"Forget the shower scene in Psycho; Shadow of Doubt will make you scared to take a bath!" - Diane Vallere, Author of the Material Witness, Style & Error, and Mad for Mod Mystery Series
Sub-Genre Tags: Suspense, Women Sleuths, Amateur Sleuths
When a top Hollywood Agent is found poisoned in the bathtub of her home, suspicion quickly turns to one of her two nieces. But Carol Childs, a reporter for a local talk radio station, doesn't believe it. The suspect is her neighbor and friend, and also her primary source for insider industry news. After a media frenzy pits one niece against the other-and the body count starts to rise-Carol knows she must save her friend from being tried in the court of public opinion.
But even the most seasoned reporter can be surprised, and when a Hollywood psychic shows up in Carol's studio one night and warns her there will be more deaths, things take an unexpected turn. Suddenly nobody is above suspicion. Carol must challenge both her friendship and the facts, and the only thing she knows for certain is that the killer is still out there. But the closer she gets to the truth, the more danger she's in.
Praise for SHADOW OF DEATH:
"Silverman provides us with inside look into the world of talk radio as Carol Childs, an investigative reporter, finds herself in the middle of a Hollywood murder mystery, uncovering evidence that may point to her best friend. A hunky FBI Agent and a wacky psychic will keep readers guessing from beginning to end." - Annette Dashofy, USA Today Bestselling Author of Lost Legacy
"Silverman creates a trip through Hollywood filled with aging hippies, greedy agents, and a deadly case of product tampering. Forget the shower scene in Psycho; Shadow of Doubt will make you scared to take a bath!" - Diane Vallere, Author of the Material Witness, Style & Error, and Mad for Mod Mystery Series
"A thoroughly satisfying crime novel with fascinating, authentic glimpses into the world of talk radio and some of its nastier stars...The writing is compelling and the settings ring true thanks to the author's background as a newscaster herself. Looking forward to further criminal pursuits with Carol." - Jill Amadio, Author of Digging Too Deep
"Suspects are everywhere in Tinseltown when a well-known agent dies in her bathtub. Carol, a radio station newshound, is right in the middle of it...This was my first book by this author and she kept me very entertained...I definitely enjoyed and would highly recommend this book!" - Booklikes
"Carol is a smart, savvy heroine that will appeal to readers. This is a cozy with a bite." - Rosemary Smith, Books for Avid Readers
"Absolutely engaging, I could barely put it down. The characters in the book were well-developed and the plot was chillingly genius." - Lyn Faulkner, Netgalley Reviewer
Books in the Carol Childs Mystery Series:
SHADOW OF DOUBT #1
BEYOND A DOUBT #2 (July 2015)
Part of the Henery Press Mystery Series Collection, if you like one, you'll probably like them all...
Author Bio: Nancy Cole Silverman credits her twenty-five years in news and talk radio for helping her to develop an ear for storytelling. But it wasn't until 2001 after she retired from news and copywriting that she was able to sit down and write fiction full-time. Much of what Silverman writes about today she admits is pulled from events that were reported on from inside some of Los Angeles' busiest newsrooms where she spent the bulk of her career. In the last ten years she has written numerous short stories and novelettes. Today Silverman lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Bruce, and two standard poodles.
|Edition description:||A Carol Childs Mystery|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.53(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
My name is Carol Childs. I'm a reporter — or more correctly — I'm a middle-aged mom in transition from my role as a sales exec with KCHC, a talk radio station in Los Angeles, to that of a news reporter. Most of what I do is a balancing act. My daughter Cate is in college, and my fourteen-year-old son Charlie is more preoccupied with sports than he is in need of mothering these days. Thankfully, I have a new relationship in my life, a hot FBI agent named Eric Langdon. He seems to think I've got it all together.
KCHC recently had an opening in their news department and I convinced management to give me a chance. The only problem was KCHC's news director Tyler Hunt, a one hundred and twenty-five pound boy-wonder who considered anybody over thirty-five ancient. He didn't want me for the job but offered it to me on a probationary basis. To him, I was the world's oldest cub reporter in need of a good story. And now, right in front of me was exactly what I needed, a damn good story.
I'd been asleep or at least in that twilight state, floating blissfully when I heard a banging on my front door. Tucked safely in Eric's arms, I was tempted to ignore it, but the knocking was persistent. I lifted my head, careful not to disturb Eric, and peeked with one eye at the clock. It was barely six forty-five.
"Did you hear that?" he mumbled. The soft early morning stubble of his beard tickled my ear.
"No," I said, snuggling back against his chest. "I'm sure it's nothing."
"Nothing's sounding very determined." He sat up and I was suddenly disengaged from the crook of his arm. Without a word I slid out of bed, grabbed my robe and stumbled down the stairs toward the front door. The incessant knocking was getting louder.
"Carol! Carol! Are you home? Please, it's an emergency."
I opened the door to find my neighbor, Samantha Millhouse, barefoot and disheveled in a pair of sweat pants and a stained t-shirt, clutching her cell phone. Her short dark hair, usually so neatly styled, showed evidence of hot rollers on one side while the other was like an untamed bush growing out of the side of her head.
"My aunt died," she said flatly. She sounded more annoyed than disturbed. I tightened the sash around my robe and opened the door wider.
"Pepper?" My voice must have raised an octave. "I just saw her on TV last night at the Silver Screen Awards."
"She's dead!" she said as she stepped inside the door. "Her housekeeper found her, looks like she drowned. I need to use your phone. My cell died while we were talking and I'm going to need to call my assistant, Andrew."
I nodded in the direction of the kitchen. Sam pushed by me. "Arminta said she found her body in the tub. When she came into the house this morning she heard music coming from my aunt's bedroom upstairs. She went to check on her and there she was, drowned."
"Are you okay?"
Sam exhaled and reached for the phone. I watched as she took the receiver off the hook then swung around and looked at me. "You know there was never any love lost between us."
I knew Sam's relationship with her aunt was rocky. It was apparent to me the two didn't get along the day I moved into the complex with my son Charlie. Sam's Aunt Pepper had stopped by with one of her clients, a young starlet named Amber Marx, who happens to be my son's big celebrity crush. For about two seconds I think he thought Amber, not Sam, might be our new neighbor. She was standing outside Sam's place smoking as we came up the walk, trying very hard to avoid the scene going on inside. Pepper was raging. I don't think there was a soul in the neighborhood who couldn't hear her screaming.
I glanced over at the coffee pot on the kitchen counter. In another minute it'd turn on automatically. I needed a cup. "Is there anything you need me to do?"
She looked like she was about to answer when Eric's cell phone rang. I turned to see Eric, standing at the top of the stairs, barefoot with a towel wrapped around his waist looking like he was ready to model for a fitness magazine. He held his cell to his ear and from the serious look on his face I knew the call was from the FBI.
Sam looked back at me apologetically. "I'm sorry, Carol, I thought you were alone."
I glanced up at Eric. I've got this. With my thumb and little finger to my head I motioned I'd call later, then turned my attention back to Sam. She was on the phone with her assistant. I could hear her giving instructions on what to do and who to call. I waited for her to finish. I was chomping at the bit to learn more. News of Pepper Millhouse's death was big. I needed to call the station.CHAPTER 2
Tyler Hunt has a constitution I could set a clock to. I called to give him a heads-up on Pepper's death but he wasn't answering. When I got to the radio station, I saw Tyler heading to the men's room with his newspaper and crossword puzzle, as was his habit this time of day. I raced down the hall after him, but too late. The door swung closed in my face. I debated whether or not to knock, then decided I'd given it my best effort.
After leaving Sam, I verified with the paramedics the circumstances surrounding Pepper's death and interviewed her housekeeper. I'd missed my window of opportunity with Tyler and I wasn't about to go further. If Tyler didn't like me breaking news of Pepper's death in the Kari Rhodes Show, he'd let me know. It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. But for now, this was my chance. Without a moment to spare, I slid into the news booth and began my report.
"This just in — Hollywood agent Pepper Millhouse was found dead in the bathtub of her Beverly Hills mansion this morning ... this after an eventful evening at the Silver Screen Awards at the Beverly Hilton where her client, Amber Marx, won best supporting actress for her role in The Long Summer. In an exclusive report to KCHC radio and this reporter, Ms. Millhouse's niece, Samantha Millhouse, says her aunt's body was found by her maid when she entered the home earlier today and heard music coming from her employer's upstairs bedroom. Paramedics called to the scene report that the initial cause of death appears to be an accidental drowning."
I barely finished my report when Kari Rhodes, KCHC's entertainment reporter, glared at me over the top of her red designer framed glasses and mouthed, Stay put!
Already the switchboard was starting to light up. That's the way it is with talk radio. When news breaks, particularly when somebody important dies, listeners pick up the phone and want to talk. Suddenly the airwaves turn into a shrink's couch, allowing fans to phone it in. It doesn't matter who's on the air; it can be some oversized personality with all the empathy of an anteater, but in a city like Los Angeles, where people spend more time in their cars than they do one-on-one with their friends and family, radio's their immediate go-to.
"Dead?" Kari's voice resonated out over the airwaves, full of vibrato. Not a surprise for a former Broadway gypsy who'd sung and tap danced her way into talk radio after blowing her knee out on stage years ago. Her midday show was like a coffee klatch with news and celebrity gossip she dished out like a Jewish yenta.
"Carol, I can't believe what you're reporting. Pepper Millhouse dead? Not only am I surprised, but you realize of course, this makes three?"
I stared through the glass that divides the news booth from the broadcast studio. I was stunned. I was prepared for any number of reactions; sadness, surprise, disbelief. What I didn't expect was for her to tie Pepper's death to that of two other people. "I'm sorry," I said. "Three? I'm not following."
Kari stood up and began a slow two-step while playing with the cord to her headset.
"I'm not surprised you don't know. They weren't big names, but names none the less. Older ladies. Their deaths wouldn't draw much of a reaction. But that's the way it is in Hollywood. Death in threes. Think about it. A few years ago it was Ed McMahon, Farah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. It's called a Triaphilia."
"Exactly who are the other two people you're referring to?"
"To start with there was Adel Powers. She was the founder of the ACT agency. She died six weeks ago, and Helen Howard, a senior partner at the same agency, just two weeks ago. And now Pepper Millhouse. You may not have known them, but believe me, I've known these gals for years. Worked with them and ..." she sighed, and throwing the microphone cord over her other shoulder, added, "I just don't buy they're suddenly all dead. It's all too curious, and all under frighteningly similar circumstances. Each of them found alone, at home and in their tubs. Now tell me, don't you think there's something to that?"
I was scanning the LA Times obits on my laptop when out of the corner of my eye I caught Tyler in the hallway, his hands flattened against the studio glass, looking like he wanted to kill me. I was in trouble, but we were on the air and Kari wasn't about to let me go. She sashayed her skinny body over to the glass partition between us and smiled. I looked at Tyler. What do you want me to do?
Tyler shook his head, his expression letting me know the damage was already done. I measured the next words carefully.
"I'll agree, Kari, the circumstances surrounding their deaths are strange, but in reality Miss Powers was well into her eighties." I started summarizing from obits I'd pulled up on the Internet while Kari continued to pace in front of me. "And Miss Howard had been in and out of addiction treatment centers for pain medications. Her obituary says she had a history of heart trouble."
"But Pepper Millhouse was in this studio just last week and she looked to me to be in remarkably good shape."
I glanced back at my notes. Pepper Millhouse was fifty-six, a non-smoker and from what I knew of her through Sam, a workaholic. The paramedic report was preliminary, the initial cause of death thought to be drowning. If conditions were at all suspicious there'd be a coroner's report out soon.
"News like this is always shocking," I said. "As soon as we hear back from the Medical Examiner, I'll have an update."
I felt I'd done my best to address Kari's issues. I stood up and was about to remove my headphones when Kari tapped impatiently on the glass. She pointed at the screener, a pimply-faced intern, who held up a yellow pad. Amber Marx. Line 1. I glanced over at Tyler. He held up five fingers, stared at me like I dare not go a minute over, then turned and walked away.
Meanwhile, Kari's saccharine sweet voice thanked Amber for calling and announced that she'd asked me stay on in the studio with her. "But first, Amber, let me start with congratulating you on your award for best supporting actress last night."
"Stop!" Amber's voice sounded like it was about to crack. "This isn't about me. It's about Pepper Millhouse, and I want everyone to know what a wonderful person she was and what a loss she's going to be, not just to me, but to the entire industry."
I wasn't surprised to hear Amber say how much she'd miss Pepper. There wasn't a supermarket tabloid in the country that didn't have headlines screaming about her troubled relationship with her father. Few had any details but all of them included pictures of her as one of Hollywood's sweethearts. Baby photos from her first appearance on the big screen right up to shots of her on the set of her current picture, The Sorcerer's Daughter.
The bright spots in her life were all because of Pepper. She had made her a superstar. But behind the scenes Amber's life was an evolving tragedy, worsened with the recent drowning of her mother on a family vacation while in Mexico.
"And I hope, Carol, you will find out what really happened last night. 'Cause I agree with Kari, something strange is going on. Pepper Millhouse wasn't just my agent. She was like a mother to me."
I didn't say another word.
Kari wrapped the segment with Amber. Together they re-capped their relationship with Pepper. Kari credited Pepper with helping her find a new career here in L.A., and Amber went on, sometimes tearfully, about how helpful she had been both professionally and personally.
Their stories made Pepper sound more like Mother Teresa than the Queen of Mean Sam had described. I had heard enough and planned to leave during the commercial break when Kari pointed a long manicured finger in my direction and signaled me to stay.
"Amber wants to talk to you, privately."
I was surprised by Amber's request, and even more so because she appeared to have remembered our meeting in front of Sam's condo. At the time, she seemed so much more interested in my son. I had no idea she knew I worked for the radio station. I figured Sam must have told her.
"How's Charlie doing? Does he like his new school?" Her voice sounded much lighter, at ease.
I was a little uncomfortable with her reference to Charlie. I decided it was best to keep my answer short but friendly. Amber Marx may have only been three years older than my son, but I didn't need to read the tabloids to know she was far more sophisticated. I told her he was doing fine and hoped to go out for varsity football next year.
"That's great. Tell him I'll have to come watch a game sometime."
That wasn't going to happen. I wasn't about to encourage any relationship between Amber Marx and my son.
"You must miss a lot not going to a regular school," I said.
"Not really. I travel a lot. Most kids just read about what I've seen firsthand. Last year I was in Europe on tour. I met the Queen and the Pope on the same trip. Plus I have tutors and there's nothing I can't find online. And I've got tons of fans following my tweets. What's to miss?"
My bullshit meter was beginning to run a little hot. I didn't for a minute believe she was as cool and collected as she wanted me to believe. I congratulated her on her big win last night, reiterated my sorrow for her loss and told her I needed to get back to work, but she interrupted me.
"Look, Carol, I want to thank you for checking into Pepper's murder."
"What else could it be?" she said. "And when you find the killer, I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn it's my father. He's had it in for Pepper ever since the emancipation. Without Pepper, I never would have been able to get away from him. He blames her for everything."
She hung up and I sat staring at the phone. Did Amber really believe her father murdered Pepper Millhouse? If she did, I didn't have time to wonder. My cell phone buzzed.
Tyler. I'm waiting!
It's a straight shot down the hall from the studio to the newsroom. Tyler's office was in the corner, a small space that looked like it had once been a storage closet. Lined against the walls were stacks of newspapers, magazines, maps and periodicals. Tyler's a hoarder. His desk in the center of the room was piled high with more of the same. On the wall behind him were framed photos of some of old Hollywood's legends, black and whites of Marilyn Monroe in jeans and a midriff top pumping iron, James Dean in a tight fitting t-shirt with a pack of cigarettes rolled into his sleeve, and his favorite, Jack Webb on the set of Dragnet.
When I walked in, Tyler's attention was focused on his computer. Silently, I took a seat in front of his desk, crossed my arms and legs and waited, thankful for the stacks of newspapers piled between us. He ignored me. Part of the plan, I figured. I reminded myself I had nothing to fear. He was half my age, barely old enough to drink, and, if nothing else, I represented a good portion of his listening audience. On staff I was his token middle aged, well-educated, woman. He needed me.
"Carol, I don't mean to go all Joe Friday on you, but really, what's it going to take? 'Just the facts, ma'am.' That's all I want. Just sit in that news booth and read the news. Nothing more. Not until I say so. Think you can do that? Just the facts. Just once?"
"Really, Tyler? Joe Friday?" I couldn't believe I was about to get that lecture.
"My point being, Carol, is that Kari Rhodes is talent. You're news, and I need you to stick to the stories on the wire. Nothing more, no surprises. Got it?"
"But ..." I was about to tell him that I had tried to alert him to the story, short of following him into the men's room that is, and that I had done exactly as he requested. Stuck to the facts. That Kari — being talent — had trapped me. But before I could get another word out of my mouth, he stopped me.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Shadow Of Doubt"
Copyright © 2014 Nancy Cole Silverman.
Excerpted by permission of Henery Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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