Death Among the Mangroves (A Troy Adam/Mangrove Bayou Mystery, #2) by Stephen Morrill



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$4.99

ISBN: 9781611878585
Pages: 225
Description:

In the heart of the Ten Thousand Islands/Everglades National Park region lies the small town of Mangrove Bayou.

Troy Adam, mixed-race, ex-Army, and northern-born, was fired from his job as a Tampa cop, but has been reluctantly hired by the town council, on probation, as Mangrove Bayou’s new police chief. 

After surviving a hurricane and solving a crime involving the death of a local citizen, Adam had hoped his employers would view him differently. Unfortunately, they still view him as “soft and squishy on the inside.”

This all changes when a college student on vacation goes missing. Adam has to deal with overwhelming press attention, a town council doubtful that he can solve the crime, and a powerful judge. Can Adam solve the case on his own terms and finally prove his merit without giving in to his ruthless side?

EXCERPT:

The Gulf View was a two-story motel built on pilings with parking beneath, and seven blocks south of Troy’s beachfront rental condo at the Sea Grape Inn. He showered, dressed, walked and was there in twenty minutes. It was the shortest day of the year and at six p.m. the sun had set, though there was still light in the clear cloudless sky above the remote southwest Florida town of Mangrove Bayou.

Several hundred tourists milled along Beach Street and along the streets back of the beach that were lined with restaurants and shops. Some tourists were on the beach itself, and a few brave ones were in the water. It was chilly and Troy wore jeans and a long-sleeved shirt, and a windbreaker over that to keep his gun warm.

He smiled at the sight and recalled how, when he had first moved to Florida, he had braved Clearwater Beach in winter and thought nothing of it. Today, like most Floridians, Troy wouldn’t go into the water until June or July, and by October the water was too cold for him. Northern tourists were made of hardier flesh. They seemed to like the cold water. At least, he thought, it didn’t have ice floating in it like he had seen coming down the Hudson when he was a child in The Orphan’s Home in Troy, New York.

Troy climbed the stairs to room 221 of the Gulf View Motel and found Angel Watson with two college-age women and Loren Fitch, the elderly motel manager. Angel was in uniform, the khaki long-sleeved shirt and matching trousers for colder weather and a matching safari hat with the MBP logo.

The two girls had long brown hair, almost identically combed back and down, and they wore shorts and tee shirts and running shoes that Troy assumed cost more than his weekly salary. One girl’s tee shirt had Cornell with the university logo surrounding the shield on the chest. Troy smiled. Go Big Reds, he thought. He’d graduated from Cornell, probably when this girl was an infant. The other girl’s tee shirt had a pocket but was otherwise blank, something almost unheard of in Mangrove Bayou. Troy doubted that it was even possible to buy a tee shirt in Mangrove Bayou without some sort of slogan on it.

Loren Fitch had a white short-sleeved shirt, open at the neck, and shapeless black trousers to go with his two-day growth of beard. The shirt had button-down collars that were not buttoned down and the tips curled up. Fitch often ran his fingers through his halo of white hair.

“What’s all this, then?” Troy said to Angel.

“Who are you?” the girl with the Cornell shirt asked.

“I’m Troy Adam, the…”

“He’s the chief of police here,” Angel said.

“Oh. That’s good.” Troy could see the girl rapidly adjusting to that. Troy was part black, part Asian and part Caucasian, with light brown skin, just a hint of the Orient in his jet black eyes, and short, straight black hair. He had been seeing that rapid reassessment in people’s eyes for thirty-five years.

“Jodi and Brett, here,” Angel indicated the two beside her, “came down for a week after finals. They’re at SUNY Albany. But the third girl, Barbara Gillispie, went out with some guy she met on the beach. Yesterday afternoon. She’s not back yet. And the girls are about to leave to head up to Naples to catch their flights back north. They’re worried. Barbara should be here by now.”

“You don’t go to Cornell?” Troy asked Brett, who was wearing the school shirt.

“No sir. My boyfriend does, though. I only get to see him on weekends now and he couldn’t come down here with us. Why do you ask?”

“Just curious.” Troy looked at Loren Fitch. “You got this room booked for tomorrow?”

“ ’Course. It’s the season. And these two are past checkout so I have to charge them another night.”

“We were going to check out earlier,” Jodi said. “But when Barbara didn’t show up we didn’t know what to do.”

“Did you have the room booked for tonight?” Troy asked Fitch.

“No. But got people tomorrow. Still gotta charge the extra night.”

“I think you can get by with a late checkout charge,” Troy told Jodi. He turned to Fitch. “I’ll stop by tomorrow to get a copy of the girl’s bill. Better not see a full day extra charge on the bill. Am I clear on that?”

Fitch combed his hair with his left fingers. “I suppose.”

“Thank you, sir,” Jodi said to Fitch. She smiled at Troy.

“So,” Troy said. “Jodi and Brett, you are assuming this is not just a situation where Barbara got what we might call a better offer.”

“Well, we thought that last night,” Brett said. “You know, when she never came back. But you would think she would call. We all have cell phones. But today? She would never miss her flight home, or Christmas with her parents.”


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