Authors: J. A. Menzies
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The Case of the Tactless Trophy Wife
A Paul Manziuk and Jacquie Ryan Mystery
J. A. Menzies
Markham, Ontario, Canada
All rights reserved.
Copyright © N. J. Lindquist, 2014
Digital ISBN: 978-0-9784963-4-0
Originally published in hardcover in 2000 by St. Kitts Press
Published in trade paperback in 2004 by MurderWillOut Mysteries
Cover design by Zoe Shtorm, revisions by N. J. Lindquist.
Stock images from littleny, Elena Elisseeva, grynold, and Kozachenko
This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, and events are the product of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The city of Toronto, the Toronto police, and any other entities that seem familiar are not intended to be accurate, but come totally out of my fantasy world.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the publisher.
MurderWillOut Mysteries is an imprint of
That’s Life! Communications
Box 77001 Markham, ON L3P 0C8
E-mail: [email protected]
To my husband, who has encouraged me in every way he possibly could.
More Great Reads!
Classic Mysteries in Contemporary Settings
Find out what happens after
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Glitter of Diamonds: The Case of the Reckless Radio Host,
the 2nd book in the Paul Manziuk & Jacquie Ryan Mystery Series
Major Players in Order of Appearance
Paul Manziuk: one very tired cop (pronounced
Jacqueline Ryan: a newly promoted policewoman with an attitude
Peter Martin: boyish forty-something lawyer who enjoys the good life
Jillian Martin: Peter’s beautiful, yet grasping, fourth wife
Shauna Jensen: Jillian’s shy, older sister who finds books easier to understand than people
Kendall Brodie: son of the senior partner, and about to join the law firm
Nick Donovan: Kendall’s annoying roommate who prefers ski moguls to law books
Ellen Brodie: the hostess whose nice little family party has plainly gone out of her control
Bart Brodie: the black sheep nephew who always turns up when you least want him
George Brodie: senior partner in Brodie, Fischer, and Martin, whose ulcer is acting up
Douglass Fischer: partner in the law firm, whose mind is occupied with domestic matters
Anne Fischer: a menopausal wife and mother with recurring headaches
Lorry Preston: a terrific catch for Kendall if only Nick will stay out of the way
Hildy Reimer: a neighbor who chose the July long weekend to have her apartment redecorated
Mrs. Winston: housekeeper par excellence, who’s too busy to know what’s going on
Crystal Winston: Mrs. Winston’s daughter and an observant future journalist
Life is one long struggle in the dark.
In his small, private office on the third floor of the Yonge Street police station, Detective Inspector Paul Manziuk signed his daily report. His hand was firm, letters neat and round and easy to read—the letters of a man who hated to write and felt uncomfortable doing it, as if his fifth grade teacher were standing at his shoulder shaking her head over the way he made each stroke.
But when the signature was complete, the anger he’d been holding inside could no longer be contained. It found its way into his clenched fist. Manziuk brought that fist crashing onto his desk, scattering papers to the floor and sending a large blue-and-gold marble rolling along the edge of the report.
Instinctively, Manziuk caught the marble, dwarfing it in his big hand. He opened his palm and rolled the marble over it, feeling the cool smooth surface.
Two months ago, the marble had been in the possession of an attractive twenty-two-year-old woman. A college student—on her way to becoming a very special kind of teacher—she’d been using the marbles in an experiment with autistic children.
There were twenty-four marbles altogether.
They’d been specially made. Larger than normal, they were very bright, almost neon—six of each color—red, green, blue, and yellow—all with sparkling gold mixed in. At least, there should have been six of each color. One of the marbles, a blue and gold one, was missing. The marbles had been strewn all over the ground where the body lay, and the Forensics Team had only been able to find twenty-three. Remembrance of the girl’s lifeless body and the feeling of impotent rage that had overcome him when he first saw it broke in waves over Manziuk.
It could just as easily have been Lisa, his daughter, twenty-one and a student at the same college.
How could you protect your daughters against people who didn’t need a motive? How could you defend them against men who seemed to think it was their God-given right to do what they wanted to any woman they happened to see? Being a police officer didn’t help. In fact, it made things worse—he had to see the bodies, had to witness the pain and anger of relatives and friends, had to feel twice as helpless because he knew how little there was to go on in a case like this. And there had been three similar cases in Toronto since last October.
He grunted, remembering how his friend and fellow police officer, Joe Hanover from Detroit, had teased him about having a soft cushy job in “Toronto the Good.” Though the nickname was still used now and then, the truth was the city was fast approaching the crime rate of others that were not so good.
And wishing it wasn’t so didn’t change anything. You had to deal with things as they came, keep going no matter how much you wanted to give up, try to make some kind of a difference.
Manziuk flexed his legs and thrust his powerful back against the chair as he pushed away from the cluttered desk. He picked up the reports, then paused to stretch his large bulk before walking to the office door and opening it.
“James.” He didn’t raise his voice, but the word penetrated every corner of the outer office.
A young man dressed in police blue hurried over.
“Take these to Seldon for me, will you?”
The young man reached for the reports and, without a word, strode off down a hallway.
Manziuk stood gazing around the busy room. No one paid him any attention. He grunted once and then went back into his office, shutting the door with a snap.
He moved restlessly around the small room, glancing at his special commendations, pausing for a moment to stare at the picture his wife had given him the day after he’d complained that he never got out into the country anymore. It was a print of a young eagle spreading its wings above a peaceful valley, with a small mouse racing below. The hunter and the hunted.
He looked at the picture often. For some reason, it calmed him. Perhaps because it served as a reminder that throughout the natural world, life and death go hand in hand. No one being is more important than any other. Even the predator has its place.
It was good to remember that, since he had to deal with a lot of predators. And worse. Animals normally kill only for food. But in Manziuk’s world there were those who killed, not for need, but for pleasure. Animals seemed to have it down better.
Manziuk walked around the room, pausing for a moment to look out of his narrow window at the street three stories below. Hot out there. Steam was rising. Or maybe it was smog. Young women wearing too little; not too little for the weather—too little because of how it gave some men an excuse.
He shut the venetian blind and walked past his desk and chair, past the filing cabinet in the corner, around to the leather chair in front of his desk. Leather was hot in this weather. Bare flesh stuck to it.
Flesh. The smell of flesh. He’d been called in at 7:00 yesterday morning because someone thought a body they’d just found might be related to his homicide case. The body was only a day old, but intense heat had hastened decomposition.
On the chance it was a homicide, he’d pushed to get the autopsy done right away, but the cause of death had turned out to be accidental. She’d been drinking and doing drugs, and had fallen, smashing her head on a jagged piece of broken sink somebody had thrown in the alleyway.
Accidental. Nobody’s fault. Or everybody’s. The curly-haired red-head was a few months short of sixteen, from what appeared to be a good, middle-class home. She’d run away, and her parents couldn’t persuade her to come back. The authorities had shrugged their shoulders and said she was old enough to look after herself. Nothing they could do.
So she’d been living with a guy in his twenties and taking drugs like they were candy and slurping beers like they were pop, and now she was dead.
Leaving Manziuk to tell her parents. To watch their eyes grow blank, and see their bodies shrink back from the pain, to feel their anger as they massed him in a lump with all the others who didn’t care. Only he did care.