Buried Leads by LynDee Walker is the second Nichelle Clarke Headlines in High Heels Mystery about a Virginia journalist (available October 15, 2013).
Nichelle Clarke is a reporter for the Richmond Telegraph and her job is to cover the cops and court beat for the paper. She’s a fashion-conscious girl, who isn’t afraid to get dirty if it means getting information for a news story. When she hears on her police scanner that a dead body was found in the woods, she doesn’t even think to change out of her Manolos before heading over to the scene.
Dead people can have the worst timing.
After a ridiculously long day of deadlines, criminals, and cops who did not want to talk to me, I wanted a hot bath and my warm bed. Is that too much for a girl to ask? Apparently so, because there I was, traipsing around the woods looking for a half-eaten dead guy who got himself discovered at eleven o’clock. At night. The glamorous life of a journalist.
The humor in this book starts at the very beginning and moves right along through to the end. You might think that a series about high heels would be fluffy, but you’d be wrong. This book has a great mystery, a ton of humor (I know I’ve already said that, but it was worth repeating) and really wonderful characters. Nichelle might like her shoes, but she’s a smart career girl who works hard and tries to do the right thing by writing stories that matter.
No book about a single girl would be complete without a love interest—or two. Nichelle’s sources are her contacts at the FBI and police department, but she also has a friend whose position in reference to the law is a bit more ambiguous. Joey is a sexy, mafia-connected friend who gets her heartbeat going every time she sees him. Joey tends to show up when she least expects it, and clearly has her safety and best interests in mind. Finding him on her doorstep when she gets home makes the fact she just spent time with a dead body a bit more bearable.
He strolled into the light spilling from the kitchen porch lamp, and my insides positively cartwheeled. It had been several weeks since I’d seen him, and his olive skin, strong jaw, and straight nose looked even better than I remembered. The shoulders under his Armani suit coat were broad; his lean, strong frame obvious through his tailored clothes.
“I might have gone for that. But if you come much closer, you’ll get a whiff of why I can’t. I’ve been poking around a body dump in the woods out toward Goochland.”
“Anyone interesting?” He didn’t look surprised, a sardonic smile tipping up the corners of his full lips. That was an upshot to having a Mafia boss as a friend. I could talk to him about the more disgusting aspects of my job and not freak him out.
“No ID yet,” I said. “But I was the only reporter out there, so I’m going to write it up anyway. We can get it on the web first thing in the morning. The coroner will probably know who it is by tomorrow.”
“Bodies don’t get dumped in the woods by good guys.”
“Could be interesting.” I nodded.
“You all right?” he asked. “How much did you see?”
It took a minute for me to figure out that he was asking if my mental state had been impaired by the sight of the half-eaten dead guy.
“Yeah. I’m jaded enough that I don’t go catatonic or throw up anymore. I think I might understand a little bit of how doctors get to be clinical about telling people they have some horrible disease. After a while, it’s just a bad day at work. Not that I don’t love my job. I just love the dead guys less than the rest of it.”
Since Nichelle’s job is to write about the latest police activities, her involvement in the investigation makes complete sense. This is refreshing when compared to some cozy mysteries that have to stretch the situation to explain the sleuth’s involvement. Nichelle continues to delve into the murder in the woods and the more she learns, the more she finds out that there might be a political angle. Politics, however, is not her beat. As she investigates, she tells herself she needs to find out more before she can determine whether or not the story needs to be kicked over to Trudy, the newspaper’s political reporter.
As if the poor girl doesn’t have enough going on, enter the ex-boyfriend Kyle, who is an ATF agent and has recently been relocated to the Richmond office. His work seems to be linked to her investigations, and she ends up coming in contact with him quite a bit. He wants to try and pick up their relationship where they left off, but Nichelle is torn.
I cleared my throat and touched Kyle’s shoulder.
“Nicey!” He pulled me into an unexpected hug when he turned and I lost my balance, clinging to his broad shoulders such that we drew a couple of snickers from his entourage. He still wore Eternity. Same old Kyle. Except for the biceps. The arms I remembered were skinny. The ones crushing into my ribcage were not. I pushed away memories of some very nice evenings spent in those arms as I gathered my wits.
I kept one hand on his arm and straightened myself, then smoothed my flared navy skirt and smiled.
“Nice to see you, too,” I said.
He turned to his colleagues, all of whom also sported gunbulges under their jackets. “This is Nichelle Clarke. She’s the cops and courts reporter at the Telegraph.”
“We’ve heard.” A barrel-chested man with cocoa skin and a voice that belonged on the radio offered his hand, his teeth flashing stark white when he grinned. “It’s a pleasure, Miss Clarke.”
I shook his hand firmly and turned back to Kyle, one eyebrow up. “Some reporter I am. I wasn’t aware you were back in town.”
He ducked his head. “Busted. I was going to call and ask you to dinner. I got a transfer to the Richmond office. Meet your newest local ATF special agent.”
I stared in silence for a full minute, my brain in hyperdrive. Once I’d thought Kyle Miller was the love of my life. It had taken me a decade to stop thinking it, actually. And now he decides to move halfway across the country to my city? Fabulous.
“Well, welcome to Richmond,” I said finally.
His eyes told me that wasn’t the reaction he hoped for.
The other three men laughed and introduced themselves as members of Kyle’s new team.
Following Nicey around was a lot of fun, but the fact that she races around Richmond, barely getting any sleep, made me feel exhausted for her. I couldn’t figure out how she had the energy, but then it hit me, she must have to work that hard in order to afford the designer shoes she loves so much. I really hope there are more books in this series.
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Kerry Hammond has been an avid mystery reader ever since she discovered Nancy Drew at the age of 8. She enjoys all types of stories, from thrillers to cozies to historical mysteries.