The Silicon Valley Writer
Burke Parker is found dead in a local hotel room but no one is mourning his demise. Locals describe him as a loudmouth alcoholic. His wife Lilly and daughter Maryann are just glad that they no longer have to suffer under Burke’s tyrannical abuse. There’s only one question in everyone’s mind: Did someone finally kill the obnoxious abusive alcoholic or did the drink finally do him in? Private detective Tom “Hawkman” Casey aims to find out.
Hawkman reads a newspaper article about a man’s body found in a motel room. The name sounds familiar and he discovers in the list of survivors that Burke Parker’s daughter Maryann is one of his son’s classmates from high school, and is attending the same university as Sam.
It puzzles Hawkman the man died in a motel room and not at home. He later questions his wife, Jennifer, who is more knowledgeable about the parents of Sam’s friends and she indicates Maryann came from a dysfunctional family.
While driving Maryann home for the summer vacation, Sam hears about the death of her father, his abusive nature, and an Indian man called Maduk. Uncomfortable with the intimate details of Maryann’s life, he drops her at her house and notices its disrepair. He offers his services to get it back into shape. Sam then talks his deaf friend Richard into helping.
As the boys do their good deeds, the death of Burke Parker develops into a murder case. The man was killed by paraquat, a herbicide which can no longer be sold over the counter. The mystery revolves around who had access to this unadulterated poison.
Maryann, her mother Lilly and Maduk, her biological father, are under suspicion. Sam and Richard gather information while working on the Parker’s house and share their information with Hawkman. During the murder investigation the boys are followed. This not only frightens them but also Sam’s parents.
The boys discover a homeless person living in the alley behind the Parker house. Sam suggests Hawkman question the man, in case he’d seen any unusual activity around the Parker home. Hawkman and Detective Williams interrogate the vagabond.
Madux, through unknown sources, seems to be one step ahead of the police. He hides the two women in the country at his father’s home until he can plan a strategy to protect them. His father gets ill and the women, fearful he was experiencing a heart attack, take him to town in an old truck. When the pickup conks out on the way, they are picked up and taken to the hospital by an undercover agent watching Madux’s home.
When Madux returns to his father’s home, he discovers everyone gone, and a note left by Lilly. He races to the hospital where he finds the women under guard.
To find out the dramatic ending pick up your copy of ‘CAUSE FOR MURDER’ by Betty Sullivan La Pierre
Hawkman sat in the living room in one of the swivel chairs overlooking Copco Lake. His legs were stretched out on the ottoman as he tried to read the paper, but Jennifer kept running the vacuum around him, making him move. “Honey, for crying out loud, it’s only Sam, not the president coming home. Like most kids, he won’t hang around long enough to notice whether the place is clean or not.”
She shut off the noise maker and put a hand on her hip. “Hawkman, if it weren’t for women, men would live in pigsties. And not only that, there wouldn’t be any birthday celebrations, no Easter bunny, no tooth fairies and probably no Christmas if it were left up to the male population.”
He looked at her with furrowed brows. “What brought that on? I didn’t say anything about holidays. I just wanted to read the morning paper in peace.”
She waved her hand and flipped on the vacuum. Hawkman finally exited to the deck. He’d no more gotten comfortable on a lounge chair than Pretty Girl let out several loud squawks from the aviary.
Hawkman glanced at the falcon. “Good Lord, what’s with you females today? Can’t a man have a little peace and quiet?”
The bird finally fluffed her wings and settled on the perch. Hawkman continued to read the local news, and spotted an article about a Mr. Burke Parker from Yreka found dead in a motel room. An autopsy would be performed.
The name rang a bell and Hawkman rubbed his chin. Reading down a few paragraphs, he spotted the list of survivors and it brought the name into focus. Parker’s daughter, Maryann, was one of Sam’s high school classmates and they now attended the same university. He raised his gaze to the lake and speculated on why Parker would be in a motel room. If he remembered correctly, they had a home in Yreka and he’d not heard mention of the Parkers separating. He scratched his sideburn. Have to ask Jennifer about that one. She knew more about Sam’s friends than he did and might have heard some scuttlebutt.
When Hawkman didn’t hear the vacuum for several minutes, he took a chance, ventured inside and sat down in his chair. Jennifer marched from the back of the house, rearranging strands of hair that had slipped out of her pony tail.
He smiled. “You sure look cute when you’re frustrated.”
She shot him a grim stare. “Hawkman, don’t mess with me right now. I’m not in the mood to fool with your remarks. I’m worried about Sam. He should have called by now.”
He put up his hands in defense. “Okay. I’ll be good. Did he say he’d call?”
Her shoulders slumped. “Well, no, but he should.”
“Come on, honey. He’s a grown man. Men don’t call their moms every time they head home.”
“That’s why I bought him the cell phone, so he’d keep in touch.”
“Maybe he’s got a buddy with him. But if it bothers you, call him.”
“I tried. But I can’t seem to get through. I keep reaching his voice mail.”
“Maybe he lost it, or packed it away.”
She threw up her hands in disgust. “You’re probably right. Kids drive you nuts.”
“Now, getting off that subject, can I ask you a question?”
“I read in the paper where a Burke Parker from Yreka died. The survivors listed are Lillian Parker and his daughter, Maryann. Do you know his wife and didn’t Sam go to school with the girl?”
Jennifer flopped down on the couch and wrinkled her forehead. “That’s sad. I don’t think I ever met Burke and Lilly personally, but I do remember seeing Maryann at the high school on a few occasions. A beautiful girl, but very quiet and reserved. I believe Sam took her out a couple of times. I recall a big stink arose about Lilly and Burke last summer.”
“Oh yeah, what about?”
“I gathered he drank a lot and they fought constantly. I heard he came home one night roaring drunk, staggered into Maryann’s room and tried to rape her. When she let out a terrifying scream, her mother came running with a gun in her hand. Lilly chased Burke outside and shot at him, wounding him in the leg.” She shrugged. “Of course, it’s all gossip, so who knows the truth.”
Hawkman flipped open the paper to the article and handed it to her. “Well, there might be some veracity to it. Your story certainly explains why they found his body in a motel and not at home.”
Jennifer read the article and shook her head. “Poor Maryann. That’s all she needs to have happen now. At least school is out for the summer. It will give her time to recover from the loss of her father.”
Sam packed what he needed and said goodbye to Dan, the fellow who’d sublet his apartment for the next three months. Sam decided he didn’t want to go to summer school this year. After three years of college and constant studying, he needed a rest. Jennifer and Hawkman agreed. A few months at home sounded great. His last chance to relax before he conquered the world.
He loaded his stuff into the Toyota pickup his parents had given him as a reward for making the Dean’s Honor Roll last year. The thought of fishing and riding his motorcycle in the hills around Copco Lake, with the wind whipping through his hair, made him feel good all over.
He’d contacted Richard, his close friend, at his university to find out when he’d be home. Even though they were the same age, Richard had just finished his sophomore year. Being deaf made it difficult for him to carry a full load. And his Uncle Joe didn’t want him to get burned out on school, so he wouldn’t allow him to attend the summer sessions. Even though Richard had a scholarship, he insisted on working for his spending money while he had this time off. Sam admired the guy’s stamina and liked him a lot. He hoped they’d be able to get together and do some bike riding.
As he covered and tied down his belongings in the pickup bed, he spotted a figure approaching out of the corner of his eye. He recognized the female before she got close enough to speak. Her tall frame, skin tight Levi's, and cowboy boots with little conchos tied to the pull tabs gave her away. She lived in the next door apartment complex. How he wished he’d left fifteen minutes earlier. This woman had a big attitude problem.
She strolled up beside him and placed a hand on his shoulder. “Hi, Sam, when are you leaving?”
“In just a few minutes.”
“Can I hitch a ride? I’ll pay for half the gas.”
“Sure, Maryann. But there’s no charge. I don’t think an extra person will make much difference in the mileage.”
“Thanks. Let me grab my bag and I’ll be right out.”
When she got out of ear shot, Sam sighed. Maryann was quite pretty, sported a great figure and must have American Indian blood in her veins, as she had high cheek bones, olive skin and long black hair accenting dark brown eyes. But she had a negative approach about life and never appeared happy. He just didn’t care to be around her.
They’d gone through high school together and dated a couple of times. He felt sorry for the girl as her family didn’t have much money; only meager funds her grandmother had left for college expenses. Maryann worked at the university cafeteria and took any extra jobs she could find to supplement the school cost. He had to admire her. At least, she didn’t have a lazy bone in her body. And to top it off, she had brains and made excellent grades. He resigned himself to the fact it might be nice to have company on the long ride home, and since she lived in Yreka, it wouldn’t be out of his way to drop her off.
Reviewed by Kate Ayers
CAUSE FOR MURDER
Betty Sullivan LaPierre
Murders are often committed in the name of love. Sometimes they truly seem to be justified. Betty Sullivan LaPierre’s newest installment in the beloved Hawkman series may be such a case.
Sam, Jennifer and Hawkman’s son, comes home for summer break from college. A classmate, Maryanne Parker, catches a ride with him, much to his chagrin. Despite her exceptional beauty, Sam does not particularly like her. She comes on too strong and has been caught in a mistruth more than once. But, when Sam learns that Maryanne’s father was found dead in a seedy motel room, his attitude softens. She lets it be known that Burke Parker was a cruel man, the worst kind of father, and she feels no sorrow at his passing. Sam thinks her feelings are somewhat harsh, but lets it go. He decides to offer his help fixing up the Parker house when he realizes how rundown it has become after Burke moved out. The widow, Lilly Parker, could not keep the place up and work the two jobs she needed to make ends meet.
When the investigation into Burke’s death starts to look like murder, Sam gets a little worried --- for Maryanne as much as for himself. He is not sure whether Maryanne hated Burke enough to kill him, but she certainly had good reason --- as did many around town. No one misses the man.
Hawkman, as usual, lends his help to the local police. His background as an agent many years ago and a private detective ever since proves him to be more than competent assistance. While he does some legwork, Jennifer provides home support, while Sam gets involved on the fringes. He has some opportunities to talk to Maryanne that Hawkman doesn’t. And, since she is sweet on Sam, she spills more than maybe she should. Hm, is Sam going to follow in his dad’s footsteps? He seems to have all the makings of a detective.
Naturally, the suspects under the most scrutiny are Maryanne and her mother. Could one of the women have gotten fed up with Burke’s brutality enough to do him in? He certainly pushed them far enough. Gather the clues alongside Hawkman and see who you would arrest. You might be surprised by who did it.
With Sam starting to help Hawkman, LaPierre’s fans now have double the excitement to look forward to.
--- Reviewed by Kate Ayers
Another Review at MyShelf.Com
Cause for Murder
Hawkman Series, Book 7
by Betty Sullivan La Pierre
Betty Sullivan La Pierre has done it again with Cause for Murder. Hawkman gets himself involved in a strange murder mystery after his adopted son, Sam, finds out that the stepfather of a childhood acquaintance, Maryann, has been killed in a local motel. Sam takes it upon himself, along with his friend Richard, to help Maryann and her mother fix up their house after the death of Maryann's stepfather. While repainting and doing other home repairs, Sam begins to question Maryann's agenda.
Hawkman finds himself looking at Maryann, her mother, and her Native American father as possible suspects.
Betty Sullivan La Pierre has developed other important characters in Hawkman's life in Cause for Murder. Hawkman has been quite developed through her other novels and even though he helps the police investigate the murder, he seems to be low-keyed in Cause for Murder.
The aspect of having the biological father possibly being the murderer of the stepfather of Maryann adds an interesting twist. More twists are included when it looks like Maryann or her mother could have done the deed themselves.
A fan of Hawkman or good quality murder mysteries should pick up this series.
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