wicked prescription guaranteed to give you sleepless
nights." ~Nora Roberts
"Eileen Dreyer creates the sort of skin-crawling
suspense that will leave readers looking with
a wild and wary eye
upon anyone at the other end of a stethoscope."
“Dreyer…levels a roguish sense of
humor at the medical establishment in this entertaining
romantic thriller.” Publishers Weekly
“Author Dreyer, herself a trauma nurse,
writes an excellent suspense mystery, prescribed
to keep you on the edge of your seat.” Corinne,
Booked for Murder
Winner of the 1992 RITA® Award from
Romance Writers of America®
Control your impulses, her mother had
always said. Stifle your urges, the church agreed.
She should have listened. The next time she had
an urge like this one, she was going to lock herself
in a closet until it went away.
"Honey, why are we here?"
"I have to make a stop before I take you
A stop. She had to report a crime. Several crimes.
That wasn't exactly a run to the local Safeway
Gripping her purse in one hand and her mother
in the other, Casey McDonough approached the St.
Louis City Police Headquarters like a penitent
approaching the gates of purgatory. It seemed
amazing, really. Casey had been born no more than
fifteen miles away, but she'd never visited this
place before. She'd never even known precisely
where it was.
A stark block of granite that took up the corner
of Clark and Tucker, the headquarters did nothing
to inspire comfort. Brass grillwork protected
massive front doors and encased the traditional
globe lamps that flanked it. Unmarked police cars
and crime scene vans hugged the curb. Police in
uniform or windbreakers and walkie-talkies hovered
near the front door, chatting among themselves.
Civilians edged by, sensing their own intrusion,
much the way they would enter her hospital.
Casey didn't want to be here. If she could have,
she would have approached her friends on the county
police force instead. She would have pulled one
of them aside when they'd come into her emergency
room and proposed her theory in a way that could
be considered an inside joke instead of an accusation.
"Say, Bert, what would you think if I said
there's something just a little more sinister
than fee-splitting going on around here? What
if I told you that some of the bad luck around
this place is actually connected? And not just
because I know all the people involved, either."
Bert would laugh and deflect her fears with common
sense, and the issue would have gone no further.
Only none of the crimes Casey suspected had
actually happened in the county. Bert wouldn't
know anything about them. He couldn't do her any
good. If she wanted any relief from the suspicions
that had been building over the last few weeks
like a bad case of indigestion, she was going
to have to find it with the city cops. Cops she
didn't know. Cops who didn't know her.
Casey pulled on the heavy glass-and-brass door
and winced at its screech of protest. It sounded
as if it resented her intrusion. The way everybody
else ignored the noise, the door must have been
objecting for years.
Inside, the foyer was a high square of marble,
cool and hushed. Casey held the heavy door open
for her mother to follow inside. Sketching a quick
sign of the cross, the little woman instinctively
reached for a holy water font.
"It's not a church," Casey reminded
It was hell. She was in hell for what she suspected.
But Casey just couldn't keep it to herself any
longer. It was time to let somebody else help
shoulder the weight of this rock she was carrying
around her neck.
"What do you mean it's not a church?"
her mother asked, swinging around on the gray
marble floor, her voice echoing in the cavernous
lobby. "Who's going to take care of St. Joseph?"
Heads turned. The female officer at the control
desk at the far side of the room came to a kind
of careful alert, like a guard dog catching an
unfamiliar scent. Two middle-aged black men slouching
against the wall of the diarrhea brown and green
waiting area interrupted their conversation to
assess the new entertainment.
"It's a police station," Casey whispered,
a hand on her mother's arm so she couldn't get
far. "It'll only take a minute."
She shouldn't be thinking of her civic duty.
She should be thinking of her personal duty. She
had a mother to take care of. A mother nobody
else really wanted to be saddled with. What was
going to happen to Helen when Casey was without
a job, without a career, without any kind of future?
Because if she took another step, that was exactly
what was going to happen. This simply wasn't the
kind of action the medical hierarchy overlooked.
"Can I help you?"
This was stupid. She had no business being here.
She had no choice. Evelyn had been her friend.
Casey stepped up to the desk.
"Couldn't I just go to confession?"
Helen asked in a little whimper. "I only
pruned her roses."
The officer frowned. A petite, precise black
woman with very little humor in her expression,
she considered Casey's mother like a bad joke.
Casey couldn't blame her. But then, Casey didn't
know that the sergeant was going to like Casey's
story any better.
How did she say it? How did she pull all the
suspicions whirling around into some kind of recognizable
order? How did she accuse a respected man of crimes
without suffering recrimination?
Crimes. A euphemism. A generality that didn't
carry the impact of the truth. She'd been avoiding
the issue by calling it a crime, instead of what
it was. She'd been dancing with inevitability,
because the minute she gave voice to the suspicions
that had been hovering like unwelcome ghosts,
there wouldn't be any retreat. There wouldn't
be any chance of calling her fears a mistake.
"Ma'am?" the officer nudged without
"Murder," Casey blurted out ungracefully.
The officer scowled, hands on hips. "Take
your roses seriously, huh?"
"Have you ever thought of the convent?"
Helen asked, reaching across the dark wood desk.
The officer flinched.
Casey pulled Helen back just in time. "Say
a rosary, Mom." When Helen nodded agreeably
and began to dig into her purse, Casey returned
to the officer. "It's about the murder the
other night, Crystal Johnson. I may have some
information about it."
That elicited a long, considering look. "You
wanna tell me?"
Casey didn't know whether she wanted to laugh
or cry. Didn't this woman understand how tough
"It's a long story," she hedged miserably.
And somebody's going to see me here, somebody
from the hospital like me who never comes into
the city except to shop and eat, but who maybe
got their car stolen or impounded for a ticket,
and they'll go right back to work and report just
what I was doing at the city police headquarters.
The officer took one more look at Helen, then
Casey. "You're not confessing, are you?"
She sounded almost hopeful.
"Not without a priest," Helen piped
Casey ignored her. "I suspect somebody
else," was all she could manage.
A nod, a quick look around the lobby, at nothing
at all. "Well, in that case, I'll do you
one better. I'll get you a Bishop."
Casey considered herself rightfully frustrated
and depressed. She should have known better. She
wasn't really frustrated or depressed until fifteen
minutes later when she stepped into the Bishop's
office for the first time. One look at him made
the rest of the situation pale in comparison.
Even so, she straightened as much as she could,
shoved her mother into a seat, and challenged
the officer. "There's somebody you and I
need to talk about."