Untreed Reads presents a new edition of Marilyn Levinson’s first Twin Lakes mystery, A Murderer Among Us, awarded a Suspense Magazine’s Best Indie.
After her husband dies, Lydia Krause sells her company and moves to an upscale retirement community on Long Island to start a new life. At her first Twin Lakes event, she meets the community’s financial advisor, whom she recognizes as the convicted embezzler who drove her sister to suicide. After exchanging heated words with the man's wife, Lydia flees the scene. When the woman is found dead the following morning, Detective Sol Molina considers Lydia Suspect Number One.
Lydia undertakes an investigation to clear her name. More Twin Lake residents are murdered, and she’s determine to find the killer. At the same time, she must deal with issues concerning her two daughters. Her younger daughter surprises her with news that she’s engaged and planning to move to England. Her married older daughter appears to be having an affair with an old boyfriend, the very person who might be the Twin Lakes killer. Romance is in the air as Lydia and Detective Molina spar then join forces to stop the murderer before Lydia becomes Victim Number Three.
Lydia watched him stride through the dining room to hunch over his cell phone in the far corner of the living room—a trim, well-built man just under six feet, who carried himself as though he hadn’t a fear in the world. He stood beside Family, her favorite of Izzy’s large sculptures. One of his less abstract works, it represented four figures meant to be their family when the girls were young. The detective spoke for some time, too softly for her to make out the words. Then it was his turn to answer—two yeses and a no.
He ended the call, glanced at his notebook and punched in a phone number. Was he calling Sally Marcus, whom she barely knew? Barbara? Lydia’s heart thundered as she wondered just exactly when her Lexus had been taken and used to run someone down. Did this happen in Twin Lakes? Was the person dead? Lydia prayed the victim wasn’t a child. Her breath came in gasps as her anxiety grew intolerable. She had to know what was happening.
She was about to interrupt Lieutenant Molina’s conversation and insist he answer her questions, when he returned to the kitchen.
“I’m sorry to have kept you, Mrs. Krause. You must have things to do. I’m afraid your car will be impounded for several days while the crime lab people run various tests. Whoever drove it struck a pedestrian. We’ve yet to determine if the death was an accident or murder.”
Death! Murder! Lydia’s hand flew to her mouth. “How awful! Who was killed, Lieutenant?”
“Claire Weill. According to her husband, she was taking her usual run right outside the Twin Lakes community. A young fellow on his way to work spotted the body on the side of the road. He called from his cell phone. An ambulance and a police car went out immediately. The body was still warm, so death must have occurred shortly before he arrived.”
Lydia sank back against the kitchen chair. She had to swallow a few times before she could speak. “Claire Weill, Marshall Weill’s wife,” she said wondrously, as if speaking the woman’s name would help her comprehend the fact of her death. “When did he find her?”
“Eight-twelve this morning.”
“Oh.” The sound came out as a moan.
“Did you know Mrs. Weill?”
Lydia shook her head. Though she made every effort to speak calmly, her voice came out an octave higher than normal.
“No. She came over to our table while I was talking to her husband.” The blood rushed to Lydia’s cheeks as she recalled the short, pudgy woman in elegant clothes, her stiffly sprayed hairdo bobbing like a helmet during their heated exchange. “Claire Weill lashed out at me, and I’m afraid I lost my cool.”
“What exactly did you say to her?”
“She accused me of bursting her bubble of happiness, and I told her to put the blame where it belonged, on her husband. That fueled her anger even more. She said I’d ruined their lives and should do them a favor and die.”
“And?” Molina prodded.
Lydia frowned. “I reminded her that her husband had ruined the lives of many people by stealing their life savings and—I can’t remember what else I said.”
Detective Molina turned pages and read, “And someone should put an end to you, you stupid cow.”
So he’d known all along! Lydia’s ears burned with shame. “It was stupid of me, but I had to expose Mannes before he duped more people out of their money. Then hearing his wife blame me for telling people what kind of man they’d asked to be their financial advisor—it made me see red.”
Oh God, she shouldn’t have said that!
“How is it that you knew about Mr. Weill’s criminal past and no one else at Twin Lakes did?”
“He was tried in Chicago six years ago. My sister Samantha is an assistant DA there. I watched part of the trial.” For Allison’s sake.
“Seeing him here on Long Island must have been a shock.”
“Oh, it was.” She added wryly, “I’m usually the calmer-downer, Detective Molina. The voice of reason. I regret having lost my cool last night. I should have gone about it differently.”
“How so?” he asked, curious.
“I should have informed the Board of Directors, had them inform the community instead of confronting Warren Mannes at a Twin Lakes event.”
Molina gave her a half smile. “Don’t beat yourself up. You probably would have ended up with the same results.”
“What do you mean?”
“Regardless of how you presented the facts, some residents would have been outraged on Weill’s behalf. His wife might still have attacked you verbally.”
Lydia shook her head. “I felt morally obliged to expose that man. I never considered the fallout that would follow.”
Detective Molina appeared deep in thought. Finally he spoke. “It’s quite a puzzle we have: two women, both Twin Lakes residents, argue in public. The following morning, one woman’s dead, struck down by the vehicle of the other.”
Lydia’s hand flew to her pounding heart. “I didn’t kill Claire Weill! Why should I? Besides, I wouldn’t be stupid enough to use my own car!”
He gave her a sidelong glance. “That might be considered a stroke of genius.”
Lydia gasped. This detective managed to twist whatever she said into a damning statement.
“And you left the ignition key magnetized to the car,” he went on casually as if they were discussing the weather, “accessible to anyone.”
“Anyone” included her. Lydia felt the blood rush to her ears.