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Wednesday 26 August 2015

☀ Hair of the Dog : Dan Mahoney Mysteries [3] - Susan Slater

Thank you for joining us on the Virtual Book Tour for Hair of the Dog , a mystery by (, Poisoned Pen Press, 239 pages).

This is the third book in the Dan Mahoney Mysteries series.

PREVIEW: Read the first three chapters with Amazon Look Inside.

Check out the book's synopsis and the excerpt below, and then do not miss out on our Q&A with author Susan Slater.

Susan Slater & Poisoned Pen Press will award one randomly drawn US winner one Box of Poisoned Pen Press books including Hair of the Dog by Susan Slater, during the tour.   Please do take part: comment on our post and follow the tour where you will be able to read other excerpts (☀), interviews (ℚ), reviews (✍) and guest blog posts (✉).

Synopsis | Teaser | The Series | Author Q&A | About the Author | Giveaway & Tour Stops


It sounds like some work and mostly play when United Life and Casualty sends its investigator Dan Mahoney to Florida. Five greyhounds—all heavily insured—were lost in a fire at the Daytona dog track.

So simple. Five dogs dead by smoke inhalation, bagged, tagged, and cremated. Papers all in order. Ashes in specialty urns on the desk of Dixie Halifax, track and casino co-owner. In jail, a young employee charged with arson to cover a murder he's blamed for committing.

Then the body of kennel owner Jackson Sanchez is found face down in a pool of blood, a knife stuck in his back. But Sanchez didn’t die from a knife wound. Someone has carved “thief” on his forehead. The blood pooled underneath his body isn’t his. Should Dan be looking for a second corpse? And the one man who can answer questions, the track vet, dies in a motorcycle accident.

Working this case is not as complicated for Dan as having his mother Maggie move into the FBI’s favorite mob slob haven in nearby Palm Coast, while his fiancée Elaine Linden, on sabbatical, works on a PI license. Perfect—the FBI can set Maggie up to spy on her boyfriend who may be laundering cash in some geriatric mafia scheme in this follow-up to Flash Flood and Rollover.

Teaser: Excerpt

Chapter One

Morning. The gold-orange glow shimmered in the narrow window high above him barely illuminating the computers and file cabinets. He turned over and rubbed his right hip bone. Musta slept on that spring poking up through the cotton batting. Cheap mattress, cheap cot, but when he was working with the dogs late, he could sleep in the office—didn’t have to travel ten miles to get home. On his bicycle. If his mother had taught him one thing, it was not to look the gift horse in the mouth and to thank the Lord for small favors. All in all, he didn’t have no regrets.

He could hear the dogs. Mostly barking but there were a couple howlers out there. And it was breakfast time. They never waited much past sunrise to let him know they were expecting a bowl of raw meat and kibble. These dogs were as precious as race horses, even if they only chased a mechanical rabbit a couple times a week. He swung his legs over the cot’s side and sat up, taking a deep breath. Acrid smoke settled around his head and the deep breath sent him to his knees in a spasm of coughing. Fire. Oh, God, help him. He had to get the dogs out.

The barking was at a fever pitch now. Had the fire reached the kennels? He grabbed his pillow and pressed it to his nose and mouth. Better. He could take them to the turnout. That area of scruffy grass where potential bettors could size up the day’s might-be stars. No time for muzzles. Bites would be the least of his worries about now.

He moved the pillow away from his mouth, “Sadie? Come here, girl.” She never left his side that sleek, brown-eyed silver greyhound. Knew without words that he’d saved her life some four years back. Slept with him curled into a ball at the foot of the cot. Shared his lunch and dinner. She was a real pushover for shrimp fried rice and pot stickers. Frantically he tried to see in the haze. The office door was open. That was odd. Could he have forgotten to latch it? Oh well, he’d find her outside in the hall or maybe in the kennel. She wouldn’t be far.

But he couldn’t go out in his skivvies. He put the pillow down and pulled on overalls, no time for a shirt or shoes and, bending low, pillow again over his mouth and nose, with eyes squinted almost shut, he sprinted for the door. And went sprawling. Through the doorway, crashing with a thud on one knee, slamming head-first onto the tile, shoulder scraping against the doorjamb, propelled forward, splayed out on all fours. And all because he caught his foot on...on...on a body. He pushed up, sitting back hard on his haunches, then bolted upright, heart pounding, slipping in the blood pooling beside the inert man dressed in Levis and plaid shirt, lying facedown, but with a knife handle sticking straight up out of his back. He couldn’t stop his hands from shaking. He backed up against the wall knowing the keening sounds were his, a low-pitched wail that rose in intensity. Help me. God and my mama, help me.

The smoke was thick now. He had to do something. He bent over, dropped to all fours, grasped the knife handle and closed his eyes. The jerk threw him backwards as the knife slipped out easily and clattered across the tile. It was out, but he knew it wouldn’t matter none to the man on the floor. He

was dead. Absolutely, totally not getting up anytime soon. He knelt beside the body and leaning across it firmly put his left hand on the shoulder opposite, and right hand around the man’s upper arm and pulled. The man flopped over against his thigh, then slipped down leaving a smear of red and settled into the pooled blood.

He stared down at the biggest kennel owner at the Daytona track. But no time to wonder about what had happened, that fire wasn’t slowing down. Smoke billowed thick above his head. He grabbed up the pillow, and squinting into the acrid gray cloud, raced along the corridor to the room of large metal crates lining every wall, each holding a dog. Much less smoke back here. He tossed the pillow aside and set to work. He started with the crates closest to the hall. He twisted handles and jerked doors open as fast as he could, stopping only to cross the hall and throw wide the double doors to the outside.

Dogs pushed against him, jostling to enter the run that emptied into the observation and exercise area. Fifty dogs. All being held over for Thursday’s races, with a hundred more arriving that morning. They had sent a whole bunch for training earlier that evening. And now the transport carrying the new racers was due at nine. Thank the Lord they hadn’t gotten here yet.

He needed to make sure the dogs still kenneled at the track were all accounted for. But no counting now. He’d save that for later; he needed to keep going. He didn’t stop until the last crate had been opened and the last greyhound had bolted for what they thought might be freedom. But had he gotten everyone out the exit? Dogs were everywhere, and the smoke wasn’t clearing. Thin tendrils hung in the air.

Only one thing to do. He grabbed two packages of stew meat from a fridge in the hall and waved handfuls above his head to get the attention of the errant few still circling frantically. He led them through the exit to safety, slamming the door behind him.

Still, no Sadie. He yelled her name but doubted she could hear over the raucous, panicked dogs. Had she run with the pack and was already safely out in the chain-link enclosure?

He could have easily missed her in all the confusion. Maybe she was fighting over turf or circling the fence looking for him right now. The smoke was thinner outdoors, but behind him, the office was engulfed in flames. No time to check now. She’d wait for him. She wouldn’t run away.

The body. Oh no. He’d forgotten. He wasn’t thinking straight.

He should have pulled it out of the doorway. He couldn’t just leave it to burn. Dead or not, that wasn’t showing respect to the family. He knew Jackson had a mother. You could find her every Wednesday when the programs were free, putting down a big chunk of her Social Security check at a betting window.

He had to give Jackson back to his mama.

He started to run. The closer to the office, the thicker the smoke. He dropped to all fours and crawled forward. He stopped. Had he passed the office? No. He was in front of the door. There was the blood spot darker now around the edges.

But no body. Jackson was gone. Maybe he’d been wrong about him being dead; maybe Jackson had crawled away. And he took his knife with him. There wasn’t any knife where it used to be.

That was a puzzle. What if the body had been a dream?

He could hear sirens, trucks turning in from South Williamson Road. Tendrils of fire now licked out of the office coming way too close to his clothing. No more wondering, he needed to leave. He crawled backwards and then stood and ran toward the dogs. He needed to do a count and find Sadie and then feed the dogs their breakfast. He’d grab some muzzles—he hoped there hadn’t already been fights. Funny how some dogs were just jealous and needed to have their way. He’d bet old Pete had already put the chomp on somebody. Sadie’d be smart. She’d stay out of the way. He tried to whistle for her but there was too much noise. She’d never be able to hear him.

Chapter Two

Dan liked to watch her look at the ring. Hold out her left hand, ring finger crooked ever so slightly, then turned slowly to let the light catch the faceted sapphire flanked by 4-C perfect diamonds.

Tiffany stones, a platinum setting with a world of memories. The case in Wagon Mound, New Mexico, had put a crimp in her sabbatical and left him with a cast on his wrist, but the ending was pretty nice. Yeah, she liked it. And he liked being engaged.

It gave him a feeling of permanence—somehow grounded and warm and fuzzy all mixed up together. They’d shelved Ireland, not forever, just for now. There was still some time left before she had to return to the university. The sabbatical was for a full year. And just maybe she wouldn’t return. Elaine had held true to her promise—she’d enrolled online in a six-month course for a certificate in private investigation. Time would tell, but co-mingling a shingle might not be a bad thing.

He tried to be persuasive with United Life and Casualty about getting a couple weeks’ vacation before picking up a new case. Played the engagement card. Didn’t he need a little time with his fiancée? Pointed out how between Tatum, New Mexico, and then Wagon Mound, the summer and fall had been a little hectic. Two cases wrapped up pretty neatly with some big savings for the company. Instead, UL&C came back with a tantalizing opportunity in Daytona Beach, Florida, and suggested he combine business with pleasure—hinted they’d look the other way if his work time got a little heavy on the beach side. Not a bad offer. Now he needed to convince Elaine.

“What would you say to a little vacation/work combination?”

They were starting their day at a Starbucks in Santa Fe. And like a broken record, Dan kicked himself again for not buying coffee-shop stock way back when. He wished hindsight didn’t have a way of defining his life. But he was turning that around. The woman in front of him wearing his engagement ring would attest to that. And, boy, did he have good taste. He noticed for the umpteenth time how nicely her jeans accentuated every curve.

“Sounds great. When do we leave?” Elaine leaned forward, elbows on the table. With her hair pulled to the side, secured by a magenta scarf sporting little turquoise howling coyotes, she looked thirty—not forty-six. He wondered if there would ever be a time when someone would mistake him for her father. He had to stop thinking that way. Fifty-two wasn’t that much older.

Could six years make that big of a difference? Any gray in his hair stopped at the temples. No, he could shave off a couple years, too.

“Tomorrow.” He almost cringed. He was used to taking off at a moment’s notice, but he wasn’t sure about Elaine. Did she really know what she was signing on for?

“You’re kidding!”

“Nope. Fire at a greyhound track cost the life of five dogs yesterday. Five heavily insured ones. UL&C wants me on the scene as quickly as possible.”

“And this track happens to be?”

“In Daytona Beach.”

“Florida? NASCAR heaven, by any other name?”

“The same. But I might throw in Atlantic Ocean, miles of fantastic beach, company-guaranteed R&R—” Dan paused.

That last might be a bit of a fib, but they did say they’d look the other way if billables were stretched to cover beach time. He figured a couple long weekends wouldn’t be questioned.

“Guaranteed R&R? Well, then, count me in.”

Why did he think she didn’t sound convinced? A touch of sarcasm even? If truth be known, maybe he wasn’t convinced either. He needed to stop letting work interfere with his love life—now that he had one.

Hair of the Dog  - available NOW!

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The Series: Dan Mahoney Mysteries

Click on the book cover to Look Inside the book on Amazon and read an excerpt.

Flash Flood[1]

Dan Mahoney, insurance investigator, lands in Tatum, New Mexico where several prize cattle on the famed Double Horseshoe Ranch have mysteriously died. The claims put a lot of money at stake for Dan’s company. But that just scratches the surface of the high jinks afoot in Tatum. And the high stakes.

A surprised Dan hadn’t counted on witnessing a murder, falling in love, or becoming the pawn of federal agents. It’s the flash flood that changes everything. Could cattleman Billy Roland Eklund have set up Eric Linden, pilot and family friend, who’s caught in the roaring water? Tempted him to forfeit seven years of his life for two million dollars? And then had him killed? Or was it the lovely Elaine, Linden’s wife, who had so much to gain?

Dan stumbles across secrets that implicate his sister, his employer, and what seems like half of southern New Mexico. Sucked into small town duplicity, he struggles with truth and learns that dead men can come back to haunt. [Published 27 July 2011, 313 pages]

Rollover [2]

A bank heist turns sleepy little Wagon Mound, New Mexico, on its ear. It’s no straight-forward, “demand all the money at gun-point and hustle out the front door” kind of robbery. It’s a sneaky tunneling that probably took months to complete and landed the thieves in a room of safe deposit boxes—not the vault with two million bucks for a ranch sale next door. Was this some mistake, or was the thieves’ target the Tiffany-designed sapphire and diamond necklace belonging to eighty-five year old Gertrude Kennedy, a family heirloom from the days of the Titanic?

The necklace is insured with United Life and Casualty for half a million. The company sends their ace investigator, Dan Mahoney, a Chicagoan still in New Mexico recuperating from events in Flash Food, and romancing the intrepid Elaine Linden, to the scene of the crime. Delayed when his Jeep overheats, Dan catches a ride and is the hapless passenger in a rollover that kills the driver and lands Dan in Santa Fe’s hospital.

Dan soon learns the rollover was no accident. Someone wants him kept out of Wagon Mound at any cost. Dan hasn’t lived his life looking over his shoulder and he’s not starting now. But when Elaine disappears and people close to the case, like the bank’s manager, turn up dead, he suspects there’s more going on than a robbery. The note slipped under his rented room’s door in the dead of night says it all—“it’s not what you think”."

Fast-paced from first to last, Rollover combines the murder mystery with the caper for a captivating read. [Published 1 July 2014, 218 pages]

About the Author

Susan is the author of the Ben Pecos series (Pumpkin Seed Massacre, A Way to the Manger, Yellow Lies and Thunderbird), a stand-alone (Five O'clock Shadow), a women's fiction novel (0 to 60), a para-normal short story in Rod Serling's commemorative Twilight Zone Anthology (Eye for an Eye), and the Dan Mahoney series.

Susan lives on the Atlantic coast and writes full-time.

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Giveaway and Tour Stops

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Susan Slater & Poisoned Pen Press. There will be one US winner of 1 Box of Poisoned Pen Press books including Hair of the Dog by Susan Slater. The giveaway begins on August 1st, 2015 and runs through August 31st, 2015.
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