Disarming Detective (Harlequin Intrigue Series #1547)

Disarming Detective (Harlequin Intrigue Series #1547)

by Elizabeth Heiter

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Original)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780373698141
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 01/20/2015
Series: Harlequin Intrigue Series , #1547
Edition description: Original
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Critically acclaimed and award-winning author ELIZABETH HEITER likes her suspense to feature strong heroines, chilling villains, psychological twists and a little bit of romance. Her research has taken her into the minds of serial killers, through murder investigations, and onto the FBI Academy’s shooting range. Her novels have been published in more than a dozen countries and translated into eight languages. Visit her at www.elizabethheiter.com.

Read an Excerpt

The instant Isabella Cortez left the safety of the FBI building, goose bumps skittered across her skin and her senses went on high alert. Her instincts and training, like a sudden alarm shrieking inside her head, told her she wasn't alone.

The door slammed shut behind her before she could dart back inside, and Ella cursed the heavy briefcase weighing down one hand and the stack of file folders clenched in the other. Just because she was taking her first real vacation in two years didn't mean killers took time off, so her cases were coming with her. Assuming she made it to her vacation.

Tonight, she was the last one out of the bland office building in Aquia, Virginia. It was set back off the road, nestled deep in the woods, and manned by an armed guard. Entrance to the parking lot was supposed to be reserved for the FBI's Criminal Investigative Analysts who worked there and no one else. If a visitor was arriving, the guard at the gate called ahead. Anyone who could make it past security was a threat.

Pushing back her fear, she blinked, trying to adjust to the darkness outside. Her arms tensed, but she didn't drop the files and reach for her gun. Not yet. Not until she identified the threat. If she acted too soon, she'd probably get shot.

No, all the instincts honed by two years in the Behavioral Analysis Unit told her to let him think she was oblivious. Let him show himself before she brought him down.

Her heart thudded too fast, reminding Ella all too clearly of her first years in the FBI, in the gangs unit in Dallas, when she'd taken a bullet to the leg and her partner had taken two to the chest. At the memory, all the nerves in her leg burst to life, painful and fire-poker hot.

Lock it down, Cortez. Focus.

A tiny movement made her glance left, toward the only two cars in the lot. A bulky figure shifted beside her car, stepping into the dim glow of the overhead light.

He was big, taller than her by half a foot and outweighing her by a good fifty pounds and all of it muscle. But none of that mattered if she didn't let him get close.

Her eyes darted to his hands. Empty. She let out a breath, but it caught when she spotted the telltale bulge at his hip. No way was she giving him a chance to go for the weapon. She dropped her briefcase and files fast, yanking her Glock pistol from its holster. "Hands up!"

"Whoa!" He lifted his hands near his head. "Look, I—"

"Higher. Get on your knees."

"Hey, I didn't—"

"Now!" Ella took a step closer, let him see the dead seriousness in her eyes, the solid, steady aim of her gun. "Pull your weapon out with your left hand. Toss it over here."

"Crap." He complied, getting on his knees and sending his own Glock skidding across the pavement toward her. "You have any other weapons on you?"

"No. Look, I'm a homicide detective. I flew up here from Florida to talk to a profiler."

She narrowed her eyes, noting the slight Southern drawl in his voice now that she wasn't laser-focused on containing him. "How'd you get in here?"

"The guard let me in. My badge is in my pocket, okay?"

Ella frowned. With the regular guard on maternity leave, maybe the newbie had broken protocol. "Fine. Toss it to me with your wallet."

He let out a breath through his nose, something like amusement in his voice. "Wow, you're thorough."

He was right about that. At the BAU, her job was to create criminal personality profiles of the country's most depraved killers. Every day, her work told her what one inattentive moment, one second of blind trust, could cost.

It was a lesson she'd first learned nearly ten years ago, when her best friend had been violently attacked. It had introduced Ella to a kind of evil she'd never known existed, and completely altered the path of her life. Now, viewing everyone as a potential threat seemed almost normal.

He tossed his wallet and badge over, but even before she picked it up, she knew it was the real thing. Still keeping her weapon leveled on him—mostly for scaring the crap out of her and making her dump her case files all over the ground—she flipped open the wallet to his ID. The face staring back at her, with its hard lines and no-nonsense stare, looked every bit a homicide detective. "Logan Greer. Oakville, Florida."

Reholstering her weapon underneath her blazer, she tossed the wallet back and tried to slow her heart rate to normal speed. "Way to make an impression, Greer."

He gave her a smile full of self-deprecating humor that made her realize again that the bulky size that had unnerved her in the darkness was impressive muscle tone, that beneath the piercing stare were moss green eyes. She was a sucker for green eyes. Too bad she hadn't run into him on the beach next week with a margarita in her hand instead of on her last day before vacation, toting a gun.

As he gathered his badge and weapon, Logan asked, "And you are…?"

Ella brushed her bangs out of her eyes and extended her hand. "Special Agent Ella Cortez, BAU."

"Perfect," Logan said, giving her another hit of that one-sided grin as he took his time shaking her hand. "Because I need a profiler to look at my homicide case."

Ella pulled her hand free and collected the files scattered on the pavement. "You're gonna have to go through channels."

"I did that." When she started to walk past him, he put a hand on her arm. "Please. Look, they wouldn't assign anyone to it."

Ella sighed, frustration warring with sympathy. He'd flown here for help and she knew if her boss had already refused, he would get shut down again. Getting a profiler assigned meant that the case needed one. The most likely reason Logan hadn't gotten help was because he had a case where the killer would logically come up without resorting to a profile.

She couldn't take this on even if she weren't about to leave on vacation. Even if she were allowed to pick her own cases. She already had more files stacked up than she could possibly handle with the attention they needed in her regular ten-hour days.

"Sorry." Ella didn't look at him as she dumped her briefcase and files in the trunk of her car.

"How is your office supposed to know whether I have a serial killer from a one page form?" There was frustration in Logan's voice, but steel underneath. "I'll wait as long as I have to, but I need help on this."

"I'm the last one out. Everyone else has already gone home."

He stepped around in front of her, leaning against her car between her and the driver's door, his arms crossed loosely over his chest. "I'll wait here until tomorrow if I have to. But wouldn't it be easier for everyone if you took a look? Please, just hear me out. An hour of your time. That's all I'm asking. Just take a look at my case file. Give me something I can take home and use, before the bodies start piling up."

When she heaved out a sigh and looked up, he shot her a determined stare, as if he could get her to agree through force of will alone. She stared back into his imploring green eyes, which were close enough that she could see little flecks of gold around the edges of his irises.

She didn't have time for this. And she needed to get away from case file after case file of vicious murders. She needed those two weeks at the beach with her two best friends, while they all tried to distract themselves from the anniversary coming up too fast, the one they all wanted to forget.

She needed to have dinner, then pack and make her way to the airport. Of course, three weeks of late nights trying to get ahead of work before taking time off meant her refrigerator was stocked only with condiments. She looked into Logan Greer's green eyes and heard herself say, "Tell you what. You can buy me dinner and while we eat, I'll look at your case."

The genuinely grateful smile he flashed her sent unexpected shivers of awareness over her skin that reminded her she hadn't had a date in months. Another casualty of the job.

Wow, she really needed this vacation.

"Ten o'clock is a little late for dinner. Is the FBI opposed to meal breaks?" Logan asked, one eyebrow quirked, as she scarfed down French fries as if she hadn't seen food in weeks.

In the light of the little diner, which Ella frequented because it reminded her of something she'd find back home in Indiana, Logan looked a lot less like a potential threat and a lot more like the kind of guy she'd try to flirt with in the grocery store. The kind of guy she'd be tempted to chase after, no matter how it would inevitably end.

Wearing jeans and a faded gray T-shirt, with a five-o'clock shadow heavy on his chin, he looked exactly like her type. Laid-back attitude, but intensity in his eyes. Masculine, but judging by the easy way he was teasing her half an hour after she pulled her gun on him, secure enough not to find her intimidating.

Of course, that was her initial read on him. Given that her longest relationship in the past had lasted a whole five months, she'd decided she was far better at profiling murderers than potential dates. Not that Logan Greer was a potential for anything except being easy on the eyes while she helped him with his case.

"You're the one who showed up late at night expecting someone to be there."

"I came straight from the airport. And you weren't the first profiler I harassed in the parking lot. You're just the first one who succumbed to my charm."

Ella snorted. The agent out the door before her had been Jack Reid, perpetually in a foul mood and perpetually using a foul mouth. "You mean Jack didn't invite you out to dinner?"

"Well, he invited me to do something. But it sounded anatomically impossible."

"Probably a come-on," Ella joked, then feigned hurt as she stuffed another fry, heavily coated with ketchup, in her mouth. "So, you're telling me I wasn't your first choice?"

Logan's gaze shifted appreciatively over her, lingering on her mouth. Then he gave her steady eye contact, let her see an interest that went beyond the case. "Believe me, if I'd known you were coming, I would have waited."

Ella rolled her eyes, even as she willed her cheeks not to heat. This never happened to her, this instant, powerful lure to a man she'd just met, let alone to one she'd just pulled a gun on. "I was trying to get caught up on some work before I left town." She held out a hand, palm up. Back to business. "You have a case file?"

He set a thin manila folder in her palm, his big calloused hand brushing hers. "Where are you going?"

"Vacation with some friends. I plan to sit on the beach and do nothing more strenuous than put on sunscreen." Of course, that would last about a day and then she'd be searching for kayak rentals or somewhere to take surfing lessons. Sitting still wasn't her strong suit.

"I don't suppose you're coming to Florida? Because I'm willing to help you out with the sunscreen."

One of the cases in the trunk of her car—the only one she hadn't actually been assigned—was from Florida. No, she and her two best friends were heading as far from Florida as possible. "California, actually."

"Too bad. Other than the recent murder, Oakville is a pretty nice place to visit."

Ella blinked, so surprised to hear real disappointment in his tone that she almost missed the part about the case. "Wait a minute. Murder? Not murders?" No wonder her boss hadn't assigned an agent to create a profile. Well, this was going to be a quick dinner. At least she'd be able to put Logan's mind at ease and hopefully point him in the right direction. One kill probably meant the perpetrator had been in the victim's life.

"Yeah, I know. One murder doesn't make a serial killer. I get it." He leaned forward. "But look at the file, okay? This isn't a first kill. We got lucky, finding this body. There are more. I'm sure of it."


"The kill was too perfect. I don't think it was someone she knew, and the evidence is so slim. The fact that we even have a body—that we even know she's dead—is a fluke. We don't have a lot of murders in Oakville, but a killer just doesn't get that good without practice."

Logan frowned. The attraction he'd been broadcasting since they'd arrived at the diner was still in his eyes, but now it was tempered, pushed behind a sudden seriousness telling her he'd do whatever it took to find this killer.

Ella didn't need to see him work to believe it. She knew he was a good detective. It was there in the dog-gedness of his stare, in the trust he put in his instincts, in the way he was chasing this lead with all he had.

But she also saw this was more than just another case to him. He'd flown all this way for help, probably on his own dime. "You knew the victim, didn't you?"

"Jeez, you're good. I didn't know her well. But she was a friend of my sister's. Visiting from out of state. She'd actually left for the airport and we assumed she was back home." His lips tightened into a hard, thin line. "When all along, she was in Oakville. We found her in the marsh. Well, what was left of her anyway. We've got gators in the marshes, which is why I say we got lucky. Why I think there are more victims—because that's a pretty genius way to destroy evidence."

Ella nodded, flipping open the file folder next to her sandwich. The sight that greeted her should have made her lose her appetite, but she'd long ago learned to eat while reviewing case files. "Doesn't look like you had much to work with at the autopsy."

When she glanced up at Logan, he was carefully not looking at the photo and she reminded herself he knew the woman. She flipped past the autopsy photos, folded her hands under her chin and leaned toward him. "Why don't you give me the highlights?"

Logan raked a hand through his dark, close-cropped hair and she noticed the shadows under his eyes, the weariness lurking underneath those quick smiles.

"The victim was Theresa Crowley. My sister's age—twenty-five."

She must have looked surprised, because he said, "Yeah, Becky's ten years younger than I am. My parents didn't think they could have any more kids after me. Anyway, Theresa was a friend of Becky's from college. She lived in Arkansas. Flew in to visit for a week. She left as scheduled and my sister assumed she was already home until we identified the body."

"Who found her?"

"Local fisherman. He pulled out the remains and brought her in by boat."

Ella realized she was gaping as Logan continued, "Yeah, I know. Not great for evidence, but better than not having a body at all because the alligators finished her off."

"How long was she missing?"

"She left for the airport early Sunday morning and her body was found Monday afternoon."

"Short window to run into a killer."

"Unless he'd already been stalking her," Logan argued.

"What makes you think it wasn't someone she knew? Statistically, that's much more likely."

"Yeah, believe me, I don't run to the FBI every time we get a murder, whether or not I know the victim. But who did she know in Oakville? My sister and some of our family. That's it. Her rental car turned up the next day, abandoned in a mall parking lot a few towns over, in the opposite direction from the airport."

Ella sighed and set down her milkshake. "Are you sure you should be on this case?"

"Why? Because my family are obvious suspects?"

Instead of agreeing, Ella said, "Because you knew her."

"Another detective on the force already cleared my family. It was pretty easy. We were at a town function at her time of death."

Ella stared at him, looking for any tiny twitch that would tell her he knew—or suspected—his family could be involved. All she saw was his determination to get her to help. And that heavy dose of attraction. Her heart rate picked up and she glanced down at her food before she gave anything away. "She have any obvious enemies?"

"Stalker exes, that kind of thing? No."

"Sexual assault?"

Logan shrugged. "My guess would be yes, but too much postmortem damage to tell for sure. She died from lack of oxygen, but there was no water in her lungs. She didn't drown in that marsh. She was killed somewhere else."

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Disarming Detective 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
## Great suspense. I loved how I couldn't put this down. Both hero and heroine were very likable and they had terrific chemistry. I was surprised that the romance was so "present" in this book. In most stories that I've read in this genre, the romance becomes secondary. Both were pretty equal here which was great. SPOILER ALERT: The only thing that bothered me was that a detective and an FBI profiler would be so easily lured and captured with a text. I can't believe this FBI agent wouldn't verify the info. Anyone can send a text. I would definitely recommend this book but I had to deduct a star for that.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Anne-Marie Reynolds for Readers' Favorite Disarming Detective (Harlequin Intrigue\The Lawmen) by Elizabeth Heiter is a tale of crime and passion. Isabella is a top FBI profiler who runs into Detective Logan Greer outside her office one evening. He’s got a body that he thinks may be the start of a serial killing spree, however he’s been refused access to a profiler. Isabella is heading off on her holidays but gets talked into going with him, but only for one reason – the marks on the body are eerily similar to those on her friend after she was attacked several years earlier. Isabella wants nothing more than to see the perpetrator brought to justice but she’s in trouble – she seems to have fallen for Detective Greer ... hard. Together they must track down a cold blooded killer before another body turns up – and before he finds them. Disarming Detective (Harlequin Intrigue\The Lawmen) by Elizabeth Heiter was a great story. It’s the first in a new series and I would love to read the rest. Ms. Heiter has pulled together a clever story with a great plot. There are a few twists and turns in it that kept me hooked, and it has all the hallmarks of a high quality Harlequin novel. There has clearly been a lot of work put into it and the characters are highly likeable and easy to connect with; the story flows well with no hiccups. All in all, a great book by a clearly talented writer. Looking forward to the next installment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read! The characters were engaging and I was hooked on the very first page. couldn't put it down once I started. Heiter has a well written plot that kept me wondering until the end. Characters I can't wait to see in another book. I definitely recommend this and any others in her Profiler series!
dspinlexo More than 1 year ago
Elizabeth Heiter has written a page turner to the end. I immediately fell in love with Ella the main character, and the one that the story unfolds through her eyes. An FBI Profiler runs into a detective, they soon realize they are looking for a killer that is very similar, and the chase is on! As the detective, Logan, seeks help with his case, Ella feels a strong attraction to him, but she can’t let her feelings come to bear, she must stay forced and find the killer of a close friend. Full of emotions and suspense, you will not be able to put this one down until the end. I look forward to reading this series.
More_Than_A_Review More than 1 year ago
Disarming Detective is a romantic suspense by Elizabeth Heiter. It is the first book in a 3 book series. Although this book stands alone I think the Fishhook Serial killer will be the continuing theme with all three of them. This is my first book by Elizabeth but will not be my last. The opening scene caught my attention and I was thrilled how it played out. Logan took it in stride and it endeared me to him immediately. He was handsome, gentlemanly but confident enough to appreciate Ella and her abilities. I appreciated how he respected her skills and looked to her to help with the case. Ella is a very likeable character; tough but reasonable. She didn't run off and do stupid things or be stubborn to prove a point. Although technically the romance happened quickly; it flowed well and seemed real. They were such a great couple together. The killer is creepy and I was nervous that the scenes were going to be too graphic for me but they stopped short of being too much. Ella and Logan work through the case and the killers thought process which I found fascinating and was anxiously awaiting how it as going to play out. I really did not see the end coming which thrills a reader who has read hundreds of books.You can see my full review at More Than a Review dot com where I rate the level of sex, violence, language and drug/alcohol use in books.