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Authors: Elaine Viets

Tags: #Mystery & Detective, #Fiction, #General, #Women Sleuths

Final Sail

BOOK: Final Sail
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Elaine Viets



Published by New American Library, a division of

Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,

New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto,

Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

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Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)

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Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)

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New Delhi - 110 017, India

Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632,

New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue,

Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices:

80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

First published by Obsidian, an imprint of New American Library,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

First Printing, May 2012

10   9   8   7   6   5   4   3   2   1

Copyright © Elaine Viets, 2012

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

OBSIDIAN and logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.


Viets, Elaine, 1950–

Final sail: a dead-end job mystery/Elaine Viets.
   p. cm.
“An Obsidian mystery”
ISBN: 978-1-101-58536-8
1. Hawthorne, Helen (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Women detectives—Fiction. I. Title.
PS3572.I325F53 2012
813’.54—dc23 2011045363

Set in Bembo

Designed by Elke Sigal

Printed in the United States of America


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

   The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.



For Victoria,

who really should kill

people—on paper.


Final Sail
would have been totally at sea without the help of Victoria Allman. She’s a yacht chef who writes as well as she cooks. Many of the meals aboard the fictional
Belted Earl
came from Victoria’s two cooking memoirs:
Sea Fare: A Chef’s Journey Across the Ocean
SEAsoned: A Chef’s Journey with her Captain
(NorLightsPress). The recipes are fabulous.

Victoria’s captain is also her husband, Captain Patrick Allman. His help was invaluable. Gina Soacat, the yacht’s head stewardess, taught me the finer points of yacht cleaning, including running the vacuum cleaner in the tracks.

One mystery still remains: Victoria, Captain Patrick and Gina would not reveal their yacht’s owners.

A very special thanks must go to my editor, Sandra Harding, for her insights and her patience, and to the ever-helpful Elizabeth Bistrow at NAL. Writers love to complain about copy editors, but this one saved my hide. Thank you!

My agent, David Hendin, gave excellent advice, and my husband, Don Crinklaw, is my first reader and best critic.

Old salt and sailboater Barry Talley steered me across the
treacherous Gulf Stream and mystery writer Marcia Talley provided photos and other information about the Bahamas.

I am deeply grateful to my friend and former newspaper editor Dick Richmond for his help.

Tom Adair, a retired forensic scientist, helped with the forensics. Enjoy his blog at
. Mystery writer Joanna Campbell Slan told me how the rich really advertise for household help. Sue Schlueter gave wardrobe advice for my yacht-goers.

Mary Lynn Reed, when she isn’t providing Phil with fake references, is a real friend. Valerie Cannata gave me her name for my TV reporter. Nancie Hays let me turn her into a lawyer.

Suzanne Schoomer is a fine chef who generously lent her name in return for a large donation to a worthy cause.

The real Margery Flax is much younger but just as crafty as the fictional Margery—and both love purple. She does wish the Coronado landlady drove a hotter car, but it’s a Florida law that anyone over age seventy must drive a large white car.

Helen still works those dead-end jobs, but now that she and Phil have their own private eye agency, she takes them to solve cases. Private investigator William Simon gave invaluable information about this business. Detective R. C. White, Fort Lauderdale Police Department (retired), is also working on his PI license. He gave me the benefit of his insights and information.

Rick McMahan, ATF special agent and one heck of a writer, helped. MarySue Carl and author Eileen Dreyer assisted with hospital procedure. Fort Lauderdale attorney Vladimira Libansky, Esq., helped with the legal issues. Luci Zahray, internationally known poison expert, uses her powers only for good—and to help mystery writers like me.

Like the song says, I get by with a little help from my friends. They include Karen Grace, who spent many hours discussing these characters and their motivation, Alan Portman, Molly Portman,
Doris Ann Norris, Kay Gordy, Jack Klobnak, Robert Levine and Janet Smith. Mary Alice Gorman gave me promotional advice. I can’t forget supersaleswoman Carole Wantz, who could sell beer at a temperance meeting.

Boynton Beach librarian Anne Watts lent me her six-toed cat, Thumbs, for this series. Once again, I am grateful to all the librarians who helped with this book, especially the staff of the St. Louis Public Library and Broward County Library. Librarians are the original search engines.

I’m grateful to the booksellers who recommend my novels to their customers.

To the sources who can’t be named, I appreciate your legal, medical and tax information.

Thank you, blog sisters. I rely on the advice and encouragement of the wise women in the Femmes Fatales (
). You’ll enjoy what they have to say, too. Stop by our blog.

Finally, any errors are my own. You can tell me about them, or better yet, tell me you enjoyed this novel, at
[email protected]

Table of Contents

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
BOOK: Final Sail
3.55Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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