Excerpt: The Dead Heat of Summer - Vilma Iris | Lifestyle Blogger

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Heather Graham comes a new story in her Krewe of Hunters series…

Casey Nicholson has always been a little bit sensitive, and she puts it to use in her shop in Jackson Square, where she reads tarot cards and tea leaves. She’s not a medium, but she can read people well.

When the ghost of Lena Marceau comes to her in the cemetery, shedding tears and begging for help, Casey’s at first terrified and then determined. Lena knows she was the victim of a malicious murder. Assumes her husband was, as well, and now fears that her daughter and sister are also in danger. And all over what she believes is someone’s quest to control Marceau Industries, the company left to Lena’s late husband.

Casey isn’t sure how she can help Lena. She isn’t an investigator or with any arm of law enforcement. But when she receives a visit from a tall, dark and very handsome stranger—ironically an FBI agent—she realizes that she’s being drawn into a deadly game where she must discover the truth or possibly die trying.

Special Agent Ryder McKinley of the Krewe of Hunters has his own strange connection to the case. Hoping to solve the mystery of his cousin’s death, he arrives at Casey’s shop during his hunt for answers and finds something wholly unexpected. He fears that Casey’s involvement puts her in danger, yet she’s already knee-deep in deadly waters. Unfortunately, there’s nothing to do but follow the leads and hope they don’t also fall prey to the vicious and very human evil hunting his family.

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Excerpt: The Dead Heat of Summer
By Heather Graham

Excerpt: The Dead Heat of Summer

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Heather Graham comes THE DEAD HEAT OF SUMMER—a new story in her Krewe of Hunters series, out today!

She was beautiful in death, as she had always been in life.

Lena Marceau lay with her blond hair fanned out like silk on the pillow. She wore a white nightgown.

Her hands were folded just below her breasts. She could have been an angel sleeping, filled with light and peace.

Ryder McKinley looked down at her, feeling numb.

“The medical examiner is ready to take the body,” Braxton Wild told him.

Braxton was a detective with the New Orleans Police Department and had called Ryder. He was also one of the few people who knew there was an association between Ryder and Lena Marceau.

He had reached out to Ryder after Stephanie Harrow called him. She had been the one to find her sister. Had told Braxton that she’d gone to the house and assumed that since the baby was napping, her sister was, too. But after about thirty minutes, she realized that Lena wasn’t just sleeping.

She was dead.

Stephanie was, of course, a mess. She was ready to take care of Lena’s two-year-old daughter, Annette, but she had been crying so hard, she’d had to call in a friend—Vickie Carmichael—to take the child.

Before Ryder even reached the Marceau mansion, Stephanie had been sedated, and she and the baby had been whisked off to Vickie’s house in the French Quarter.

There was no sign of any kind of trauma on the body; no sign of a break-in. Ryder knew Dr. Hugh Lamont, the medical examiner, and Braxton believed that Lena had committed suicide. Bottles of prescription medicine lay at her side. One was a strong sleeping pill she had started taking when her husband died a year ago.

Through her husband, Lena was the heir to a great estate. Not that there weren’t other members of the Marceau family, but old Elijah Marceau had died just before his great-grandson, and he had loved Anthony and Lena.

They had loved him, too. Not only his money.

Lena had never been one to care about material things.

Ryder and Lena hadn’t been able to catch up in a few years. When he’d been in NOLA recently, she had been in Europe. But they had communicated now and then on the phone, though mostly through email or social media.

“Ryder?”

“Yes, of course,” he said, moving aside.

The memory of her, so angelic, would live in his mind forever.

He kept his face impassive as he asked, “The autopsy will be in the morning?”

“Yes.”

“You won’t mind if I attend?” Ryder asked Braxton.

“No, of course not,” Braxton said and then hesitated. “We’ve worked with your Krewe people from the get-go down here, so my lieutenant had no problem with me inviting you along on a…routine investigation.”

“Thanks.”

“Ryder, it looks like suicide,” Braxton said sadly. “Maybe she just couldn’t endure the loss of her husband.”

Ryder gave him a rueful smile. “No. Lena loved Anthony very much, and she mourned him deeply. But she was a mother, Braxton.”

“Mothers aren’t immune to the depression that kills,” Braxton said gently.

“I don’t believe it,” Ryder asserted.

“Ryder, if all the M.E. finds is a mixture of her prescription drugs in her system, we’re going to have no choice but to call it a suicide.”

“Yes, I know.”

“Oh. Okay,” Braxton said.

Ryder gave him his best smile. “I’ll be there tomorrow. I know what we’re all expecting, but I’ll be there.”

“When do you go back to headquarters?”

“I have some time. We just chased down that drug runner who was targeting teens in the Southern cities. I have a bit of leave. I’ll be around.”

“I was afraid of that.”

Ryder smiled.

“I won’t step on local police. I’ll be an angel,” he said.

Then Ryder thought of her again. His beautiful, young cousin, lying there as if her dreams were sweet and wonderful.

Yes, an angel.

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