Covert Exposure (A Nick Spinelli Mystery, #1) by Valerie J. Clarizio

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ISBN: 9781612357232
Pages: 113
Detective Spinelli’s life is tossed sideways when he is reassigned from the Homicide division to assist in the Child Services division of the Social Services Department for the holiday season. From the beginning, Spinelli and Caseworker Shannon O’Hara generate their own kind of fireworks, causing more than the normal workplace stress. They both have their own philosophies for dealing with the clientele. However, the forces of nature have their own plan for Spinelli and Shannon.

Shannon moonlights as Santa Claus’ little helper at the mall, and when Santa and an elf turn up dead Shannon appears to be next on the killer’s list. Spinelli is placed back on homicide and goes undercover as Santa to help capture the killer. He catches a great deal of grief along the way but will he capture the heart of his little Santa’s helper as well?

This title is published by Melange Books LLC and is distributed worldwide by Untreed Reads.


Chapter One

Spinelli held his coffee mug high. “Congratulations, partner, you made it through. Enjoy your retirement. Here’s to Mad Dog Maxwell.”

Shouts of “Congratulations” rippled through the downtown Milwaukee precinct as the detectives toasted Maxwell with their coffee and doughnuts in hand.

Spinelli watched Mad Dog smile and nod at everyone as he carried a cardboard box stuffed with a career’s worth of personal belongings out the door for the last time. Everything he knew about being a great homicide detective, he’d learned from that man. He missed him already.

Mad Dog was the only one who gave him the time of day when he started on the force as a snot-nosed hotshot kid some years ago. 

“Spinelli,” Captain Jackson barked. 

His eyes came into focus. “Yeah.”

“I need to talk to you,” she yelled across the room as she waved him over.

Jackson took a seat behind her desk as he entered her office. “Shut the door, Spinelli.”

He did as she asked, then fixed his gaze on her. He stepped back and rested his butt on the two-drawer file cabinet next to her desk.

“What’s up, Cap?” he asked as he raked his hand through his hair. 

“You’ve been temporarily assigned to Social Services and you will need to report to Ms. Fontaine on the fourth floor until further notice.”

A chuckle escaped Spinelli’s lips. He turned his head to glance through Jackson’s office windows toward the detective desks located immediately outside her office doors. He looked for the mastermind behind the practical joke but he saw none. Not one detective in the office looked in his direction as he hoped they would as they waited for the joke to take hold. He cut his eyes back to the Captain. “This is a joke, right?”

She shook her head. “This is no joke, Detective. Until further notice, you’ve been assigned to Social Services. The holiday season is tough on that department and they need extra hands with child recovery and placement.”

Spinelli sprang to his feet and stepped toward her desk. “Captain, you’re shitting me, right? Child recovery and placement. What the hell is that crap?”

Spinelli reached toward his chest, lifted the gold colored badge hanging by a chain around his neck, and centered it directly in front of Jackson’s eyes. “In case you don’t remember, this is a detective badge. I’m a homicide detective, not a child recovery and placement detective.”

Jackson rose to her feet and pointed at the white lettering on the glass of her office door, which simply read Captain Jackson. “In case you don’t remember Detective, I’m Captain Jackson. You’ve been reassigned to Social Services until further notice. Ms. Fontaine is waiting for you upstairs.”

Spinelli stared at the Captain for a moment, his mind racing for a reasonable excuse as to why he shouldn’t be reassigned. “But my clearance record, it’s impeccable. Shouldn’t that mean something? And we’re short staffed down here as it is.” 

Jackson shifted her eyes away from Spinelli, looking past him and through the glass windows of her office. She pointed toward his crime board. “That’s just it, Spinelli. Your board’s almost clean and the other teams are overloaded with open cases. As for staff shortages, with the Mayor’s budget cuts and directive to not replace retiring staff every department is short staffed. Additionally, you’re the only Detective right now without a partner. You’re the logical choice to be transferred.”


Jackson raised her hand, cutting him off. “No buts, you’re it. And you can still help out down here when you’re not needed upstairs.”

Air hissed from his lungs, drowning out the words she spoke. Spinelli lifted his gaze to meet hers; the look in her eyes told him the deal was done. He fought hard to find a voice, “How long? How long must I do this?”

“Again, it’s a temporary assignment just for the holidays. The holidays are tough on the Social Services department. Their clientele…well, it’s a tough time of year for everyone, those folks especially.”

  • Published by: Melange Books

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