Red Hot Lies (Izzy McNeil Series)

Red Hot Lies (Izzy McNeil Series)

by Laura Caldwell

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780778326502
Publisher: MIRA Books
Publication date: 05/26/2009
Series: An Izzy McNeil Novel , #1
Edition description: Original
Pages: 420
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Laura Caldwell, a former trial lawyer, is currently a professor and Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. She is the author of eleven novels and one non-fiction book. She is a nation-wide speaker and the founder of Life After Innocence, which helps innocent people begin their lives again after being wrongfully imprisoned. Laura has been published in thirteen languages and over twenty countries. To learn more, please visit

Read an Excerpt

Day One

"McNeil, she's not signing this crap."

"She told me she was signing it last week."

"She told you she was considering it."

"No." I moved the phone to my other ear and pinned it there with my shoulder. With my hands free, I shifted about ten stacks of papers on my desk, looking for Jane Augustine's contract. I punched the button on my phone that would send a bleating plea to my assistant. "She told me she was signing it. Period."

"That's insane. With that lame buyout clause? No way. No. Way. You have no idea what you're doing, kid."

I felt a hard, familiar kernel of fear in my belly.

"It's the same buyout clause she had in her last contract." I ignored the personal comment he'd lobbed at me. I had gotten my fair share of them while representing Pickett Enterprises over the past three years and, although I acted like such comments didn't sting, I often thought, You're right. I have no idea what I'm doing.

I finally found the current contract under a pile of production- facility agreements. I flipped through it as fast as I could, searching for the clause in question.

My assistant, Q—short for Quentin—stuck his head in my office with a nervous what now? look. I dropped the document and put my hand over the mouthpiece. "Can you get me Jane's last contract?"

He nodded quickly, his bald, black head shining under the fluorescent lights. He made a halfhearted attempt to find it amongst the chaos that was my law office—redwell folders that spanned the length of my visitors' couch, file folders, motions and deposition transcripts stacked precariously on my desk. Throwing his hands up, Q spun around and headed for his own tidy and calm workstation.

"I'm not messing around, kid," Steve Severny continued. Severny was the biggest agent/lawyer in town, representing more than half of Chicago's broadcasters and nearly all its top actors. "Change the buyout or we're walking. NBC has been calling, and next time I'm not telling them no."

I swallowed down the tension that felt thick in my throat. Jane Augustine was the most popular news anchor at the station owned by Pickett Enterprises, my client. The CEO, Forester Pickett, was a huge fan of hers. I couldn't lose Jane to another station.

Meanwhile, Severny kept rolling. "And I want a pay-or-play added to paragraph twenty-two."

I flipped through the contract and found the paragraph. It was tough, yes, and it was favorable to Pickett Enterprises, but as much as I couldn't lose Jane, I couldn't simply give in to anything her agent wanted. My job was to land the terms most favorable to Pickett Enterprises, and although the stress of that job was always heavy, sometimes so heavy I could barely see through it, I would do my job. There was no alternative.

"No pay-or-play," I said. "It's nonnegotiable. I told you that last time, and I'm telling you again. That comes from Forester himself." It always helped to throw Forester's name in the mix, to remind people that I was here, making their lives tough, because he wanted me to.

"Then let's talk about the non compete."

"Let's do that." I thumbed through the contract, grateful to have seemingly won a point. Q darted into the room with Jane's previous contract, cleared a space on my desk and put it down.

I nodded thanks.

Q then placed a sheet of white paper on top of it, giving me a sympathetic smile. In red ink, he'd written, Izzy, your meeting with the wedding Nazi is in forty-five minutes.

"Crap," I said.

"That's right," Severny said, his voice rising. "That's what I told you before. It is crap. And we're not signing it!" And with that, he hung up.

"Mother hen in a basket!" I yelled, slamming down the phone.

I was trying not to swear anymore. I thought it sounded crass when people swore. The problem was it sounded great to me when I did it. And it felt so damn good. But swearing wasn't appropriate at a law firm, as Q had reminded me on more than one occasion, and so I was replacing things like goddammit with God bless you and Jesus Christ with Jiminy Christmas and motherfucker with mother hen in a basket.

Q sank into a chair across from my desk. "I know you're crazed, and I know you have to leave soon, but first I need some of your fiery, redheaded decisiveness."

I sat down, crossed my hands on my desk and gave Q my army-general stare. "I could use a quick break. Hit me."

Q was wearing his usual crisp khakis and a blazer. He tugged at the blazer to try to hide the slightly protruding belly he hated—his personal nemesis to the perfect gay physique. Not that this deterred him from sizing up the rest of the male species. Q had emerged from the closet six years prior, and though he had a live-in boyfriend, Max, he still enjoyed the "new gay" privilege of ogling every man he came across.

He paused dramatically now. "Max's mother is coming to town tomorrow."

"I see your problem." Max's mother was a former Las Vegas showgirl, an eccentric woman with whom you'd love to grab a martini, but who wears you out after two hours. The last time she'd come to Chicago, Q nearly broke up with Max just for an excuse to get out of the house.

"How long is she in for?" I asked.

"Two weeks."

"That's not going to work."

"I know it's not going to work."

"You can make her help with your Halloween party this weekend."

He nodded, reluctantly conceding the point. "What am I going to do the rest of the time?"

"Watch a lot of football?" Q had retained many of his straight-man tendencies. A love of football was one of them.

Q had gray eyes that I'd always found calming, but they flashed with irritation now. "That's another not decisive, Izzy. There's a question mark at the end of that sentence. And you know she'll hover and talk, hover and talk. I won't see a single play."

"Okay, okay. Tell Max she has to stay in a hotel, and you guys will pay for part of it."

Q ran his hands over his head again. "I guess maybe that would work." He sighed. "God, I hate being in a relationship."

"No, you don't."

"Yes, I do."

Just then Tanner Hornsby, a high-ranking partner in his mid-forties, walked by my office. He was tall, with deep-black hair (dyed, I suspected) that arched into a widow's peak. He was rumored to run five miles a day, every day, before work, and so he was lean and wiry, but he had the tired, slightly puffy eyes of a career drinker.

He stopped now and frowned at us.

Q turned in his seat. "Oh, hello, Mr. Hornsby," he said in a breathy, effeminate voice, which he doled out only to annoy certain people like Tanner and his father.

"Hi, Tan," I said.

His frown deepened. No one called him Tan. He was Mr. Hornsby to most, and Tanner to the elite few, myself definitely not included, but I needed him to consider me his legal equal. I ignored his disdain and called him Tan because I wanted him to know he didn't scare me, even if he did. Behind closed doors, Q and I had other names for him—Toad Horny, Tanned Hide, the Horned One…

"I couldn't help but hear your phone conversation from down the hall," Tanner said. "Was that Steve Severny you were speaking with? Problems?"

Tanner Hornsby had negotiated hundreds of contracts with Steve Severny. Severny would never tell Tanner he didn't know what he was doing.

"No problems." I gave Tanner my dutiful-nice-girl look that served me well at the law firm of Baltimore & Brown. Though truthfully, I didn't need the look anymore. The ludicrous amount of dough I pulled in through the Pickett Enterprises work allowed me to get away with just about anything. I was my own little island amid a sea of associates who hadn't been as lucky as me and, as a result, were forced to be ass kissers and line-toers.

"How are your hours this month, Isabel?"

"Just fine, Tan, thanks for asking."

Ever since Forester Pickett had made me the lead attorney for Pickett Enterprises, taking the cases away from Tanner, Tanner had hated me. Tanner was lifelong friends with Forester's son, Shane. He'd originally gotten the Pickett Enterprises work because of that connection and thought he'd never lose it. Every so often, Tanner tried to throw his lean, wiry weight around and remind me that he was still my superior by asking questions about billable hours or continuing legal education. I felt bad for him. I felt guilty. I hadn't tried to take Forester's work from him. Forester had simply taken a shine to me, and I rode that windfall as far as I could. I knew many attorneys at the firm thought I'd gotten the work because I was a woman—a young woman with long curls of red hair who wasn't afraid to wear high, high heels and drink with Forester until the wee hours.

Even if that was true, I didn't care. I adored Forester. He was a smart, sweet man—not one of those older guys who oh so accidentally kept touching your hand… and your elbow… and your lower back. No, Forester was a prince, and like a prince he'd swooped in and saved me from the torment and agony of being just another associate slave. The job was hard, but I knew I was now doing good things for Pickett Enterprises. Still, that knowledge couldn't hedge my occasional yet powerful bouts of self-doubt or the feeling that I was an impostor, one who could be exposed at any time.

Tanner grunted. "Keep the hours up. We've got the end of the year soon."

I put a concerned look on my face, as if I didn't have the top billable hours of any associate at the firm, and nodded. "Sure. Will do."

He left. Thank God.

My cell phone dinged from where it sat atop a monstrous deposition transcript on my desk. I picked it up. A text message from Sam. Hey, Red Hot Leaving for Cassandra's. See you there.

"Dammit." Cassandra was the wedding planner.

Q raised his eyebrows.

"Darn it," I corrected.

I swiveled around and started scrambling through the chaos on my credenza until I found my bag. I couldn't be late again. Plus, I needed to talk to Sam about this wedding stuff, which was starting to weigh me down as heavily as my job.

"Are you taking home the Casey research?" Q asked. "We have to file the motion by tomorrow."

"I know, I know." I stuffed a pile of case law and my Dictaphone into my bag.

"And don't forget Sam's work dinner tonight at the Union League Club," Q said.

I tried to ignore the mountain of panic taking over my insides. "Yeah, it's going to be torture. Those financial dinners always are. But I'll leave early and work on the motion."

"You can do it," Q said. "You always do."

"Thanks." I stopped and smiled, and he flashed one back.

As I kept stuffing things into my bag, I thought about how a big blowout wedding had not been my idea. In fact, when Sam and I got engaged, I was fine to book a trip to the Caribbean with a few friends, throw on a little slip dress and get married to the sound of steel drums. But my mother, who hadn't planned much of anything, or didn't usually care about much of anything, seemed stuck on a huge, traditional wedding. And my soon-to-be husband, who had legions of friends from grade school, high school, college, business school and work, said he was on board for that as well. I want everyone to see how much I love you, he'd said. How does a girl say no to that?

My phone rang. Q took a step toward my desk and we both looked at the caller ID. Victoria McNeil. My mother.

Q picked it up, handed it to me and left the office.

"Hi, Mom." I zipped up my bag. "What's up?"

"Izzy, I know you two picked out the plates with the silver border for the reception, but I think we should consider the gold again." My mother's voice was calm and smooth, as always. "I've been thinking about it, and the linens are a soft white, rather than a crisp white, and that really lends itself toward gold rather than silver."

"That's fine. Whatever you think." Reflexively, I extended the fingers of my left hand and glanced at my engagement ring, an antique, art-deco piece with an emerald-cut diamond. Looking at my ring used to make me grin. Now, it made me wince a little.

"Okay, and another thing. If you talk to your brother, Charlie, give him a little encouragement, will you? We need him to try on suits."

"The wedding is still six weeks away."

"That's right. Only six weeks away."

My stomach hollowed. Only six weeks.

"Charlie has to stop dragging his feet," my mom said.

I murmured in vague agreement, but for once I felt sim-patico with my brother. Mentally, I, too, needed to stop dragging my feet about this wedding thing.

"Don't forget, you have another dress fitting tomorrow night."

I tried not to sigh. "I know," I said. "Battle number five."

During the first visits with my bridal seamstress, Maria, it seemed she was trying to flatten my breasts and hide my hips, parts of my body I rather liked. I kept telling her, "I think the dress needs to be sexier," and so she'd been dutifully making the bustline lower and the waistline tighter, until the last time, when she'd taken the pins out of her mouth and said in her accented English, "You want to look like hooker on wedding day?"

I told her I'd think about it.

I realized that most women wanted an ethereal look for their wedding, but I liked wearing sexy clothes on a daily basis, so why not for my wedding day? Plus, Sam said he wanted me in something hot. So I was going to give him hot.

"Izzy, really," my mom said. "I don't want you showing nipple on your wedding day."

I laughed, and it felt good, like it was loosening up my insides. "See you tomorrow."

I logged off the computer, grabbed my bag and left to meet Sam.

It was just an average day.

The funny thing—although maybe funny isn't the right word—is that I already knew a single day could slap you around and send you reeling. I'd had such a day twenty-one years ago when my father died. It was Tuesday, and it was gloriously sunny and clear—I always remember the weather first—and Charlie and I were playing in the leaves in the backyard, making painstakingly neat piles, which we would dive into with a yelp and destroy in an instant.

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Red Hot Lies (Izzy McNeil Series) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Cherylk on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Attorney Izzy McNeil is about to get married. Izzy and her fiancé, Sam Hollings are finalizing all of their wedding plans, when Sam vanishes without a trace. Izzy can't figure out why Sam would up and leave without saying anything to her. Forester Pickett is owner and CEO of Pickett Enterprises, a huge corporation. Recently Forester has been investing in real estate property in Panama. Izzy receives a phone call from Mr. Pickett's son, Shane. His father has passed away of a heart attack. Izzy can't believe it. Just two weeks ago, Izzy and Forester were talking about how healthy he was. He had recently had a bunch of tests done and the results were negative. Though Forester told Izzy that he had been recently receiving threatening messages. He told Izzy that if someone were to happen to him that she should suspect foul play. Now Forester is dead and thirty million dollars worth of real estate shares have gone missing from Pickett Enterprises. Surprisedly, Sam was in charge of safe keeping the shares and we know what happened there. Obviously Sam killed Forester and took off with the shares. At first Izzy doesn't want to believe Sam could murder anyone but the deeper she digs, she realizes that she may not know Sam as well as she thought she did. Izzy McNeil is one tough cookie. She doesn't give up till the job is done. No matter how high the stakes are stacked aganist her. Red Hot Lies has a interesting plot that will keep you on your toes till the very last page. When I first saw that ony of my favorite authors Laura Caldwell was releasing this new trilogy, I get knew I had to check it out. I am happy to report that this book did not disppoint. MS. Caldwell has such an amazing range of talent. Everything she writes is a winner in my book...from chick lit stories to international suspense thrillers. I can't wait to visit with Izzy again.
scoutlee on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Red Hot Lies is the first book in the Izzy McNeil trilogy. I¿ve read two of her suspense novels, Look Closely and The Rome Affair, and enjoyed them both. When I heard she was writing a new trilogy, I immediately added the titles to my TBR List.At first glance, life appears to be going well for Izzy McNeil. She¿s an entertainment lawyer working for one of the richest men in Chicago, Forester Pickett. She¿s planning her wedding with her successful and gorgeous, fiancé Sam. She¿s feisty, beautiful and is satisfied with how things are in her life. Until one evening when several bad things happen in a row that cause Izzy¿s life to spin rapidly out of control.Izzy is a character that I liked from page one. Ms. Caldwell did an excellent character portrayal of Izzy, that it seemed as though she was a friend. I immediately pictured her in my mind and rooted for her as she scrambled to find the truth behind Sam¿s disappearance and Forester¿s murder.Red Hot Lies is a good, solid mystery. It kept me engrossed until the ending. There¿s twists and turns and plenty of suspects. Red Hot Lies did not disappoint. The good news is books two and three, Red Blooded Murder and Red, White & Dead, are now available and I¿m looking forward to reading what happens next with Izzy.
caitemaire on LibraryThing 25 days ago
In this book, the first in a new mystery trilogy, everything in Izzy McNeil's life seems to be going right. Although she is a fairly new associate at her law firm, she has been fortunate enough to have become the lead entertainment attorney for Pickett Enterprises and millionaire radio station mogul, Forester Pickett. He is more than just her client, but a friend and a mentor and in fact, the one that introduced her to fiance. And in just a few weeks she and her handsome love, Sam Hollings, will be walking down the aisle.But then, of course, things start to fall apart. First, Sam does not show up for a dinner engagement, and calling everyone they know all night, she can't find where he has gotten to. Then she gets the call that her number one client is dead, from an apparent heart attack. Finally, it appears that Sam has disappeared with over 30 million dollars in Panamanian bonds that belonged to Pickett. Before you know it, the police and the FBI are at Izzy's door, but since they do not seem very interested in her claim that Pickett was receiving threats, Izzy herself will have to get involved in investigating what happened.This is not a great book, but it is not a bad book either. The book is well written and the plot is pretty good, even if I think it could have been edited to a tighter, shorter, and better story. And there are some good characters, most of then minor. The detective Izzy hires to try and find Sam and figure out what happened, P.I. John Mayburn, her best friend Maggie, a lawyer who loves defending her drug dealers clients and a very short appearance by her brother Charlie, who lives to read his books and drink his wine. I started to wish one of them was the central characters, because the largest problem I had with this book is that it rests firmly on the shoulders of "Red Hot" Izzy and I can't say that I really liked her a whole lot. As a lawyer, she seems totally out of her a fiance, she was amazing fast to except the possibility that the supposed love of her life was a thief and maybe a murderer. Without giving too much away, let's say loyalty is not her real strength.Sort of chick-lit meets murder mystery that might, if the weather was not getting a bit too chilly, make a nice beach read
krystalsbooks on LibraryThing 25 days ago
This book was great. I have already started reading the second book in the series. Izzy is a strong women who had to deal with some difficult information but makes every attempt to keep her life together.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a waste of time! The heroine's name sounds like a popular Chicago restaurant.
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carla_s More than 1 year ago
This was my first time reading a Laura Caldwell novel, and surely won't be my last. Izzy McNeil is a smart and sassy woman who gets herself into all kinds of difficult situations. I couldn't put my nook down because I couldn't wait to find out what Izzy would do next. I am about to buy the other two books in the Izzy McNeil Series now. I can't wait to see what Izzy gets into in the future!
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IHeart2Read More than 1 year ago
Red Hot Lies is the first book in the Izzy McNeil trilogy. I've read two of her suspense novels, Look Closely and The Rome Affair, and enjoyed them both. When I heard she was writing a new trilogy, I immediately added the titles to my TBR List. At first glance, life appears to be going well for Izzy McNeil. She's an entertainment lawyer working for one of the richest men in Chicago, Forester Pickett. She's planning her wedding with her successful and gorgeous, fiancé Sam. She's feisty, beautiful and is satisfied with how things are in her life. Until one evening when several bad things happen in a row that cause Izzy's life to spin rapidly out of control. Izzy is a character that I liked from page one. Ms. Caldwell did an excellent character portrayal of Izzy, that it seemed as though she was a friend. I immediately pictured her in my mind and rooted for her as she scrambled to find the truth behind Sam's disappearance and Forester's murder. Red Hot Lies is a good, solid mystery. It kept me engrossed until the ending. There's twists and turns and plenty of suspects. Red Hot Lies did not disappoint. The good news is books two and three, Red Blooded Murder and Red, White & Dead, are now available and I'm looking forward to reading what happens next with Izzy.
Jean55 More than 1 year ago
engaging, thrilling; good mystery, touch of romance. well written. anxious to read what else she has written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ivy1224 More than 1 year ago
This is a great book to take to the beach or anywhere that you have a few minutes to read. It is a quick read and entertaining. I always enjoy a book when something is happening and you think "OH NO.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Chicago, Pickett Enterprises top entertainment lawyer twenty-nine year old Isabel "Izzy" McNeil is doing great at the job due to her spunky optimistic approach and more so because client Forester Pickett likes her so he gives her his thriving business. However, unlike her professional life, normally energetic Izzy is losing it as her marriage to Sam Hollings is coming soon.------------- The same day that Pickett dies from a heart attack, Sam vanishes with thirty million dollars in stock in a Panamanian real estate venture. The police want to question Sam, as the last person to be known to have been with Pickett before he died. Her relationships with both men make Izzy a prime suspect in the missing bonds and in Pickett's death. As the FBI searches for Sam and they and the CPD stake out Izzy, she begins an investigation into her fiancé's wherebouts scooting on her Vespa on the mean streets of Chicago. --------- Izzy tells much of the exciting story line as she bikes along the Windy City seeking clues to the whereabouts of her missing fiancé and to solve who committed the murder. However as she "joy" rides through the city, enough law enforcement types to fill Wrigley and thugs to fill U.S. Cellular Field (or is that the New Comiskey Park) follow her. Fans will enjoy this entertaining amateur sleuth as somehow everything converges on Iz who could use a day off; just not in jail.-------- Harriet Klausner