Hush Money: A Novel

Hush Money: A Novel

by T. E. Woods

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425284568
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/22/2017
Series: Hush Money Mystery , #1
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 286
Sales rank: 117,197
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

T. E. Woods was a clinical psychologist in private practice in Madison, Wisconsin. She was the author of the Justice series (The Fixer, The Red Hot Fix, The Unforgivable Fix, Fixed in Blood, Fixed in Fear, and Dead End Fix) and the Hush Money series (Hush Money, Bad Girl, and Private Lies). She died in 2018.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Now

My hands are so sticky. The young woman stumbled forward a few hesitant steps. She stopped, examining her hands as though it were the first time she’d seen them. She pressed her fingers together, then pulled them apart. Together. Apart. Is it supposed to be like this? She smeared her hands against her black trousers, trying to clear whatever viscous substance coated them. Bits of fiber from her slacks added another layer of pollution to her skin. She ran her hands across her torso, hoping the stiff cotton of her white blouse would succeed where the smooth wool had failed. Her prize was a deep red smear across her stomach and chest.

This isn’t right, either. She lifted her hands to her nose and smelled a mixture of iron and earth. Have I spilled something?

The woman looked around her. I should know where I am. Her brain played a frustrating game, teasing her with memories linked to nothing. That porcelain rose is trimmed in real gold. I must never use chemicals to clean it. She struggled to recall how she knew that, only to be tormented with another phantom bit of knowledge. There’s a safe behind that wall. Who had used it to hide things eluded her.

I should have been at work an hour ago. That mental announcement came with such authority it was as though it were spoken outside her body. But aren’t I at work now? She struggled to focus. No answer came to her. Instead an icy jolt of pain slashed somewhere behind her eyes. She lifted her left hand to soothe the excruciating spot and felt the warm, sticky substance transfer to her forehead.

There’s another room straight ahead. His room. I’m never to be in there unless he is, too. Who he was she couldn’t say. Only the rule floated in her consciousness. She was never to enter without permission, and even then only if he accompanied her. I was just in there. He was there. She staggered down the carpeted corridor, dragging her left hand against the wall, as though she was in a maze and needed to keep hold of her anchor.

There he was. On the floor. Just like before. She looked away. Down to where his shoeless feet rested in a pool of something thick. Something the same crimson as the goo that spattered her own hands. Her eyes noticed something new. She bent over to pick it up. It was heavy. Cold.

I know what this is. She closed her eyes and demanded her brain provide the name of the object she held. The memory of loud explosions came to her, accompanied by the stink of smoke and the echoing clang of metal on metal. She opened her eyes and looked at the object again. This did it to him. This . . . thing. She dropped the object to the floor and forced herself to look at the man. His face was slack. Pale. She kicked the toe of her shoe against the sole of his foot.

He didn’t move.

I know him. He knows me. Still no name came to her. The man’s shirt was soaked with red. Did he spill something? Did he make this mess?

Her chest seized with a choking intake of breath. For a moment, all fog lifted and she was gifted one distilled truth.

This man is dead.

Terror grabbed her throat. A heartbeat later the hazy blanket descended on her brain again, leaving one parting comfort.

I’m glad.

Customer Reviews

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Hush Money: A Novel 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sydney was such an unlikeabe character that I may not read the next book in the series. She's generous but her hangup about her biological parents got on my nerves. At 35 just be thankful you were adopted by wonderful people. The rehashing of her father's death when she was a teenager was also repetive. I loved The Fixer series but the jury is still out on this one.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Can't wait to read Bad Girl! From the teaser, I am going to like it!
tschnitzler More than 1 year ago
Such a talented, creative author! I absolutely LOVE the Fixer series, and the Hush Money series is promising as well. The premise for Sydney acquiring all of her money is a bit twisted, but what she is doing with her money is a dream! Sydney is intelligent but naive. I like her, and I look forward to the next book in this series. Sydney's relationship with her adopted mother is enviable, and why she tends to obsess about her birth mother is both reasonable but really not necessary. Already pre-ordered #2.
nookerCB More than 1 year ago
Sydney decides to open 2 very different restaurants on the same night. Then someone gets murdered and she finds herself drawn to the accused and decides she must help her out. This book is a cozy mystery plus, with more substance and nuances than a regular cozy type book. I did not guess the killer until right before she did, and then the fun began. The ending left open a sequel, which I will read. Just read it already!
elliewc More than 1 year ago
A gently written story that pulls you along steadily with good characterisation until the final denouement. The novel shows well the lack of sophistication of the town in which it is set when the new restaurateur finds that on a Sunday night at 9.30pm all the customers have gone, and that on other nights 10pm is last orders! {And a side point, English wine is now regarded as good, note that Champagne Taittinger announced it was buying a vineyard in Kent and would produce an English sparkling wine; and:- English sparkling wine specifically has been highly praised for its quality, beating Champagne in some competitions, and collecting a total of 130 medals and trophies in the 2015 Decanter World Wine Awards.} So the town shows its small town politics in this novel, with the intrigue that comes with a small population jockeying for power and prestige. This novel is very different from TE Wood's 'Fixer' novels in both style and content and thus shows her versatility as a writer.
booklover- More than 1 year ago
Hush Money is the name of a new upscale restaurant owned by Sydney Richardson. She is the daughter of a cop that was killed on duty. In his honor, she also also opened the adjacent bar and grill for the cops, first responders, firemen. The mayor of Madison, Wisconsin is beloved by all ... except the person that murdered him. The police think this is an open and shut case as a young woman is seen leaving his residence covered in blood and her prints on the murder weapon. She's also a new employee of Sydney's and she's bound and determined to help her out and find the real killer. But as Sydney discovers secrets and lies about the mayor, the more danger she faces. The is the first of a 2-part series written by a well-known proficient author... and it looks like a winner. There's a good amount of suspense, a little romance thrown in, with credible characters .. some you will love, some you won't. A few twists and turns keep the reader guessing what will happen next. I really look forward to the next book ... BAD GIRL. Many thanks to the author / Random House Publishing Group - Alibi / Netgalley for the digital copy. Opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Fixer series are some of my favorite books. I liked these characters even more. Can not wait for the next book.
3no7 More than 1 year ago
“Hush Money” by T. E. Woods opens with the suggestion of a crime, but what is the crime, and who is this confused person stumbling around? What is that read smear across her stomach and chest? The answers are not clear. Then, the flashback, the people, the politicians, and the question “You’re blackmailing me?” The story is set in Madison, Wisconsin, “The world’s biggest small town” and home to politicians and police. It is also now the home of two new restaurants owned by Sydney Richardson. “Ten-Ten” is a pizza, burgers, and beer bar that caters to law enforcement, the name signifying both the street address and the radio code for “Off Duty.” The second “Hush Money,” is an upscale restaurant with a top chef who transforms locally sourced ingredients into mouthwatering masterpieces. The name, “Hush Money” seems to reflect the political wheeling and dealing of capitol city politics, but is there an alternate meaning to that name as well? Unfortunately, on the opening night of both restaurants, the mayor of Madison is murdered. As the search for the killer continues, politics, intrigue, and double-dealing are everywhere. Alliances are tested, and friendships are strained. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone blames someone else. To Sydney, everything is so tragic or so natural. “Murder happens. You think there’s a quota on tragedy?” Little details throughout the book make everything relatable and real. “She found a parking spot on the fourth floor of the parking structure, and followed the sidewalks winding around the gigantic institution.” “The woman called out to her from the check-in desk. She was large, with upper arms straining the fabric of her neon pink scrubs.” We know those locations, and we know those people. The action moves back and forth through time, and each chapter is labeled to help readers keep track of the period. As the backstory counts down to the present, we learn more about the characters. Their personalities become more detailed but not necessarily nicer. Personal relationships among all the characters are explored in detail, becoming more complex and more developed. Of course, the mayor’s murder takes center stage. Piece by piece the clues emerge, but some do not fit. Everyone has a past, and everyone is flawed. Some have succeeded, and others are deceitful as they sit in “hush Money” and eat their gourmet food. Sydney sums it up, “How different my life is than just a week ago. Everything changes.” Things end, but not exactly as one might think. Some questions are unanswered,
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
I love T.E. Woods' "The Fixer" books and was sad when The Fixer decided to get out of the life of fixing. That girl was AWESOME! I wondered what would come next in in T.E. Woods' world and now I know. I loved this book. I loved the locale, Madison, WI is a beautiful city and I loved the main character, Sydney Richardson. A woman with a lot of issues of abandonment and a huge heart. During opening night of her "two", yes not just one, restaurants the Mayor is murdered. His wife had to be driven home in a taxi, so she can't be the suspect. However, one of Sydney's new employees, Wanda Fields, is a no show for work. There is no phone call or a replacement found. Wanda Fields, with no restaurant experience at all, tugged on Sydney's heartstrings with her status as a single mother. Sydney hired her right away. Now, Wanda is the main suspect in the Mayor's murder. Sydney comes to the rescue with money for a lawyer, bail and a babysitter for her young daughter. She is bound and determined who killed the mayor because she knows Wanda did not do it. A great story with not really a lot of suspects. There is no clue that there was anyone in that house besides the mayor and Wanda. However, some shady actions behind the scenes provide quite a few suspects. A fact I was happy to see because I really liked Wanda, as well. The jaw dropping ending reiterated the fact that T.E. Woods is one author that I request her books without even reading the description! Huge thanks to Random House/Alibi and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
MonnieR More than 1 year ago
A "throzy," perhaps? See what I did there? Coined a new term for this kind of book: Easy, breezy reading that's a hallmark of a cozy, but enough sex, mayhem and moving-right-along excitement to qualify as a thriller. There's another hallmark of a cozy at play here as well: A heroine who is (a) independent, headstrong and professionally successful, (b) fiercely loyal except when it doesn't serve her purpose, (c) hung up on past issues she can't resolve and (d) incapable of heeding anyone else's advice even when it puts her and those she loves in danger. And there you have Sydney Richardson, owner of two very different restaurants in Madison, Wisconsin and the star of this, the first book in a new series. One, the Ten-Ten, primarily is a bar that caters to first-responders (her late father was a cop). The other, Hush Money (like the book title) is a hoity-toity sit-down restaurant targeting the upper-crust in this up-and-coming city. She's determined to make both restaurants a success, aided and abetted by her very capable, loving (if a bit overprotective and overbearing) mother, Nancy. Sydney is interesting and likable, except perhaps when she's in (c) or (d) mode - I identify more with the strong woman with a can-do attitude part. When she refuses to listen, or selectively blows off only one of the many who tell her to mind her own business, it's not so much; but then without those moments, I guess there wouldn't be much of a story. And make no mistake, it's a solid one. One of the servers, a woman named Wanda (a.k.a., Windy), fails to show up for work at Hush Money. That evening, Sydney has a run-in with the very drunk wife of the town's hard-driving - some would say ruthless - mayor, who claims she was waiting for her no-show husband. Turns out he had a good reason; back at their home, hizzoner has met an untimely end. And who is the prime suspect? None other than Windy, who is at the home and covered in the mayor's blood. No matter how convinced the cops are that Windy is guilty - including Sydney's father's old police partner Horst Welke, who's been assigned to the case - Sydney simply can't believe that this mother of a young daughter did the deed. So, Sydney hires hot-shot attorney Andrew Conyer who will, hopefully, get her off. As the evidence against Windy mounts, so does Sydney's determination that the woman is innocent; but will Sydney's constant push-backs against the police and Windy's lawyer do more harm than good? Throughout it all, Sydney must keep the restaurants running (which involves, not insignificantly, riding herd on a talented but impossibly egotistical chef). Apparently she doesn't need much sleep, since many nights after her fancy restaurant closes, she heads for the Low Down, a blues bar, to kick back to the music and bask in the company of the handsome, witty, wife-free (of course) guy who owns it. Everything builds up to a surprising conclusion, when just about everything is resolved except those pesky details of Sydney's long-ago past. Now, she's free once again to build up business at her restaurants, possibly find a love life and, almost certainly, tackle another murder - all of which, I assume, will be fodder for the next book. I'll be waiting! Thanks very much to the publisher, via NetGalley, for providing me with an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.