Sleight of Hand [Barbara Holloway Series Book 9] [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Kate Wilhelm
eBook Category: Suspense/Thriller/Mystery/Crime
eBook Description: Gregarious Vegas entertainer Wally Lederer hasn't always enjoyed the attention of center stage--something he learned about himself over thirty years ago when he was in the slammer serving time for picking pockets. He claims he's turned his life around, and his lucrative and legitimate showbiz career seems to support this. But will the police believe he's a changed man now that Jay Wilkins, a childhood friend, is accusing him of stealing a valuable artifact? More important, does Barbara believe him when he pleads his case to her? Wally swears he's innocent. There's no way he would jeopardize years of hard work for the fleeting thrill of minor deception. But when Jay is found murdered, Barbara knows Wally is in serious trouble--the police have named him as their prime suspect. Barbara begins to "dig up the dirt" and is shocked to learn that Jay's wife is now missing?and that Jay himself was far from being the upstanding businessman he claimed to be. Before long, new evidence points toward an unlikely killer, and Barbara must decide if protecting her client by revealing the truth will destroy another life she means to save.
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/MIRA
Fictionwise Release Date: September 2006
This eBook is part of the following series:
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Frank Holloway liked the extensive library in the offices, and he liked being left alone in it. Now and then one of the junior partners of the law firm started to enter, saw him at the long table with stacks of books and discreetly withdrew. Once, one of them had been at the table already when Frank entered and claimed his preferred chair, dead center, where he had room to spread books on both sides. The younger man had wrapped up his own research quickly and fled. As well he should have, Frank had thought with satisfaction. He had been stocking the library when that fellow was still a suckling; he had certain privileges.
That morning he had already put aside a few volumes with yellow notes sticking out indicating page numbers. After he left, around noon, Patsy, his secretary, would photocopy the cases he had marked, add her own note about volume and page, and have the copies on his desk the following morning. Like clockwork, a well-oiled machine working efficiently, he also thought with satisfaction.
Thus it was that he looked up in annoyance when Patsy entered the library at ten minutes past eleven. Pointedly, he glanced at the wall clock above the door, then at his own watch, and scowled at her. She frowned back. She had certain privileges, too. She had been with him for forty years and was determined not to retire a day before he did, but now that he was a published author, and on his way to writing a second book, she was no longer hinting broadly at every opportunity for him to speed that day along.
"A Mr. and Mrs. Wallis Lederer want to see you," she said. "Walk-ins," she added disdainfully.
"Send them away. Or sic them on one of the loafers hanging out at the watercooler." She nodded and had turned back toward the door when he said, "Hang on a sec. Wallis Lederer? How old's the fellow?"
"Well, I'll be damned. Wally Lederer. After all these years. Tell them to wait a few minutes. These are ready to go." He motioned toward the marked books, closed the one he had been reading and put it in the other stack. Patsy would put them all back on the shelves. The one time he had started to return them, she had been indignant.
In his own office Frank placed the folder of copies in his briefcase, washed his hands and then went to greet his visitors.
"Wally Lederer!" he said when he saw them. "It really is you. It's been a while."
"Forty-some years," Wally said, shaking hands, patting Frank's back, grinning. He turned to the woman at his side and said, "I told you he'd remember me. Meg, meet Frank Holloway, the guy who saved me back when I was a smart-assed kid. My wife, Meg."
Wally was five foot ten and stocky with wavy white hair and white eyebrows, a nice suntan and very white teeth. He was showing many of them in his broad smile. Meg was no more than five foot two or three, slender, with a round pretty face and curly brown hair showing streaks of gray. When she smiled, a dimple came and went quickly in her right cheek. They were both well dressed, he in a sport jacket and slacks, shirt open at the throat, and she in a nice blue pantsuit exactly the color of her eyes.
"Well, come on back. Lots of history to catch up with. This way." Frank led them through the hallway to his office, paused at the library door and looked in at Patsy who was shelving his books. "When you have a minute, maybe you could bring my guests some coffee." He didn't miss the glint of approval in her eyes when she nodded. He had said "guests" not clients. They could read each other so clearly, they were like a long-married couple. He knew none of the young attorneys would dare ask a secretary to bring coffee these days, but he also knew that Patsy would be outraged if Frank waited on guests or clients.
In his office he motioned toward the comfortable chairs at the coffee table.
Wally gave an appraising look at the immaculate desk, the glass-door bookshelves, the leather-covered furnishings. "You've come way up in the world," he said. "Folding chairs and a Goodwill desk in the early days," he said to Meg. "I knew him when. One of his first clients, in fact."
Frank laughed. "You look as if you've done all right for yourself, as well. What have you been up to?"
"This and that. I have an act, down in Vegas, sometimes in Atlantic City, casinos, things of that sort. Eight or nine shows a year, a week at a time. Not a headliner, just an act between the big draws. I brought a video to show you."
Patsy tapped on the door and entered with the coffee service on a tray. She poured for them all and left.
"A performer? Song and dance?" Frank asked.
"Not exactly. I'll show you. See, Meg and I, we were dating when I was on probation back in the early days, and we decided the day I was done with community service, all that, we'd take off and make a fresh start somewhere else. Then, down in San Francisco I got in trouble again. Our first anniversary. Broke, waiting for Meg at her workplace in an uppity department store, and this rich bitch left her purse on the counter while she was wandering back and forth trying to pick out earrings or something. There was a fat wallet in plain sight and my hands did their thing. I was nabbed. Five years. State pen."
Copyright © 2006 by Kate Wilhelm.