A Vanishing of Divas

Excerpt

Fire on Diva's Review ExcerptOn a chilly spring night on a mountain-side road near the Arizona-Mexico border, five gun-toting roughnecks herd a dozen shabbily-dressed, trembling human forms from their vehicle down the hillside into a dry gully.

Juan Diaz looked closely at the item his boss had thrown to him, an oblong gizmo that fit perfectly in the palm of his hand. He knew what it was and how to use it, but thoughts of doing so made him queasy. Despite spending his life on the outskirts of propriety and dodging both U.S. and Mexican laws, he’d never seen himself as an evil person. He’d only done what was necessary to provide for his family, and he’d never hurt an innocent person. Never.

But what he was about to do was different. This was a line he wasn’t sure he could cross. He felt like throwing the thing in his hand as far as he could and then running into the mountain wilderness to hide. But would that be fair to his wife and four children? Up to now he’d been able to house and feed his family by scrapping about at lousy jobs that, by themselves, didn’t pay a living wage: running errands for rich people at the hotel, harvesting crops, digging and planting for a landscaper.

But about a month ago an old friend had helped him hire on with a company he didn’t know existed. He didn’t like the business they were in, but he was taking home three times the money.

All he had to do was carry out his orders without question and keep his promise never to discuss his job or his employer with anyone outside the organization. That included doing what they wanted of him at that moment. If he refused, he would probably lose a lot more than just his job. He looked up when he heard a shout from the gully.

“Vamanos, Juan!”

A spotlight located somewhere behind Juan Diaz shot down onto the huddled cluster of captives, all dark-skinned save one. They squinted up into the beam, shading their eyes while the guards slipped away up the hill.

Juan spotted the gringo woman. The one wearing the special vest. The woman they called Sylvia. She made him think of his mother.

“Let ‘er rip, Diaz!” the man in charge shouted.

Juan again looked at the instrument in his hand, then down at the woman some sixty feet below, ducking the harshness of the spotlight above. He shook his head, hoping to clear his senses of weakness. She is not my mother. She is rich… one of the takers. How much has my family suffered so this Sylvia could live like a queen? Such people must pay dearly for what they stole!

Juan raised the hand holding the radio transmitter and pushed the “Send” button.

It began with a flash from Sylvia’s vest that immediately turned into deafening, blinding chaos, rocking the valley and the surrounding mountains. Guards seated on the hillside covered their eyes and rolled away from the eruption, as did Juan Diaz. After a few moments the inferno dissipated, replaced by an eerie glow and sounds of residue pattering back to earth: dirt, rocks and tiny pieces of human remains, including those of Sylvia Walinski, missing from Des Moines, Iowa, for just over a week.


 
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Professional Review

Fiction/Mystery
A Vanishing of Divas: A Kurt McBride Mystery

Larry Long’s A Vanishing of Divas: A Kurt McBride Mystery is a page-turner that will keep readers wholly engrossed from cover to cover. As women from Mississippi to Massachusetts are reported missing, the only link that can be established between them is that they were all graduated from Northwestern University around 1970 and that they were all sorority girls in their college days during the late 1960s.

Socialite Carolie Stafford enlists the help of attorney Kurt McBride to investigate, calling him to her Tucson home to assist her in a “life or death matter,” worth a fee of $4,000 per day. Carolie believes that she is the next victim, presenting him with a piece of evidence that she received informing her of the fourth murder before it occurred and implicating that she may be next on the list.

Although investigating isn’t his “expertise,” the socialite’s handsome fee persuades him to take the case; while McBride believes that it will be an easy case that can be solved before his next tee time, it may end costing him and the people around him more than they ever thought. McBride’s hunt for the kidnapper will prove to be incredibly perilous; shortly after accepting Stafford’s assignment, his fiancée’s car explodes on her way home from the airport and another woman goes missing. As he investigates, tensions mount and the situation becomes hopeless, leaving Kurt desperate to find the culprit after his client disappears, challenging his competence and his honor.

Long’s story is riveting, leaving readers breathless as the danger increases and the plot thickens, building to a stunning conclusion. Readers will undoubtedly be shocked by the twists in plot and the revelation of the culprit. Long has a unique prowess for creating a plot that keeps readers guessing, showcasing a gift for surprising even those readers who pride themselves on being able to solve a mystery before it is revealed by the author. Truly, a must read for all mystery and crime drama readers.

Todd Rutherford, Afterword Marketing

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