one shelf was a teetering tower of mismatched towels that I hoped could be called dog towels. If I was wrong, I'd apologize, but this was an emergency and I doubted Stephen would begrudge even his best linens if Munchkin needed them.
As I passed the laundry tub, I had what I thought was a brilliant idea. If I screwed the end of the garden hose to the laundry tub faucet, I could bathe Munchkin with warm water, which might be more comfortable and soothing for both of us.
As I got everything set up, Belle licked gently at Munchkin's ear, whining.
I filled the galvanized wash tub with warm soapy water, wet one of the towels, and dabbed gently at the worst and smelliest patches of debris on Munchkin's coat. "Were you confined somewhere?" I asked him. "Did you escape? Was there an accident?"
I looked more closely at the injuries I could see, most of which were deep lacerations rather than the pervasive road rash he might have if he'd fallen or jumped from a moving car or truck.
I turned my head as I washed a particularly foul-smelling wad of fur, and then sat back on my heels. "That's not your blood, is it?" I dabbed again. While this particular patch of Munchkin's coat was soaked in blood, I could find no abrasion or cut. Could it be Stephen's? Or belong to someone Munchkin had attacked to defend himself or Stephen? I couldn't know. Not without testing.
I slapped my hands on my thighs. "I don't want to destroy any evidence here, guys. I think we're off to see Dr. Davidson."
I gathered up all the smelly wet towels I'd used, along with the dry ones, hoping that there was some way to prevent Munchkin from transferring too much of his blood, filth, and smell to me, Belle, or my car.
Excerpted from "Dead Storage"
Copyright © 2017 Mary Feliz.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Loved this book! A relaxing summer read that kept me guessing til the end! Definitely recommend this author.
A very enjoyable book. This is the third in a series, but the first I have read. The main character, Maggie McDonald, quickly felt familiar even though this was my introduction to her. I had expected more about organizing, since she is a professional organizer and she's starting a new job, with old friends, to organize their belongings. The book took a very fast turn into different territory. In quick succession, Maggie is dealing with an injured dog, a friend in jail, a murder, a US citizen without a birth certificate and fearful of deportation, and the problems of the homeless. As Maggie perseveres through these problems, she proves to be one very organized person! Although it did not have the organization plot I had expected, tips are found throughout the book (maybe not enough to get my life organized). I really enjoyed the book and look forward to trying the earlier ones and future books.
I enjoyed this book. This is the second one in the series I have read, somehow I missed #2 and I will have to get that one. Maggie is married and has two sons. She promises to help her friend, who has been accused of murder. So besides taking care of her household and family, Maggie is talking to shop owners and homeless people in order to find the real killer. I really like that she has her family to support her. I really like this series and look forward to reading more of it
Dead Storage is Mary Feliz' third installment in the Maggie McDonald Mysteries, and is just as entertaining and enjoyable as the first two. Maggie and her family seem to finally be settling into their lives in Orchard View, California after a recent move (and several mishaps), and her organizing service is beginning to take off. Maggie is happy to be working on friends' Stephen and Jason's home, but when Stephen fails to show up for a session and she finds his constant companion, mastiff dog, Munchkin, severely injured, Maggie knows something very bad has happened. Stephen has been arrested for the murder of the owner of the Golden Dragon Chinese restaurant, but refuses to speak to anyone but Maggie, whom he convinces to prove his innocence. Maggie feels completely out of her element, but using her organizational skills, begins to investigate. However she desperately needs to find a missing witness to help her put all the pieces together. Maggie is a wonderful and caring protagonist who has the help of her family and friends to assist her in her quest, and I had a hard time putting this book down. I found myself just as anxious as Maggie to solve the mystery. Each chapter starts with an organizational tip which I personally found to be very timely and helpful and can't wait to try. I can't recommend this book and series highly enough, and while it can definitely stand alone, don't miss the first two books in the series! I voluntarily received a copy of this book, and all thoughts and opinions are my own.
There was less focus on organizing in the third book in this series. Maggie and her dog Belle really sleuth the old fashioned way as they hit the streets of Orchard View (and Mountain View) in hopes of finding information to help their good friend Stephen, who may be charged unnecessarily in the death of a Chinese restaurant owner. With the automatic entrée into the homeless society in town because of the presence of a well known mastiff, what I thought would be impossible became possible for her. She moves facilely from her family life to investigating, her boys and husband Max always offering good sounding board opportunities. Besides helping a young man named Rafi, I really didn't have a lot of guesses to what happened to Mr. Xiang and enjoyed the whole path to the end.
Dead Storage combines mystery and enlightenment on current social issues. This book was a slight deviation from the series. The first two books in the series introduced and developed several supporting characters. This book centered mainly on Maggie, the main character. It also brought to light many social issues facing veterans, homeless and immigration. The author developed the story around these issues while also creating an intriguing murder mystery. She was able to balance the two perfectly. The mystery was not easily solved and kept me guessing until the end. I received this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Maggie McDonald is a professional organizer. She helps her customers put order into the unorganized. Each chapter begins with a helpful hint about keeping organized. This is the third book in the series, but can be read as a standalone. In this book, Maggie is planning to meet with her friend, Stephen and his mastiff, Munchkin to organize his house prior to beginning renovations. When Maggie and her golden retriever, Bella arrive at the house, Stephen is not there and Munchkin shows up injured and covered in something. Munchkin is Stephen's therapy dog as he suffers from PTSD. Maggie is immediately worried and after taking Munchkin to the vet, begins making calls to see if anyone knows what has happened to Stephen. Unfortunately, Stephen;s partner, Jason, is off to Texas helping with the flooding situation there. When Maggie finds out that Stephen has been arrested for murder, she immediately tries to help him. The big problem is that Stephen won't tell the police what really happened. Who is he protecting? This is a well written and developed story. There are so many issues in this one, such as immigration, homelessness, gambling, small business issues, bullying and threats in schools, cost of education, therapy dogs, PTSD and natural disasters. The story deals with trust and friendship as well as the solving of a rather intricate and detailed mystery. There were many twists and turns in this story with a lot of red herrings. The characters are strong in this series. I enjoy Maggie and her family. With everything going on, she still makes sure she is there for her boys. Stephen is stubborn yet proud, and everything he does has a reason, even though some people do not understand what that reason could be. The suspense in this story builds gradually until coming to a satisfying conclusion, one that I did not expect. This was a great story that kept me hooked to the last sentence. I listened to the audio version of this book via hoopla and enjoyed the narration very much. I definitely recommend this book and series to cozy mystery lovers.
Ms. Feliz is becoming a more accomplished storyteller with each new work. I did intuit the bad guy, but talked myself out of my hunch because I really couldn’t settle on a favorite among a satisfying range of suspects. I was completely led astray by her red herring. As always, she offered up quirky, well-imagined characters, and yet another supporting dog. My one complaint – there are dropped references. A chance remark about getting out an email, a reference to a conversation (the email, the conversation),, but then those small details don’t always seem to actually make it into the book. I don’t recall if it’s an issue with her earlier works, but it is annoying. I don’t mind if the bad guy arrives Deus ex machina (although Ms. Feliz does NOT resort to this), but keeping potential clues completely behind the curtain??? Uncalled for! I’ll take her editors to task. Lauren Williams, Certified Professional Organizer, Casual Uncluttering LLC, Woodinville, WA USA
Admittedly I might be a wee bit biased but, I just 'get' Maggie McDonald. Possibly because I am a dog lover. I mean who can resist that cover! I know again I am off on the cover but doesn't it just make you to see whats inside? I digress.....the other reason I get Maggie is I am also a professional organizer. I have to admit I loved all the organizing tips that preceded each chapter. And then there was the plot/story line! Dead Storage was just a good great read. From page 1 this reader was drawn in and turning the pages to the end! I have not read any of the other installments in this series. But I am putting the Maggie McDonald Mystery series on my Santa please list! Wanna buy it? This is one that is fairly widely available. I love a title that can be purchased in either print or e-version. (see the links below) I received a complimentary copy from Great Escapes Tours.
Mary Feliz's Dead Storage Maggie McDonald is a professional organizer. She helps her customers put order into unorganized or messy conditions. Each chapters begins with an suggestion to help the reader organize. Maggie is scheduled to help her friends organize their house prior to having it remodeled. She arrives with her golden retriever,Bella to meet with Stephen and his mastiff, Munchkin who is a therapy dog for him. No one answers!!!! Where could they be?? Then Munchkin shows up injured but without Stephen. What happened to Munchkin??? Where is Stephen?? Turns out Stephen has been arrested for the murder of a Chinese restaurant owner. Now Maggie must investigate to prove him innocence. A well written, well plotted story with many social issues mixed into the puzzle. Issue such as immigration, threats against Maggie's son, homelessness, small business survival problems, gambling, mentoring and financial help needed for hard working unprivileged kids to get advanced education, therapy dogs, traumatic experience problems, adventure, intrigue, mystery, suspense, friendship and trust are all well organized to create an fast paced story. There are two ginger-colored cats, Holmes and Watson. Dead Storage is book # 3 in the Maggie McDonald Mystery series. It can be read as a stand alone. I am looking forward to reading the beginning of the series. I volunteered to read Dead Storage. Thanks to the author and publishing company via Net Gallery for the opportunity. My opinion is my own.
Dead Storage by Mary Feliz is the third installment in A Maggie McDonald Mystery series. Maggie McDonald lives in Orchard View, California with her husband and two sons. She owns Simplicity Itself Organizing Services. Maggie is ready to start her new job decluttering Stephen Laird and Jason Mueller’s beautiful Victorian home before they embark on their remodel project. Jason has been deployed to Texas on an important assignment, but he wants Stephen and Maggie to proceed as planned. The next morning Maggie arrives and Stephen is not at home. She notices Stephen’s dog, Munchkin limping towards home without his owner (and they are always together). While at the vet with Munchkin, Maggie receives a call from Paolo Bianchi, Jason’s partner on the force. Stephen is in jail and will only speak with Maggie. After promising to not tell Jason, Stephen tells Maggie the story. Stephen stumbled upon a murder at the Golden Dragon, and he is considered the prime suspect in the death of Mr. Xiang, the owner. He has a good reason, though, for not talking to the police. Stephen needs Maggie to find the culprit before the local prison becomes his permanent home. Dead Storage is nicely written, has a good pace and easy to read. I like the author’s writing style. While it is the third book in the series, it can be read alone. The details on Maggie’s background and family are in Dead Storage. Maggie is a good character with an understanding family. I particularly enjoyed Maggie’s tips at the beginning of each chapter (on storage, organizing, decluttering—i.e. taking care of your junk). My rating for Dead Storage is 3 out of 5 stars. The mystery was straightforward (some readers will be surprised). Avid mystery readers should be able to solve the whodunit before they hit the halfway mark (at the latest). The ending is a little anticlimactic (disappointing). It was wrapped up a little too neatly and easily. While the cozy element is enjoyable, I wanted a more complicated mystery. It would be nice if it was hard to solve and, maybe, had a good twist (has more meat to it). The author addressed some serious issues in Dead Storage (PTSD among veterans and the plight of the homeless). Dead Storage is a good “escape from reality” book. The type to cozy up with on a wet afternoon.
This is the third novel in the Maggie McDonald mystery series and this series just keeps getting better! Once again I read long into the night to finish the book in one setting because I just couldn't get enough! This mystery had a ton of twists and turns to keep me guessing right up to the very end. I was completely shocked when I came to the end and found out the whodunit! I found the story line to be original and very enjoyable. But the real stars of this series are the characters. Each character is written with such care and love that they really jump from the page and they, like the books, just keeping getting better. There has been so much character development since the first book. I honestly didn't think I could like these characters any more than I already did, but once again I was proven wrong. Maggie's protective nature and strength make her such an amazing leading lady! I can't wait to dive back into Maggie's world in the next book!
This is the third entry in this series and, while it can be read out of order, I would encourage reading them in order to get the full development of the characters and their relationships. If I had a friend like Maggie I know she would, as they say, have my back. Her neat and organized ways would, I'm sure, rub off on me. I know she would be my one call if I got into trouble. In this, the third entry, Maggie is getting ready to help friends pack and organize before starting a renovation project. It doesn't go as planned before it even starts. Her friend Stephen is arrested for murder and insists that Maggie help him protect Rafi and his siblings from possible deportation but he isn't giving her all of the information she needs. Add his injured Mastiff dog, who she takes home to nurse him back to health and the issues of homelessness, immigration and stress on the community and you have a very satisfying multilayered mystery.
Dead Storage, 3rd in Mary Feliz’s Maggie MacDonald series, hits the ground running! It takes readers to some of the older businesses in the Orchard Grove area, and gently weaves in a serious social concern prevalent in the milder climates of the United States. We also see increasing depth to existing relationships, including Stephen Laird and his sweet Mastiff, Munchkin and those in the community that he loves and is concerned for. Maggie, a professional organizer, is scheduled to help Stephen and his husband, Jason, better organize their home. Jason, a police detective, is deployed to Texas to lead his auxiliary law enforcement team to help local law enforcement in the wake of natural disasters. Since their home refurb is imminent, Maggie and Steve will work together. Except when she arrives, Stephen, always prompt, is not home. After waiting a while, Maggie sees a weary, limping Munchkin coming home. Seeing his serious injuries, Maggie takes him to his vet and requests that all blood and other debris on the pup be sent to the crime lab. He would not typically be staggering home alone, so any evidence found could also help them find Stephen. A Marine veteran, Stephen suffers terribly from PTSD. Munchkin has similar challenges, so they are an excellent team. Maggie learns that Stephen is in jail, one of the worst places he could be with PTSD. He refuses to speak with anybody other than Maggie, even though he could be indicted for the murder of the owner of a decades-old Chinese restaurant. Stephen insists that Jason not know where he is, as leading his team is critical to the team’s future. Instead, Stephen gives Maggie detailed info of what she must do to help him, most of all protecting the teen who was the only other possible witness to the murder. He cannot allow the teen to go to the police until certain conditions are met. At his own expense, he is concerned first for Rafi, his grandmother and sisters. This is the second time I’ve met Maggie, her family and friends, and I feel like I know Maggie well, so excellent are the author’s descriptions, dialog and actions. I got to know Stephen much better this time, and even saw the growth in Maggie’s sons. The people in the part of Orchard Grove where the restaurant is located are well-defined. I was delighted to “meet” Annie/ Marjorie, one of the local homeless people Stephen and Munchkin know well. These are characters we come to appreciate more, and I hope there is a future for Rafi, Gabriela, and Margorie in upcoming novels. This novel hits the ground running! The author imparts a feeling of concern for Stephen even before we learn he is missing. This reader’s concern for his welfare increases as the story continues as well Munchkin, Rafi, and even a couple storeowners and homeless people. This is a situation I so appreciate seeing, especially the manner in which the author gently shares. The plot twists bring surprises and ratchet up the suspense. I was surprised at who the bad guy(s) / gal(s) turns out to be! I was more than happy with the resolutions; I very much enjoyed and highly recommend Dead Storage to those who love Northern California, well-written cozy mysteries, and people extending human (and canine) kindness to one another. This is a talented author who easily summons readers’ authentic empathy and investment in characters and situations! From a grateful heart: I received this eBook from the publisher and NetGalley, and this is my honest review.
I have found this series much more compelling than I expected when I saw the first book. Each novel of the series has drawn me to a place that has darkness but many of the people she encounters remind of us that there is light in even the darkest places. Dead Storage is an intense and complex book that focuses on Maggie's good friend Stephen, an amazing ex-marine who deals with his PTSD by helping people and dogs with the same issue. Horrified to learn that Stephen has been taken into custody as a possible murder suspect, Maggie is blown away when he refuses to help himself get released. Learning the reason that he wishes to stay the center of the investigation, Maggie feels compelled to try to solve another murder. With limited access to her friend she feels lost in her investigation but inches her way through it. She is a person who loves people, so in addition to worrying about Stephen, it hurts her not to be able to explain to his husband, another dear friend and a police detective who is out of town working in a disaster area. I have adored Jason and Stephen from the beginning and I feel her pain. As usual, her husband isn't in the picture much as he is involved in a detailed problem at work, but we get to spend time with her awesome sons. I classify this series as lighter fiction in spite of the seriousness of the crimes because there are many wonderful people and great moments to help balance the bad things that happen. As a fan of the series, I was excited to receive an Advanced Readers Copy of Dead Storage from the publisher via NetGalley. I always review books that I enjoy and I greatly enjoyed Dead Storage.