KillerfindSharon Woods Hopkins / Mystery & Detective / Thrillers & Crime
Sharon Woods Hopkins
Cover design by Ellie Searl, Publishista®
From an original painting by Sharon Woods Hopkins
Patricia B. Smith, Editor
KILLERFIND Copyright © 2012 Sharon Woods Hopkins. All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or mechanical. Photocopying, recording or otherwise reproducing any portion of this work without the prior written permission of the author is prohibited except for brief quotations used in a review.
Ebook ISBN: 9781452413075
This is a work of fiction, and a product of the author’s imagination. Any similarity to actual persons is purely coincidental. Persons, events and places mentioned in this novel are used in a fictional manner.
Deadly Writes and the Deadly Writes image and colophon are trademarks of Deadly Writes Publishing, LLC
Deadly Writes Publishing, LLC
Marble Hill, MO
I have so many people to thank!
At the top of my list is my wonderful husband and best friend, Bill, who is always there for me. I couldn’t do this without his love and support.
Thanks to my wonderful readers who showed such love and enthusiasm for Rhetta McCarter. A great big thank you to my early manuscript readers: Paula Mayfield, Ruthie Burkman and Lyndie Kempfer. Your input helped me so much!
To Malcom Griffith and Mylene Allard, who kindly loaned me their names to use for two unusual characters in the story.
Thanks to my friend Charlie Hutchings, the Bollinger County Coroner, who patiently answered all my questions, and didn’t report me for asking about dead bodies in barns.
Thanks, Chief Paul White Eagle, for allowing me to enjoy your peaceful farm and to paint your picturesque barn.
Thanks to my chief mechanic and business partner, my wonderful son Jeff Snowden, and to my delightful daughter in law, Wendy and my very tall and terrific grandson, Dylan. Love you guys!
A giant THANK YOU to Sue Ann Jaffarian, Deborah Sharp and Joanna Campbell Slan, who took time out of their busy writing schedules to read KILLERFIND.
To my mother, Agnes Vienneau Woods (1920-1973) who raised me with Agatha Christie mysteries. Thank you, Mom for buying me books.
I miss you.
To my father, John (Harry) Woods (1915-1984) who taught me to read before I started school. He also taught me to read upside down and backwards. Actually, Dad, I never made a cent from that.
Barn: noun, a large outbuilding on a farm used to store grain or shelter livestock
Find: noun, a discovery
Barnfind: noun, “In the auto realm, it is the near mythical, all original, parked-for decades and all but forgotten, much prized and potentially very valuable, collector car.” Malcom Griffith
KILLERFIND: noun, a barnfind turned deadly
Rhetta McCarter swiveled her office chair and stared at the “before” picture of a bedraggled-looking 1981 Z28 that occupied the left side of a double frame on her desktop. The blank right side waited for the “after” picture. Her grasp on the phone tightened.
She stood, her voice rising. “Did I hear you right? You found a wallet belonging to Malcom Griffith in the frame of my Z28?”
James Woodhouse “Woody” Zelinski, one of her employees, stopped on his way to the copier. “Malcom Griffith disappeared fifteen years ago,” he said, stopping at her desk, making no effort to hide his eavesdropping.
Rhetta glowered at him, and went on speaking to Ricky. “How can that be? That car was in that barn for twenty-five years.”
Rhetta, the branch manager of Missouri Community Bank Mortgage and Insurance, paced the small square of carpeting in the cube that was her office. She waited for some kind of reasonable explanation from her best friend and mechanic, Ricky Lane of Fast Lane Muscle Cars. Ricky, short for Victoria, was working her magic on a 1981 Camaro Z28, a replacement for Cami, Rhetta’s beloved ’79 Camaro that was destroyed in a fire several months earlier.
When LuEllen, office secretary-cum-receptionist informed her that Ricky was on the line, Rhetta assumed Ricky was going to catch her up on the car’s progress, and ask for a payment for parts. Rhetta had already pulled out her checkbook and clutched her pen, ready to write. At last estimate, Ricky thought it would take about three more weeks to complete the restoration.
“Not really,” Ricky said.
“Thank goodness. That’s not funny. You had me going there for a minute.” Rhetta let out a sigh of relief. If it had been true, it could mean at least a six months’ delay if the police had to impound her car.
“It was more behind a front inner fender well.”
“Crap.” Rhetta ran her hands through her mass of spiky brown hair, tinged in blonde this week. She glanced at the calendar to see when six months would be. At that rate, she doubted if she would even have the car for next summer. She groaned.
Ricky continued, “When I loosened the fender well, it fell out, along with an old pair of sunglasses, and a wrench.”
“Tell me about it.” Rhetta said, snapping her checkbook shut, and sticking the end of the pen in her mouth, chewing rapidly.
“The sunglasses were pretty old and beat up. One arm was bent. The wrench is good, though.”
“Ricky, I don’t care about the sunglasses or the wrench.” Rhetta threw the pen down on the desk, snatched a tissue, and wiped her mouth, hoping that no ink had streaked her face.
“Right. Naturally, I looked at the wallet, too.” Ricky chuckled. “How else would I know who it belonged to? Malcom Griffith’s driver’s license picture stared at me as soon as I flipped it open. I glanced through it, and discovered quite a bit of money and some credit cards, too.”
“Great. Now that you’ve fondled the thing, you’ve probably messed up any DNA or fingerprints.”
“No, I didn’t. For your information, I was wearing vinyl gloves, like I always do when I use rust dissolver. As soon as I saw whose wallet it was, I called you.”
“Did you call the police and report it?” Rhetta backed into her chair and sat heavily. The defective hydraulic lifter caused the chair to sink all the way to the lowest point and she nearly grazed her chin on the desk top.
Ricky hesitated. “No, I called you first.”
Rhetta reached down, grabbed the chair handle and tugged. The chair popped upward. “I know you have a reason, so tell me when I get there. I’m coming right over.” Rhetta disconnected, pushed the chair back and snatched her purse off her desk.
“I’m coming with you,” Woody said. He beat his boss to the door.