This week, I’m pleased to host mystery author, P J. Nunn
As with most things, PJ Nunn’s career started out as something else entirely. She started out in retail then moved to property management. That led to teaching high school, then serving as a counselor and liaison to the local police youth services division. She also spent five years as chairperson of the Coryell County Child Welfare Board and spent years counseling abuse victims and serving law enforcement as a trauma counselor and consultant (something she still does today). When she moved to Dallas, a family illness caused her to leave a job teaching psychology at Dallas County Community College District to become a freelance writer, but found that a few favors she was doing for friends—writing press releases and setting up book signings—was better suited to her talents and her drives.
In 1998, she founded Break Through Promotions, now a national public relations firm helping authors, mostly of mystery novels, publicize themselves and their work. The business is thriving and PJ is excited about the release of her first novel, Angel Killer. PJ lives with her husband some of their five children near Dallas, TX. Learn more at http://pjnunn.com.
When Jesse Morgan’s boss and best friend died, she inherited Private Spies, a private investigation firm that specializes in missing persons. Unfortunately, she knew little about the business aside from her intensive work on the computer. But if Joey thought she could handle it, she felt obligated to at least give it a try. How hard could it be, right?
So Jesse took on her first case. Very straightforward. This guy is missing, find him. Oh but wait, he also kidnapped his own daughter. Find her too. Still not that hard. Except when she ran his report, the picture she found on his drivers license is of another guy. And when she found a guy who matched the first picture, he had another name. And when she found a girl that looked like the daughter, she didn’t match anything. Not good.
Enter a retired police officer named Byron (really?) who says before Joey died, he hired him to work for them. Ok. This might be helpful. But then came a stalker, and a dead guy, a dead duck and an increasing list of incidents that all seem confusing to Jesse. Up to her eyeballs in threats and questions, Jesse’s outraged when the woman who hired her decides to fire her. Unbelievable! Unable to stop at that point, Jesse is determined to find the guy and solve the case. If only it was as easy as it sounded.
Here is an excerpt from Private Spies:
I hate mornings. Unfortunately, if I sleep through them like I like to do, I miss half the day. Time is money, or so I’ve heard. After a quick shower, I tugged on a sweater and a pair of jeans, promised Elvis I wouldn’t come home without food, and headed out. An unlocked door and the smell of fresh brewed coffee greeted me at the office.
“Bernice!” I smiled for the first time in awhile. “I didn’t expect you back until next week.”
“I knew you’d need me,” she smiled up at me from her desk, looking more like a weirded out fairy godmother than any receptionist I’ve seen.
At fifty something, her hair was more white than brown and she wore it in a variation of a beehive that I thought went out in the sixties. Bright blue eye shadow covered her eyelids like finger paint no matter what color of garish flowered muumuu she wore on her ample frame. I never did hear where Joey found her, but she was a whiz around the office.
“You’re right about that,” I said, retrieving the stacks I’d sorted from my desk. “Bills to pay, invoices to send, and stuff to file,” I said, setting each one down on her desk in turn.
“Oh, girl, looks like you’ve been busy!” she clucked.
“Not busy enough,” I groaned, sinking into my chair and glancing over at the piles still covering Joey’s desk. He might have known right where everything was, but to me, it just looked like a mess. “I’ve got a new case, though, so I guess those will have to wait another day or two.”
“No worries,” Bernice said cheerfully. “I’ll have it sorted out in no time. I know his system.”
She’d get no arguments from me. I have enough trouble with my own mess. The sound of Bernice rustling around and muttering to herself was oddly comforting and I got right to work on the Gafford case.
“Look at this,” I told Bernice, less than an hour later.
The picture Beverly Gafford faxed of her ex husband was grainy at best, but it still didn’t look anything like the driver’s license photo I picked off the Internet. Joey had us set up to get into all kinds of databases. Some of them, I was pretty sure we weren’t supposed to get into, but sometimes it’s better not to ask too many questions.
“Does that look like the same guy to you?” I handed the printout to her.
Bernice held the two photos in chubby hands an arm’s length away from her bifocals.
“No,” she said, shaking her head. “Not at all. You sure this is the right guy?”
I shrugged. “Same social, same name.”
“Guess it’s a really bad picture,” she said, putting them back on my desk. “You know those DPS pictures are a plot from hell.”
She nodded her head with her lips clenched in a tight line. Bernice thought everything was a plot from hell.
“Maybe,” I said.
But I didn’t think it was just a bad picture. Something seemed hokey about the whole thing.
“I’m going to see if I can find this guy in person,” I told her, pulling my purse out of the bottom drawer.
Ordinarily, that was a luxury I didn’t have, working on the Internet, but since he was supposedly here in Dallas I could do some actual investigating. That was a perk that didn’t come up often. Most of the time, I just did all my searching online and Joey had done the rest. I missed him.
Expecting to find a little house similar to my own, I was surprised when the address led me to the Frost Farms section of DeSoto. Where the really rich who don’t want to live in north Dallas live. Ranches and mansions with circular driveways and pools and stables and maids and limos. I heard one house actually has its own bowling alley. Not that I’d ever been inside one, but I could tell immediately that my whole house and yard would have fit easily in the garage.
My poor little Taurus probably felt like an unwanted stepchild. Hard to be inconspicuous in a Ford around there. Hard to see anything parked on the street, too. The house number was on the mailbox but the driveway was so long I had to rescue a surveillance bag out of the trunk and use binoculars. Joey liked to have all the right equipment, even if we hardly ever used it. Man, I missed him!
I didn’t have to wait long to see someone; people came and went like it was moving day only they weren’t carrying anything. Unfortunately, none of them even remotely resembled either of the men I was looking for, or the little girl, either. I was about ready to give up when a man came out of the stables and caught my attention. Even with the binoculars, it was hard to tell, so I took a chance and got out of the car. I needed to stretch my legs anyway. PIs do way too much sitting.
I had to hurry to cross the grass in time to catch him before he reached his truck, so I didn’t really have time to think of anything clever to say.
“Excuse me!” I called when I got close enough for him to hear me.
When he stopped and turned, I knew it was the same face that Beverly Gafford had faxed to me. He wasn’t very big, maybe five foot ten, a hundred and sixty pounds, but he had the wavy brown hair and the deep creases in his face that come from hours in the sun. Lawrence Gafford number one. The one that matched the picture that didn’t match the name. Maybe I wasn’t ready to be the boss yet. None of this made sense.
“Are you Lawrence Gafford?” I asked, trying not to breathe as hard as an obscene phone caller.
A scowl replaced the smile he’d been wearing. “Who wants to know?”
I pulled a card out of my pocket and handed it to him. “Jesse Morgan, Private Spies.”
“I got nothing to say to you,” he snarled and pitched my card on the ground, then turned and continued to his truck.
“Look,” I chased after him, “I don’t want to cause a problem, I just need to know…”
He couldn’t hear me because he was driving away. Great.
“Hilarious! Jesse Morgan is a girl-next-door turned detective who if she runs short of skill will make up for it with sheer determination or maybe luck. She won’t rest until her case is closed.” – Bookbrowsing
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P J. is giving away either a trade paperback or a Kindle copy of Private Spies. Leave a comment and be automatically be entered to win!