Her hometown of Loomis, Louisiana, holds no charm for Jodie Gilmore. Why be reminded of her mother's abandonment? Then the novice FBI agent is assigned to a missing person's case, and refusal isn't an option. Her coworkers are counting on her. Surely the tight-lipped locals will talk to one of their own. Or will they? A decades-old double homicide is discovered, and Harrison Cahill, the handsome forensic anthropologist on the case, thinks Jodie knows more than she's saying. But speaking freely can be deadly in Loomis....
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March 09, 2009
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Excerpt from Cold Case Murder by Shirlee McCoy
Loomis, LouisianaEarly MarchEven with the windows of her car rolled up, Jodie could smell the bayou. Heavy moist air with a bite of decay to it. Not as bad as it got in the heat of the summer but bad enough to make her nose wrinkle. Or maybe it was disgust that was doing that. There were plenty of places she'd imagined the FBI might send her, but back to Loomis wasn't one of them. Here she was, returning to the one place she'd been determined never to visit again.She turned onto a narrow dirt driveway that wound uphill and away from the bayou, braking lightly as she neared a neglected farmhouse that stood in the center of an overgrown clearing near the swamp. Abandoned decades ago, it had been vacant for more years than Jodie had been alive. A tunnel dug beneath the house led to a room that had once served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. Later it had served other, less altruistic purposes--as a storage place for moonshine during prohibition, a drug den for hippies in the sixties. Eventually, the town council voted to have the tunnel and the house boarded up.What the missing woman, Leah Farley, had been doing there, Jodie didn't know. She planned to find out, though. And quickly. The sooner she helped Sam Pierce solve the case, the sooner she could wipe the Loomis dirt off her feet and get back to her life.Rain drizzled from the sky as Jodie climbed out of her car and started across the yard. Despite her misgivings about being back in Loomis, anticipation hummed through her. Working for the FBI had been her dream for as long as she could remember. Solving cases, putting bad guys behind bars, was what she was meant to do. Even if she had to do it in Loomis."Agent Gilmore, glad you could make it to the party." A tall, dark-haired man she recognized stepped out onto the porch, and Jodie smiled a greeting as she picked her way up dry-rotted porch stairs."It's good to be included, Agent Pierce.""How about I call you Jodie and you call me Sam? It'll make things easier." He smiled, and Jodie could see why so many women in the New Orleans office had set their sights on the handsome agent. Recently, rumors had been circulating that he'd gotten engaged to a child psychologist in Loomis. True or not, it wasn't any of Jodie's concern. She didn't waste time on men and relationships. Not anymore."Whatever you say, Sam. Did you find anything in the house?""We did.""Leah Farley?""No. And no evidence that she's been inside.""So what did you find?" Curious, Jodie followed Sam into the musty foyer, her mind racing with possibilities. Ransom note. Clothing. Forensic evidence. Any of those could help bring the case to a successful end."We found two bodies.""Twobodies?" She glanced around the dust-covered foyer, half expecting to see the remains lying nearby."Skeletons, to be more accurate. They're in a hidden room down in the basement. They've been there for a while. Decades probably.""Did they have identification?""Not that we could see, but the sheriff agreed not to let anyone touch the remains yet. I've got a man coming in from New Orleans to do that. A forensic anthropologist.""When will he get here?""Shouldn't be long. I called him an hour ago.""Do you mind if I take a look at the scene while we wait?" Now that she was in Loomis, Jodie wanted out of it. Waiting for someone to come along and help make that happen didn't work for her."Sure. It's this way."Half-rotted boards creaked beneath her feet as Jodie followed Sam into the basement. The sound shivered along her spine, reminding her of all the stories she'd heard about the house when she was a kid, stories about spooks and haunts and things that went bump in the night. Jodie had always known them for what they were--a perfect way to keep kids from exploring a house that might not be structurally sound.