In Book #5, Swindle Town, Gen Delacourt is plunged deep into San Francisco’s exclusive, high-end bar scene when she’s hired to find a rash of missing wine bottles. As the mystery unfolds, her search leads away from the wayward empties and into the moneyed lair of a hidden extortionist. Everyone she encounters is wearing a mask, and the players’ deception spells danger for Gen, and, finally, pits her between two women who want the same man. Can she save Shiloh James, childhood friend of the man she loves?
Here’s an excerpt:
Joseph Petrovich owned a ritzy, glitzy – but slightly blue collar – business. He sold high end used cars. Loads of them, actually. In fact, Petrovich Motors sold more previously-owned vehicles than any other independent resale business in the entire Bay Area.
Joe was a very rich man.
As soon as Gen saw Petrovich’s ten-foot-tall full-body photo on the side of the building he owned, she recognized his face. He was one of those guys who appeared in all his own television spots, and she muted the ads the minute they blared from the TV.
She turned into the lot and cut the engine near the office door. The place was huge and stylish, very much modeled after a new car dealership. It seemed a clever marketing ploy to her, maybe to make the rubes feel like they could get that new-car smell in a second-hand package.
Beside her, a row of BMWs stretched away across the lot. Every color, every model, and every single one glazed with polish rubbed to such a high shine that she had to squint against the blinding glint off the metal. They looked good. So good, in fact, she was distracted by the allure of a semi-new 520i.
She walked over to check it out. Charcoal gray. Gunmetal leather interior. Pretty. Stella would look real nice in that, hanging out the passenger window, wearing a pair of shades. Gen was chuckling at a visual of the dog when a salesman approached and slid his hand across the hood.
“She’s a beauty. Not even two years old.”
Gen grinned. “That she is.”
“Ready to trade up?”
She looked at him then, realizing he thought she was a customer. Of course he would. Here she was, staring at a car that was for sale. She hadn’t made up a story for being there, so she went with it.
“I might be.”
A flash of something akin to the thrill of the hunt passed across the salesman’s face. He was young, under thirty, wearing a dark green suit and a thin black tie. The suit pants were tapered to the ankle, very in-crowd. His black shoes were pointy, the perfect reflection of his nose and chin, and his hair was slicked back into a little ducktail in the rear. He looked like a cross between an actor in Grease and a suave leprechaun.
She gave him her most innocent moue, trying to appear embarrassed, as if she didn’t have many brain cells that functioned correctly. “My dad’s always bought my cars,” she said. “But he’s on the opposite coast right now, so I’m on my own this time. I’ll have to depend on you to take good care of me.”
Ducktail’s face lit up for precisely one second before he replaced his devilish delight with an angelic smile. “Will you be trading yours in?” He hitched a thumb over his shoulder toward her ride.
She waffled a hand. “Maybe.”
He almost jumped in the air and clicked his heels together, he was so elated.
“I’d like to know how much you’ll give me for mine before I find another one.”
He frowned at that. “Don’t you think it’s better to shop first? It’d be a waste of time if you don’t see something you like.”
He probably wanted her to fall in love with another first, so she’d be willing to give hers away at a rock-bottom price in order to have it. Okay, she’d play. Gen caressed the 520i with a look that screamed of deep, deep longing.
“Maybe I already have.”
He tossed her a demented little grin and split for the office. “I’ll go get the keys and the paperwork.” He jogged away, not wanting to give her much time to think, and was back before you could say Saint Paddy’s Day.
She slid into the driver’s side and adjusted the leather seat and checked out all the digital displays. Her BMW was several years old, and this model was light years beyond it in terms of modern. For just a moment she wanted it.
That passed when she remembered her errand.
She swung the vehicle deftly out of the lot and onto the street. Ducktail was busy pointing out the features. The On-Star, the keyless entry, blah blah blah.
“So what’s Petrovich like?” she asked.
His face swiveled to her and his forehead wrinkled with confusion. She’d lost him.
“Petrovich,” she repeated. “Your boss. I see him on TV all the time. What’s he like?”
“He’s happy when we sell cars, and he’s unhappy when we don’t.”
The words came out with a rush of energy behind them, and the kid tried to gloss it over right away. “I mean, I’m his top salesman, so we’re tight.”
Gen almost laughed, but she didn’t want to diss him. She snapped a right at the next corner and the tires squealed just a hair. What a nice set of wheels. It would be a sharp car to drive around. She ditched that train of thought and got back on board with Petrovich.
“I’m almost convinced,” she said. “I think I’ll take it. I just want to tool around a little more, then we’ll head back and talk dollars.”
He wanted to give her a high five real bad, she could tell. She wondered how long he’d been working the lot, and how many sales he’d managed to make. Or lose.
For a moment she was sorry she’d have to let him down, but that was life. Disappoint was character building; Gen knew that for a fact. “I might have to talk to Petrovich himself, though. Daddy always said talk to the decision-maker.”
Ducktail grimaced, but he wasn’t too put out. “I can make that happen. He’s around.”
“Cool.” Gen flashed him a smile. “He work hard, your boss?”
“He puts in his time.”
“What does he do for kicks? I mean, he must have a lot of dough. Selling all those cars and all.”
“He’s got a lot of babes.” Ducktail relaxed into the seat. He must feel comfortable now, thinking the sale was a done deal. Gen hoped he wasn’t mentally spending his commission check.
“Oh yeah?” she said. “Anybody special?”
“He doesn’t bring them around here, if that’s what you’re asking. But I saw him out one night with a real nice redhead. They were on their way into a flashy place in the city. I can’t remember the name.”
“Yeah, that’s it.” He swung his eyes to her. “How’d you know?”
“Just a guess. I hear it’s quite the club. Members only. High-class wine.”
He leaned against the headrest, and Gen could almost see the wheels turn as he recalled his elaborate hair. He edged forward again.
Mustn’t flatten the do.
“She was a good-looking wench,” he continued, but then his brain probably circled around to what was on the line and he was all business again. “Shall we head back and get into the finances?”
Gen gave him a thumbs up. “Let’s do it.”
“How’s your credit?”
“You got a job?”
“All right, all right, all right. Let’s go meet the boss.”
# # #
Belinda Pollard says, “Feisty PI Gen Delacourt returns to solve another intriguing mystery in Swindle Town. The author transports us to the rarefied world of San Francisco wine snobs, constructing settings and characters that are three-dimensional and real. Molly Greene has a knack for a slow-building creepiness, creating suspense without needing to litter the place with bodies or gore, in a style reminiscent of Daphne Du Maurier.”
Mary McKendrick says, “There is such a sense of satisfaction when I finish a really good book, and Swindle Town gave me that feeling. I recommend it highly. This is another wonderful book in the Gen Delacourt series and it gave me a very pleasant Saturday afternoon. I hated to see it end. I have no pretensions to being a literary critic but I know what I like and this entire series fits that description.
The plot of Swindle Town is multi-layered and kept me reading to see what would happen. It is filled with compelling characters who have as many layers as the plot. Most have back stories which flesh them out and help the reader understand their choices and actions. It makes them more human – and more interesting. No cardboard characters here! I love watching the relationship develop between Gen and Mack and look forward to what comes next. BTW, I want Stella!”
Maria Messini says, “Molly Greene at her best. No-nonsense, honest and evocative. Add the beautiful settings, the original plot and a love story that keeps Gen and Mack’s fans on our toes, and you’ve got a winner!”