Thursday, October 4, 2018

Witness Betrayed by Linda Ladd






Witness Betrayed
A Will Novak Novel #3
by Linda Ladd
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Pub Date: 10/2/18


No Friends
Mardi Gras whips New Orleans’ French Quarter into a whirlpool of excess, color, booze, noise, motion. So the woman in the sights of Will Novak’s binoculars stands out. She’s bruised, barefoot, wearing a man’s raincoat. And she’s looking right at him.

No Faith
In a moment she’s fleeing into the crowd, but Novak knows she’s not gone for good. When she comes back, it’s with a gun to his head—and a story about crony politics, a crooked judge, a kidnapped whistleblower, and children in deadly danger. Novak can’t let this one slide.

No Fury
Through the grit of Houston’s underbelly to the grime below Beverly Hills’ glamor, a trickle of rot connects the powerful to the desperate and corrupts the men and women who are supposed to stand against it. Deceit is everywhere. If he’s going to do right, Novak is going to have to do it alone . . .



Loud shouts caught his attention, and he swung the glasses to a commotion starting up right across the street. A young woman stood high on a second-floor balcony opposite him. She looked as if she was smashed but didn’t know it yet. She was having a good old time, giggling and waving at the men below her on the street. A crowd had already gathered, mainly because she kept pulling up her sweatshirt and showing her bare breasts. The guys below hooted and clapped and sent forth all manner of encouragement. She obliged their fervor by whipping the sweatshirt off over her head and shimmying for anybody inclined to take a look.

Skin shows were not unusual during Mardi Gras week. The guy standing on the balcony with her didn’t appear to mind much, flinging off his own shirt in a show of support. His hairy chest didn’t garner as much interest. Both leaned over the railing, blowing kisses and tossing strings of colorful beads to their drunken admirers, which immediately caused fights for possession. People were just damn stupid sometimes, but no real harm was done with something like that. He called in the incident. A two-team unit was dispatched to break up the crowd below, and then they’d have to climb the narrow interior stairs to the woman’s apartment and order her to cover herself or go to jail. They had already warned the same woman earlier that evening. They might arrest her this time. Novak didn’t care much, one way or the other. He riveted his attention back on the street. Many people carried red Solo cups so they could guzzle beer while they walked. Mardi Gras had always been a big drunken party and a giant headache for the NOPD. Tonight was no exception.

Novak was working solo. He hadn’t been on a gig by himself in a while, not since he’d signed up with Claire Morgan’s private investigation firm. His partner was unavailable, off to Italy with her husband, Nicholas Black. They had been tied up in Rome for days now, fighting Italian government red tape as they tried to adopt a ten-year-old boy named Rico. His parents had been murdered during a particularly bad case that Novak had been involved in, and since it had wrapped up, Claire and Black had given the kid a good home. They wanted him to stay there.

They were due back soon, though, and Novak was glad. He missed Claire. She was quite a woman, all things considered: tall, natural blond, athletic, good-looking, and sexy without knowing it. More important, she was a damn good detective and a damn good friend. He could count on her when things got sticky. Compared to most of their cases, tonight’s gig was a breeze. Sitting in his own apartment watching people having fun was something he didn’t usually mind.







Say Your Goodbyes
A Will Novak Novel #2

SAY YOU’RE DREAMING
When a scream wakes Will Novak in the middle of the night, at first he puts it down to the nightmares. He's alone on a sailboat in the Caribbean, miles from land. And his demons never leave him.

SAY YOUR PRAYERS
The screams are real, though, coming from another boat just a rifle’s night scope away. It only takes seconds for Novak to witness one murder and stop another. But with the killer on the run and a beautiful stranger dripping on his deck, Novak has gotten himself into a new kind of deep water.

BUT DON’T SAY YOUR NAME
The young woman he saved says she doesn't know who she is. But someone does, and they're burning fuel and cash to chase Novak and his new acquaintance from one island to the next, across dangerous seas and right into the wilds of the Yucatan jungle. If either of them is going to live, Novak is going to need answers, fast—and he's guessing he won't like what he finds out . . .



It took Novak several more minutes to find the girl—way too long, he feared, but then a big wave crested over her, and he caught sight of her head bobbing in the water. Looked like she might still be alive.
Yes, weak as hell, but now she was flailing her arms, trying to keep her face above water. Maybe twenty yards out from him. He focused the spotlight on her. Blood was all over her face. The head injuries were bad—he could tell that from where he stood. She wasn’t going to last much longer. He brought the Sweet Sarah up as close to her as he safely could, cut the engines, and then tossed out a roped life buoy. She just bobbed up and down and seemed oblivious to it.
“Pull it down over your head!” he shouted to her, his voice reverberating out over the water. He was pretty sure he was going to have to go in and get her. He kicked off his canvas boat shoes, but then, somehow, she seemed to come out of her stupor enough to grab the life ring. She clung to it with both arms for dear life. Relieved, Novak  slowly started towing her in, hand over hand on the rope, careful not to jerk it out of her grasp. She was too weak to hold on much longer.
When he got her up against the hull, he dropped to his stomach and reached down as far as he could. He managed to grab her shirt, then got up on his knees and hauled her bodily up out of the water and onto his deck. She was conscious, but barely. She was groaning and strangling and coughing and choking. Novak laid her out flat on her back and knelt down beside her. She was bleeding heavily.
He found two deep gouges, one at the top of her forehead, the other on her right temple. Her nose was bleeding, too, and the blood kept running down into her mouth and causing her to choke.
She kept gasping for air and groaning, but that lasted only seconds before her eyes rolled back into her head, and she was out for the count.
Novak quickly turned her onto her side so she could breathe better. He put his mouth down close to her ear. “I’m not gonna hurt you. I’m trying to help you. Can you hear me? You’re safe now. He’s gone.”
She must have heard his voice because her eyelids fluttered slightly in response. Then they closed again, and she didn’t move.





Bad Road to Nowhere
A Will Novak Novel #1

BAD MEMORIES
Not many people know their way through the bayous well enough to find Will Novak’s crumbling mansion outside New Orleans. Not that Novak wants to talk to anyone. He keeps his guns close and his guard always up.
 
BAD SISTER
Mariah Murray is one selfish, reckless, manipulative woman, the kind Novak would never want to get tangled up with. But he can’t say no to his dead’s wife sister.
 
BAD VIBES
When Mariah tells him she wants to rescue a childhood friend, another Aussie girl gone conveniently missing in north Georgia, Novak can’t turn her down. She’s hiding something. But the pretty little town she’s targeted screams trouble, too. Novak knows there’s a trap waiting. But until he springs it, there’s no telling who to trust . . .









Taking off toward the house, he jogged down the bank and up onto a narrow dirt path hidden by a long fencerow. Then he headed up the gradual rise, staying well behind the fence covered with climbing ivy and flowering azalea bushes. He kept his weapon out in front using both hands, finger alongside the trigger. Guys who were after him usually just wanted to put a bullet in Novak’s skull. Some had even tried their luck, but nobody had tried it on his home turf. He didn’t like that. Wasn’t too savvy on their part, either. When he reached the backyard, he pulled up under the branches of a huge mimosa tree. He crouched down there and waited, listening.
No thud of running feet. No whispered orders to spread out and find him. No nothing, except some stupid bird chirping its head off somewhere high above him. He searched the trees and found a mockingbird sitting on the carved balustrade on the second-floor gallery.
Novak waited a couple more minutes. Then he ran lightly across the grass and took the wide back steps three at a time. He crossed the gallery quickly and pressed his back against the wall. He listened again and heard nothing, so he inched his way around the corner onto the west gallery and then up the side of the house to the front
corner. That’s when he heard the loud clang of his century-old iron door knocker. He froze in his tracks.
Directly in front of him, a long white wicker swing swayed in a sudden gust of wind. He darted a quick look around the corner of the house. Three yards down the gallery from him, a woman stood at his front door, her right side turned to him. She was alone. She was unarmed, considering how skin-tight her skimpy outfit molded
to her slim body. While he watched, she lifted the heavy door knocker and let it clang down again. Hard. Impatient. Annoyed. She was tall, maybe five feet eight or nine inches. Long black hair curled down around her shoulders. She was slender and her body was fit, all shown to advantage in her tight white Daisy Dukes and a blackand- white chevron crop top. She turned slightly, and Novak glimpsed her impressively toned and suntanned midriff and the lower curve of her breasts. She was not wearing a bra, and her legs were naked, too,
shapely and also darkly tanned. White sandals with silver buckles. She looked sexy as hell but harmless.
On the other hand, Novak had known a woman or two who’d also looked sexy and harmless, but who had assassinated more men than Novak had ever thought about gunning down. Keeping his weapon down alongside his right thigh but ready, he stepped out where she could see him but also where he’d have a good shot at her, if all was not as it seemed. The woman apparently had a highly cultivated sense of awareness because she immediately spun toward him.
That’s when Novak’s knees almost buckled. He went weak all over, his muscles just going slack. His heart faltered mid-beat. He stared at her, so completely stunned he could not move or speak.
Then his dead wife, the only woman he had ever loved, his beautiful Sarah, smiled at him and said in her familiar Australian accent,

“How ya goin’, Will. Long time no see.”



Linda Ladd is the bestselling author of over a dozen novels, including the Claire Morgan thrillers. She makes her home in Missouri, where she lives with her husband and old beagle named Banjo. She loves traveling and spending time with her two adult children,two grandsons, and granddaughter. In addition to writing, Linda enjoys target shooting and is a good markswoman with a Glock 19 similar to her fictional detectives. She loves to read good books, play tennis and board games, and watch fast-paced action movies. She is currently at work on her next novel.


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