'No good deed goes unpunished as they say.'
In Brandy Alexander's case, no good deed goes without finding a body and a crime to solve. After work she joins her friend, Whit, to celebrate his Judge of the Year nomination. When she goes to return his jacket he left in the bar she finds herself smack in the middle of a crime scene. The doors to his home and security gates are wide open, his dog is nowhere to be found, the safe is empty, an ex-wife is standing at the top of the stairs and the Judge is face down in a pool of blood.
The problems only get bigger. The list of gang members the judge sentenced is longer than the line waiting for king cakes at Mardi Gras.
Besides a list of felons with a long reach for revenge, the police find the Judge had a list of ex-wives, girlfriends and women he had wronged, not to mention enough gambling debts to rival the National deficit.
Brandy is front and center at the crime scene when her ex boyfriend, NOPD Captain Dante Deedler, shows up. Will they reconcile their differences when she finds information regarding the case? Will Dante be willing to set aside differences and let her help the police in the investigation?
New Orleans has long had a reputation for crime and corruption. Has Brandy stumbled into a world where doing a good deed might get her good and dead?
There's no place like New Orleans to have a good crime!
Lancey’s restaurant and bar is one that many in the neighborhood couldn’t afford to frequent. This was not the place to celebrate anything ordinary. Lancey’s hosted an influential crowd whose New Orleanian blood ran the shade of blue specific to the privileged class.
The clientele was the political elite of the city. Mirrors on the dining room walls allowed patrons to discreetly watch and observe every person at every table. A former mayor eating with several council members was a regular. Their caricatures appeared on the walls over the mirrors along with the famous and infamous New Orleans had to offer. Some were leaders in the community, while others’ malfeasance left them waiting for indictments or verdicts to be rendered.
Frances Whitmer, I’ve known since grade school, now a Judge, made no secret about wanting his caricature on Lancey’s wall. He used or abused anyone he thought could help make it happen. After the local news rag published their Annual Best of New Orleans list with Whit as Judge of the Year, he was sure his face would soon look down into the room. It was the reason for today’s celebration.
My name is Brandy Alexander, and no, it’s not a stage name nor am I an exotic dancer or stripper on Bourbon Street. I work in an unglamorous fraud detection unit at a major telecom firm in downtown New Orleans. My gift, or claim to fame, is I can find discrepancies in patterns—from numbers to just about everything.
The traffic from my office on Poydras to Lancey’s uptown took only twenty minutes via Tchoupitoulas Street, a direct route along the river with very few signal lights. Jiff Heinkel, a criminal attorney and the man I am now dating, is also a friend of Whit’s, and waiting for me to join him in the bar.
The bar area was packed with those considered the inner circle and long-standing friends of Whit who worked to get him elected just two short years ago. At thirty-five he already had made a name for himself as a brilliant trial lawyer for the prosecution. But he wanted the power and prestige only sitting on the bench would give him. He’d run for Judge in New Orleans Parish Criminal Court and won.
Whit sat at the bar holding court with his campaign manager and Jiff. When Jiff saw me, he motioned to the bartender and a drink was waiting for me by the time I squeezed my way past those vying for an audience with his honor. As I kissed Jiff hello, I felt a tug on my shoulder-length blonde hair from Whit trying to get my attention.
“Well, if it isn’t Miss Brandy Alexander,” Whit’s said in his normal voice, which could be heard over jackhammers busting up concrete. He was at least a foot talker than almost everyone, except NBA players, which helped his booming voice to travel, a fact he was oblivious to. My dad once described Whit’s six feet seven height as a long drink of water. “If you’re ever gonna give me a kiss on the lips, this is the day to do it,” his voice bellowed over the din in the bar while his eyes darted over the crowd taking in those arriving, leaving or just watching, “I’m really popular today.”
“Never gonna happen,” I said kissing Jiff hello. I nodded to Whit’s campaign manager, Justine—soon to be wife number four. She had a perpetual stoic expression on her face that never showed a hint of emotion. Could it be Whit’s attraction to Justine had to do with her name? It wouldn’t surprise me since he named his dog, Justice.
“Get over here, we’re saving a seat just for you, baby. That alone deserves a kiss,” he boomed over me until I gave him a peck on the cheek in greeting.
Justine was the love interest du jour. She started as his campaign manager, and was now his law clerk. Her job was to get him to meetings on time, home after celebrating, like tonight, or after the endless political dinner parties on his agenda. I imagined her driving skills were not the only thing Whit appreciated about her. She was Chinese, smart and twenty something. Add a facial expression that made it impossible to know what she was thinking, plus she was tall, brunette and wore expensive clothes that showed off her dynamite figure. Tonight she was wearing a body hugging sheath in a nude color which made her appear, well…nude. While Justine and I are the same height, 5’9”, I’m blonde and have what many call a great figure, men didn’t walk into walls looking over their shoulder at me, like they did staring at Justine’s exotic beauty.
Justine decided it was time to go. As she ushered Whit by the elbow to the door, he boomed, “Don’t stay out late, all of you. Monday is a school night. There’s a long week ahead of us.”
He glad-handed all his pals who showed up to celebrate with him on the way out. I spotted August Randolph and Pierre LeBlanc, two of Whit’ golfing buddies with serious looks on their faces as Whit shook their hands. They both left moments after Whit and Justine.
There were quite a few friends and colleagues who only showed up to stay in his good graces. Whit had a big mouth and would broadcast anything he thought would make someone feel uncomfortable under the guise of a joke. Many did not find him amusing.
Jiff and I finished our drinks and started to leave when I noticed Whit’s jacket on the back of my chair. I picked it up and checked the pockets to make sure he didn’t leave his wallet or keys in one. All I found was a cellophane wrapped praline in a side pocket. It was from his run for office and said ‘Whitmer for Judge’ on the wrapper.
“I’ll drop it off to him,” I said to Jiff as we made out way out the door. “It’s on my way home.” Jiff put his arm around my shoulders and even with four inch heels, he was still three inches taller than I was.
“Brandy, it’ll take you an hour,” Jiff said rolling his eyes. “Getting past the security gate and in the front door adds fifteen minutes to your stop. Gracefully avoiding an invitation to have yet another celebratory drink, will require a couple of white lies and a lot more time.” He kissed me good night and added, “Try not to get sucked in. I’ll call you later.”
I waited in the driveway for the gates to open after I punched in the security code of Whit’s home. It was the same code he’d used since high school—007. I was about to call his cell when I noticed the front door was ajar by several inches. Something was off. If nothing else, Whit’s dog, Justice should be running around barking in the yard. Then I saw the iron gate had not automatically closed and locked by the security system. When I got to the massive leaded glass front door I pushed it open with the back of my hand far enough to step inside. The security panel was not blinking nor was the system displaying the green on light. It appeared to be disarmed.
The feeling I was being watched made me look up to the top of the stairs. There was Suzette, the Judge’s second and third ex-wife—Whit married her, divorced her, remarried her, then re-divorced her. She was standing with her hands on her hips staring down at me.
“Suzette, what are you doing here? You scared me half to death,” I said and put a hand on by chest. The staircase in the grand center hallway started at the end of the first two room and the landing set it back two more rooms overlooking the beveled glass front doors and marble foyer.
“I could ask you da same thing,” she said in her unmistakable y’at accent.
“I stopped by to drop off Whit’s jacket. He left it at the restaurant,” I said and held up my arm with the jacket draped over it by way of proof. “When I got here both the gate and front door were open and the security system isn’t on.” I said. “Did you disarm it?”
“The alarm was already off. I came in da kitchen and went up da back stairs,” Suzette said. “He was probably drunk when he got home and forgot to lock up when he left to take Justice for a walk.”
“Whit’s not here?” I asked and noticed the doors to his study just off the foyer were closed. That’s odd, I thought. I’ve never seen that door closed in all the years I’ve been coming to this house.
“His office door is closed,” I said. “Don’t you think that’s odd?”
“Whit is odd.,” she said. “I’m here for my son’s tuition money he’s supposed to have sent me a week ago. Whit is always late sending it to me. I want to get it and leave before he gets back.” Suzette had a fiery temper and once she was revved up, she was hard to throttle down.
“Was Justice here?” I asked. “Did you see or hear him when you came in the back?” I asked wondering if Justice ran out the front door and gate.
“Some watchdog. You’d think he’d at least bark at me. Dat dog never liked me,” she said turning to go to one of the upstairs rooms.
“Wait,” I said a little too loudly, but it made Suzette stop.
“Whit is probably stumbling around da neighborhood taking his precious Justice for a stroll,” she snarled.
“So, you haven’t seen Whit or Justice?” I asked. I had a cold feeling crawling up my back. Whit never left the alarm off when he wasn’t home. All of us knew the code and just let ourselves in if he was expecting us. He only turned it off if he was home and let someone in.
“How many times I gotta tell you dat?” she snapped and puffed out a breath.
Suzette stood at the top of the stairs while I opened the massive office doors that were normally left pocketed into the wall on either side.
“Whit!” I gasped when I saw him on the floor in a pool of blood. I didn’t need to touch him to know he was dead.
The New Orleans Go-Cup Chronicles Six Book Series is available on Kindle!
Colleen Mooney is a USA Today and Wall Street Journal Best Selling Author.
Born and raised in New Orleans. she started going to parades and watched them from sitting on my Dad's shoulders before she could walk. She's been in Girl Scout parades, high school parades, St. Patrick's parades, Mardi Gras parades, on dance teams in parades and just about any loosely organized group who deemed it necessary to parade. Colleen says, "I just can't help myself. I love parades."
She attended Loyola of the South in New Orleans so she wouldn't be far from a parade.
Colleen spent 20+ years working for and retired from AT&T. She has worked and lived in New York City, Madison, New Jersey, Atlanta, Georgia and Birmingham, Alabama returning home for the big parade every year--Mardi Gras.
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Colleen says, "Before Katrina, I moved away and back three times, four if you count rebuilding the same house at the same address after Katrina flooded my home. I did miss a couple of parades that year.
I'm an avid sailor and Scuba diver for many years, and made lasting friendships from sailing and dive trips. I love travel and if the opportunity presents itself, I'm there. Except for a brief stint where I had to own and learn how to ride a motorcycle, I've been a water baby. When I am not enjoying fun with friends in all New Orleans has to offer- sailing and racing with friends on Lake Pontchartrain, Mardi Gras, parties and festivals- I head to Florida.
I am an ardent animal lover and direct volunteer breed rescue work as Schnauzer Rescue of Louisiana. I love to write and I write about what I know and love! You can take the girl out of New Orleans, but you can't take the New Orleans out of the girl!"
Visit Colleen on her website, sign up for exclusive email deals and connect with her on social media.
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