Tell Me No Lies

Tell Me No Lies

by Annie Solomon

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Warner Books Edition)

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Tell Me No Lies by Annie Solomon

Romantic suspense filled with edge-of-your seat advantage.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780446613576
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 04/01/2004
Edition description: Warner Books Edition
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.74(d)
Age Range: 13 Years

Read an Excerpt

Tell Me No Lies


Warner Forever

ISBN: 0-446-61357-6

Chapter One

The eyes of the dead held secrets. Detective Hank Bonner knew that just as he knew his job was to uncover them. He looked down at the body of Luka Kole.

What secrets did your eyes hold, old man?

Hank didn't want to find out. He had less than two weeks left as a cop, and he wanted to spend the time writing reports, cleaning up old cases, and shutting down what had been a major part of his thirty-six years.

But two hours ago, Parnell, head of the Sokanan Police Department's detective division, had other ideas. "Dead body on Rossvelt" He'd handed Hank a scrawled address, the expression in his face daring Hank to object.

Hank knew what Parnell was doing. He could have given that DB to anyone. But he was using it to hook Hank, paying out the line, trying to reel him back with one last case.

Hank buried himself in a box of assorted memorabilia-a cracked coffee cup that had been a Christmas present years ago, a faded picture of himself just out of the academy, papers he still needed to sort through. "Let Klimet handle it." "Klimet couldn't handle a cat stuck in a tree. Not yet anyway. I got your butt 'til the end of the month, Bonner. Get going."

So here Hank was, haunted by another pair of dead eyes.

He scanned the crime scene inside the Gas-Up on Rossvelt Avenue, the latest in a string of convenience store robberies that had plagued the Hudson Valley for the last month. Luka Kole, who owned the place, lay behind the counter, a squat, gray-haired man with a hole in his barrel chest. The open cash drawer stood empty, the overturned candy bin lay on its side. Lindt truffles wrapped in shiny blue, green, and red paper were strewn on the counter and floor, along with Slim Jims, cigarette lighters, and Van Dekker County souvenir pens.

The mess was a sure sign of struggle. Whoever he was, Luka Kole hadn't gone down easy.

The only thing detracting from the obvious was the bank bag. Hidden beneath the cash drawer, it contained over a thousand dollars, fat and ready for deposit. Why would the robber leave it behind? "Because he's a mope, not a rocket scientist." Joe Klimet stared down at Luka Kole's sightless brown eyes as though he expected them to confirm his conclusion.

Hank studied the younger man. He wore a sharp black suit, silver-gray shirt, and patterned tie in yellow and gray. Slick and flashy with a grin to match. But Hank forgave him. Or tried to. He remembered what it was like to be cocky.

"So he leaves the money because he's stupid," Hank said.

Joe shrugged: why not?

Hank bent to get a closer look at the body. He'd already scouted the scene, starting with a careful walk around the outside perimeter and gradually moving closer to the victim, who was always the last thing he examined.

"Seems to me a guy who's managed to get away with four of these jobs right under our noses is no dummy."

Klimet frowned. The detective division's newest addition, he didn't like being challenged.

"Something scared him off before he could check below the drawer."

Hank looked at him calmly, ignoring the irritation in the younger man's eyes. "What?"

"How the hell should I know? A customer, a car pulling in. Something."

"Maybe he wasn't after the money."

Klimet rolled his eyes. "You know, you're nuts, Bonner. The scene is clear-the cash drawer's empty. If the scumbag wasn't after money, what was he after?"

"Who knows? Revenge maybe. The clerk said Kole argued with someone earlier in the day." Hank flipped through a small notebook. "Adulous McTeer, also known as Big Mac. Maybe this Big Mac wanted the last word."

"Then why take anything?"

"To make it look like a robbery."

"It was a robbery." Klimet crossed his arms, not hiding his annoyance. "Just like all the others." Hank was silent. "Looks like. But I want to talk to Mr. Big. We got someone rounding him up?" "Already on it." Klimet ducked under the yellow crime scene tape to confer with the patrolman who'd been first to arrive.

Hank called to Greenlaw, one of an elite cadre of patrol officers trained as crime scene technicians. "Still no brass?"

"No, sir," Greenlaw said.

No shell casings could mean a revolver. Or a smarter than average creep. "Keep looking." Someone handed Hank the victim's wallet. Hands gloved, he examined it, hoping for something that would give him insight into Luka Kole. The clerk- who'd found the body after returning from his dinner break-hadn't been very helpful; Kole owned the store, but the clerk had worked there only a few weeks and didn't know much about his boss. The wallet didn't give away much either, except that Kole was no spendthrift. The case was old and thin, the outline of credit cards imprinted on the worn leather in front. The guy must have been sitting on the thing for years.

Inside, Hank found the usual: credit cards, driver's license, plus fifty dollars in cash the robber had been good enough to leave behind. Behind the bills he found a newspaper clipping, the headline half-torn but still readable: JOINT U.S. RUSSIA ECONOMIC VENTURE BRINGS JOBS TO VAN DEKKER COUNTY.

Quickly, Hank scanned the print. Normal press release stuff. Quotes from Mikail "Miki" Petrov, the businessman who was bankrolling the Russian end of deal, and from A. J. Baker, the American consultant who'd set the whole thing up. Mr. Petrov was a big shot in Manhattan and Washington, and not easily accessible. A. J. Baker, on the other hand, apparently lived right here in the Hudson Valley.

Hank replaced the clipping and slipped the wallet into an evidence bag. So, like everyone else in town, Luka Kole was looking forward to the deal with Renaissance Oil. But how many people carried around articles about it?

Hank ducked under the yellow tape. "Klimet." He handed the younger detective the bagged wallet. "Subpoena the phone records. Here and at the vic's apartment. Take Finelli with you to canvass the area. Maybe we'll get lucky and someone heard or saw something. And see if you can track down a home address. We got keys, but the driver's license is pegged to the store address. I'll see you back at the station."

"Where are you going?"

But Hank had already walked off and pretended he hadn't heard.

Outside, he ignored the small crowd milling around in uneasy formation at the edge of the parking lot. He understood their fascination and their horror. When murder hit close to home the two things melded together. It could have been me. Thank God it wasn't.

He got in his car, backed out, and called in to the station, waiting for the dispatcher to hunt down an address on Baker.

Then he turned down Route Nine, Klimet's question circling inside his head. What had the shooter been after?

Dead man's secrets.

Ten minutes later, he turned off the highway and slowed down to peer into the wooded roadside for addresses. The house was somewhere along this road.

At least Luka Kole was dead. And dead men were a lot more predictable than live ones. They didn't turn crazy, eyes wild and maniacal. They didn't come at you with guns or knives or ... A chill shivered through Hank. Or screwdrivers. Instinctively, he pressed a fist to his chest. Still there. Still beating.

As if he'd never felt that death blow and then, somehow, lived.

"That's one strong breastbone," the emergency room doctor had said. "Deflected the blade. A little to the left or right and we'd be saying prayers over you. Count yourself lucky."

Oh, he did. Damn lucky.

But the problem with luck was sooner or later it ran out.

A wave of sick certainty rippled over his skin. It welled up inside him as he found the address and turned the car into a long, gravel drive. Woods lined the road, thick, green, and impenetrable. His heart started that upward chase, his hands gripped the steering wheel. This was crazy. No one was hiding back there. No one waited for him with murderous intent.

He swallowed, forced the runaway train inside his chest to slow down. He was there to do his job. Gather information. Find out what he could about Luka Kole.

Concentrate on the dead man, he'd be fine.

When the house came into view it was easier to remember the drill. He braked, paused to gape. The place was a sculpture of glass, stone, and wood, but nearly overwhelmed by the natural forest overlooking the Hudson. Undergrowth tangled around it, thick as the briars surrounding Sleeping Beauty's castle in the book he read to his niece. A lair or a hideout, even a retreat. Hank sympathized. He understood the wish to submerge, to bury yourself. Did Mr. Baker? Or was he just too cheap to hire a crew to cut back the growth?

He pulled up to the house and noticed the tail end of a green van parked around the side. Out of the car, he walked around to investigate. Edie's Flowers, the van said. In front of it were two more vans. Caterers. A flurry of people swarmed in and out of the house.

Someone was throwing a party tonight. By the looks of it, a big one.

And then Hank remembered what day it was.

Alex Baker's reflection stared back at her from the large, gilt-framed mirror that hung above her dresser. She was all angles tonight, cheekbones like razor blades. Once, she might have cringed at the sharp edge in her eyes, but she was glad of it now. She felt well honed, a killing blade.

And if her stomach fluttered, she ignored it. If that queasy awareness that she was alone, and always would be, haunted her thoughts, she pushed it away.

Stuffed it deep down where it couldn't rise up and make her weak. Defenseless.

She concentrated on the way her silvery slip dress clung to her body, the way the barely there straps blended with and exposed her skin. Her body was a tool, a smoke screen. It would compel and distract, and slowly, slowly open the door of the trap she was setting.

And it all began that night.

She checked her watch. Nearly seven. She had a good hour or more before guests arrived; plenty of time to get ready. And yet, here she was, dressed and perfumed, hair perfect, makeup perfect. Only one small detail to add. She caressed the blue velvet case on her dresser. Inside was the necklace her father had given her more than a decade ago on her sixteenth birthday. She would wear it tonight, in honor of him.

She smiled at herself, a tight, deadly smile, and opened the case.

A knock sounded.

Her head swiveled in the direction of the sound. "Yes?"

The door opened to reveal Sonya, the shapeless brown dress over her short fat legs making her appear like a wrinkled mushroom. A worried mushroom, if her expression was any indication. Immediately, Alex crossed to the old woman and drew her into the room. She'd been fretful all day, not used to strangers in the house.

"Why aren't you in your room?" Alex spoke softly. "Let me bring you a plate of goodies. We're having blinis tonight. With caviar and sour cream. You love that. It's been a long time since you had real blinis."

Sonya shook her head. "Too much ... noise," she said. "And now-" Her hand twisted together and a word burst out from her. A word in Russian. Police.

Alex stilled. "What are you talking about?"

Sonya emitted another torrent of Russian and instinctively Alex put a hand over the older woman's mouth, looking around as though the room held spies. "English, dear one. English. Slow down. Tell me."

The old woman bit her lip. Tears formed in her eyes. "Sorry, so very sorry." But the words came out in Russian. "He frightened me so."

"All right," Alex soothed. "Take a breath. Here." She went into her bathroom and filled a cup with water. "Drink this."

Sonya drank and handed back the cup with trembling hands.

"Now tell me, what is this about the police?"

"They are here."

"Where-at the house?" Alex smiled. "Of course they are. We have a security detail."

Sonya shook her head. "Nyet. Not ... party. To talk. Questions. He said, questions."

A small alarm went off inside Alex, but she quickly silenced it. Sonya's English had never been very good; she often got things mixed up. "It's all right, darling. I'm sure it's nothing." She settled the woman into a large upholstered armchair. "Stay here and rest. I'll be right back. And don't worry." Swiftly, Alex closed the door and made her way toward the front of the house. Preparations for the party were rapidly coming to a close. The house sparkled with lights and flowers. Silver trays and goblets, crystal bowls for candies and tidbits. As the sun set, fairy lights outside would turn the woods and garden into a magic kingdom seen through glass. A kingdom aglow with the rich, silky flush of oil. Russian oil.

She stopped just short of the entrance, where two workers from the florists were putting the finishing touches on the man-sized centerpiece-a wire structure in the shape of an oil rig and entirely covered in thick golden mums.

"Quite an eye-catcher," said a deep male voice. The owner of the voice stepped from behind the structure and gave her a crooked smile. A big man with wide shoulders under a rumpled sport coat, he had fair hair and sun-kissed skin. A surfer stranded on land. A man out of place somehow. She met his eyes. Nothing out of place here. They were green. Sharp. Evaluating. Was this what had frightened Sonya?

His greeting replayed itself in her mind; had he been referring to something other than the decorations? To her?

She stiffened, a wall of ice rising like a protective shell around her. "May I help you?"

He flashed a badge. "Detective Bonner from Sokanan PD. I'm looking for A. J. Baker."

"I'm A. J. Baker."

His eyes widened, giving her a moment of satisfaction. She liked surprising people.

"You're ..." A jolt shook Hank. The shimmer of femininity in front of him looked no more capable of putting together an international business deal than he was. But perception wasn't always reality, as he knew only too well.

Quickly, he reassessed. Her ice blond hair glistened and fell to her shoulders in a straight, silky waterfall, a perfect foil to the silvery dress, which swirled around her curves like mercury. Not beautiful in the classic sense, but in an outrageously exotic way, with high, angled cheekbones, and eyes the color of sky before it rained. A pulse quickened inside him, and he saw the look of recognition come over her. The look that said, I know what you're thinking pal, and forget it.

Yeah, he'd bet she did know. He'd bet A. J. Baker was used to men drooling over her. And he wasn't going to get in line. Ignoring his purely chemical reaction, he let out a breath to cover his initial surprise. "So what does the A. J. stand for?"

"Alexandra Jane. Alex."

He noted the drawn-out a. Alexaaandra. Some kind of British thing. Or New England. Boston maybe.

"As you can see," she said, "we're preparing for a big event tonight. Is this about the security detail? I hope there's no problem." She gave him an impersonal smile, and he saw hardness congeal behind those cloudy eyes.


Excerpted from Tell Me No Lies by ANNIE SOLOMON Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Tell Me No Lies 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hank Bonner is a cop in Sokanan, a small town in the Hudson Valley. He's two weeks from retiring so he can care for his niece, nephew and the family apple farm. His sister and her husband died in a tragic incident that Hank feels he should have been able to prevent. Alex Baker is a wealthy businesswoman negotiating a joint Russian and American venture which will bring prosperity back to Sokanan. When a man is murdered and Hank begins to investigate, the trail leads him to Alex. Alex has her own agenda which involves murder, betrayal, deceit and revenge and which puts everyone close to her in danger. The only thing I didn¿t care for was Alex using her connections with town officials to stop Hank from doing his job. I realize she was trying to keep him from getting hurt. However, by giving him insufficient information she ended up putting everyone is a dangerous position. This was a good book with a fast moving plot and interesting, well-developed characters. I would definitely recommend it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In the small Hudson Valley town of Sokanan, with less than two weeks before retirement, Detective Hank Bonner investigates the murder of convenience store employee Luka Kole. The case looks like a simple robbery turned ugly, but Hanks has problems because the thief failed to take a bank sack containing one thousand dollars. When he notices a newspaper clip involving the Renaissance Oil of Russia deal inside the victim¿s wallet, he visits the consultant listed in the article....................................... Alexandra Baker informs Hank she does not know Luka before tossing him out as she hosts a gala for Renaissance Oil guru Miki Petrov. Alex is upset with her friend¿s murder, but continues with her plan to destroy the man who killed her father thirteen years ago in Russia. Though Hank looks forward to nurturing his depressed niece and nephew, he places the pressure on Alex. He is told to back off by everyone including his brother the mayor. He ignores everyone except Alex who he falls in love with even as he wonders how she is connected to Luka and his killer................................. TELL NO LIES is a fine romantic police procedural that fans will enjoy as an obsessed Alex goes through with her scheme though she knows how dangerous it is to her and her loyal comrades. Hank is a hero refusing to fade into the night and though he worries that he now loves a murderer, he is the one person who changes Alex¿s passion for vengeance into an ardor of love. Though the resolution is too neat, readers will appreciate this solid romantic suspense............................... Harriet Klausner