Lola Starke is a PI with a trust find. Not that she gets everything she wants—or doesn’t want. Like being rid of her Ghost, Aubrey O’Connell, for instance. But in Crescent City, Ghosts are commonplace and Hosts are supposed to be happy about it. So Lola’s learned to bide her time. It’s served her well as a gwai girl raised in a Chinese city.
When two disparate clients won’t take no for an answer, Lola reluctantly agrees to both. She and Aubrey are quickly entangled in a murky puzzle of government officials, drug addicts, angry cops, and the gossamer threads of a dangerous plot. Soon enough, the past comes calling with bad news and worse enemies.
This is the ’30s and this is Crescent City, where mah-jongg parlours and film studios hold sway. Where the City’s highest official is a Ghost with unimpeachable power and a history with Lola’s mother. Where secrets last only as long as it takes for money to change hands—or a gun to pry them loose.
Blanca De La Rosa was born in the Dominican Republic. She grew up in the Projects of the upper west side of Manhattan in New York, during the time before the Hispanic population developed the supportive Latino community which exists today. Although she struggled without support in her cultural and linguistic transition, De La Rosa was able to graduate from Pace University with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Business Management and to establish a successful 34-year career rising through the ranks of Mobil/ExxonMobil Oil Corporation.
When I approach the entrance, a man with a tablet computer approaches my car. “Your name, please? And why are you visiting the FBI today?”
They’re holding Pinkie at FBI headquarters? He doesn’t belong at a place like this. “Yes, hello. I’m Gillian Davis, here to visit with Pinkie—I mean Patrick Cunningham.”
He fingers through pages on his screen. “Your purpose for seeing Mr. Cunningham?”
I shift in the driver’s seat. “I manage a business he owns. I need to talk to him about work—I mean what to do while he’s away.”
“You’re not listed.” The arm holding the computer relaxes to his side.
“Officer Jeff Reeves called ahead. He’s with Dallas police.”
“I’ll make a quick call.” He walks away with a phone to his ear. In a few seconds, the gate opens, and he waves me through.
I let out the lungful of air I’ve been holding and drive. Hurdle one crossed. Three flags line the entrance like they’re waving me away, or maybe they’re inviting me in. Either way, I march through the heavy glass doors, step through the metal detector, follow the signs through the cold marble and stainless steel lobby to the visitor area, and wait.
A lawyer-like young woman in a gray suit taps on her laptop across the otherwise empty room. I feel underdressed. Footsteps echo toward us, and my heart beats as fast as her fingers type. It’s a man in a dark blue suit, his eyes on me.
“Ms. Davis? I’m Agent Redman.” His voice is gentler than I expected. “Come with me.”
While we walk, the million questions I have for Pinkie parade through my head.
What happened? Who would do this to you? When will they let you out? What do I do at work tomorrow? Is your lawyer one of those hotshots who only represent innocent people? Do you have a lawyer?
He opens the door, revealing Pinkie sitting on the edge of a chair in a small room. Dark circles have bloomed like he didn’t sleep last night.
“Gillian, you’re a sight for sore eyes.” He motions to the chair on the other side of the table. “Make yourself comfortable. Can I get you a glass of wine?”
A laugh overpowers my questions. “You can still keep your sense of humor. How are you?”
There’s a hex on Charley Howard’s Hot Links Emporium, and Charley, a.k.a. the Hot Sauce King, is furious. He suspects that the Jamaican psychic who’s been “advising” his gullible wife Mabel is a phony, and he asks choir director Bertie Bigelow to do a little amateur sleuthing to help him prove it.
But Bertie’s already got all the drama she can handle.
The high-profile concert she’s doing with The Ace Of Spades, an ageing (but still sexy) rap star, has Metro College in an uproar. Her on-again, off-again flirtation with attorney David Mackenzie has hit a dead end, and her best friend Ellen Simpson has been seduced and abandoned for the third time this year.
When a Chicago Zoning Commissioner is rushed to the emergency room after filling up on the Soul Food Special at Charley’s restaurant, Bertie is forced to take action. She doesn’t need a crystal ball to know that there’s trouble on the horizon.
On the South Side of Chicago, a murderer lies in wait for Bertie Bigelow. To solve this case, she’s going to need all the mojo she can get.
Will Bertie get her mojo working?