Saturday, January 14, 2012

Blog Tour: Taken by L.M. Pruitt (International Giveaway!)

This blog tour is presented by The Bookish Snob Tours.
You can see the entire tour schedule by clicking HERE.
You can see my review by clicking HERE.
Welcome to The Wormhole and my day on the tour!
The next blog stop: January 15 – Getting Naughty Between The Stacks  
It is my pleasure to bring you L.M. Pruitt!
L.M. Pruitt has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember. A native of Florida with a love of New Orleans, she has the uncanny ability to find humor in most things and would probably kill a plastic plant. She is the author of the Jude Magdalyn Series as well as New Moon Rising, featuring Cari Gravier, and Taken, featuring Frankie Post. She is currently at work on the next book in the Moon Rising series, Harvest Moon Rising, due out April 2012. Ms. Pruitt makes her home in Florida with two cats--one smart, the other not so much.

Amazon Product Description:
Cheating spouse? Stolen jewelry? Missing person?

Call Frances--Frankie--Post. A private detective with a trick or two up her sleeve and a few skeletons of her own.

What starts out as a simple missing person's case dumps Frankie and her lover Jack right in the crosshairs of a dangerous human trafficking organization. With lives on the line, bad blood and old wounds finally see the light of day. And Frankie and Jack are forced to realize: The past always catches up with you.


*** You can buy this story by clicking HERE, HERE, or HERE.
*** You can enter to WIN this story by filling out the form below.
And feed your need to read...a little something from the author:
Every good crime fiction/noir piece has some twisty turny plot points. Obviously, I can't give everything away (although I really want to--trust me, I do), but sometimes the inspiration to turn down the right path comes from the most unexpected sources. In Frankie's case, on.

“I don’t care how bored you are; you want the money, you stay on her tail.” The whining increased and grew in volume until I wanted to pound my head against a wall. “Casey Lynn, darlin’, you do this or you don’t get paid, simple as that. Now, you looking to forfeit a nice little chunk of change?”
The line went dead and I rolled my eyes. Johnny grunted but didn’t look up from his screen. “Your latest soldier not falling into line?”
“She has the attention span of a five year old cracked out on Halloween candy.” I tossed the phone on the bed, pacing to the bathroom and back. “Good thing she’s not waiting on you. There’s a good possibility one of you would kill the other.”
“I’ve never hit a woman.” The clacking slowed and he chuckled. “Unless she asked for it.”
I stopped in mid-pace, staring. “I’m pretty sure you’re joking. Or trying to be perverted. Either way, it’s so shocking I’m more than a little boggled.”
“The same thing happens to Maria. People tend to forget I’m more than computers and bad habits.” The compact printer started whirring, the sound out of place in the smoke-drenched room. “Here, get started on these.”
“As if I have a clue where to start.” My muttering wasn’t simple complaining. All we had right now were names, feelings and a niggling suspicion. In other words, nothing.
“So, talk it out. Maria likes to do that about… everything.” Johnny paused, swiveling to the printer. Gathering up the stack of papers, he tapped them together, straightening them before handing the bundle over. “First, tell me why we’re going through all her e-mails.”
“Because I’m curious.” Even to my own ears I sounded testy, snotty.
“Well, why are you curious?” He turned back to the computer to resume his typing. “I know you, Frankie. Not a lot of things arouse your curiosity. So, what did?”
“A name. I’m looking for a name.” Sighing, I started reading the first e-mail. Within two paragraphs, I was as bored and antsy as Casey Lynn had whined about being. “For some reason, Audrey Clark is really annoyed with someone named Dylan.”
“People tend to be annoyed with other people for any number of reasons.” The printer continued whirring, its tidy stack increasing in size. “I’m going to assume you got this name in your usual way—meaning you’re not going to tell me how you got it. So we’re going to put it aside for now.” He sneezed once and wiped the screen with his sleeve. “Why are you so curious about Audrey Clark, specifically? Normally, when a case is over, you do your paperwork, file things away, and pick up another case.”
“Everything about this has been off, almost from the beginning.” Frustrated, I flipped the page over, scanning now more than reading. Art, antiques, fabric and paint samples. Just reading made me feel gauche. “Jack and I both getting involved as pure coincidence?”
“Well, you said this Ian guy works for the DA. No doubt he pulled the strings to get a top detective on his cousin’s case. And then when things looked like they were going nowhere, he asks around. Finds out about some hotshot private investigator.”
“I wouldn’t call myself a hotshot.” I smiled, flipping another page. “Good, yes. Hotshot, no.”
“And modest, to boot. So, for now we’ll go with it being coincidence. Because I’m going to guess, while there are plenty of people who know about you and Jack, it’s more along the lines of rumor or thinking you hook up occasionally.”
“Fine, we’ll chalk things up to coincidence.” Another page. More work talk. Whoever A. Bragefrede was, he did a lot of business with Audrey’s firm, and Audrey specifically. “Then there are the roommates.”
“One now dead, the other chained to a hospital bed.”
“Both as different from Audrey Clark as you can get. I mean, they’re all artsy, yeah, but we have two performing artists and one… well, I guess you could say graphic artist, although she’s still pretty hands on.” Huffing out a breath, I set the e-mails aside and started cracking my knuckles. I winced when my thumb stuck, refusing to pop for a moment before giving way. “She’s successful, they’re not. She’s making money and a name, they’re not.”
“Bound to cause some resentment, especially with all those nasty female hormones floating around in one space.” Johnny turned, scooped up the stack from the printer and handed them to me. “So, who resents who?”
“What?” If the printer ever stopped, I’d consider the event a miracle.
“Well, look at this from both ways. They’re probably jealous of her, with her money and success and whatnot. But what about her? She’s probably annoyed, more than a little embarrassed.”
“None of which explains Shelly’s scared as hell reaction or Samantha’s pointed comments about how Audrey might want to disappear. I’ve got one girl acting like she had a hand in things and the other pointing the finger at the missing girl.” With my knuckles popped, I moved on to my toes. The cracking sound filled the room, competing with Johnny’s clacking. “The first, I can understand, because people are assholes. The second, not so much.”
“Well, forget about motive for now. What’s the other thing cop shows are always talking about?” Johnny paused, snorting as he shook his head. “Opportunity. If you go with the idea that the two girls were the ones to pay to have their friend kidnapped and sold like a piece of meat, you have to wonder where they ran across someone who could help them with the plan.”
“Samantha Abernathy worked in a hole-in-the-sewer strip club. I’m pretty sure she’d have run across someone who knew about sex slaves.”
“Yeah, but you also said she started there about three months ago, two months before Audrey was abducted. That’s a short amount of time to put something of this magnitude together, especially if you don’t have the right connections.”
“So, rule her out. Or at least put her toward the end of the line. And I’ll eat my shoe if Shelly has the connections or the brains this would require.”
“Which brings us to Audrey, who has both the brains and the connections, along with the motivation.” Johnny swiveled away from the monitor, kicking his feet up on the bed. “And the money.”
“Any of the girls could have used the money, as evidenced by the fact the payment to the Organization was authorized with Shelly’s number.” Everything Johnny said made sense. And yet the very idea made no sense at all. “But I guess if Audrey is smart enough to fake her own abduction, a little thing like her roommate’s banking passcode would be small potatoes.”
“I know Holmesian Philosophy gets tossed around a lot, but there’s some truth to it. If you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Johnny stretched his arms high over his head. “We’re saying there’s no possible way for either Shelly or Samantha to have masterminded and financed this operation, even with both of them working together. What remains?”
“When you take in the money transfer, the random comments, and the general gut feeling, what remains is Audrey Clark orchestrating her own abduction.” I waited a beat before shaking my head. “But that’s just as impossible an idea as the other two doing it. Why would anyone willingly go into sex slavery?”
“Maybe she planned on being rescued.” He shrugged, snorting at my dropped jaw. “You said she’s anal about organization. Someone like that would be the kind to make sure she had an escape lined up.”
“I swear, this case is going to drive me to drink.” Fisting my hands in my hair, I tugged hard in an effort to clear my head. “We just agreed neither of the other girls had anything to do with this shitstorm.”
“True. But who said Audrey’s conspirator had to be one of her roommates?”
I stared at Johnny. “Who else? Everybody, even Audrey herself, has said she pretty much works and goes home. If she goes out, she goes with her roommates or on some work related gig.”
“Well, based on the extensive amount of time I’ve spent with her inbox, I can tell you there are only five people making up the bulk of the material. Being a curious person myself, I hacked into the employee database at Messer and Briggs. Four of the five work with her, two of them supervisors of some sort.”
“And the fifth?”
“The fifth would be our mysterious A. Bragfrede. Continuing to satisfy my curiosity, I ran him through Google. Turns out he’s an art dealer here in Manhattan.” Johnny turned, reached behind to the desk and grabbed a piece of paper. “He specializes in paintings, but does the occasional side step into statuary.”
An image of Audrey’s desk, ruthless in organization and decorated with unicorns and fairies, popped into my mind. “I think a little talk with Bragfrede might be in order.”
“Might be a good idea.” Johnny handed me the paper and I folded it, shoving it in my purse. I paused, my hand on the door knob when he spoke again. “Frankie. One more thing.”
“Be careful.”

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