Jane, Booked for Murder
“Generous helpings of mystery, horror and
romance blend in a delectably rich treat…gripping.”
The Drood Review of Mystery
“One thriller you don’t want to miss…an
excellent read, once you pick up IF LOOKS COULD
KILL, you won’t be able to put it down until
the very end…and maybe not even then.”
The Macon Telegraph
“Well-crafted, If Looks Could Kill is plotted,
layer upon layer, like the skin of an onion. The
dark side of the human psyche, death and redemption
are a deadly ménage a trois that must be
explored before a killer is exposed. An excellent
read, once you pick up If Looks Could Kill, you
won’t be able to put it down until the very
end…and maybe not even then.” The
“The mystery has an many layers as an onion
and more than a few surprises in store for the
reader. After reading of many a character with
a deep dark secret that is really of no great
consequence, it comes as a surprise to find out
just how shocking a past Chris truly has. This
is a good mystery for those who want only a dash
of romance, and who desire the central characters
to be strong, realistic, and persevering.”
“This is one intense book. Written so that
clues and information are peeled away like layers
on an onion, Ms. Dreyer’s book maintains
her unique sense of humor and the macabre situations
she is so good at.” Heartland Critiques
“Anyone fascinated by serial killers, intrigued
with realistic crime drama, or enthralled by a
who-done-it mystery should read IF LOOKS COULD
KILL. As in a Shakespearean tragedy or a Hitchcockian
film, this book provides comic relief just when
the reader’s anxiety level is about to overheat.”
Affair de Coeur
“A gritty, funny, compassionate novel about
the dark side of the human psyche.” Ann
Maxwell, author of THE DIAMOND TIGER
“Adroitly crafted and ingeniously plotted.
This one is a spellbinder.” – John
Lutz, author of SINGLE WHITE FEMALE
It was Al MacNamara's first day on the job as
police chief for Pyrite, Missouri, and he didn't
want to screw up. It wasn't that he couldn't get
another job if he did. After fourteen years pounding
the streets along Chicago's Area Six, he could
walk into damn near any metropolitan area he wanted
and get work. He had enough commendations, not
too many complaints, and only one ex-wife who
still really hassled him. Forty was a year or
two away and, according to his medical records,
the steel plate in his head would only cause problems
But when he'd spent his medical leave poring
over the ads in the law enforcement magazines,
he'd ignored the name of every city big enough
to be recognized. If he'd been wanting excitement
and challenge he would have just stayed in Chicago.
He'd spent all those hours while his eye had been
bandaged closed looking for someplace just like
It was Monday evening, and the town was all but
shut down for the night. Harry Truman High was
in the basketball play-offs, which meant that
except for the Pizza Hut, where the victorious
champions would return to celebrate, the majority
of businesses were locked and empty. Everybody
was at the game.
With two square blocks of downtown, Pyrite sported
the latest in video stores and the most vintage
of hardware stores. It had the obligatory funeral
home and used car dealership that labeled it a
two-horse town, and three stop lights just to
slow down the high school kids on Friday night.
Tucked into the northern folds of the Ozarks,
Pyrite had once been a bustling little mining
town. Now, though, it was just another struggling
county seat a hundred or so miles south of St.
Louis, in an area where the unemployment rate
hovered in the teens. The town square boasted
a Civil War monument, the Rock of Ages Baptist
Church was the tallest building in town, and the
city hall was housed in what had been Pyrite's
only brush with supermarket convenience. After
Chicago, just what Mac needed.
It was a town to walk, and that was what Mac was
doing. He wasn't really used to it anymore, after
the years in a black-and-white and then the detective's
bureau. His senses were still too keen from surviving
the projects to enjoy an easy stroll down Main
Street. Last time he had walked a street he had
been eyefucked by every gangbanger on the block.
Tonight two little old ladies invited him to dinner,
and the proprietor of the Kozy Kitchen intercepted
him with a free cup of coffee. A long way from
For the first time in fifteen years, he could
smell the fresh hint of spring on the damp night
air. He heard a mourning dove in the tree in front
of the barbershop and saw people sitting on their
front porches. He was back walking a beat in uniform,
and he felt pretty damn good. Not a bad way to
start a new job.
He had just turned from Main onto Elm when he
saw it. Or maybe he sensed it first. After this
long, Mac no longer differentiated.
A shadow, back in the alley. A faint scratching
noise. A very low curse. A funny itching at the
back of his neck.
No mistaking that. Out of place here in Mayberry,
but much too familiar from the real world to ignore.
Mac reached for his gun. Damn, not on his first
night. Not on his first goddamn day here. He didn't
even realize that he was already sweating, or
that his gut had automatically clenched into a
hard knot. When he drew his gun though, his hand
was shaking, and it made him curse again.
Carefully, he stepped across the street and back
onto the sidewalk. No use taking a bad guy out
in the alley. It was a lesson he'd learned a long
time ago in Chicago. Attempted got a slap. Catch
'em with their sneaky little toes over the threshold,
though, and you had yourself a righteous collar
with at least a chance at a sentence.
Mac took one more look around to see the streets
still empty except for the appliance dealer across
Main who was just locking up. But just his luck,
there was somebody on the other side of the door
the perp was testing. There were lights on in
the shop and the shudder of movement behind the
desk. Taking a deep, slow breath to ease the sudden
staccato of his heart rate, Mac reached out with
his left hand and opened the door of the How Do
I Love Thee Flower Shop.
The little lady behind the counter looked up.
"Oh, I'm sorry, we're closed,” she
said before her parchment and peach features folded
into recognition. "Oh, Chief MacNamara, how
Mac lifted a finger to his mouth to silence her
as he crept in, the gun held flat against his
back where it wouldn't surprise her into really
giving him away.
"Ma'am—" he began, sidestepping
the horseshoe of carnations that read "To
our lodge brother and most devoted bison"
and heading for a counter that spilled over with
ribbons and cards and charitable donation boxes.
The birdlike woman barely cleared the cash register.
She was patting at hair the consistency and color
of cotton candy and beaming at him with a coyness
that looked well practiced. "I'm Miss Eloise
Elliott, Chief. Please do call me Eloise. And
welcome to town. No matter what Serita Ruth Patterson
says, I'm glad to have you here."
So much for discretion.
She waggled a finger, even as Mac saw the lock
on the back door tremble beneath the stealthy
assault from the other side.
"Eloise," she admonished.
He nodded quickly, carefully bringing the gun
around. "Eloise," he allowed very quietly,
focusing on the job at hand instead of the shakes
that threatened to take over, the liquid heat
that seared his gut. "I want you to very
quietly walk out the front door. I want you to
do it now."
Miss Elliott's carefully penciled eyebrows lifted
like gulls' wings. "Well, whatever for?"
She hadn't even seemed to notice the gun yet.
Her hand had stilled against her bony chest, though.
"Because somebody's trying to break into
your store, ma'am. Now if you'd just—"
He reached out to take her arm, just to get her
going. She flinched away, shaking her head.
"Oh, no," she demurred, that hand now
out front where it was shooing him away. "You
go on, now. I don't believe I called you. I don't
believe I called you at all. That wouldn't be
fair, now, would it?"
One eye still on the pitifully inadequate door
lock to the back alley, the other on Miss Elliott's
now-smiling face, Mac did his best to hold his
temper. He'd never been one to deal well with
stupid civilians. It was much worse now. Much
"No, you didn't call me," he said, making
another try to catch her. "I saw it. Now,
come on, before you get hurt."
"Hurt?" she echoed incredulously, looking
around the pastel walls and the forest of real
and artificial flowers in the little showroom.
"Why would you think I'd be hurt?"
"Because somebody's trying to break into
your store," he insisted.
Somewhere behind the pots of azaleas on the floor,
there was a rustling. A faint hissing. Instinctively
Mac spun on it, his gun up, his heart stumbling.
The leaves dipped and his finger tightened around
Nonchalant as hell, a cat stepped out of the foliage.
Fat, nasty, and yellow-eyed, with a tail that
stood straight up. Behind him were three more.
Mac almost put six rounds straight into the goddamn
He tried his damnedest to get his breathing back
under control before he returned his attention
to the matter at hand.
The matter at hand had her attention on his outstretched
"A gun," she accused, pointing at him.
"Well, of course. Put that thing away, and
we won't have any trouble, will we? After all,
I didn't call you. I did not call the police."
Maybe this job wasn't going to work after all.
The streets might be quieter, but the denizens
certainly weren't any less loony. And the cats
were beginning to circle him.
"Listen, Miss Elliott," Mac warned,
struggling for control. "I'm not going to
tell you again. Either get out of the store now,
or I'm not going to be responsible for your safety.
You have somebody trying to break into your store."
Unbelievably, she broke into a big smile. "Why,
yes," she said with a bright nod. "That's
the whole idea, isn't it?"