Sequel to Dead and Hating It
When Van and Gene, partners in life as well as in their writing, are murdered in what looks like a drive-by shooting, it's up to Mike and Sage, as well as their four ghostie friends, to discover who was responsible.
Van and Gene had been researching two cold cases for their newest book at the time of their deaths. One was eleven years old, with three potential suspects for a girl's murder. The other was more recent, involving the death of Jon Watts, one of their ghostie friends.
Can Mike, Sage, and the ghosts learn who killed Van and Gene so they can move on? And, more to the point, can Van and Gene help the others solve Jon's murder? If they do, will Jon and his lover Brody finally move on, or will they remain with their friends, both ghost and human?
At that moment the doorbell rang. Sage went to answer, figuring it had to be Mike, which it was. He took him into the living room, introducing him to Gene and Van before telling him the armchair opposite the sofa was free. Then, although he was certain that Van and Gene had already figured it out, he explained that he would repeat anything they had to say to Mike.
"So who is where?" Mike asked.
"Brody and Jon are there." Sage pointed to two chairs they'd brought into the living room while he'd been answering the door. "Van's to your left on the sofa, Gene is to your right."
Mike nodded to them. "Shall we start with the obvious question? Do you know who shot you?"
"Like we told them," Van replied, "we have no idea. We don't have any enemies. Well, other than a few trolls on book sites who don't like what we write. I don't think they'd come gunning for us."
While Sage relayed his reply, Jon said, "You're authors? I don't think I've heard of you."
"Oh the pain," Van said, clutching his chest. Then he laughed. "We write under the pen name V.G. Ackton."
"That's you? Wow. I've read some of your mysteries. They're pretty good."
Again, Sage let Mike know what was being said. Mike replied, "I doubt any of your readers would decide you needed to die, but what about someone you spotlighted as a possible suspect in your Who Killed ...? books?"
Van glanced at Gene before replying, "I suppose it's a possibility, although we don't say outright we think so-and-so is the killer. We just lay out the events and the people involved in each of the cases. It's up to the readers to draw their own conclusions."
"But you do your best to point your finger at specific individuals?" Sage asked before telling Mike what Van had said.
"These are cold cases," Gene replied. "Some of them as much as forty or fifty years old. We do our research, meet with those people who are willing to talk with us, as well as the officers involved, and do more research to try to verify everything we've been told. Then we lay out the reasons one or more persons might have had a good reason to eliminate the victim, based on what we've learned. In a way it's like a chess game. Move the right piece to the right square and you could reach mate or checkmate -- or not if some piece of information is missing and you can only deduce what it is from what you've learned."
"As I said, we don't name names." Van smiled dryly. "We're not into getting our asses sued for defamation of character." He blew out a long breath. "Well, we weren't. Now, it's a moot point since there won't be another book."
Sage had relayed the conversation as Gene and Van talked. When he'd finished, Mike asked, "Were you in the process of writing a third book before you were killed?"
"Yes," Van replied. "We had two cases we had just begun researching."
"Who were the victims?" Sage asked.
"One was an eighteen-year-old woman named Irene Gibbs, who seemed to be fleeing her killer in her car when she was shot dead after she crashed it into a tree. The other was a young man who was attacked in the parking lot of his apartment building by person or persons unknown. He died on the scene and so far the police haven't found any leads to who killed him or why."
Jon hissed in a breath. "Who was he?"
"Jonathan Calvin Watts. He was a waiter ..." Van stopped, looking at Jon's stricken expression. "Jon as in Jonathan Watts?"
Jon nodded. "You never would have found out who killed me. God only knows Mike and Brody did their best but ... but there's no proof who it was."
"But you have some ideas?" Gene asked. "We'd only begun digging, so all we had was the very basic details on how you died and where you'd been in the few days before it happened."
"May I see what you have?" Mike asked once Sage told him what was being said.
"It's all on our laptops," Van replied before saying, "This isn't getting us anywhere on who shot me and Gene."
Sage relayed Van's words, getting a nod from Mike.
"It's early on," Mike said. "Right now, I'm looking for any information you might be able to give me, starting with exactly what happened in the moments before you were killed. All indications are it was a drive-by. What kind of car were they driving? Did you see the gun? Where was the shooter? In the front or back seat?"