Hunted to Death excerpt by Meg Perry

Cover of novel Hunted to Death by Meg Perry

Hunted to Death: An Angeles Investigations Mystery

The second novel in the series. It will publish on March 15, 2024. and is now available for pre-order
You’ll find more information and can preorder HERE.

Jon was at his desk by 7:45, determined to know as much as possible about Deborah George before she arrived at nine. By the time Susan arrived at 8:30, he’d learned quite a bit.

She dropped her backpack by her desk. “When did you get here?”

“Before eight. Knowledge is power.”

“True.” She sat down and knocked back a slug of coffee. “Who is Deborah?”

“Deborah Ann Stokes George. Born March 23, 1957, in Ladue, Missouri, which is a wealthy suburb of St. Louis. Dad was a bigwig in a company called Parker Groves Hendley, which is…”

Susan finished it for him. “The largest food conglomerate in the world. I’ve heard of them. So, Deborah is six years younger than her brother. Is that enough of an age gap to produce childhood hero worship?”

“Probably.” Jon pointed to his screen. “She still lives in Ladue with her husband, who’s a senior VP at PGH. A corporate jet registered to the company landed at LAX at 12:48 this morning.”

“Does she have kids?”

“One son. If I’ve followed the trail correctly, he’s with Goldman Sachs.”

Susan made a “how ’bout that?” face. “Not interested in the family business, then.”

“No. He’s loaded, but it’s all his own money.”

“Built on a legacy admission to Harvard or some shit, I bet.”

“He went to Harvard but got in on his own merits. Dad went to Iowa State then got his MBA at Washington University at St. Louis.”

“Huh. This is shaping up to be a fascinating family. Does Deborah work outside the home?”

“She does a lot of charity work, which seems to involve hosting fundraisers at her home. The Missouri Historical Society, The Landmarks Association of St. Louis, etcetera.”



Susan rolled her eyes and took another swig of coffee. “Can’t wait to meet her.”

Jon thought he knew what corporate wives looked like. His mother was one. His brother was married to one. His father’s friends’ wives all looked alike. Artfully dyed hair, cut to look like it fell into those layers naturally. The skin around their eyes a little too tight. Slender, dressed in a manner conservative enough to not inspire jealousy in the other wives but sexy enough to keep the men interested. Clothes that were elegantly classy and obviously expensive. Tanned and toned, usually from tennis and golf, well into their fifties and sixties.

Deborah George was throwing money at the problem—Jon gave her partial credit for that—but she didn’t seem to know where to spend it. She was close to a hundred pounds overweight, short and apple-shaped, wearing an ill-fitting designer skirt and blouse in colors that failed to complement her pasty skin. She was wearing kitten heels and carrying a huge leather tote. Jon thought it might be Bottega Veneta. His sister-in-law had one.

The uniformed cop at the security gate—today it was Officer Stella Luna—was sitting on her stool, arms crossed, glaring at Deborah. Jon wondered what had transpired there; he’d have to find out later. Deborah was sitting in one of the molded plastic seats in the waiting area. She eyed Jon critically as he approached.

He turned on his patented charm, though he wasn’t sure it would work in this circumstance. “Mrs. George? I’m Detective Eckhoff.”

She stood. “I expected someone to be waiting for me when I arrived.”

Deborah’s voice was nasal, and she was affecting what she apparently considered to be a posh accent. She sounded like Katharine Hepburn with a severe sinus condition. He said, “We were working while we waited. I assume you want to identify your brother’s killer as soon as possible.”

She huffed a little. “I certainly do.”

“Then let’s go upstairs.” He led her to the elevators and pushed the button.

As they waited, Deborah looked around with distaste at the scuffed floor tiles and the institutional beige walls. “This is unpleasant.”

“It’s a police station, ma’am. It’s not supposed to be pleasant.”

From his left, Jon thought he heard Officer Luna laugh. Deborah gave him a sharp look but didn’t comment further. As they rode to the fifth floor, Jon amused himself by anticipating Deborah’s reaction to Susan.

He wasn’t disappointed. Susan was wearing khakis and a long-sleeved tee, a concession to what she’d figured were Deborah’s delicate sensitivities regarding tattoos, but Deborah still took a step back at the sight of Susan’s spiky black hair, shaved on the sides, and her hard stare. Susan’s eyes narrowed and Jon thought, Here we go. “Mrs. George, this is my partner, Detective Susan Portman.”

Susan nodded. “Ma’am.”

“Detective.” Deborah didn’t make any attempt to hide her sneer. She dropped her tote bag into Jon’s chair and sat in Susan’s. “Before we begin, I need to know what your credentials are.”

Susan opened her mouth; Jon shot her a look, and she closed it. Jon said, “We’ve both been homicide detectives for over a decade, and we hold the highest rank in the detective squad. The detective slots here at the Robbery-Homicide Unit are prized within the ranks, and the process to join is highly competitive.”

“So, you’re here on merit? Not political privilege?”

Susan was gritting her teeth. Jon asked, “Do either of us look like beneficiaries of political privilege?”

Deborah seemed to sense a trap; she thought about it for a moment then said, “No.”

Jon rolled a chair over from an unoccupied desk and sat. “All right. Let’s talk about who might have wanted to kill your brother.”

One thing became clear to Jon as they interviewed Deborah George: she was in deep denial. She couldn’t think of anyone who’d wish her brother harm. Those girls who’d accused him were “lying, vindictive little bitches.” Never mind that they were only eight and nine years old at the time. His ex-wife, an “ungrateful, disloyal, lying bitch,” had abandoned him in his time of need. He’d had no enemies in prison. She actually said, “Everybody loved Dean.”

Susan smirked. Jon thought, I bet they did. He said, “Mrs. George, if you had to take a wild guess, who do you think might have killed your brother?”

“How should I know? That’s your job.”

Jon sighed internally. “Yes, ma’am.”

“How do you plan to find the killer?”

“We’ll start by finding exactly where the shot came from, then ask people in the area whether they saw anything. We’ll look for footprints, tire tracks, and trace evidence that might have been left there. We’ll analyze the bullet fragment we have. And we’ll need to talk to members of your family—Dean’s ex-wife and his sons, in particular. Do you have contact information for them?”

“Yes. I can give you those numbers.” She dug out her phone and recited the numbers.

Jon wrote them down. “Thank you. That will be helpful.”

She sniffed. “I don’t know what they can tell you. As I said, they completely abandoned him. That bitch Mary Lou turned Dean’s sons against him.”

Susan said dryly, “Uh-huh.”

Jon knew the answer, but he asked anyway. “Was Dean ever in the military?”

“No. Why do you ask?”

“Because the shooter might be someone with military training, since we believe that the shot came from some distance away.”

Deborah looked startled. “Oh. I never considered that.”

“Was anyone in your family ever in the military?”

“Our father was a World War Two veteran.”

“Okay. Anyone else?”


She was lying. Jon wondered why. He glanced at Susan, who rolled her eyes. Deborah said, “I’ve told you everything I know. We’re wasting time here. I need you to start looking for my brother’s killer.”

“We’ve already started, ma’am. All the evidence we collected yesterday is being analyzed by our forensics lab.”

Deborah waved her hand at the room. “There are other detectives here, I assume.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“So, you’ll be able to concentrate on my brother’s case.”

Jon opened his mouth, but Susan beat him to it this time. “That’s not how it works, Mrs. George.”

Deborah glared at Susan. Jon thought, If looks could kill… She said, “I don’t know what you mean.”

Susan pointed to the bookcase that sat against the wall between their desks, full of blue three-ring notebooks. Murder books. She said, “See those notebooks? Each of them represents a murder victim. We work on all of them, every day. The other detectives here have their own notebooks. We can’t drop these cases to work on yours alone. These folks have families who want answers, too.”

Deborah huffed. “Absurd. Do you know who my husband is?”

Jon almost laughed. Susan said, “I do. I also know that your brother was a tier three pedophile. The people in these blue notebooks had their problems, but none of them was a pedophile.”

Deborah slammed her pudgy hand on the desk, which made Jon jump. “This is unacceptable!” She lowered her voice and leaned forward. “What will it take for you to concentrate on finding my brother’s killer?”

Jon and Susan shared an incredulous look. Susan asked, “Are you trying to bribe the Los Angeles Police Department?”

Deborah looked smug. “I know all about the LAPD. Don’t tell me it’s never been done.”

Jon said, “Those days are long past. Come on, Mrs. George. This isn’t small-town Missouri, where you probably went to grade school with the chief of police, and you can bend the cops to your will.”

Deborah flushed—apparently, Jon’s assumption was correct—but she stabbed a finger at them with each word. “I. Will. Have. Satisfaction. I’ll speak to your chief!”

Susan did laugh then. “Knock yourself out, lady.”

Jon said, “Mrs. George, everything that happens in this room is recorded. You need to tread more carefully here.”

“Are you telling me that you refuse to make my brother’s case a priority?”

Jon pinched the bridge of his nose. Susan said, “That is exactly what I am telling you. Your brother’s case will get the same attention that all our cases do. No more, no less. And we’re gonna throw in a favor to you on top of that. Because you’re a grieving family member, we won’t charge you with bribery of an executive officer, which is a felony punishable by up to four years in prison.”

Deborah actually hissed. “How dare you.”

Susan straight-armed her badge at Deborah. “This right here is how I dare to.”

Jon stood up. “Mrs. George, I think we’ve accomplished everything we can here. We’ll be in touch.”

Deborah stared daggers at them both. Susan gave Jon a “please get her out of my sight before I shoot her” look. Jon said, “Come on, Mrs. George. I’ll walk you out.”

They rode the elevator in silence. Jon could feel the steam rolling off Deborah. When they reached the lobby, she whirled on him. “I am not leaving town until I get answers.”

“That’s fine, ma’am.”

She held up her forefinger but then seemed to not be able to think of anything else to say. She turned, giving Officer Luna an acid glare, and stomped out of the building.

Novel Description:

sniper? In Bel Air?

The peace of wealthy Bel Air is shattered on a Friday night by a rifle shot. Anyone who’s outdoors in the neighborhood hears the shot, including Kevin Brodie and Kristen Beach, but no one knows where the shot came from or the identity of the intended target…until the next day, when Jamie Brodie brings his dog, Ammo, to Kevin’s house.

Ammo, a trained cadaver dog, drags Jamie and Kevin up the street about a half-mile then alerts on a house. The officers who respond to Kevin’s 911 call find a man lying on his pool deck, shot in the head by a high-caliber round. The victim is identified as 72-year-old Dean Stokes, a tier three registered sex offender who was released from incarceration in Kansas four months before.

The logical assumption is that one of Dean’s victims waited 35 years to get their revenge. Dean’s sister thinks so; she jets in from St. Louis and hires Angeles Investigations to solve Dean’s murder, but she’s withholding information. Why?

When the Angeles team realizes that their answers probably lie in Missouri, they also realize that they’ll need help. Good thing that their administrative assistant, Ryan McKinney, has a cousin in St. Louis who’s a PI.

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