Death in the Primrose Hotel, A Jake Curtis / Vanessa Malone Mystery
Vanessa, along with her husband Jake, find a skeleton in an abandoned speakeasy, a bullet hole in the center of its forehead. They talk to people who used to work at the hotel. One person they talked with told of the disappearance of a maid whose decomposed body was found a year later. What does the detective's grandmother know? How does the dead maid tie in with the skeleton? More
Vanessa, along with her husband Jake a D.C. private investigator, while on a tour of the about to be demolished Primrose Hotel, stumble on a skeleton with a bullet hole in the center of his forehead. The curious thing about the skeleton is it is laying in the dust behind the bar in a long abandoned speakeasy in which no one has set foot in since prohibition ended in 1933. The speakeasy is located in the hotel's unknown, undocumented sub-basement and was only recently rediscovered by the prep work for the demolition.
Jake and Vanessa's natural curiosity and sense of right and wrong demands they find out who the skeleton was and who committed this murder. If they don't solve this murder, the killing goes unsolved. The town police don't have the time or the funds to investigate the old killing. They're going on the assumption everyone connected to the skeleton is already dead. Town police detective lieutenant, Tom Forsythe, convinced the town father to hire Jake and Vanessa as police officers, but without pay, to investigate the case and give them police authority in their investigation along with the power to make arrests.
They start by talking with the tour guide, the elderly woman whose grandfather owned the hotel during prohibition. Their investigation leads them to a variety of people who knows of the hotel or worked there. Several people they talk with allude to the disappearance of a hotel maid just before prohibition ended. Every one thought she ran off with her lover until the woman's decomposing body is discovered in the woods a year later. Post mortem examination reveals the woman was strangled, and pregnant. Now Jake and Vanessa have another murder on their hands which seems to be intertwined with the skeleton.
They struggle along with the feeling they are fighting an uphill battle to solve this case as everyone has nothing to offer until they talk with Detective Forsythe's maternal grandmother, a woman who Jake and Vanessa feels knows something about the skeleton and is determined to take what she knows to her grave.
During the course of the investigation, Jake is shot on the sidewalk in front of the police station and Vanessa draws her pistol from her purse and deftly handles the shooter. Jake's wound is not life threatening.
The interviews continue until they talk with the gay, timid scullion worker who worked in the kitchen of the hotel during the time of the maid's disappearance. He loved the man everyone thought ran off with the maid. Jealousy makes the scullion worker follow the maid and her lover as they head into the woods for a romantic picnic. He watches the romantic picnic turn into a heated shouting match. He sees the shouting become physical between the two and watches his love interest kill the maid. He keeps the secret to himself until Jake and Vanessa pry it from him.
Jake and Vanessa feel they will never solve the death of the skeleton until they make the detective's grandmother tell them what she refuses to tell. The detective's mother, Sara, who took her mother in when granny could no longer care for herself properly, stands over her mother like a snarling watch dog. Jake and Vanessa resort to drastic actions to get the grandmother to talk. How far will Jake and Vanessa go to get the old woman to talk? Will they resort to arresting the old woman as a uncooperative material witness? The detective feels his family places him in the middle as his mother wants him to protect his grandmother while the lawman in him wants to see the murder solved.
Under three days of questioning, the grandmother relents and tells a fantastic story of her past and how it relates to the skeleton and who shot Jake. Who is the murderer and how does it relate to the detective?