Andy Broussard/Kit Franklyn Mysteries
Author: Don J. Donaldson
Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (November 1997)
About the book:
Astor + Blue Editions is proud to release Louisiana Fever (ISBN: 978-1-938231-33-9; Fiction / Mystery & Suspense; $5.99 E-Book) the latest Broussard mystery by DJ Donaldson.
When Kit goes to meet an anonymous stranger—who’s been sending her roses—the man drops dead at her feet before she could even get his name. Game on.
Andy Broussard soon learns that the man carried a lethal pathogen similar to the deadly “Ebola”—a highly contagious virus, feared worldwide for killing its victims (grotesquely) in a matter of days. When another body turns up with the same bug, widespread panic becomes imminent. The danger is even more acute, because the carrier is mobile. The man knows he’s a walking weapon and… he’s targeting Broussard.
And when Kit Franklyn investigates her mystery suitor further, she runs afoul of a cold- blooded killer, every bit as deadly as the man searching for her partner.
Broussard drove home and went directly to the bedroom, where he changed pants. He folded the ripped pair and put them in the dresser drawer with his Ralph Lauren pajamas so he’d see them every morning and be reminded that they needed to be dropped off for repairs.
Rat poison was certainly a zebra. Even so, he decided to get a definite answer to that possibility before he started the autopsy. To do that, he called the office and had Guy Minoux paged.
“Guy, this is Andy. There’s a partially decomposed body comin’ in any minute. . . . Yeah, I wish he’d been found sooner, too. His name is Baldwin. I’d like you to get your fluids and send ’em over to Toxicology for a routine drug screen and also ask ’em to check specifically for warfarin. . . .” He spelled out the main ingredient in rat poison, then added two other anticoagulants, coumarin and heparin, spelling those as well. “I don’t need the routine screen right away, but I’d like the others stat. The vessels and heart are probably gonna be so full of gas you won’t get anything from ’em, so take a sample of chest fluid. That’ll contain blood that leaked from the decomposin’ lungs.”
Guy protested that he already knew all those things and Broussard apologized before hanging up.
It was too late now to make the dish he’d planned for breakfast, so he decided to stop by Grandma O’s, even though she wasn’t open yet, and see if she’d be willing to whip him up some eggs Oustellette.
When he arrived at her restaurant, there were no lights on, but shading his eyes and looking inside, he saw Grandma O on a ladder, dusting the stuffed pelican on a shelf over the bar. He rapped on the glass and got her attention. A minute later, she turned the key in the lock and opened the door.
“Did you purposely wait until Ah got up on dat ladder before you knocked or do you jus’ naturally have bad timin’?”
“Naturally bad timin’.”
She grinned, showing the gold star inlay in her front tooth. “Well, Ah won’t hol’ it against you. Come on. . . .”
She stepped aside, but her black taffeta dress stuck out so far, he couldn’t help but brush it as he went in.
“Lemme guess,” she said. “. . . You got called out early an’ didn’ have no time to eat.”
“Can’t keep anything from you.”
“Dis ain’t exactly da firs’ time dis has happened. How ’bout some eggs Oustellette, debris, a nice loaf of French bread an’ applesauce, an’ a hot cup of chicory coffee?”
“I’m in your hands.”
“You go on to your table and Ah’ll get started.”
“His” table was the biggest one in the place, in the rear, by the kitchen doors. No matter how busy the restaurant was, that table was always reserved for him and sat there empty and waiting. He’d told her not to do that, but she wouldn’t listen.
The kitchen doors banged open and Grandma O appeared carrying a big round tray. “You start on dis,” she said, setting out before him a plate, some silverware, a steaming cup of coffee, and a basket containing a sectioned loaf of crusty French bread and a little dish of applesauce, “an’ dose eggs’ll be jus’ a few minutes.”
Broussard picked up one of the bread slices, broke the crust so he could roll it out, and slathered it with applesauce. Then, he put the bread on his plate, slid his chair back, and slinked to the kitchen doors, hoping to see through the little window in them just what it was she put in those eggs.
Rising to his full height, he looked through the window and into the kitchen, where he saw off to the left the big restaurant range but no Grandma O. Suddenly, a flyswatter smacked the glass, making him jerk backward in alarm. One of the doors opened and there she was.
“Ah had a hunch it was ’bout time for you to try an’ steal mah recipe again.”
“I don’t know what came over me,” Broussard said. “Everything went black and when I woke up I was lookin’ in the window.”
“You keep tryin’ to get mah recipe, things’ll go black for good,” she said, waving the flyswatter at him. “Ah tol’ you Ah’d give it to you on your eightieth birthday.”
“Suppose I don’t live that long?
“You keep doin’ what you were doin’ an’ you won’t. Now, siddown.”
Chuckling, Broussard went back to his table. They’d been playing this game off and on for years and it was still fun.
While Broussard waited for his eggs, across the river, in his dresser, Walter Baldwin’s killer emerged from Broussard’s torn pants and began to explore. It moved across the right lapel of his pale blue pajamas and paused on the label, its body covering the R in Ralph Lauren. Hungry and thirsty, it could do nothing about the former, but the latter was no problem. From a gland in a protrusible mouth part, it secreted a tiny salt crystal that quickly absorbed water from the air. Drawing the salt droplet into its mouth, its thirst was satisfied. Turn- ing, it moved toward the rear of the dresser and up the back panel into the dresser carcass, looking for a way out.