A sweet, elderly lady is killed on Christmas Day, and nothing else--not a single wrapped gift around the tree--is disturbed. Detective Neil Alexander can't figure out the motive. Rookie reporter Kate Richards wants the story, but Neil has little to share. Until there's another murder. Same M.O. Same ballistics. There has to be a connection. And Kate is determined to find it. Neil is impressed with her dedication, but he worries about where it will lead. They're on a killer's trail. And keeping Kate safe means keeping his heart off-limits.
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February 09, 2009
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Excerpt from On A Killer's Trail by Susan Page Davis
On Christmas morning, reporter Kate Richards studied the old Federal-style brick house as she approached it, letting her compact car roll slowly down the street behind police captain Connor Larson's forest-green Explorer. This was going to be a huge story. She could feel it.Connor pulled into the sloping driveway and parked behind a black pickup truck and a marked squad car. A second police car was parked on the street, ahead of Kate. Connor, the head of a special detective unit for the Portland Police Department, got out of his SUV and walked back to where she'd pulled to the curb.Kate lowered her window. Connor leaned down to talk to her."That's Neil's truck.""Great." She bit her lip. Was she ready to meet Neil Alexander again?"You okay?"She pulled out a smile she didn't feel. "Sure."Connor inhaled slowly. "I shouldn't have brought you, Kate. You know that.""Oh, come on, Connor. I promise I'll do whatever you say.""Really?""Really.""Because I'm your brother-in-law?""No, because you're the officer in charge of this investigation. I told you I'd wait out here until you came and told me I could come closer. I brought my laptop, and I'll do some work while I wait." She was new on the job at the biggest newspaper in Maine, and this weekend she was on call for breaking stories, even though it was a holiday. She'd gone ahead with her Christmas plans to visit Connor and her sister, Adrienne, but she was never far from her cell phone and laptop, just in case. When the call came in telling of a possible homicide, she'd begged her brother-in-law to give her access to the scene.Now, Connor looked her in the eye for a long moment, nodded and walked up the driveway through the new snow. He made an impressive figure in his dark overcoat. Tall, broad-shouldered, with short, crisp hair and glasses. He looked the way a captain of police detectives should. One of these days, she would ask him if she could write a profile on him for the Sunday paper. He'd probably say no.Kate caught her breath as a tall, dark-haired young man came down the steps and met Connor in the yard. Neil. She recalled her impression when she first met him six months ago: he couldn't possibly be a detective. A man that handsome could never blend in with a crowd for undercover work.He never looked her way as he and Connor talked together in the driveway for a couple of minutes. Connor bent down and seemed to be looking hard at the steps. He straightened, and the two of them entered the house together.Kate exhaled, took out her phone and keyed in the newspaper's number. The copy editor stuck with holiday duty answered."Hey, Darrin. This is Kate Richards again. I'm at the scene of the crime. The officer in charge says that if I wait, I'll get my story, so I'm waiting.""I dunno, Kate." Darrin sounded sleepy or bored. "You're a rookie.""I can do this.""Maybe I should call John.""No, don't do that." Kate straightened her shoulders, her mind racing. "The city editor would really hate it if you called him on Christmas morning. You know that, right?""Well we don't usually put newbies on a major crime story, especially a murder.""Come on, Darrin. Nobody wants to come in to work today. I'm the reporter on call, and I got the tip. Don't pull this out from under me. Please.""What's it worth to you?"Kate gulped, cataloging her meager assets. A thought struck her that just might work. "Do you have New Year's Eve off?""I wish. You mean you'd take me to a party?""No. But I know something that might help you get the night off.""Tell me.""Promise you won't put another reporter on this?"After a short pause, he said, "Whatever.""Stephanie Leigh told me as she was going out the door yesterday that her husband can't get New Year's Eve off. She said, 'I might as well work, too.' If she hasn't traded with anyone else yet, you might be able to make a deal.""That's not much.""Call her and as