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This book is dedicated to Trent and Meg with all my love. (And in case you’re wondering, I flipped a coin to determine who would be listed first.)

I’d like to thank my critique partners Lisa Cochrane, Christie Kelley, Kathy Love, Janet Mullany, and Kate Poole; my editors Susan Downs, Candice Speare, and Ellen Tarver; and also Sharon Zarate for sharing her expertise about the business of private investigation. I also owe thanks to my mom, Betty Dolan, and husband, Jim Weidman, for introducing me to some of the best mysteries ever written.


“I don’t have time for this,” Dave muttered as he picked up a chocolate chip cookie off my desk.

Setting down the box of new “DS Investigations” stationery that I had just picked up from the printer’s, I reached over to snatch the remaining cookie out of his reach. “That makes two of us. I don’t have time for you taking my lunch, either. And why are you sitting at my desk?”

He shrugged as he leaned back in the swivel chair. “Technically, it’s my desk. I own the firm now, so I own everything in this office.” A smile of satisfaction gradually spread over his face as he gazed around the shabby second-floor apartment of the old house that served as the headquarters for the newly renamed DS Investigations. Rays of afternoon sun shining through the drafty windows illuminated sprays of dust motes in the air, and I made a mental note to have another talk with the landlord about the cleaning service.

After hiding the cookie behind a plant, I picked up the box of stationery again and put it in a drawer. “You really are enjoying having the firm all to yourself now, aren’t you?”

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