own unique blend of dark humor, complex motivations
and riveting suspense, Eileen Dreyer is a very
tough act to beat. Molly Burke is an extraordinary
character whose life experiences have made her
a woman performing a delicate balancing act with
mental and emotional stability. A nerve-shattering
suspense.” 4 ½ Stars Gold Medal,
Nobody noticed that there was something wrong
with the mayor's press conference. It was a small
thing, and the press was preoccupied with the
breaking airline strike story at the airport,
not to mention the ongoing investigation into
morals charges against the Speaker of the House,
on which most of them had sizeable bets. So they
all slumped in the stifling room in the city hall
waiting for Mayor Martell Williamson to announce
who was finally going to be given the contract
to open the casino on the St. Louis riverfront,
and not one of them noticed who was missing.
The citizens of the St. Louis metropolitan area
didn't notice, even though they were being dished
up the news live with lunch. Most St. Louisans
found politics tiresome—especially city
politics. It wasn't even as if it was that important
an announcement. During the two years the Board
of Aldermen had carried on their public and often
bitter debate over the contract, some thirty riverboats
had already set up business on the nearby Missouri
and Meramec rivers, which were much preferable
places to park and wander than north St. Louis
Besides, it was hot out, and the people of St.
Louis were far more interested in their weather
than their politics. If they were even home to
watch the news, instead of lurking half-submerged
in one of the neighborhood pools to escape the
humidity or at the stadium watching the Cardinals
warm up against the Phillies, they were busy refilling
their iced tea during the press conference so
they wouldn't miss Wally the Weatherman telling
them just when they could expect a break from
the two solid weeks of hundred degree weather.
Harry McGivers and Peg Ryan would have noticed.
Unfortunately they were already seated at the
Missouri Athletic Club Grille about a mile away,
celebrating the news with their favorite scotch
and pharmaceutical chaser as they waited for the
star of the story to return from the press conference
and fill them in.
That was the problem. The star of the story wasn't
there. Up on Hodiamont Street where she lived
with her mother, Pearl Johnson had the television
turned to the news conference as she drifted off
to sleep. Pearl was dressed in her best nightgown
and robe, buttoned neatly to her chin, her hair
brushed out, and her lipstick on. Her door was
locked, and her Bible was at her side. Her pill
bottles were lined up along her nightstand, and
they were empty, each and every one of them.
Pearl knew what was wrong with the press conference.
She was listening to her betrayal. But she wasn't
really paying attention. She was too busy dying.