Read Murder Talks Turkey Online

Authors: Deb Baker

Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Mystery & Detective, #Women Sleuths, #Mystery Fiction, #Mystery, #Grandmothers, #Upper Peninsula (Mich.), #Johnson; Gertie (Fictitious Character)

Murder Talks Turkey

BOOK: Murder Talks Turkey
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About Murder Talks Turkey -
In her third Yooper mystery (as in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, or U.P.), Baker’s lively protagonist, Gertie Johnson, is minding her own business, standing in line at the bank when it gets robbed. From her position on the floor, Gertie watches as a gunman on the roof of a nearby building shoots the bank robber dead. She quickly decides that she and the other two members of her Trouble Buster Investigative Company (all single women of a certain age) need to help their hapless sheriff solve the case. The trouble is feisty Gertie has a lot on her plate, what with her extended family, her other investigations, and a tentative new romance. The deeper into the bank robbery she goes, the more complicated and seriously dangerous it gets. Intrepid Gertie is a wonderfully drawn character, whose view of the U.P.’s denizens and their surroundings makes for enjoyable storytelling. ~ Booklist

What The Critics Are Saying

“Laugh-out-loud funny.”
Crimespree

“For fans of Janet Evanovich, imagine Granma Mazur with orange hair and a shotgun.”
Green Bay Press Gazette

“A hoot with a heart.”
Cozy Library

“A wonderful story of the love of family and friends.”
Mysterious Review

“One of the most memorable heroines in recent crime fiction.”
Lansing State Journal

What’s at the end of Murder Talks Turkey?

A sample of Murder Bites the Bullet (pub 8/2011), book 4 in the Gertie Johnson series

& a list of other books by Deb with links to more information.

Hope you enjoy!

Murder Talks Turkey

(A Gertie Johnson Murder Mystery)

by

Deb Baker

Chapter 1

Word For The Day

BOONDOGGLE (BOON dahg’uhl) n.

A pointless project. Work of no value, done merely to appear busy.

Alternate Word

ICKY (IK ee) adj.

Very distasteful; disgusting.

IN THE MICHIGAN UPPER PENINSULA we love our guns. There’s a lot of talk about how the federal government is plotting to take our weapons away. Nobody, but nobody, is going to get our guns, even if it means burying most of them in the ground and taking a final stand with our legs spread wide and our favorite firing power nestled in our arms.

I have a perfect example of why upstanding citizens need weapons. If I’d had a gun with me in the Stonely Credit Union, none of this would have happened. I’d have had a bead on the masked bandit before he could say boo.

Instead of boo, he said, “Everybody freeze.”
How original is that? He might as well have said, “Stick ’em up.”
Michigan’s tall conifers and wide stretches of unpopulated land must have had him thinking he was back in the Wild West.
He swept a quick glance over his hostages, and our eyes locked. I stared back at him through the round holes in the mask he wore.
I’d bet my bottom dollar I knew him. Around here everybody knows everybody.

My name is Gertie Johnson. I’m sixty-six years old with three grown kids—Heather, Star, and Blaze—all named after the horses I wanted but never had. My son, the local sheriff, is on temporary leave from work with a full-blown case of brain swell. And I don’t mean that figuratively. He’s recovering from bacterial meningitis. He went through a fight for his life before miraculously beating the odds. He should be in a rehabilitation center instead of home causing trouble, but he’s half Swede and his wife is Finnish. You can’t tell them anything.

If Blaze had deputized me like I wanted him to do, I could have worn the Glock I swiped from him on my hip in full view.

Instead, I was in line at the credit union, weaponless, waiting to cash my social security check and minding my own business. That’s when the robber decided to hold up Stonely’s small-town version of a bank. Just my luck, he’d pick now.

We all stared at the unexpected interloper while he waved his gun. It was one of the cheapest excuses for fire power I’d ever seen, but at close range it could still do plenty of damage to a person’s internal organs.

I could see thin, hard lips through the mask hole.

“I SAID, everybody freeze! And I want to see empty hands up in the air, right eh?”

I heard people’s belongings—key chains, wallets, and such—clatter to the floor as we reached for the ceiling, all pretty much in unison: a new teller from Trenary, the credit union manager, Ruthie from the Deer Horn Restaurant, Cora Mae, and me. Oh, and Pearl, who was right up by the teller getting her money counted out. She let out a squeal that almost pierced my eardrums, but she quit making noise when the gunman threatened to bop her with his pistol.

Pearl’s cash was the first dough the robber took, stuffing it into a pillowcase he pulled out of his jacket pocket.

Just before the thief interrupted us, Cora Mae, my best friend and partner in the Trouble Buster Investigative Company, had been filling me in on the latest events regarding our first paid job. Since we were in a public place, we were careful to keep our client’s identity and our mission top secret. We communicated in Cora Mae’s version of code, although I didn’t know it yet.

“Kitty’s going to Hell,” she said before blowing an enormous bubble gum bubble.

Kitty acts as my occasional body guard when she’s looking for an excuse to hang out, and she’s the third partner in our investigative business. Kitty pulls goofy stunts every once in a while, but I never considered her fire and brimstone material.

“Since when did you get so judgmental?” I said, thinking of some of Cora Mae’s more risqué adventures.

She sucked in the bubble and rolled her eyeballs to express frustration with me. Then she whispered, “I said Hell, but I meant Paradise.”

“Ahhhh,” I said, catching on, sort of.

In Michigan you can go to Hell or Paradise, depending on your mood. Or you can veer off from either location and visit Christmas, where you can gaze at the world’s tallest Santa and decorated houses even at this time of year: mid-April, the first day of turkey hunting season.

I glanced at Ruthie, who was in front of us in line, to see if she was listening in, but she was busy greeting the manager, Dave Nenonen, who stood behind the new teller watching her every move.

“Wait until we’re in the truck to tell me the rest,” I said, scowling while I tried to figure out what Cora Mae was really trying to convey. Apparently I hadn’t had enough coffee this morning.

I was still scowling when the big dope stuck us up.

I risked a good look at him while he pushed Dave toward the back room. He was dressed like everybody else in Stonely—camouflage jacket, leather gloves, black winter ski mask.

The mask should have been a dead giveaway. While it can be a bit nippy in April, we generally don’t wear face coverings when the temperature rises above freezing.

If we hadn’t been yakking in line, someone might have noticed the seasonable mask faux pas.

Then I glanced down at his feet. The robber was either one of the dumbest criminals alive, or he was the craziest. Who wears bright orange high tops to rob a credit union?

Granted, orange is our favorite color in Stonely but we don’t wear it on our feet. Jackets, gloves, hats, orange suspender pants. But not orange boots and definitely not orange sneakers.

“Hurry up,” the robber snapped at Dave. “And the rest of you…” He waved the gun. “My partner is outside, ya know, eh? Anybody try anything and you’ll be leaking blood on the pavement.”

Pearl squealed.

Dave, tough guy that he is, trotted right over, sorted through a string of keys, pushed a few buttons, and gave the thief open access to the credit union’s reserve cash. “Stay where you are,” our captor said, head swinging to encompass everyone in the room. “Anybody move and my partner opens fire.” The robber disappeared inside the vault.

He must have had Dave in his sights because the manager didn’t move a single hair on his head, didn’t even blink.

I glanced quickly out the window. Nothing unusual struck me, no movement at all other than a pickup truck going by on Highway M35. If he really had a partner outside, the guy was well hidden. While I had the chance, I eased my stun gun out of my purse.

Either the credit union manager or the teller must have pressed a button under the counter at some point, because when I glanced toward the window again, I saw Dickey Snell running in a crouch from an unmarked car. His backup of deputized locals arrived right behind him, squealing into the parking lot, making enough noise to wake a teenage boy on a Saturday morning.

The masked marauder was doomed, and he knew it, judging by the way he bolted out of the back room. He jumped behind the counter and tried to smash the drive-thru window with the butt of his gun. When that didn’t work, he clocked the teller on her forehead instead. Her eyes rolled up until the whites showed, then she went over backwards.

Someone yelled, “Everybody down,” and it didn’t come from the robber. It came from outside the building. In the Upper Peninsula, or the U.P., as we call it, “Everybody down” means only one thing when guns are involved.

Pearl screamed again, and we all hit the floor.

Cora Mae, a little slow on the dive, clonked me in the head with a black, strappy high heel. From my face-down position, I could see orange sneakers running this way and that in short, confused motions.

“Boondoggle,” I muttered, surprising myself with the unconscious use of my word for the day. Usually I have to really work at finding the proper usage conditions. I couldn’t believe how my mind sharpened in this time of crisis.

The guy was about to find out how pointless his misguided project really was.

“Crap,” our robber screamed, panic choking him up. “Shi—”

A bullet zinged into the building, busting out the front window and shattering my hope for a peaceful hostage negotiation. We’d never seen a real bank robbery in Stonely before. Dickey Snell, temporary sheriff until Blaze recovered, must be in his glory at the opportunity to fire at random. The fact that local residents were inside wasn’t slowing him down one bit. Dickey tends to be over-anxious, and he’s been known to lose his self-control in stressful situations.

The robber had to be from out-of-town. Otherwise he wouldn’t have tried to hold up the credit union. Everybody in Stonely is armed for combat, every weapon is a stone’s throw away, and worst of all, or best of all depending on what side of the armory you’re on, every one of us can shoot a nickel off the top of a beer can.

I don’t know why I cared, but I was worried about the robber’s future health. Dickey hadn’t even given him the option of surrendering. I had my stun gun hidden from view and I was fully prepared to take him down without bloodshed.

Movement on top of the town hall across the street caught my eye. From my position on the floor, I had a direct view of the sky and rooftops. A man with a rifle appeared in my line of sight. He took aim.

“Hit the floor,” I shouted to our robber, pulling hard on his pant leg while charging up the stun gun at the same time.
But I was too late.
I heard a bang, more glass shattering, then an eerie moment of silence.

The robber dropped to the floor, his peashooter skidding and landing not two inches from my face. The sharpshooter on the town hall roof peered through his scope and sighted-in again just in case the first shot hadn’t done the job. Before turning off the stun gun, I gave the shooter a football timeout sign with my hands. I didn’t know if he saw me, but he didn’t fire again.

Dickey Snell burst through the front entrance. I wanted to pick up the robber’s measly pistol and put a round into Dickey’s rear end for endangering upstanding citizens by handling the situation like he’d cornered Butch Cassidy.

No-neck Sheedo, his partner in crime fighting, stumbled in behind him, along with half the town. Cora Mae stood up and smoothed herself out. The rest of us did, too. We formed a circle around the dead robber. No question about it. He was gone. Even with the face mask, we all knew that. The staring, blank eyes and the hole through his forehead cemented his fate.

BOOK: Murder Talks Turkey
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