This is an exclusive excerpt from The Girl Whose Luck Ran Out by Gayleen Froese, coming out June 14, 2022 from DSP Publications. Find out more or place an order here.
The story so far: It’s been a busy few days for private detective Ben Ames, who has taken on the case of a missing university student, and found himself looking after his ex-boyfriend Jesse. Jess is a musician who goes by the stage name Jack Lowe, and a case of pneumonia caused him to cancel the rest of his tour on the night he came through Ben’s town. Now Ben is trying to solve his case, keep an eye on Jess and deal with his resentment about their break-up seven years ago. We join them in Ben’s car, chasing down a lead in a mountain town.
I left the radio on. It was one of those “hits of the past five decades” stations, the furthest possible thing from cool, but I didn’t think Jess would mind. However he might have acted in public, the truth was, he approached most music with the uncritical joy of a Labrador throwing itself in a lake.
“Did I do an interview with this station?” he said, more to himself than to me. “I’m not trying to sound like an asshole, but it seriously gets to be a blur.”
“The living nightmare of wealth and fame,” I sighed, and he swatted my arm.
“You would hate it,” he said. “I promise. You in particular. You’d be having a meltdown on YouTube inside of a year.”
“I’d be Harrison Ford cool,” I told him. “Off on a ranch somewhere building artisanal chicken coops.”
“And kidding yourself that people wanted them because they were so well built.”
I smiled, but it was probably only half a joke. To get the attention of a label, Jess had needed to gin up a following.
He’d done whatever it took to get those fans, and as that snowball grew, he’d started to wonder about people. Why were they being nice to him? What did they want? He’d had a paranoid fit about it in our apartment one night, telling me he couldn’t trust anyone. Always the sensitive guy, I’d thrown a Mars bar at him and told him to lay off the pot. What I hadn’t said was that he was disappearing from my life into the arms of thousands of worshippers, and he had a hell of a nerve bitching to me about it.
I’d told him, “You’ll always be nobody to me.”
Jess went back to drumming on the dashboard, a habit he’d always had. Not that either of us had driven in Torontoâ€”I was pretty sure he’d taken on his bass player because the guy had owned a vanâ€”but he’d drummed on tables and desks and his own legs and sometimes mine.
“Where are we going first?” he asked after a mile or two.
“The Mounties,” I said. “As a courtesy. I’m not sure they’ll tell me anything. Technically, I’m a private citizen and not the next of kin, so they don’t owe me anything. But we’ll see.”
“You need the one cop who goes against the grain,” Jesse said. “The rebel who thinks a little more and a little differently. He’s too much justice for the law.”
“I will drop you by the side of the road,” I said. “You’re not too sick to hitchhike.”
“Is it weird not being a cop anymore?” he asked. “You used to be on the inside.”
“I was too much justice for the law,” I told him. He snorted. We drove in silence for a bit. A white-tailed deer watched from a roadside ditch, unconcerned, as we flew past at twice her top speed. Did they understand what cars were at all? Or did they think we were strange giant deer?
“I don’t know,” I said. “It was easier to have… a mandate, if that’s the word. You’re tax funded. There’s this general idea that you have a job to do. As a PI, you have to work with people’s curiosity or goodwill or personal interest, which the cops do too. But when you’re a PI, it’s all you have.”
“So, as a PI you’re just some guy? Can you arrest people?”
“I can,” I said. “So can you. Make a citizen’s arrest.”
“I thought that was like some Wild West shit we couldn’t do anymore.” He blew a piece of hair from his face. “Now I’m sad. I could have been arresting people all these years.”
“You have to catch them doing something unquestionably illegal,” I told him. “It’s not enough to think someone’s been watering down your drinks.”
“Exactly. And it’s worse for me because, unlike the average citizen, I’m not allowed to call someone a greasy prick while I’m doing it.”
“I think society says you shouldn’t be doing that anyway,” he said. “Seriously, though, why bother having a licence?”
“Because people shouldn’t hire an investigator who doesn’t have a licence,” I said. “That’s just hiring a goon.”
He smiled at me like the past seven years had never happened. “Nah, you’re not a goon.”
The mountains appeared around us the way they always did on clear days, like they were an animation instead of reality. First the white-chalk outlines against the blue sky, then a hazy brown fill, and finally the definition of trees and patches of snow. The tallest mountains were still sketches, down the road inside the national park. There were some decent peaks to the south, though, and those were nearly upon us. The turnoff for the Kananaskis Trail was a few miles out, and I could see it if I squinted.
“The detachment is down that road,” I said, pointing. “You can look around the parking lot while I’m in with the Mounties.”
He nodded. “Yeah, okay. I brought masks.”
I raised my brows at him. He shrugged.
“If I don’t want people to recognize me, I put on a mask and a ball cap and pretend I’m sick.”
“Okay, two things. First, you are sick.”
“Yeah, but I’m not mask-level contagious. You’d have to tongue swab me like you were testing for COVID, and even then you might not catch anything.”
“Every now and then,” I said, “I wonder why you’ve never been asked to host the JUNOs. And then you speak.”
“Me and Anne Murray. She swears like a trucker.”
“Second thing. Not a lot of people around here mask up over a cold. This isn’t Van or Toronto.”
“So I’ll look like I’m from out of town. As long I don’t look like Jack Lowe, we’re golden.”
It was strange hearing him talk about Jack Lowe like he was some other person. I’d always thought of Jess and Jack that way, a little, but I wasn’t the guy who put on the Jack Lowe persona every night.
“I really don’t know, Jess. You were on the cover of sCene last week.”
“Was it that shot with the insane smokey eye? I looked like I went ten rounds with Mike Tyson. Notice I’m not wearing liner today?”
“Okay, maybe most people don’t see past the make-up, but some people are going to make you for Jack Lowe.”
“It’s not just ditching the eyeliner and the nail polish. Jack is a performance. You’ll see.”
© 2022 Gayleen Froese
Can a disillusioned former cop track down a missing girl before it’s too late?
Seven years ago, criminologist Ben Ames thought he’d change a big city police force from the inside. He failed. Now he’s a private detective trailing insurance frauds and cheating spouses through the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Like police work, the job would be easier if he didn’t have a conscience.
When university student Kimberly Moy goes missing, her sister begs Ben to take the case. But before Ben can follow up on any leads—What does the Fibonacci series have to do with Kim’s disappearance? What do her disaffected friends know? And where is her car?—chance and bad timing drop his unexpected ex, Jesse, into the mix.
Ben doesn’t have time to train Jesse into the junior PI he seems determined to become. Amateur sleuths are always trouble. Unfortunately, this is turning out to be the kind of case that requires backup, and his intuition is telling him Kim’s story may not have a happy ending....
The Girl Whose Luck Ran Out is the enthralling first book in the Ben Ames Case Files, a mystery series with a distinctly Canadian flavour. Author Gayleen Froese, winner of BookTelevision’s Three Day Novel Contest, delves deep into the flaws of humanity and delivers an immersive story fraught with twists and danger. If you like private detectives, bickering partners, and vividly drawn settings, you’ll love The Girl Whose Luck Ran Out.
Mystery [DSP Publications, On Sale: June 14, 2022, e-Book, / ]
Gayleen Froese is a Canadian mystery novelist, writer, and singer-songwriter. Her first novel, Touch, was published by Edmonton's NeWest Press in 2005. The sequel, Grayling Cross was published by NeWest Press in 2011. Her upcoming detective novel, The Girl Whose Luck Ran Out, will be published in June 2022 by DSP Publications. Froese was educated at Ryerson University in Toronto. Her first album, Obituary, won an Undiscovered Artist Award from CBC Radio. Froese appeared on Canadian Learning Television's A Total Write Off in 2006, and was one of twelve writers selected as a finalist for BookTelevision's 3 Day Novel Contest in 2007. (Filmed in 2007, the show did not air until late 2009; Froese ended up as the winning contestant.) She was also shortlisted in the overall 2007 International Three-Day Novel Contest.
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