USA Today Bestselling Author
Her intelligence is what draws him …
and what makes him so wrong for her
From the start Detective Ronan Cafferty knows Tiff Carson is too good for him. But the sexy professor’s passion for her work and undeniable beauty brings him back to her again and again.
As his notorious ability to hide his emotions crumbles, Tiff shows him he might be the right match for her after all.
But when her sharp eye gets them a lead they desperately need to catch a brutal serial killer, Tiff winds up in the sights of a damaged man bent on destroying everyone who’s wronged him.
Lori Ryan is continuing her Sutton Capital On the Line series with a new book coming January 4, 2022! She’s writing with T.E. Evans on this one!
T.E. Evans is the super-secret pen name of my co-author on this book. She’s a fabulous author who is helping me take this idea from plot to paper and I’m so glad she is! Hopefully you are, too. She and I hope to keep writing in the On the Line world. There are a whole lot more sexy cops in this world looking for their happy ending!
Once again, I am starting a series at the latest book instead of the first, I have the others I just haven’t read them yet. I’ll have to get on that.
This book opens as Detective Ronan Cafferty and his partner Zach Reynolds are called to a particularly gruesome murder scene. After the initial they are heading back to the station to await identification when their Captain calls. He unfortunately has an ID for them which means it’s going to be a high-profile case with pressure to solve it quickly.
With the ID they start further investigation into the victim Noah Barrett. As they are doing that Zach’s girlfriend and state trooper Shauna O’Rourke arrives with a friend in tow. Introduced as Tiff Carson a professor doing research on a closed serial killer.
Tiff wants to interview them about the case as much as they can reveal since some things are entwined with a case that is still in the courts. They agree to cooperate, but with their latest case will have to make time at a later date. Now Ronan was interested in maybe getting to know Tiff better until he finds out she’s a teacher, a professor no less. He doesn’t date teachers.
As they investigate, they find couple of cases with the same MO in Massachusetts. It’s possible they have a killer going across state lines.
It’s once Ronan sets up a murder board and Tiff comes to the station to meet up with him that a break is made. Tiff remembers the names on the board from here dissertation case.
This is a favorite scene.
“Any new developments?” Tiff glanced at the board behind him.“If by new developments you mean new problems, then yes.” He stepped closer to her, hands still itching to reach out to her. “The father of our victim went missing this morning. We don’t know if his disappearance is related, or if the poor man just got confused and wandered off somewhere. His grandkids said he was already in a frail state, and the news of his son dying certainly didn’t help matters.”
“Oh geez. I’m sorry,” Tiff said, then squinted as she looked closely at the board with a furrowed brow.
Ronan moved to step in front of it. He shouldn’t be letting her examine their work on an active case so carefully, but before he could, her face cleared and she looked to him, eyes round.
“Oh, wow…” She looked back to the board, a light bulb clearly going off in her head.
Ronan studied her. “What is it?”
“These names.” She looked at him again and put her hand to his chest to move him aside. “Are these people all linked to your case?” She didn’t wait for an answer. “They’re all related to the Howell case!”
“The who?” Zach came up behind them, returning with pages he’d printed from their social media search of Marcus Jones and Yasmine Bray.
Ronan searched his memory for the name ‘Howell’ but came up blank.
Tiff met his gaze and spoke excitedly. “The Addie and Teddy Howell case happened forty years ago. I researched the case as part of my dissertation when I got my doctorate. They were teenaged siblings from Springfield, Massachusetts. Addie was sixteen and Teddy was fourteen. On the outside, theirs was a picture-perfect middle-class family. But in 1981, they murdered their parents in their sleep.”
Ronan’s jaw tightened knowing there was a lot more to that picture-perfect family. “What was going on behind closed doors?”
Zach set down his papers and circled to stand beside Ronan as Tiff relayed details.
“Nothing good, as you can imagine. Addie claimed her father had been raping her from the age of eleven. Even worse, her mother allegedly knew about it but didn’t intervene, pretending it wasn’t happening. Addie and Teddy had two younger siblings, one of them a girl who had just turned ten. The teens’ story was that Addie worried their father would turn to the younger girl and they were determined to make sure that never happened. Addie and Teddy slit their parents’ throats in their sleep.”
Throats slit. An image of Noah Barrett’s dead body flashed into Ronan’s mind. “Teenagers did that?” Ronan asked, trying to wrap his mind around the kind of rage and pain that would have taken.
Tiff nodded, seemingly understanding his skepticism. “Addie hit their father in the head with a hammer several times to keep him down while Teddy cut the mom’s throat and then later the father’s, though Tiff’s beating had already taken his life.”
Zach looked at the names on their murder board. “And what do these names have to do with that case.”
There was now a small gathering of other detectives around them and the energy buzzing around them said they all knew they were about to move forward on this case in a huge way.
Tiff pointed at the board. “Noah Barrett was their neighbor back then. He was sixteen at the time. The police interviewed him, and he said Addie and Teddy had an unusual brother-sister relationship. Said they were a little too close.”
Ronan turned his gaze to the board, staring at Noah Barrett’s name. Could this all really go back to a case that happened when Barrett was a kid?
“Noah’s father, Luis Barrett,” Tiff continued, “represented the kids in court.”
Ronan blinked, shocked. “Really? That kind of thing wouldn’t fly nowadays if his son had given the investigators information.”
Tiff pointed at him with an approving nod and he could picture her doing the same with a student in her class.
“True. But things were different back then. Luis Barrett volunteered to represent the kids, and since no one objected, the court allowed it. Anyway, it’s not widely known that Noah Barrett made any statements to the police. I only found that out when I met with someone who’d been around during the initial investigation. Noah never testified because he didn’t have anything truly significant to add to the already overwhelming evidence.”
“Did you ever publish your findings?”
Tiff shook her head. “I was going to but changed my mind. It wasn’t right for the piece I was working on at the time, so I just filed it away, planning to use it for something later. The information is out there though if you look hard enough.”
“What about the others?” Ronan asked, gesturing to the Massachusetts victims. “Gretchen Meyer was a caseworker in the 1980s. She was assigned to look into allegations Addie made against her father to one of her teachers. She closed the case though, after interviewing the Howell family and their neighbors. She didn’t believe Addie’s claims were credible and referred her for counseling. She left social work after the Howells killed their parents.”
“She went to work in a doctor’s office, so we didn’t find a connection between her and Acavedo.” Zach looked grim as he relayed the information.
“You couldn’t know,” Tiff said. “She was never called to testify or even interviewed in the case. I found her years later when I looked into the allegation Addie had made.”
“The kids’ attorney didn’t call her to testify in their defense?” Ronan was shocked. A good defense attorney should have been raising exigent circumstances and making sure the sexual abuse came out.
Tiff shook her head, her expression saying it all. She thought the case had been botched as well.
She pointed to the other name on the board. “William Acavedo was the prosecutor. Even though Addie was only sixteen, Acavedo tried her as an adult and made her out to be the leader in planning the murders. Teddy was deemed to be just following her orders and he was tried separately as a juvenile. When it was all said and done, Addie was sent to prison, where she died in a knife fight at the age of nineteen.”
Ronan almost shuddered. Addie’s case was so tragic, he wondered why he hadn’t heard of it before. He shook his head. “And what happened to the other siblings?”
“The two younger siblings were placed into foster care. Teddy was sentenced to juvenile detention until he was eighteen. There are records of him getting arrested several times after that though, for things like burglary and assault. The last record I found showed he was released after serving two years on an assault charge in 2000. After that, he just kind of fell off the grid.”
Ronan’s mind worked to fit the latest puzzle pieces together. It wasn’t completely clear just yet, but it looked like their killer was getting revenge against anyone involved in the Howell case.
Lori Ryan; T.E. Evans. Wicked Justice (Kindle Locations 1583-1637). Brighton, Parker, Rose, LLC.
Not only do things heat up in the case, but the relationship between Ronan and Tiff becomes more personal as well.
Tiff apparently has a younger brother with the same issues Ronan has and when he realizes she’s not putting him down or calling him stupid he lets her get under his blocks.
Suspense, intrigue and twists and turns abound as Ronan and Zach race the clock to solve these murders. There’s also romance with just the right amount of sizzle!
5 Contented Purrs for Lori!
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Lori Ryan is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author who writes romantic suspense and contemporary romance with steamy love scenes and characters you won’t want to leave in the pages when the story is over. Lori published her first novel in April of 2013 and has fallen in love with writing.
She is the author of the Sutton Capital Series; the Heroes of Evers, Texas; and the Triple Play Curse Novellas, a set of novellas with sexy baseball players at their core as part of Bella Andre’s Game For Love Kindle World. She has also published in Melanie Shawn’s Hope Falls Kindle World and in Robyn Peterman’s Magic and Mayhem Kindle World.
She lives with an extremely understanding husband, three wonderful children, and two mostly well-behaved dogs in Austin, Texas. It’s a bit of a zoo, but she wouldn’t change a thing. She loves to connect with her readers. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter or subscribe to her blog.