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This book is also dedicated to my father and fellow writer, Frank Andrew Mack, who never got to see the book, but always believed in me.





ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to thank Pat Altner, Jack Bludis, Carla Buckley, Carolyn Males, Ellen Rawlings, Louise Titchener, and other writers and friends who provided helpful suggestions and encouragement along the way. My thanks to Rennie Hiltz for providing details on medical treatment for internal bleeding. My thanks also to Brian McKenna for providing so many details about strip clubs—stuff I never would have known just by walking into one—and doing such a wonderful job on the cover art. Any errors or omissions on these subjects are my own. And extra special thanks go to Marcia Talley and my other good friends in the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime, as well as to publications specialist Laurie Cullen, without whose help I might never have gotten this edition published.

Finally, while this story takes place in real geographic areas and some settings are real, most of them are fictionalized. Any resemblance between a fictionalized place and a similar real one is completely accidental.



CHAPTER ONE



I’ve never been a morning person, and if it’s one thing I don’t need before my first cup of coffee, it’s a visit from the cops. But at eight forty-five on a Friday morning, two of them waited for me at my law office.

I shut the door on the steam heat—typical July weather in Maryland—and shook my sticky blouse loose. Seven years in practice had taught me many hard lessons. One of them should have been never to wear dry-cleanable blouses in the summer.

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