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8 Strawberry Bank Rd.
Nashua, New Hampshire
lay there naked and wondered what my next move would be. I could get dressed
and go jogging. Or I could see if there was anything in the refrigerator to
make into breakfast. Or I could go back to sleep for an hour or two.
Mr. Lawless. . . . I read about you in the papers. I think you might be able to help me. My sister, Imogene, is dead and I think she was murdered. Everyone thinks I’m crazy, especially my husband so I can’t have you call my house. I have some money saved and would like to hire you. I almost knocked on your door, but I got scared at the last minute. I work at Brown’s Bookstore, downtown, from 11 a.m. to seven. If you can help me, please meet me there and pretend you’re buying a book. I have a down payment with me
Thank You, Maxine P.
.From the handwriting, I imagined a bookish, birdlike woman. The penmanship was very neat. It was hard to imagine her writing it in the hall especially if she was afraid. My curiosity was aroused, and my bankbook was anemic, so I figured I’d stop in at Brown’s and see what this was all about.
Bookstore was on the bottom floor of an old mill building. The three
stories above had recently been converted to condos. Brown’s stayed in
business by supplying textbooks to New Stratley University, used books,
and new books that were almost discounted as much as the super-store
versions. A small coffee shop area rounded out the establishment. It was a
little pricey but served delicious exotic coffees. Margot had dragged me
to a poetry reading thing there about a month ago. Beat wannabes droned on
for a few hours and everyone applauded. Especially at the mention of
“menstrual blood” or the “drug of one’s choice.” I clapped, too, but I
almost puked up my biscotti. My mistake was telling Margot what I thought
of it. We were “off” for a good week.
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