Handcuffs in the Heather – Lovely Lethal Gardens Book 8 by Dale Mayer

Handcuffs in the Heather
Lovely Lethal Gardens Book 8
USA Today Bestselling Author
Dale Mayer


Riches to rags. …
Everything is under control, …
until it isn’t.
And Doreen’s in the middle of it!

The four boxes of files Doreen inherited from journalist Bridgeman Solomon have already helped her solve one crime, and Doreen hopes they’ll continue to assist her as she sticks her nose into future cases. But, when she stumbles over a pair of pink satin handcuffs in her standoffish neighbor Richard de Genaro’s heather patch, it’s hard to believe that those reporter’s files could have anything useful to offer regarding that.

Doreen takes a look though, and soon she’s headed down a merry trail of prostitution, embezzlement, and, of course, murder. But the minute the files suggest a connection to Doreen’s specialty, a cold case, her beau and partner in crime, Corporal Mack Moreau, starts breathing down her neck.

With her trusty animals leading the way, Doreen sets out to find the connection between the reputable banker who died in an unsolved hit-and-run and the prostitute who owned the pink satin handcuffs. As Doreen puts it all together, even she is surprised at the outcome of her latest investigation.

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I really love this series, it seems no matter how hard she tries Doreen ends up in the middle of something police related.

As we watch the wrap-up of the previous book, Doreen stumbles across a pair of pink satin-covered handcuffs in her neighbor’s Heather plants. Now Mack and Doreen had a good chuckle over that, at least until the next day.

A grumpy Mack shows up early in the morning and proceeds to make coffee while she finishes getting ready for the day. He also cooks up breakfast for her when he discovers she only had some cheese and crackers before bed.

This is a favorite scene.

She nodded. “This wasn’t simple.”

“It’s very simple. You saw me make it.”

“Sure, but it doesn’t have a simple taste. It’s deep and rich with flavor and cheese.” She ate like a starving woman because, at this moment, that was what she was. Before she knew it, only a little bit of scrambled eggs were left. She scraped it onto her toast, lifted the toast, and polished off the first piece. Then she sat back with a happy sigh but looked at the second piece of toast and said, “I don’t think I can eat it.”

“I highly suggest you try.” Mack walked over to the cupboard and brought out the peanut butter and jam.

Doreen slathered both on and cut the bread in half. She gave him half and then started on the other. He picked up his half and ate it in three bites. She watched it disappear while she nibbled on hers.

“That’s the problem with you,” he said. “You put so much effort into your eating, you’ve burned up all the calories before it hits your stomach.”

She ignored his comment and ate as slowly as she wanted. Then she picked up her coffee and asked, “So what’s got you so upset this morning?”

“Where are they?”

She frowned at him in confusion. “Where are what?”

He growled, “The pink satin handcuffs.”

She looked at him and tried hard not to smirk but couldn’t stop it. Her lips twitched, and the first snort of a giggle escaped. And then she burst out in laughter. Mack glared at her. And Mugs, who had been quietly sitting at Doreen’s feet, jumped onto his back legs and woofed at her. She smiled but was still laughing helplessly as she reached down and cuddled him close. And then she heard an even odder sound. She looked over at Thaddeus perched on the windowsill, imitating her laughter. It was the weirdest cackling yet snuffling sound she’d ever heard.

At that, Mack burst out chuckling.

“Wow, we’re all just a mess this morning,” Doreen said, still giggling. She looked at Mack and asked, “Why do you care about the handcuffs? You were all for me throwing them in the garbage last night.”

“I want to see them,” he said.

Snickering, but happy to go along with his request, she hopped to her feet and walked to the front closet. She pulled out the stack of baskets and brought the top one back, so Mack could see the bag with the handcuffs in it.

He lifted it up and said, “You put it on the paper towel?”

She nodded. “And then I put the paper towel in the bag, in case anything fell off.”

He nodded and carefully looked at the handcuffs still inside the plastic bag.

She refilled their coffee cups, then sat, noting the resigned look on his face. She peered at the bag in his hand, but it was hard to see from her position. Plus the lighting was wrong. “What do you see?”

“Initials MP,” he said. His voice was heavy and deep.

“Initials? What?” She jumped to her feet to look closer. “So, we can return them to somebody. Do you really think they’d want them back?”

“We can’t return them to anybody,” he said quietly. “Because I’m pretty sure these handcuffs belong to a woman, a known prostitute in this town, but one who disappeared about ten years ago.”

Doreen stared at him for a long time. “But the handcuffs couldn’t have been buried there for ten years.”

“No, I suspect not. The material would have rotted away.”

“So …”

“So, we actually had a problem with nonessential evidence from the case disappearing from the station.”

Her jaw dropped. “From the evidence locker or whatever you use to keep all that stuff in?”

Mack nodded. “In cold cases, we don’t throw everything away. Some police detachments do when they run out of storage. But obviously, if we’re still trying to solve a case, we don’t get rid of the various pieces of evidence we have.”

“But this is hardly pertinent evidence, is it?”

“No, it was taken during the investigation, and it didn’t have any fingerprints or anything on it, and her purse was found in the alley, nearby where she was known to work. Everything was photographed, and the digital copies were kept,” he said. “But the purse and the contents went into an evidence box.”

“But you didn’t have anybody to return it to, so what happened to it?”

He shrugged. “It was kept with forensic evidence for a long time. And then this stuff disappeared. We assumed at the time it had been tossed and no one marked it down. The cleanout was official so no one was really upset …”

She stared at him in fascination. “So you don’t think this is relevant to the cold case on her disappearance, which is probably a murder, but you are thinking it might be related to whoever broke into the storage or the evidence locker or whatever you want to call it.”

He nodded slowly. “Exactly.”

“So, let me get this straight. A woman’s presumably murdered, and you collect all kinds of items for forensics. But, after testing, whatever is of no interest, you have nobody to give it back to because she has no family. So you hang on to the stuff until the theft of the stuff. What … How many years ago?”

“Seven,” he said slowly. “In this case.”

“So, years after the original disappearance, but I’m calling it a murder, somebody dumps the box— which does seem to point the finger at somebody in the police department. At least initially. But maybe then the dumpster was raided, and I’m thinking kids got to it and threw it away here in the neighbor’s yard. And yet it wasn’t important to the case, so the kids stealing it shouldn’t have been important to the case either. More nuisance value. Likely someone pilfered the purse, hoping something worth money was inside, but, not finding anything, they just threw everything away.”

He nodded. “But then where is the purse? Or, in this case, the rest of the box?”

“That could be anywhere. Particularly if the purse was nice. The rest? … Possibly tossed in the bushes as they walked or drove by. … That part we’re not likely to ever know. And it ends up at my neighbor’s front garden,” she said. “See? That says prank to me. Was anyone who worked at the force related to Richard? Maybe even hated him? Or, like I said first, it could have been just some curious kids …”

“Of course it could,” Mack said. “And, more to the point, it ends up in your hands.”
Dale Mayer. Handcuffs in the Heather (Kindle Locations 198-249). Valley Publishing.

That’s not all that’s found in her neighbor’s garden either and you know of course Doreen will be neck deep in this.

Mack isn’t happy about that but we also see their relationship growing in this one. I swear he’s planning on moving in the way he helps her plan changes to her backyard.

I love her Nan and the way there’s a betting pool on almost everything. Let me not forget Thaddeus, Goliath and Mugs, these guys are the absolute best! Always with her and always protective of her.

Plenty of fun, laughter, suspense and so much more!

I really can’t wait for the next book in this series.

5 Contented Purrs for Dale!

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Coming Soon!

Dale Mayer

Dale Mayer is a USA Today bestselling author best known for her Psychic Visions and Family Blood Ties series. Her contemporary romances are raw and full of passion and emotion (Second Chances, SKIN), her thrillers will keep you guessing (By Death series), and her romantic comedies will keep you giggling (It’s a Dog’s Life and Charmin Marvin Romantic Comedy series).

She honors the stories that come to her – and some of them are crazy and break all the rules and cross multiple genres!

To go with her fiction, she also writes nonfiction in many different fields with books available on resume writing, companion gardening and the US mortgage system. She has recently published her Career Essentials Series. All her books are available in print and ebook format.

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