Being mistaken for a gangster and accused of a series of murders she didn't commit was hardly the quiet life Maryanne Wellborn expected as a Philadelphia librarian. Who would have thought volunteering at her father's retirement home would be so complicated
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June 30, 2006
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Excerpt from Mistaken for the Mob by Ginny Aiken
Mary Margaret Muldoon was terminated.
As were Helmut Rheinemann, Toby Matthias and Muriel Harper. J.Z. Prophet held the death certificates of the well-to-do seniors in his left hand. On a neat pile before him sat autopsy reports that identified the cause of death as natural in all four cases. But the papers in his right hand belied those certificates.
"E-mail," he muttered to his partner, Dan Maddox. "What self-respecting mobster orders hits through e-mail? But here they are: Terminate Mary Margaret Muldoon, and Terminate Helmut Rheinemann."
J.Z. could have read the others, too. But why? They said the same thing. And the same woman had sent them all: Maryanne Wellborn.
He flung the pages onto his desk and rose from his chair. He went for his coffeepot, which he'd brought to the office when he got tired of FBI sludge, and poured himself his fourth cup of the morning. It was only seven o'clock.
After another hit of caffeine, he asked, "What kind of librarian would order a bunch of hits?"
Dan, an easygoing guy, shifted in his chair and shrugged. "Hey, it's a great cover" if they were hits."
"Okay. It is. But I want to know how she's offing them. Pathology found no evidence of foul play. The causes of death are listed as asphyxiation from emphysema, congestive heart failure, liver cancer and pneumonia. We might be able to pin the asphyxiation on her, but how'd she kill the others?"
"I think it's our job to find that out."
"It's our job to get the evidence that'll lock her up."
"Hmm...a librarian. Maryanne Wellborn, you say?"
"She's behind these hits."
"Sure of yourself, aren't you? And letting it get personal."
The accusation slugged J.Z. in the gut. "Not at all. This is business. The other's past history." He set his coffee mug on the corner of his desk, then jabbed a finger toward Dan. "Don't forget. You were right at my side the last six months. You helped me track the Verdis and their mob pals as they scammed their way through these ritzy retirement homes. You counted the bodies they left behind, just as I did, and looked just as hard as I did for something to stick on them"
"Something stuck. Joey-O's behind bars."
"Not for this. He shot Carlo Papparelli. Aside from those shaky connections to Joey-O and Tony the Toe Verdi-scum, if ever there was scum-we didn't come up with a single solid thing to nail the deaths of the old people on them. But I know their game. And this perp in New Camden is just the latest in the string of killers we've been after. The only difference is that this one made a mistake. She left us these e-mails. How generous of her."
His partner's hands went up in surrender. "Okay, okay. Lay off the lecture. It was just a friendly warning I gave you. Can't let your old man's troubles mess with your mind on a case. My future's in your hands."