Cynical tarot reader Katie wants more from life than selling tchotchkes at the mall, but stumbling on the murder scene of misfit work friend Marley is a bit too much. With help from her science-nerd brother and a shy, skeptical local cop, Katie uncovers a suburban underworld of two-bit mobsters and stolen cash—and a secret about Marley’s murder that puts Katie next in line.
I always knew Marley would disappear. We worked across from each other at the Deerpath Shopping Center, me at the Russian knickknack place and her at the goth boutique, where she rang up anarchy t-shirts for tweens in $500 Nikes. She was a lot like me—smart enough to get the hell out of Lake Terrace when she grew up, but dumb enough to come back. For how long, I didn’t know. She put out a chill, bloom-where-you’re-planted vibe, but always looked like she was watching the exits, marking the days until she could peel out and leave Lake Terrace in the rearview.
When she did disappear, it didn’t go down how I expected. For starters, I didn’t think she’d be murdered.
The guy who set the whole thing off walked into Russian Gifts on a Sunday, the deadest day of the week and, consequently, the only time my boss Larissa trusted me to run the place alone. I didn’t see him walk in. I was laying out a Celtic Cross with a Russian tarot deck when the store’s heavy glass door slammed open.
I jerked up. He was plastered against the inside of the door, breathing hard and staring out into the mall—a weight-lifter-looking guy with a bristly haircut on a blocky face, a faded Gold’s Gym t-shirt and jogger sweats. There was an angry red gash on his forehead.