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RSmart, sexy, tough but tenderS (''Houston Chronicle''), P.I. Tamara Hayle tackles her toughest case: finding the killer of a close friend and her son. By a #1 ''Blackboard'' bestselling author.Edition/Copyright: 05
Valerie Wilson Wesley is the Blackboard bestselling author of six Tamara Hayle mysteries. Her recent novels include Always True to You in My Fashion and the novel Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do, for which she received the 2000 award for excellence in adult fiction from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. A former executive editor at Essence magazine, she lives in New Jersey. Visit the author's Web site at www.tamarahayle.com From the Hardcover edition.
CHAPTER ONE ''Don't never talk to haints,'' my grandma used to tell me. ''Haints'' are what the old folks call ghosts, and when she'd say it, my daddy would roll his eyes and shake his head. But I knew what she was talking about. ''If one comes knocking at your door, you just turn your head, look in the other direction, and never listen to what it has to say.'' My grandmother has been dead since I was a kid, but her words still rang true even though Celia Jones wasn't an ordinary ''haint.'' She wore green eye shadow, too much rouge, and enough Tabu cologne to make a preacher forget his calling, and the door she knocked on wasn't the kind you walked through. She started showing up in my dreams about a month after she'd been murdered. For three nights straight. Celia was the closest thing I had to a sister after Pet, my real one, pulled up stakes and split. The two of us would run the streets like wild things: sneaking out, bumming cigarettes and joints, sharing everything from drawers to dudes. We talked smart to men we had no business knowing and hung out places we had no business going. But I had my brother Johnny, may his soul rest in peace, to cool my heels and keep me out of trouble. He was always there when I needed him, even before he became a cop. After that, he'd warn any hardheaded Negro who looked my way to keep his eyesand handsoff his baby sister. Celia wasn't so lucky. Her mama was dead, her papa didn't give a damn, and her brothers and sisters were so glad to get out their daddy's house, they steered clear of anything or anybody who reminded them where they came from. Celia was on her own, kicking ass and taking names all by herself. I loved her like she was kin because she was strong, smart, and knew her way around. Over the years, I hadn't thought too much about her until I saw the headline in the Star-Ledger: ''Woman Shot, Killer Unknown.'' It was the kind of story that caught my attention, since I make my living finding out who has done what to whom, and when I saw her name, I lost my breath. Celia had been shot full of holes on New Year's Day in her ground-floor apartment in a dilapidated building off South Orange Avenue. I knew the place, and it made me sad to know she'd ended up there. She was identified as a waitress in a bar on Bergen, the kind of low-life dive you think twice about walking past in broad daylight. There were no suspects, the newspaper said, and no leads. And there were no follow-up stories. I looked every day. I can't say I shed any tears when I read it. We had known each other a long time ago and not parted as friends. We fought over a man, the dumbest thing in the world two women can fight over, so she'd gone her way and I'd gone mine. The last time I saw her, she was climbing into the driver's seat of a midnight blue Lincoln. She had a Virginia Slims cigarette dangling out her mouth and a men's T-shirt covering her high pregnant belly. I called her name, and when she turned in my direction, I saw a bruise the size of a silver dollar on the left side of her mouth. She looked straight through me. When we were kids, she used to say she'd kill any man who laid a hand on her, so I couldn't believe what was on her face. I called her again and ran toward the car, and she pulled away from the curb so fast I had to jump out the way to keep from being hit. ''The hell with you, too, Celia Jones!'' I screamed into the dust she left and that was that. In that instant I decided I didn't want any part of any trouble she'd gotten herself into. My brother was dead, and I'd just married DeWayne Curtis, my son&
Valerie Wilson Wesley's Tamara Hayle mystery series featuring Newark, New Jersey's number one private investigator are loved for their smart, sexy protagonist who ''has a way with a wisecrack that is positively lethal'' (''Washington Post). Now in ''Dying in the Dark, Hayle is entrenched in a sinister investigation that will demand her best detective work yet. Tamara Hayle's past has come back to haunt her-literally. She's been plagued by terrifying dreams about Celia Jones, an old friend whose walk on the wild side led her to a horrible death. Celia's teenage son, Cecil, begs Tamara to find his mother's killer . . . only to end up dead himself, stabbed through the heart. The search for Celia and her son's killer pulls Tamara deep into her friend's troubled love life, where everyone adored her but somebody held a murderous grudge. There's her bullying thug of an ex-husband; a handsome ex-lover who woos Tamara with charm and lies; and an angry, jealous woman who claims that Celia broke her heart. And those were just the obvious people with axes to grind. Despite her better judgment and the admonitions of the police department, Tamara refuses to back away from the mystery surrounding her old friend's death and the tragedy that met her son. All clues lead to the past Tamara shared with Celia Jones, and Tamara fears that that past will threaten her own son. But she uncovers more than she bargained for-and unearths secrets someone would kill to keep in the shadows. ''From the Hardcover edition.
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