Yup. You read that right. Today I’m turning the spotlight on my new release. At long last, Dying for Data (Adina Donati, Accidental Sleuth Book 2) is on the virtual bookshelf.
Bad karma, a rival suitor, and a deadly attack are enough to put a damper on any date.
Just when Adina’s social life is looking up, her night out is interrupted by the scream of police sirens. Afraid her bartender boyfriend might be accused of murder, Adina’s neighbor enlists her assistance, and in the process exposes her to the seamier side of illegal immigration and crime in the city. Hard as she tries to limit her involvement, the more Adina learns, the more she needs to know – until a case of mistaken identity lands her in hot water. Will she uncover the truth before it’s too late?
Although the second book in a cozy mystery series, Dying for Data can be read as a standalone. The first book in the series was released in 2015.
And you can enter a Goodreads giveaway for a chance to win a print copy of Dying for Data.
Last but not least, here’s an excerpt from Chapter 1 of Dying for Data:
I shivered as we walked the short distance to our dinner destination. Although the cold wintry air provided some explanation, ingrained apprehension probably played a greater role than I’d care to admit.
Don’t get me wrong. The Provence Bar and Grill isn’t in the worst part of DC, still it’s not in a neighborhood where I’d feel comfortable walking alone at night. Of course, I wasn’t alone. Bruce was right there at my side. His green eyes sparkled as he watched me scan the streets for potential dangers.
“Adina, relax. It’s a regular neighborhood, with regular people.” He clasped my hand as we walked the short distance to the restaurant. His nearness helped, but didn’t entirely assuage my fears as we made our way down the busy street, passing an eclectic collection of humanity, from well-heeled businessman to the occasional homeless person.
I’d been looking forward to dinner that night. It would be my third date with Bruce, and we planned to check out the restaurant where my neighbor, Elena, worked. She had lots of good things to say about the place, despite its less than lucrative location.
Elena was perched on a stool at the hostess station just inside the restaurant. Dressed in a short black dress that accentuated her fair complexion and long blond hair, she greeted us with a bright smile. “I am so glad you came. You are going to love the food here.” She leaned in close and added, “Rafael is working tonight, too.”
Elena and Rafael had been dating for three months, and Elena talked about him every time I saw her. I hadn’t met him yet and was curious to find out if he was as handsome and charming as Elena claimed.
A table wasn’t available so Elena led us to the bar, promising that she would seat us as soon as a table was free. She called Rafael over and introduced us.
“Rafael, this is Adina, my neighbor, and her friend Bruce. Take good care of them.”
Elena hadn’t exaggerated, at least not about his good looks. Tall, dark, and handsome, his Latino coloring was set off by an olive green shirt with the restaurant logo embroidered on it. His penetrating black eyes followed Elena as she returned to the hostess station at the entrance.
“So what can I get you guys?” He wiped down the countertop while he talked.
“Adina? White wine?” Bruce asked. I nodded and he ordered Chablis for me and a Heineken for himself. Rafael brought us our drinks and stayed for a few minutes to chat.
“So you’re that Adina person Elena told me about. She really likes you. Elena doesn’t have a lot of friends so that counts for a lot as I see it.”
“She’s told me good things about you, too.”
“How do you like tending bar?” Bruce asked.
“It’s a lot of fun. Most of the customers here are pretty decent. And, of course, this is where I met Elena.” He smiled. “So where did you two meet?”
“Bruce and I both volunteer at a dog rescue center.”
“Cool. I like dogs. I’ve never had one. Too much work if you don’t live in a house with a yard.”
A couple sitting at the other end of the bar called him over, putting an end to our conversation.
“I’d better get that. The other barman is on his break. I’ll try and catch up with you later.”
I watched as he made a show of mixing up a colorful concoction in a tall glass for a well-dressed woman. She clapped her hands together like an excited child, making her appear far younger than the man at her side.
Before we had time to finish our drinks, Elena seated us at a cozy table in the main dining room. We took our time looking over the menu before ordering.
“When Elena recommended this place, I didn’t know what to expect. It’s quite nice. Don’t you think?”
The décor was simple yet pleasing — plain white tablecloths, olive green napkins, and white and green dishes. A lit candle set in a green and blue glass vessel completed the tableau.
He looked around and nodded. “Impressive range of options on the menu, too.”
The food was excellent. Our plates were almost clean when the peaceful atmosphere was shattered by the sound of sirens. Minutes later, a uniformed police officer entered and asked to speak to the manager.
Henri, the manager and owner, accompanied the officer outside and out of sight. The diners, ourselves included, watched the door for a few minutes before getting back to our food.
Around 10 minutes later, two uniformed police officers entered the restaurant. The older of the two announced, “Folks, sorry for the inconvenience but we’re going to have to ask you all a few questions before you leave tonight. In the meantime, feel free to finish your meal.”
A heavyset restaurant patron had just paid his check and demanded to go home. “But I’ve finished eating and paid my bill. You can’t make me stay here.”
“Sorry, but I can’t let anyone leave until I get the OK from the lead detective. He’ll be here soon.”
Seeing a uniformed officer posted on the other side of the glass entrance, the man scowled and stomped back to his seat.
The younger officer moved between the tables taking down names and contact information, while the other officer headed for the bar to talk to the some of the wait staff. I could see a short blond guy pouring beer from the tap, but Rafael was nowhere to be seen.
Henri returned around 10 minutes later. Head hanging low, he plodded over to the hostess station where Elena waited. They spoke for a few minutes before Elena dashed toward the door. Her face fell when she realized she couldn’t go outside.
Elena wobbled on her high heels as she walked in our direction. Bruce jumped up and caught her before she could fall. She burst into tears.
“Elena, are you all right? What’s wrong?” I asked.
“The police told Henri there was a fight in the back alley. Rafael is hurt and they won’t let me go outside to see him.” Her mild Russian accent came across stronger than usual.
The screams of another siren drew near and stopped, drawing the attention of restaurant staff and patrons alike. Soon thereafter, the flashing lights of an ambulance were visible through the restaurant window as it drove away. A somber mood had taken hold and people spoke quietly amongst themselves.
The next time the door opened, Detective Jonathan Saks walked in. The young detective took in the scene and cleared his throat.
“A violent crime has taken place behind this establishment involving a restaurant employee. For this reason, officers will be speaking to each of you before you leave. Thank you for your cooperation.”
Jonathan scrutinized the faces of everyone present. His eyes widened when he spotted me. Smartly dressed in a dark blue suit, he smiled as he sauntered over to our table. And then he saw my date.
Awkward. Very awkward. Jonathan and I dated a couple of times after our paths had crossed when a friend of mine was murdered. He’s a really nice guy. And I had kind of been avoiding him, which was easy to do considering his crazy schedule. I didn’t want to string him along, still, on the other hand, I wasn’t ready to slam that door shut.
Bruce stood up to greet him, hand extended. All business, Jonathan shook his hand and turned to me. “Good evening, Adina. You’re looking well. Sorry to interrupt your evening.”
Jonathan turned his attention to Elena, who was staring at the candle, almost comatose. Eyebrows raised, he looked back at me.
“Jonathan, I don’t think you’ve met my neighbor, Elena. She works here and suggested we check out the food.”
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