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  • Writer's pictureSusan Russo Anderson

Her Mouth in a Positive Stretch

In this scene from Fina’s fifth stand-alone Brooklyn mystery, Death and Disappearance, her nemesis calls in the middle of the night—her nemesis being Jane Templeton, NYPD Detective First Grade.

An insistent buzzing woke me. Slowly I lifted my head from the pillow and stared at the vibrating piece of metal on my nightstand. My cell. Jane Templeton’s name flashed across the screen. Hadn’t she heard of sleeping in? I sat up too quickly and felt sick, then pressed the speaker.

“Just a friendly wake-up call.” Her voice was so grating in the morning—come to that, anytime. Jane Templeton, NYPD Detective First Grade, my nemesis.


“Are you still in bed at this hour?”


“We’ve found a body in Brooklyn Bridge Park near the dog run. Not much blood. Killer knew how to handle a knife.”

Jane needed help. Even I knew that, despite the time, or why would she be calling me? I glanced at the clock. After nine? I looked at the rumpled bed. Denny’s day off, so why wasn’t he still sleeping? I sniffed to see if food was in the air because my guy, when he wakes up, heads straight for the kitchen and works his magic with eggs, toast, bacon, the works. But I could smell nothing.

I asked her why she was calling.

“If you want the real truth, I’m doing your husband a favor. Denny said you hadn’t had a case in a while, and he thought it might be good for you to get out of the house, you know, sink your teeth into work for a change.”

She continued. “I thought you might like to know about the homicide, seeing as how the victim was the husband of one of your friends.”

Detective Jane Templeton has a major role to play in all Fina’s books. Here’s Fina description of her. It’s from Whiskey’s Gone, the third stand-alone book in the series:

Jane shrugged, all six feet two of her staring down at me and while she didn’t blink, I saw a softening about the eyes. Not a smile, mind—I don’t think I’d ever seen her mouth in a positive stretch. Think about it, have you ever seen a bulldozer grin? I gazed up into those baby blues and matched her gaze measure for measure. Those unblinking orbs looked like they’d been born in the coldest, deepest part of the Pacific. But from time to time, they took on a watery feathering about the edges. She was wearing her usual dark pantsuit and white cotton blouse—the outfit which looked more expensive than my whole wardrobe and hugged her curves like the fumes of a Nascar racer.

Photos: Top: Death and Disappearance; Bottom: Whiskey’s Gone. Cover design, Avalon Graphics

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