Atlanta Tribune columnist, Frank Sullivan, is having drinks at the hotel when a woman who looks remarkably like Nina Selden walks in. Her resemblance to the artist he had interviewed many years ago is so uncanny that he could almost believe she is sitting there beside him were it not for the fact that Nina Selden has been dead for fourteen years. So imagine his surprise when the woman greets him by name and recalls specifics of that interview, things only Nina could know. She tells him she would love to stay and reminisce but is already late for another function at the hotel. She signs for her bill with the name Lauren Talley and leaves.
Not long afterwards, participants of the seminar she is attending stream from the hall in a panic. The police arrive and take charge of the room, under the command of Frank's old friend, Lt. Dupree of Atlanta homicide. Frank learns that during the course of the seminar, Lauren Talley became hysterical and nearly destroyed the room. When Frank asks why homicide is involved, Dupree whisks Frank across town to a recent crime scene, where a young mother of two has been murdered. The walls of her bedroom are covered with graffiti, spelling out a single phrase, "PR 3:33." Dupree explains that this graffiti, which the police have kept a tight lid on, is the calling card of Atlanta's most recent serial killer. He then hands Frank photos from inside the seminar room at the hotel showing Lauren Talley scrawling this same phrase, "PR 3:33," all over the walls.
Not surprisingly, Dupree asks for Frank's assistance with the investigation. Six years earlier, Frank had helped the police solve the case of the Riverside Strangler, Atlanta's most notorious serial killer. The case put Frank on the map, but the experience changed him, forced him to see himself in ways he never imagined. The last thing he wants, or can afford, is to become involved in another murder investigation.
But Frank's curiosity gets the better of him. Who is this Lauren Talley? How could she know intimate details of that fourteen-year-old interview? If no one outside the investigation knows anything about the graffiti, how could Lauren have written it all over the walls of that ballroom? Unless....
As Lauren leads him through a labyrinth of lies and deceptions, Frank discovers that things are rarely what they appear and the line between past and present is often blurred. Dreams fade, loved ones die, but something lives on, something that cannot and will not be ignored.
And coming soon the next in the Gilbert & Sullivan series:
When the bomb goes off at presidential front-runner Andrew McKenna's campaign headquarters, FBI Special Agents Kate Reardon and Dennis Quimby are the first federal officers on the scene. The bombing, which claims the life of one of McKenna's campaign staff, bears striking similarities to a string of abortion clinic bombings that Reardon and Quimby have been investigating for over a year. But Kate has more than just a professional interest in heading up the investigation into the McKenna case.
Six months earlier, Kate had taken a leave of absence when her mother, Naomi, suffered a stroke in Seattle. At the time, Kate could not know that her mother would require months in a convalescent center. The stroke and the medications affected Naomi's memory, and there were days, even weeks, when she did not even recognize Kate. As a result, Kate found herself with time on her hands and so jumped at the opportunity presented by the Seattle Bureau Chief to look into a cold case of serial killings known as the Aurora North murders. She uncovers a clue that local authorities overlooked and is on her way to the convalescent center to tell her mother, when she is nearly run off the road by a dark limousine. The chauffeur stops to make sure she is all right, but it is not until she enters the convalescent center, that she learns that the passenger of the limo was none other than Senator McKenna himself, and that he had come expressly to visit Kate's mother. Naomi not only recognizes Kate but cannot wait to tell her about her visitor. She even shows Kate the box of chocolates he brought her. Kate's own excitement that her mother's memory has returned is dashed when Naomi announces that it is just a shame that Kate arrived just five minutes after her father had left. In reality, Kate's father had died when she was just eight years old, gunned down outside his Seattle law office.
To make matters worse, Quimby calls to tell Kate that a prisoner at the Oregon State Penitentiary wants to confess to the Aurora North murders, but will only give his confession to Kate. She tells Quimby she is too tired to drive down to Salem that evening, but will do so in the morning, to which Quimby replies that the good people of Oregon have other ideas. They plan to execute this prisoner at one minute after midnight. Kate realizes that the prisoner in question is Oregon's most notorious serial killer, known as the Sandman, convicted of the deaths of several young girls. She goes to Salem to determine if the Sandman's last minute confession holds up. If so, there would be a stay of execution, while the State of Washington tried him for those murders. But the Sandman cannot confirm certain facts that the true killer would have known, and Kate tells the warden that this last minute confession was just a ruse to delay the inevitible. The warden orders the execution to proceed, but immediately following, Kate is handed evidence by the killer's own sister that proves his guilt in the Aurora North murders. But Kate has no time for recriminations, for she learns that her mother has suffered another stroke and has died.While cleaning out her mother's house, she comes across letters From McKenna, which imply that he might, indeed, be her father, so her involvement in the case is not only to find out who is behind these bombings, but to learn the truth about her parentage. But what she learns is more shocking than anything she could have imagined.
They were known as the Terrible Trio--Hedda Hopper, Louella Parsons, and Beryl Cross--the most influential gossip columnists of Hollywood's Golden Age. Initially sent to cover both the Hollywood and Broadway scenes for the London Times, Beryl soon found an American audience, and the sketch above graced her syndicated column all across America. She even had her own weekly radio broadcast. But that was nearly half a century ago, and upon her retirement she returned to London, where she now shares her London flat with her recently divorced and often overbearing great-niece Lucy.
It is Lucy who discovers that Beryl has been hounded for years to write her memoirs and finally persuades her to do so. But while Beryl may have hobnobbed with the greatest stars of both stage and screen, she soon comes to the sobering conclusion that she never really had a life of her own, and the notion so depresses her that she finds herself unable to write. What she needs is a diversion.
It comes in the form of an invitation for a weekend at the country estate of Cyril Montrose, the famous West End producer, who is putting the finishing touches on his newest musical, Rhythm & Blues. It is just what the doctor ordered, that is until one of the weekend guests is murdered. When Inspector Danby of Scotland Yard seems unable to solve the crime, Beryl takes it upon herself to piece together the puzzle, using the skills she picked up in her former trade. Inspector Danby may have forensic science on his side, but Beryl has a few tricks of her own up her sleeve.
Danby cannot believe it when Beryl insists on assembling all of the suspects in the drawing room to unmask the murderer. "Well, isn't that how it's done?" she insists, having no other reference than the Agatha Christie movies she covered during her career. Even more shocking is that she solves the case with the most bizarre set of clues she produces from her purse: a tattered road map, a prescription bottle, a half-spent candle, a bundled lace handkerchief, a wad of chewing gum, an emery board, and a brightly colored picture of a fish.
Bound to keep you in stitches and written as a series of letters to one of Ms. Cross's most famous Hollywood friends, Fire & Ice is but the first installment of the Memoirs of Beryl Cross.