"Britt's charm is her frenetic energy, her wicked curiosity and her insatiable appetite for a good story...a story to die for."( The New York Times Book Review)
"A supremely expert yarnspinner."( Los Angeles Times Book Review)
About the Author
Edna Buchanan knows firsthand that underneath Miami's glistening facade lies a city torn by violence and muddied by corruption, where every moment a crime is waiting to happen. As a Pulitzer Prize-winning crime reporter, Buchanan has exposed the seamier sides of this sun-drenched paradise, then used her more than twenty years of experience to create a dynamic and deadly Miami that vividly comes alive in each of her novels. Especially when the city is seen through the fiercely intense eyes of a tough newspaperwoman named Britt Montero. The author of eleven books, Buchanan has spent time behind bars with two serial killers. She lives in Miami, Florida.
Read an Excerpt
The garbled police radio transmissions had been confusing: reports of gunfire, a fleeing car, a traffic accident, and a corpse. Were they related? It was impossible to determine from my dashboard scanner. Cops speak guardedly on the air these days, assisted by sophisticated encoding techniques that scramble their signals and permit outsiders to pick up only intermittent one-sided fragments of transmissions.
Steamy waves of heat rose off pavement that would still be hot to the touch at midnight. It was nearly dusk, the hottest day so far of Miami's hottest June on record. The temperature had shattered weather bureau records every day, all month. The heat index, taking the humidity into account, had settled at a wilting 115 degrees. The backs of my thighs had become one with the vinyl seat and my dress clung damply in unseemly places. Deadline rumbled toward me like an avalanche, and I still had work to do on two other stories.
I parked outside a little family grocery on the corner, left my press card on the dash, and separated myself from the car seat. What had happened here? I scanned the chaos of the street. Spinning emergency flashers and yellow crime-scene tape stretched for blocks into the sunset's red and purple glow, creating a hypnotic, nearly psychedelic effect. To my relief I saw Homicide Detective David Ojeda. Mercurial and savvy, he is a quick study, so sure of himself that he is not afraid to talk to a reporter. He wouldn't stonewall. And he owed me. At least I liked to think so; he probably wouldn't agree. Homicide cops always feel righteous, no matter what. He acted as though the history we shared had never happened, but Iwouldn't forget. You don't forget a man who whips out his handcuffs and books you into the county jail.
Ojeda did not look happy to see me. He looked limp, from his loud tie to his usually fierce and bristly mustache. Damp half-moons ringed his armpits. His high forehead Glistened. His knowing smile had given way to a scowl. Not happy at all.
A late-model Buick Riviera had slammed into a huge eight-by-ten-foot concrete planter, in what looked like the last stop on a path of destruction.
A woman sat mumbling on the curb behind the wrecked Riviera, head in her hands, so drenched in blood and gore that I thought she must be seriously hurt. Her hair and even the little pink barrette she wore in it was spattered and stained. Uh-oh. Was that a little pink barrette? Up closer it appeared to be a chunk of brain matter. But whose? The medic checking her pulse did not seem unduly concerned.
Other medics surrounded a young man lying in the street. His hair looked as though he had jammed a wet thumb into a light socket. Was it normally that wild or rearranged by whatever mishap left him sprawled on the pavement? What on earth had the not-so-good citizens of Miami been doing to each other out here?
The world is crazy, full of crazy people. Miami has more than its share. My job is to tell the public all about it. My name is Montero, Britt Montero, and I cover the police beat in this superheated sea-level city at the bottom of the map.
The medical examiner and two cops stepped away from the Buick just then and I glimpsed the driver, still behind the wheel. My God! I swallowed hard. Ojeda mopped his face with a handkerchief as I sidled up and murmured softly in his ear.
"Where is his head?"
"Nowhere," he replied, "and everywhere."
"Was this an accident or a shooting?" I demanded. "What happened?"
"Talk to PIO," he said.
"Nobody from public information is here."
"Jesus, will you look at that," he muttered. We stared morosely at adults in the crowd who had hoisted toddlers up high onto their shoulders so the wee ones could better view the carnage.
"Okay." The detective stashed his sodden handkerchief. "Don't tell them I talked to you," he warned. "Here's the four-one-one.
"Our victim, the driver here; his gal-pal Wanda, that's her over there"he indicated the woman on the curb, whose mumbling was rapidly coalescing into an incoherent rant"and his brother come bopping into Overtown to buy crack. The brother is riding shotgun, literally. He's in the backseat with a sawed-off across his knees."
"That him over there? The injured guy in the street?"
"Nope. Don't get ahead a me here." Ojeda looked annoyed. "Don't jump the gun. You always do that.'.'
I wanted to argue that he was no one to talk, but didn't.
"He's the street-corner dealer our happy little group in the car is making a buy from when a dispute arises. Our man in the street there is leaning in the car window, negotiating, when our driver apparently tries to take off with both the drugs and the money. Don't know if they planned a rip or if it was some spur-a-the-moment brainstorm. The seller refuses to let go the goods; he's half in and half outa the window, getting dragged. The brother in the backseat starts brandishing the shotgun, the seller grabs it and hangs on for dear life, getting dragged farther into the car as they wrestle over the gun. Then ba-boom! It goes off, taking off the driver's head, which explodes onto his girlfriend's lap. The dead guy's foot punches the accelerator and the car peels out, leaving a hundred-and-fifty-foot traila blood back on Second Avenue."
He stopped to glare at the flies already buzzing the car.
"He slumps, his chest on the horn, foot on the accelerator. They wind up here about a mile later. From what I hear, his passengers were screaming louder than the horn. The dealer's legs are still hanging out the back window, kicking and thrashing. One of our unmarked cars had to swerve up on the sidewalk to get outa their way.
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Audiobook - Really liked the main character. This was a good read and the reader of this audiobook made it all so much more exciting - loved her too.