Posted on March 25, 2011 - by

The Rich and the Dead

Each year the Mystery Writers of America puts out an anthology of stories edited by a well-known author. This year Nelson DeMille is the editor of THE RICH AND THE DEAD, due out the end of April (Grand Central.)

I (that is, Lucy’s alter-ego Roberta) was delighted to have a story included. “The Itinerary” features Detective Jack Meigs from the advice column mystery series and takes place in Key West. Last year while visiting KW, we noticed a cruise ship passenger running down the gangplank with his suitcase, baring making it onboard before the ship pulled away. Bingo–inspiration! My sister and brother-in-law and husband helped me brainstorm the bones of the story.

What if staunch Yankee Detective Meigs was forced to go on vacation in tacky, tropical Key West (his words, not mine:)? And what if he witnesses a man leaving the ship with bags when everyone else has loaded? And what if the local paper runs an article the next day about a woman missing from her boat? Bored to death by his inactivity, Meigs can’t help offering an assist to the local cops.

Here’s the opening:

Detective Jack Meigs knew he’d hate Key West the moment he was greeted off the plane by a taxi driver with a parrot on his shoulder. He hadn’t wanted to take a vacation at all, and he certainly hadn’t wanted to come to Florida, which he associated with elderly people pretending they weren’t declining. But his boss insisted, and then his sister surprised him with a nonrefundable ticket: He was screwed. A psychologist had once told him that it took a year for grief to lift, and that making major life changes during this time only complicated the process. Which was why he’d gone to work directly from the funeral, and every day in the three months since. There was no vacation from the facts: His wife Alice was dead and she wasn’t coming back.

The driver packed him into a cab that smelled like a zoo and lurched away from the curb. Then the bird let loose a stream of shit that splattered off his newspapered roost and onto Meigs’s polished black leather loafers. The cabbie hooted with laughter.

“That means good luck, man,” he said, gunning the motor and grinning like a monkey in the rear view mirror. “Mango doesn’t do that for just anybody.”

I had a blast writing this story–hope you enjoy it. THE RICH AND THE DEAD can be pre-ordered from all the usual suspects, including my local independent bookstore, RJ Julia booksellers.

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