Throughout her life, Maggie Lyon has longed to uncover a national scandal, but the dream of investigative journalism was all but dead after spending years ghost-writing cookbooks for her celebrity chef husband.
Separated, but not divorced, the independent Maggie has attempted to reclaim her career in print journalism only to find herself languishing in a newspaper’s Lifestyles section, churning out three columns per week. A notable food writer, she’s asked to cover a rising food star who’ll be cooking for an exclusive gathering in Los Angeles, and Maggie is soon walking through the doors of a mansion dating back to Hollywood’s Golden Age.
Maggie recognizes none of the guests except the last to arrive: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Vittorio Scarpia! The longest-serving justice, he’s been a polarizing national figure for over three decades.
Forced to associate with the women while the men huddle, Maggie cannot wait for the weekend to end. However, Scarpia is found dead on Sunday morning. Aside from being ordered to avoid the Press, guests never question his death from natural causes. It’s not until reports of mysterious visitors, secret societies and induction ceremonies that Maggie takes notice and begins her own investigation.
It’s soon clear that Scarpia was murdered and several guests had motives: the host whose business dealings would eventually reach the Supreme Court; the civil rights attorney whose case is currently pending; politicians in the house; the entrepreneur with the indistinguishable accent. What of the beautiful woman staying in the adjoining bedroom?
Maggie pursues each angle and puts forth her theories. Arrests are made, but has she made a mistake? She doesn’t believe so, but after reexamining the facts, mysterious phone calls resume, old names resurface and a suspect is run down in a New York crosswalk before the killer is revealed!
|Publisher:||A-Argus Better Book Publishers|
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About the Author
"Murdered Justice," Patrick Brown's latest novel, might seem like a departure from the format more familiar to his devoted readers. His many fans who frolicked figuratively with the outrageous behavior of Sheila Wozniak, the over-the-hill soap opera matron in "Tossed off the Edge" (2014), and the less than righteous antics of televangelists in "Moral Ambiguity" (2011) will be spellbound by his most recent political thriller. Spellbound and engrossed.
Brown was classically trained as a keyboard artist for piano and organ but early found his true passion to be creative writing. At the tender age of nine, he was selected to join a creative writing class. His keen observational skills, scathing wit and sense of humor won him early honors and Patrick discovered his life's passion. Writing. As with most writers, Life's journey presented myriad opportunities for broadening his knowledge of human nature. He has been employed at various times as a church organist, a civil rights organizer, a political events coordinator and more recently as an environmentalist and amateur woodsman. With such an omnibus of skills and talents it does not surprise his fans that he has also delighted audiences as a stand-up comedian at the world-famous Comedy Store in Los Angeles, that famous venue which has launched so many notable careers.
Storytelling comes natural to Brown whose ancestry includes a long line of storytellers, an art form unto itself throughout the South. His vivid imagination and fluid writing quickly enfold readers into the spell of any of his books they are fortunate enough to be reading. And, such is the case with this latest when Patrick's newest heroine, Maggie Lyon, is innocently drawn into the dangerous intrigue surrounding the murder of an esteemed, but dubious Supreme Court Justice.
Read an Excerpt
I'm a food writer by official occupation. How I came to be a food writer is a case of being in the right place at the right time, depending on how you look at it. I started out by going to journalism school in the 1980s. From the moment I'd submitted my enrollment form for my sophomore year of high school, after my parents had argued whether or not I could take the class that would get me on the school newspaper and eventually named its student editor-in-chief, I had fantasies of the hustle and bustle of the City Room at The Washington Post.
I was constantly re-working my schedule to catch episodes of Lou Grant. Not the sit-com Lou on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, but the spinoff, after Lou moved from comedy to drama. I wanted to be like Woodward and Bernstein on the trail of some nefarious government scandal. I'd dig through records, chase leads and have a list of secret informants I'd have to defend. I might even have to serve time for refusing to reveal these anonymous sources.
I made it through high school with honors, and I graduated from one of the top ten journalism schools in the nation, which landed me on the east coast, right where I'd intended to be since I was 15. The next 30 years weren't exactly six months in the trenches as a cub reporter before getting my big break, then winning a Pulitzer Prize for exposing a major government cover-up, and then stepping into the shoes of Katherine Graham until I retired at the ripe old age of 92.
On the contrary, I landed an internship during the summer between my junior and senior years of college, and the job I was promised after graduation was an office job as a secretary with the promise I'd be handed increasingly difficult assignments as time went on before getting my own regular column, provided that my work was up to their standard.
This wasn't The Washington Post, by the way, but the job was in D.C., and that's what mattered to me at the time. I put up with the harassment that summer, and I returned in July 1989 with the self confidence I could handle the good-ole-boy network and show them exactly how much better I was than they were at doing the same job. Was I in for a rude awakening. The bureau chief who'd made all those promises had "retired" (word was he'd had a breakdown and was convalescing at a facility somewhere out west), and the only reason I got the position was because I'd managed to get his assurances in writing.
When I phoned the paper two months before graduation, I learned that the new guy in charge was the worst of the men who'd constantly made comments about my appearance and had repeatedly asked me out on "dates" that summer. He seemed to interpret my unwillingness to go out with a booze-swilling married man with two teenagers and nicotine stained fingers as my spurning him, so I languished in the secretarial pool for two years.
Why did I stay? It's easy to ask that now, but at the time I was fresh out of college, I didn't have a masters, I'd played the game by getting my internship and the promise of a job in Washington D.C. I'd taken all the necessary steps, and I happened to be in denial that The Gut, as I'd begun referring to my boss when friends asked me how the job was going, respected my ability and would give me a break just as soon as the right assignment came along.
I spent 1990 asserting myself, and began submitting pieces to The Gut so that he'd know by my skills and tenacity that I was going nowhere anytime soon. He agreed. I was going nowhere as long as he was in charge. I began looking for a new job, and I was hired as the editor of a small unknown and mostly unread newspaper in Virginia. I lied to myself that it was still D.C., or at least D.C. adjacent, but it wasn't. In fact, I had to get a car and drive for over 90 minutes if I wanted to see D.C., but at least it wasn't fetching coffee for The Gut for minimum wage.
Rather, it was editing a newspaper. Well, it was a small weekly publication on newsprint, which had one good feature article and some neighborhood news with classifieds in the back and some small-time ads. I couldn't believe how many dry cleaners there were in that limited radius. Evidently, we were closer to D.C. than I imagined. And the job wasn't minimum wage, though an extra $2.50 came to approximately $5,000 more each year (before taxes) though I had to use that for making car payments.
I was able to afford a vacation in 1996, and by the strangest twist of fate, I met the man I would marry. I'd decided I needed a change of scenery, and I signed up for one of those specialty cruises. There were several to choose from, and I'd discussed them with a travel agent because that's what one did in those days. How could I, some everyday person, reach some logical conclusion on my own about touring packages? There was a cruise for dance lessons, another trip in the Caribbean that offered a lecture tour, another with famous authors and the one I ended up on.
I had every intention of signing up for the author tour, but the travel agent had shoved me toward the dance cruise. She had a sense I was getting close to 30 and was, dare I say, single with no prospects? I wasn't worried about the lack of male attention because I was still focusing on my career gal persona, but Sheila at Four Corners Travel was feeling her inner yenta and couldn't stand that I might be so late to the altar that menopause would start during my honeymoon.
We compromised: I wrote a check for the down payment, and in April of 1996 I set sail from Miami on a weeklong excursion aboard a ship full of young chefs and what we would today call "foodies." For discretion I won't mention his name, but on second thought I shall. You might as well know that I met, fell in love with and got engaged to Mark-Mario Van Heflin-Schröder, the Michelin Chef with all those stars, restaurants and cookbooks. In the past decade, if you've ever used a knife or a domestically produced enameled cast-iron Dutch oven or a copper-bottomed stainless steel saucepan, it's probably had Mark-Mario's face on the package and his autograph engraved on it somewhere.
If you've dined in New York, Boston, D.C. Chicago, Miami, New Orleans, Dallas, Houston, Santa Fe, San Francisco, Napa, Portland, Seattle or Vancouver, B.C., at some point in the past five years, and you've had more than $150 per person in your wallet to pay for dinner, you've probably dined or considered dining at one of Mark-Mario's establishments though you may have not been aware of it.
You see, he doesn't make all those products. He gets endorsements, and he doesn't cook all those meals in all those cities, nor does he even develop the menus. Oh, he developed the menu for the three New York restaurants, and he had a hand in planning the original menu for the Miami location, but he hasn't done more than cut the ribbons on the other locations that bear some connection to his name. As for the rest of them, he's never darkened their doorways. I don't even think he's been to Santa Fe.
You're probably asking why any of this business with my husband is relevant to the story, but it all makes sense in how I recently ended up spending the weekend with that Supreme Court Justice in Los Angeles
What People are Saying About This
What bizarre quirks of fate can swirl such a tailspin into the life of a popular food writer that results in her becoming instrumental in solving the outrageous murder of a Supreme Court Justice? Ask Maggie Lyons. She can tell you. You'll doubtless get thrown off by as many false leads and deliberate obstructions as she encountered before solving the twisted case. Patrick Brown's newest novel, "Murdered Justice" will have you guessing to the end the very end before you can put the book down.
We can only hope that Patrick will regale us with more of Maggie's adventures in future. Far from being typical in any sense of the word, Maggie's nature reflects her interest in fine cuisine. Like a good jambalaya - Maggie's a little of everything with plenty of spice thrown in for the ride.