A bad divorce, a broken heart, a need to begin again.
These three things propel reporter Sara Woods to leave the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and take a job as the new reporter for small-town Ohio’s Ralston Courier. Ralston is a sleepy little town that doesn’t seem to have much to offer this big-city girl, but her very first assignment is to investigate a dead body, a young woman found half-frozen on the side of a country road. As more bodies are discovered, the only common link seems to be that they’re all young women Sara’s age.
Still recovering from a previous auto accident and struggling with chronic pain, she becomes a patient at the Goldstone Clinic, a local mecca of healing.
But all is not as it seems at the Goldstone. Patients at the clinic first seem to get better, then they deteriorate. Sara enlists the help of Dr. Rick Paulsen, a doctor at the city hospital who shares her concern about the deaths of the young women, one of whom was his own patient. He teaches her through Eastern techniques how to access her internal power, skills she never knew she had, revealing secrets from her past.
Police officer Brendon Zale also takes an interest in Sara, but he stalks her, watching her every move, and he won’t leave her alone. He always turns up at the most suspicious times, especially where the dead bodies are found. What’s his interest in Sara?
Sara continues to dig deeper into the story, and tries to choose allies wisely, but not till the last confrontation does she discover the identity of her true enemy.
By then, it’s too late.
Where to buy Love Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me
Gloria kept me on a full round of assignments, though I still didn’t have a regular beat. I interviewed farmers, called state legislators on budget talks, and wrote obituaries. But I found that whenever I asked for time to do further investigation about Lily and the others, Gloria bent over backward to make it happen for me.
While I was grateful, I thought it was unlike the hard-bitten editor to allow such devotion to a cause that had been shelved by the police and everyone else. She certainly didn’t seem to give others that leeway. After several days, I found myself alone with her by the coffeepot in the hallway between the news and sports departments, a pencil stuck behind one ear, looking very intellectual in the tortoise shell glasses. Her movements were stiff, caused by arthritis, according to newsroom scuttlebutt, but she refused any medication and denied any disability. I asked her about Lily.
“Gloria, I get the feeling you should be telling me to get over this case and move on. But you don’t.”
“No.” She poured a tall mug of black coffee.
I waited for more of an explanation, but she didn’t elaborate. I shoved several quarters in the snack machine for some cheesy crackers. “So you think it’s worthwhile.”
“Yes.” Gloria stared out the window, jaw set.
She was as stubborn as I. A little smile inched across my lips. “Because?” I said pointedly.
She looked up and down the hall, and started to speak, but bit her lip instead. “Come to my office,” she said, and marched away. After a moment of stunned silence, I followed her. She waited till I was inside, then shut the door. She turned on her radio, loud. National Public Radio’s Fresh Air and Terry Gross boomed forth, interviewing a movie director about independent film making. Gloria gestured at the chair next to the desk, and I took it, but she sat on the counter under the window, cranked it open so she could smoke.
She took her time, burning up half the cigarette before she finally turned to me. “I want you to get them.”
“The people who are killing all these women. Because there’s more than four. There’s more than the ones you pulled from O’Neal’s files. By my informal count, there’s at least 17.”
“What?” My voice, tight with surprise, got almost shrill.
She glanced at the radio, then at the door, then at me.
“Sorry,” I said, much more softly. “Where does that number come from?”
“Several people have taken notice of the deaths, the pattern, the statistics. We’ve compared notes and done what we can, but the authorities were less then helpful.”
“Good thing that’s changed,” I said with a heavy helping of sarcasm.
She smiled without warmth. “Cops are cops. They’ll never change.” She tossed the cigarette butt out the window. “When you’re ready, I will give you my contacts. Because I want you to nail the bastards. They killed my baby sister.”
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