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Justice Delayed

Justice Delayed, February 2017
Memphis Cold Case
by Patricia Bradley

Revell
352 pages
ISBN: 0800727088
EAN: 9780800727086
Kindle: B01M07AN3K
Paperback / e-Book
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"It all started 18 years ago..."

Fresh Fiction Review

Justice Delayed
Patricia Bradley

Reviewed by Sharon Salituro
Posted March 1, 2017

Suspense | Inspirational Mystery

Stephanie was an airline stewardess who got involved in a smuggling ring and now wants nothing more than to get out of it. She plans to go to the police and report everything, but she is murdered before this could happen. Jimmy, who has always been in love with Stephanie, is convicted of her murder, but he recalls nothing of that night.

Eighteen years later, Andi is still haunted by her sister death. She gets a phone call from Lacey, one of her sister's old roommates. Lacey tells Andi that she has some information on her sister's death. Lacey can prove that Jimmy didn't kill her sister. Andi never meets up with Lacey, and now Lacey is found dead.

Will is assigned to the case. He has never been convinced that his cousin Jimmy killed Stephanie. Now, new evidence has come to light. This has always been a sore subject between him and Brad, the brother of Andi and Stephanie. While Will wants to check everything out, Brad is really upset that Will would want to open this up again after eighteen years. Andi on the other hand is ready to check everything out.

Can justice be had for Jimmy?

Patricia Bradley writes a great mystery novel. I did get a little confused by some of the characters in this book. There are several side stories that all fall together at the end of the book. I also liked that Bradley did add a little romance in this book, not a lot, she just touched on the heat between Andi and Will.

Bradley also shows how sometimes people jump to untrue conclusions. I loved the way that the characters all fall into place in JUSTICE DELAYED. What really was between all of them? I would love to see another book that shows what happens to Andi and Will. Did they get together and stay together?

Learn more about Justice Delayed

SUMMARY

It's been eighteen years since TV crime reporter Andi Hollister's sister was murdered. The confessed killer is behind bars, and the execution date is looming. But when a letter surfaces stating that the condemned killer didn't actually do it, Detective Will Kincaide of the Memphis Cold Case Unit will stop at nothing to help Andi get to the bottom of it. After all, this case is personal: the person who confessed to the crime is Will's cousin. They have less than a week to find the real killer before the wrong person is executed. But much can be accomplished in that week--including uncovering police corruption, running for your life, and falling in love.

With the perfect mixture of intrigue and nail-biting suspense, award-winning author Patricia Bradley invites her readers to crack the case--if they can--alongside the best Memphis has to offer.

Excerpt

NEW YEAR’S EVE

Paris, France. She should be ecstatic to be here on the cusp of a new year. Stephanie Hollister pushed aside the hotel’s heavy brocade curtains and looked out over the city. The setting sun provided a beautiful backdrop for the Eiffel Tower. She didn’t have to ask how her ex- boyfriend afforded such a room.

Stephanie turned from the window, and her mouth dried as she stared at the diamonds on the crimson duvet. Briefly, she closed her eyes, but the image of the stones remained, and she opened her eyes again.

“Beautiful, aren’t they? Not a one under three carats.” JD’s voice was as slick as snake oil.

Stephanie clenched her jaw. She had promised herself after the last shipment that there wouldn’t be another. She drew her gaze away from the bed.

“I told you last time was it.” She hated the fluttering in her voice. She hated, too, the way her heart pounded just from being this close to him. Get a grip. He used you.

“It’ll be ten thousand cash, like before.”

Ten thousand dollars could not buy peace of mind or wash away the shame of breaking the law. “I only came here to tell you to leave me alone. If you don’t, I’ll . . . turn you in to the authorities.”

“That would not be a wise thing to do.” He ran his thumb down her cheek.

The suggestion in his eyes sent shivers through her body. He only wants what you’ll do for him. She scooped the diamonds into the velvet pouch beside them and slapped the bag into his hands. “Get Jillian to do it—what’s a few more diamonds for her to smuggle? And don’t ever ask me to smuggle diamonds for you again. I’m not doing it.”

He grabbed her wrist. “Don’t get any bright ideas about going to the authorities. I’d hate for anything to happen to that pretty little sister of yours.”

“You touch my sister and I’ll kill you.”

He laughed softly, the menace in his face vanishing as he released her arm. “You know I wouldn’t hurt her. So, when’s your flight leave?”

His personality changed like a chameleon. She wanted to step away and escape the seductive scent of his aftershave, but his gaze kept her feet from moving. “Two hours. You’re not on it?”

“No. I’m not going back until the weekend. So I have a couple of days to see the sights of Gay Paree.” He fingered the top button of her blouse, sliding it open. “Too bad you can’t hang around.”

“Yeah, too bad.” Stephanie jerked away from him and turned again toward the view of the Eiffel Tower. Not in a million years. She fastened her button, then gathered her purse and jacket. She would not come under his spell again.

“See you in the States.” His voice held a promise.

Not if she saw him first. She shut the door firmly behind her.

On board the 747, Stephanie’s fingers shook as she adjusted a passenger’s carry-on and closed the overhead bin. As hard as saying no had been, she’d done it. Then why didn’t she feel . . . free?

Because he’d crooked his little finger, and she’d gone running to him. Had she really believed JD wanted to see her? It was never about her, always about him. He didn’t take the risk. No, he had his network of flight attendants to do the dirty work for him.

Stephanie shivered. That first, and only, time she’d been standing in line to go through customs, she realized if they caught her smuggling the diamonds into the States, she would face jail time. The thought scared her so much that she almost fainted. She’d seen JD for who he really was that day, and she didn’t like what she’d become because of him.

But that hadn’t been the only reason she refused to smuggle again. She hadn’t known a lot about conflict diamonds because she chose not to, but one day while she was flipping through the TV channels, she stopped on a story about the diamond mines in Sierra Leone.

When she saw the emaciated children mining for the rough stones, the horror of what she’d done hit her. It was because of people like her who looked the other way that children were forced into slave labor, working twelve hours a day or more to pan for the stones. And it didn’t end there. The documentary went on to show thirteen-year- old boys bent over a table for hours, squinting through an eyeglass as they cut and polished the gems. She couldn’t be a part of that again.

“You want to give me a hand here?” Her co-attendant stood on tiptoes, pushing against a bulging duffel bag.

“Sure, Lacey.” She frowned at the weight of the bag, wondering how the passenger got the bag up there in the first place.

“Thanks.” Lacey Wilson dusted her hands. “Did you see JD?”

Stephanie jerked her head around. She’d told no one she was meeting him and shot her friend a warning frown, then ignored Lacey until they’d secured the cabin.

Once they were in the air and in the relative privacy of the galley, Lacey asked the question again.

“What are you talking about?” Stephanie said.

Lacey shrugged. “I saw the note with the Hôtel Plaza Athénée on it. I figured you were meeting him, since we don’t know anyone else who could afford to stay there. You’re smuggling again, aren’t you? Does Jillian know you went to see JD?”

“No.” The disapproval in Lacey’s voice about her seeing JD again sent a dart straight to Stephanie’s heart. How had she let herself get taken in by JD’s charm, knowing that her best friend Jillian was in love with him? Shame filled her again.

A call light flashed, and Stephanie said, “I’ll take care of that.”

“I don’t believe you.” Lacey grabbed her arm. “He’s not worth it, Steph. Don’t do it. He’ll discard you like yesterday’s news when he gets tired of you. Look how he treated Jillian.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Stephanie shook her hand off.

She turned, and several passengers in first class averted their gaze. Heat crawled up her neck. Hopefully, they’d only heard the tail end of the conversation. She lifted her chin and flipped a switch in her brain. Everything except her duties faded for the next ten hours as they winged toward Memphis International Airport.

Once they were off the plane, Stephanie hurried to the parking garage.

“Can I catch a ride?” Lacey asked.

She was tempted to say no, but that was silly. If Lacey wanted to get on her case, she could do it at her parents’ old house they shared with three other women. A house her parents would be returning to as soon as they found a buyer for her mom’s dream home. “Sure.”

Lacey got in the car, and Stephanie drove her small Miata toward I-240. In the passenger seat, Lacey sighed. “When do we have to be out of the house?” she asked. “I know Jillian has found an apartment near Memphis State so she can finish her degree in her off hours, but I just wondered how much time we had.”

“By the end of the month.” Maybe she should have taken the diamonds. Ten thousand dollars would go a long way to help her parents until her dad could get another job, and then maybe they wouldn’t have to move.

No. It was wrong, and besides, her dad wouldn’t take money from her without knowing where it came from. To escape her thoughts, Stephanie turned on the radio and cranked up the volume. Strains of “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?” filled the car.

Lacey switched the music off and faced her. “When do you deliver the diamonds?”

Stephanie had hoped that Lacey would decide to drop that subject. “It’s not really any of your business, but I’m not.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“Well, I can’t help that.” Stephanie was too tired to argue with her.

“Look, I know you want to help your parents, but you were out of this business. God knows I wish I were. JD would give you money if he cared about you.”

“I don’t want anything from him.” It would do no good to argue with Lacey about whether she was smuggling diamonds or not. When her friend got something into her head, there was no changing it. “And please, never mention anything about JD and me around Jillian. It would crush her to know what happened.”

“Don’t worry. I don’t want her hurt, either,” Lacey said. “But you should have thought about that before you got involved with him.”

“They weren’t seeing each other when I dated him, and I thought their relationship was over.” It had almost killed her when JD and Jillian got back together, but her pain wasn’t Jillian’s fault. Stephanie slowed to exit the interstate. No, she owned that mistake. And Lacey was right. She and Jillian not only worked together but also lived in the same house. Stephanie should have known it would get sticky.

Her friend shook her head. “I’ve never seen what you two see in him. Jillian says it’s because he’s exciting and she’s never bored, but how about you?”

“No one else ever made me feel the way he did,” she said. That was hardly an explanation, but she didn’t know how else to explain her attraction to JD. It wasn’t so much his good looks, which he had plenty of, but the way he carried himself, the confidence he exuded. He was the kind of man mothers warned their daughters to stay clear of. Her friends didn’t understand why she seemed to be drawn to men with bad-boy attitudes.

She understood. These men, who could have anyone they wanted, chose her. And she believed she would be the one who would reform them.

Except it hadn’t worked. Especially not with JD. Stephanie doubted anyone could tame him. He’d caught her in a vulnerable moment and then used that mistake to continue a relationship in secret once he and Jillian reconnected.

She turned into the drive and pulled to the back of the house to her pottery studio. “Be careful you don’t make the same mistake with Adam Matthews.”

“Adam is not like JD.”

Stephanie snorted. “He’s a man, isn’t he?” She opened her car door.

Lacey put her hand on Stephanie’s arm. “Wait. I’m your friend, and I hate to see you get back in this mess. You stopped once, don’t get involved again. If I had your courage, I would stop too. So would Jillian.” She sighed. “I don’t know how to be any clearer. I. Am. Not. Smuggling. Diamonds.”

Lacey’s eyes narrowed. “If that’s true, then you better watch your back. JD can be very vindictive.” She bit her bottom lip. “And I don’t think you should talk to the cops. They might not believe you once they know you smuggled a package of diamonds through customs.”

“It’s the only reason I’ve kept quiet. My dad would be so disappointed in me if he ever found out. But I’m not doing it again.”

“Good.” Lacey opened the passenger door. “I’m going upstairs to take a nap.”

“And I have work to do in the pottery shop,” Stephanie said as she climbed out of the small car. Although as tired as she was, resting a bit tempted her, but she’d been commissioned to make a horse sculpture, and it waited.

At the shop door, Stephanie rummaged for the brass skeleton key in her purse, and it slipped from her hands. She tried to catch it but only succeeded in turning the purse upside down. With a huff, she knelt to gather the scattered items. Her fingers hovered over a soft velvet pouch.

Where had that come from? It wasn’t hers. Gingerly, she picked it up and peered inside at three dirty-looking pieces of glass. Stephanie closed her eyes and tamped down the nausea that rolled up from her stomach.

How had JD gotten the uncut diamonds in her purse? The window. When she’d gazed out the window at the Eiffel Tower. She ground her molars until pain shot to her ears. What if customs had gone through her purse?

She once more bent down and retrieved the key to the studio. Inside the darkened room, she sat at her worktable.

The police. Yes. That’s what she’d do. She’d go to them and explain everything, and she would take the journal where she’d documented every step of the smuggling process. But first she’d have to get it from her bedroom. She glanced toward the fireplace, where she’d hidden sheets torn from the middle of the journal. No, that was her ace in the hole. She rose to go get the journal, then sat back down.

JD had said he had friends in high places. He would deny everything and point out she was the one with the diamonds. What if they didn’t believe her?

She buried her face in her hands. She needed time to think. Wait. JD wouldn’t be home for a day or two. If she could just get some sleep, she could think more clearly. But she needed to hide the diamonds. She lifted her head, and the first thing she saw was the wrapped sculpture.

Stephanie dumped the three diamonds on her worktable and then unwrapped the half-finished horse sculpture. With deft hands, she pressed two of the diamonds between the wires supporting the belly and slid the third one between the withers, then smoothed clay over them. When she finished, she examined her work.

Perfect.


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