When a con man dies, no one cares…except his killer.
Apartment manager Wilson McKenna’s day tanks when the cops accuse an old friend of killing a ruthless Honolulu scammer. McKenna hates to break the “no more amateur sleuthing” promise he made to his new girlfriend, but his buddy is desperate. He’s got no alibi. Made threats against the dead man. And, his gun was the murder weapon. Talk about a guy with big trouble.
McKenna turns to his private-investigator tenant, Chance Logan, for help. Too late, McKenna discovers Chance isn’t really a PI. Now, McKenna’s stuck with an investigation he doesn’t want, is mentoring a PI-wannabe, and hiding it all from his girlfriend.
A string of shattered lives—and suspects—lie in the dead man’s wake. Can McKenna and Chance find a cagey killer who’s always one step ahead? Or, will a dead con man ruin another life?
Targeted Age Group:: 40-70
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
While reading an article in AARP, I was intrigued by the concept of veteran's benefit scams. I contacted the author of the article and learned a great deal about the various types of scams perpetrated on, and by, veterans. I was particularly upset by the willingness of con men to not only steal from those who had fought for their country, but to take away everything they had worked for during their lives.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
McKenna is my amateur sleuth in this series. He's somewhat of an extension of my own background. I was once a skip tracer, but I was never as devious as he is. The other major character in Honolulu Hottie is young Chance Logan. Chance was (I think) a pure flight of fancy. He has a Magnum, PI fetish, something I never had even though I did like the TV series. He's rich…haven't been there, but I wouldn't mind doing it. Basically, Chance was just a lot of fun to write.
I hadn’t done the whole relationship thing in years, so why had I jumped back into the game with my best friend’s sister? Talk about complicated. Life here in the islands was supposed to be easy. Laid back. No worries is what we're all about.
White surf rushed onto the shore just a few hundred feet away. Blue sky. A perfect day in paradise. I glanced at the kitchen clock again. Two minutes after the last time. Good grief, I was like a schoolboy. You’d think it was the first time I’d ever called a girl. But, this wasn’t just any girl, this was Benni Kapono. My best friend Alexander’s little sister.
Sitting on my lānai waiting to dial in three—no—two minutes, it felt like there was a basketball lodged in my stomach. What should I say? Would she still feel the same? One minute to go. Why didn't I just call?
I nearly jumped out of my chair when the phone rang. It had to be Benni. She was calling me? That was good, right? I glanced at my watch. It was early. Should I call her babe? Honey? Some other overused term of endearment? I snatched up the handset and, in the most suave voice I could muster, said, “Aloha.” Sheesh, I sounded like an addict.
“McKenna? That you?”
I jerked the handset away from my ear. Only one person I knew yelled on the phone like this. “Uh, Meyer? Why are you—look, I need to make a call right now.”
“I’ve been arrested. I need help.”
It had been two years since I’d spoken to Meyer Herschel. And he was calling me now? Wasn’t he in Minnesota or someplace cold and windy? I raised my voice in hopes he’d hear me. “What do you mean, arrested? What did you do?”
“Oh, that is you. I thought maybe I had the wrong number for a second. They say I killed a guy.” Meyer’s voice was, as usual, ten decibels louder than necessary.
“You? No way—oh I get it. Very funny, Meyer.” My new tenant walked past, surfboard under his arm, a king-sized smile on his face. He might have wiped out three times in a row, but if I didn't end Meyer's ridiculous charade—killed a guy, sure. Very funny. Now I was late calling Benni.
“What?” Meyer’s voice blasted through the earpiece.
Great. I had to yell to quiet him down. “How are you?”
From around the corner, I heard my tenant shout back at me. “I’m fine, McKenna, how are you?”
He must be in hysterics right now.
“Didn’t you hear me? I got arrested! The cops say I killed a man.”
This was absurd. We sounded like rabid fans at an indoor stadium.
I spent a couple of minutes extracting information from Meyer, which happens to be one of the most brutally tedious processes I’ve ever experienced. The bottom line? He was back in Honolulu and had been arrested for murder. His attorney had arranged for bail—an amount Meyer would only describe as “obscene”—and now he wanted me to find the real killer. This call was definitely a Qualified Reason for Delay in my book, but I’d made a promise I fully intended to keep. No more crime fighting. I needed to get Meyer pointed in the right direction.
“I hate to tell you this, Meyer, but you need a professional, not an amateur who got lucky a couple of times.”
Meyer snickered. “This ain’t no time to be bragging about your sex life, McKenna. I’m in serious trouble. Besides, you owe me.”
“Owe you? How do you figure that? I saved your life!”
The trade winds kicked up a notch as though the island were saying, “Chillax.”
“Yeah, you did, but you almost got me killed in the process. I wasn’t gonna bring it up, but you having the hots for that blonde con woman almost did me in. The way I see it, it’s time to clear the charges, settle your account, pay your debt . . .”
“Enough! Look, if you want help, all you have to do is ask.” I squeezed my eyes shut. What was I saying?
Terry Ambrose writes the Trouble in Paradise (McKenna Mystery) series, and the License to Lie thriller series. Terry has been nominated for multiple awards and won the 2014 San Diego Book Awards for Best Action/Thriller.
Terry’s novels receive consistent praise from readers for their complex characters and plots. Kirkus Reviews said Terry’s writing has “. . . the kind of snark that will remind readers of Elmore Leonard.”
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