Skip to main content

Excerpt - Killer Headline by Debby Giusti

Camy here: Debby Giusti always gives a really exciting, romantic story! She writes strong characters and perilous situations and I just love her to pieces. Enjoy this excerpt of her latest book!

Killer Headline
Debby Giusti

Two women in the witness protection program have been murdered in Montana. The connection? The mob…and the victims' green eyes. Coincidence? Not according to journalist Violet Kramer, who's counting on her exposé to reveal the truth, protect women in danger—and establish herself as an ace reporter. Undercover cop Clay West thinks she's making a deadly mistake that could bring the mob to her door. And when the lawman with the piercing black eyes insists on protecting her himself, Violet knows she's already in danger.

Excerpt of chapter one:

Reporter Violet Kramer looked up from her laptop— relieved the drapes were drawn and the doors locked— as the car passed her house yet again. The sound of the souped-up engine and pounding bass cut through the otherwise still night.

A gang of rowdy troublemakers had moved into Missoula, prowling the streets and bringing a wave of crime that worried local residents, especially the older folks who lived in her neighborhood. Concerned though Violet was about the increased crime, her attention tonight was focused on her computer screen and the information she'd compiled over the last few weeks.

Violet could smell a good story, and this one was as strong as Limburger cheese. She just had to keep digging until she uncovered all the bits and pieces that would turn a good beginning into a great front-page spread, sure to improve her current odd-man-out status at the Missoula Daily News.

Even more important, the story would warn other women who might be in danger. Women who had somehow tangled with organized crime. Like Ruby Summers Maxwell and Carlie Donald, both murdered in Montana. Both young and attractive with the dubious distinction of having testified against the mob.

Another interesting similarity, both women had green eyes. An important clue or coincidence? Violet wasn't sure.

She had little to go on concerning Ruby's death, except a funeral announcement and an e-mail from a reporter friend who worked on the local rag in the town where Ruby had been killed. The full story never appeared in print. Women in Witness Protection didn't make the headlines in the morning news.

Luckily, Violet's diligent search of area newspapers had paid off with a photo of Jade Summers—the very-much-alive twin sister of the murder victim— standing next to her beau, Deputy U.S. Marshal Micah McGraw. In the forefront of the picture sat swarms of preschoolers watching a clown at the library where Jade worked. The kids were cute, but Violet was only interested in the woman at the marshal's side. Slender frame, expressive eyes and a crown of russet hair that swept over her shoulders. At least now, Violet knew what Jade's murdered twin—Ruby Summers—had looked like.

Inserting her flash drive into her home laptop, Violet pulled up the file containing Carlie Donald's autopsy report—acquired through another contact.

...remains of a slender female...cause of death strangulation...abrasions and contusions of the anterior foreign materials evident beneath the fingernails...graphite noted on the right hand...froth in the trachea and bronchi...

Closing her eyes, Violet tried to block out the details playing through her mind. Her day had started early with a five-mile run before church. She had spent the afternoon working on the story, which had stretched the long day into an even longer night.

Right now, she needed to go to bed and forget about the two Mafia hits in-state since the New Year. And it was only February. Most folks believed bad luck came in threes. So, who would be the next to die?

Life was sacred, and those who preyed on the weak needed to be apprehended and brought to justice. If the police couldn't handle the job, Violet would.

Her cell rang. She glanced at her watch—twelve-fifteen—and reached for her phone, noting the caller's Chicago area code. "Kramer."

"It's Gwyn."

"I planned to check online in case you left a message," Violet said. The informant had told her never to phone lest her boyfriend—a mobster who worked with the Martino family—answer the call.

"Angelo's away for the night. I bought one of those nontraceable cell phones. Wanted you to know the latest."

Violet's stomach tightened, hearing the wariness in Gwyn's voice. "You're okay, aren't you?"

"Angelo's acting strange. He said everyone's on edge. Vincent Martino's making changes. Angelo knew where he stood when the old don, Salvatore, was in charge. With Vincent, things aren't so clear. Angelo said the new don has to prove himself to his father before Salvatore dies. Somehow it involves those women who were killed in Montana."

Just as long as Gwyn didn't get hurt.

Although Violet had never met her informant in person, she and Gwyn had connected online a little over a year ago when Violet had researched a possible story lead on the mob. She'd never completed the story, but the mobster's girlfriend had kept in touch, providing more and more insider information. With Violet's encouragement, Gwyn had recently admitted she wanted to make a new life for herself free from Angelo and the mob.

"Some of the capos are upset," Gwyn said. "Evidently, the hit men went after the wrong women."

"You mean, Ruby Summers Maxwell and Carlie Donald weren't supposed to die?"

"The target was someone else. A gal named Eloise Hill. At least that's what Angelo heard. She testified against Salvatore years ago."

"And Vincent wants her dead to gain favor with his ailing father?"

"Vincent lacks Salvatore's charisma. Some say he's more interested in women than in running the organization."

"Can you find out more about Eloise for me? And let me know if any other women are being targeted?"

"I'll see what I can do." Pulling in a deep breath, Gwyn continued. "Remember Cameron Trimble, that sleazy pimp I told you about?"

"The guy who's in the hospital?"

"That's right. He'll be laid up awhile thanks to the undercover cop you know."

A rush of warmth fluttered over Violet's midsection. "You mean, Clay West? We met a couple times, that's all."

"Whatever." Gwyn paused for a moment. "You called him, didn't you?"

"Three nights ago. I thought he'd tell me something new about the shake-up in the Martino family."

"Did you…?" Gwyn's voice hitched. "Did you mention my name?"

"Of course not. I promised you the first time you contacted me that I'd never divulge your identity. I told Clay I'd heard his cover had been compromised, that's all."

"No one's upset about Cameron getting hurt. What they're upset about is your cop friend infiltrating a portion of the mob operation. Evidently, Clay West was after the guy who runs prostitution in the city. The cops had a sting planned that would have exposed him."

"So because Clay went after Cameron, the cops lost their opportunity and had to back off?"

"That's right. Now the mob's worried Cameron might talk. The family sent in one of their high-power lawyers who plans to have the pimp sue for damages. A concussion, three cracked ribs and a broken jaw constitute police brutality. At least that's the argument the lawyer will use."

Violet hated hearing about any law-enforcement officer shoving his weight around, but Clay West didn't seem the type to lose his cool. There had to be more to the story.

"What about that feature you're writing?" Gwyn asked. "You said it would be picked up by papers across the country. The mob would be forced to lay low for a while, which would give me a chance to make my break from Angelo."

"An overview of the story is on my editor's desk. I'm hoping he'll give me the go-ahead soon. As I've told you before, Gwyn, if there's any way I can help you, just let me know."

Once Gwyn had disconnected, Violet placed the phone back on the cradle. The main obstacle keeping the story from print would be her editor. Stu was more interested in local news than what was happening in Chicago. Hopefully, the tie-in with two in-state murders would make the difference.

Three nights ago, Violet had called Clay, hoping he would provide additional information to beef up her submission. But instead of helping, he'd accused her of being an idealist. Not the worst name in the books but her spine had stiffened when he threw naive into the mix. Déjà vu of what he'd told her two years ago in Chicago.

Of course, back then, she had been naive and foolish. Closing down her computer, Violet smiled at her own audacity the night she'd stopped by the hole-in-the-wall Chicago bar and grill some of the Martino soldiers had been known to frequent. Luckily, God had been watching out for her.

Instead of the Mafia, she'd found Clay. Scruffy beard. Unkempt hair. Piercing black eyes. The guy in the corner had "don't mess with me" written all over him, along with rugged good looks that made him impossible to forget.

He'd stopped by her table long enough to warn her she was out of her element and to hightail it back to safer parts of the city. A hardcore Mafia-type wouldn't have worried about her safety. The concern she heard in his voice had said more than words.

Putting the investigational skills she'd learned in journalism school to the test, she'd come upon an old photo of the graduating class at the Illinois Police Academy. The too-considerate mobster was none other than Detective Clay West.

Once she had a name, she learned he'd married young and divorced soon thereafter. His ex had died a few years later. The handsome cop fought crime with as much passion as Violet had searching the Internet for clues to the mob's corrupt control.

Realizing the wealth of information an undercover cop could provide if they teamed up, Violet had staked out the grill and tried to follow Clay home a few nights later. She'd lost him on the street, never suspecting he had doubled back. When he'd pulled her into a nearby alleyway and had given her a piece of his mind, she'd been hard-pressed to focus on his anger.

Standing way too close in the shadows, she'd noticed the scent of his leather jacket and the woodsy smell of his aftershave, as well as the tiny nick on the cleft of his chin. He'd tried to convince Violet she was in way over her head and getting into his business could cause problems for both of them.

Despite his raw appeal that had caused her heart to trip along her rib cage, the story came first. Violet had ignored his warning and planned to dig deeper into the mob's activities. All that ended a few days later when the permanent position she had hoped to land at the Gazette went to another intern. With no other journalism openings in the Windy City, Violet had accepted a position on the Missoula Daily News, where she'd languished for the last two years.

Fast-forward to a few days ago when Gwyn had mentioned an undercover cop named Clay West. Since Violet and the cop had a history of sorts, she had phoned him, hoping he'd provide more information about the murders in Montana. Clay's terse responses to her probing questions confirmed calling him had been a big mistake.

Monday morning, Violet was still thinking about her Mafia story as she stood at the end of her editor's desk, listening to Stu Nelson lecture her about staying on task. As much as Violet wanted to set Stu straight, she needed to pick her battles.

Keep the editor happy.

Violet had imprinted those words on her brain in Chicago. She was a good writer. Stu had said as much on more than one occasion. But he refused to assign her the hard-hitting features she wanted to write. Two years on staff and she continued to get the fillers and fluff stories.

Anyone could pull together a litany of facts and feed them to the readers. Violet's strength was finding the story within the story. She prided herself on going deeper, thinking bolder, writing stronger than anyone else on staff. And that wasn't egotism. It was fact.

A fact her editor didn't seem to realize.

"The number of cops on the force has decreased while crime is on the rise," Stu continued, his slightly this-side-of-sixty face wrinkling like a prune. "That's the story I wanted you to write. Not your biased opinion of the chief of police." Stu wagged his finger close to her face for emphasis.

Aware of the office door hanging open, Violet knew her peers had overheard his lambasting.

"Did you happen to look at the information I typed up concerning the two murders?" Violet threw the question into the mix.

Stu raised his brow, and his finger returned to the aforementioned position. "There you go again, chasing windmills. The fact that two women died on opposite ends of Montana has no correlation to anything you think might be happening in Chicago, Illinois."

"The mob exists, Stu."

"Maybe in Chicago, but we're over twelve-hundred miles away. If you change the slant of a story I assign again, you can head back to Chicago. As I recall, the Gazette didn't ask you to stay on staff."

Oh, yeah, Stu was on a roll and had just gone in for the kill. "It was an internship after college," she offered in self-defense. "There was never any promise of permanent employment following the nine-month training period."

Backing her way to the door, she grabbed the knob, and when Stu waved her off, she slipped out of his office, feeling as if she'd just missed a head-on collision with a tractor trailer on Interstate 90.

Her heels clipped across the tiled floor. Quinn Smith looked up from his computer as she passed his cubicle and gave her a thumbs-up. "Keep the faith, Violet."

She tried to smile back at one of the Missoula Daily News's lead reporters. Medium height but athletic for a midfifties guy with a receding hairline, Quinn seemed to understand how she ticked.

Violet threaded her way across the length of the newsroom to her small desk, tucked along the far wall. One of the realities of her position was her distance from the editor's office.

Out of sight, out of mind.

Stu would see her in a more favorable light after she turned in the completed story that tied the Chicago crime family with the two women who had died in Montana.

A story he had just rejected, her voice of reason cautioned. Advice she chose to ignore.

She slipped behind her desk, into the swivel chair that had lost its swivel probably last century, kicked off her shoes and logged on to a Web site she'd created in college.

A lone partition separated her desk from the main hallway leading to the elevators where Jimmy Baker now stood, peering down at her. Gangly tall with a school-boy smile, the junior reporter was a friend from her University-of-Montana days.

"Sounded bad." He smiled with encouragement as he rounded the partition and sidled up behind her desk.

She lowered her voice so only he could hear. "FYI, I'm on to something big."

"Ah, Violet, you're gonna get into trouble. I can feel it coming."

"Not if the story increases subscriptions and establishes the Daily News as the number-one rag in Montana."

"Before success goes to your head, check your voice mail. Your phone rang off the hook while you were in with Stu."

Violet pulled the receiver to her ear and punched the message button.

Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Books a Million


  1. Oooh, Debbie's books sounds so good.

  2. Sounds good.

    needanap2 at gmail dot com

  3. Another sitting on the edge of my seat book and I love them. I would love to read this one. Thanks for the review.


    misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com


Post a Comment

Popular Posts

Year of the Dog serial novel

About Year of the Dog : A month or two ago, I remembered an old manuscript I had completed but which hadn’t sold. It was a contemporary romance meant for Zondervan, titled Year of the Dog . The book had gone into the pipeline and I even got another title ( Bad Dog ) and a cover for it, but eventually my editor at the time decided she didn’t want to publish it, for various reasons. She instead requested a romantic suspense, and so I cannibalized some of the characters from Year of the Dog and thrust them into the next book I wrote, which was Protection for Hire . Honestly, I didn’t take a lot from Year of the Dog to put in Protection for Hire , aside from character names and a few relationship ties. I was originally thinking I’d post Year of the Dog as-is on my blog as a free read, but then it occurred to me that I could revamp it into a romantic suspense and change the setting to Hawaii. It would work out perfectly as (yet another) prequel to the Warubozu series and introduce

A new tier in my Patreon

I started my Patreon for my fans and for people who didn’t want to buy my books on Kindle. My patrons get each new ebook 2-3 weeks early for only $3 (which is usually the newsletter-only price), and they only get charged when I release a book, not every month. At the moment, I’m releasing my Christian historical romantic suspense series, Lady Wynwood’s Spies. But after I finish that series, I’ll be releasing my Christian contemporary romantic suspense series, the Warubozu Spa Chronicles, and those in my Patreon will be able to get those books early, too. I just added a new $1.00 tier for fans who would prefer to read my books in Kindle Unlimited or buy the Kindle ebook, but just want to support me. Click here to read more about my Patreon. Thank you so much for reading my books!

No Cold Bums toilet seat cover

Captain's Log, Stardate 08.22.2008 I actually wrote out my pattern! I was getting a lot of hits on my infamous toilet seat cover , and I wanted to make a new one with “improvements,” so I paid attention and wrote things down as I made the new one. This was originally based off the Potty Mouth toilet cover , but I altered it to fit over the seat instead of the lid. Yarn: any worsted weight yarn, about 120 yards (this is a really tight number, I used exactly 118 yards. My suggestion is to make sure you have about 130 yards.) I suggest using acrylic yarn because you’re going to be washing this often. Needle: I used US 8, but you can use whatever needle size is recommended by the yarn you’re using. Gauge: Not that important. Mine was 4 sts/1 inch in garter stitch. 6 buttons (I used some leftover shell buttons I had in my stash) tapestry needle Crochet hook (optional) Cover: Using a provisional cast on, cast on 12 stitches. Work in garter st until liner measures

Year of the Dog serial novel, chapter 9

I’m posting a Humorous Christian Romantic Suspense serial novel here on my blog! Year of the Dog is a (second) prequel to my Warubozu Spa Chronicles series. Year of the Dog serial novel by Camy Tang Marisol Mutou, a professional dog trainer, is having a bad year. While renovating her new dog kenneling and training facility, she needs to move in with her disapproving family, who have always made her feel inadequate—according to them, a job requiring her to be covered in dog hair and slobber is an embarrassment to the family. She convinces her ex-boyfriend to take her dog for a few months … but discovers that his brother is the irate security expert whose car she accidentally rear-ended a few weeks earlier. Ashwin Keitou has enough problems. His aunt has just shown up on his doorstep, expecting to move in with him, and he can’t say no because he owes her everything—after his mother walked out on them, Aunt Nell took in Ashwin and his brother and raised them in a loving Chri

Grace Livingston Hill romances free to read online

I wanted to update my old post on Grace Livingston Hill romances because now there are tons more options for you to be able to read her books for free online! I’m a huge Grace Livingston Hill fan. Granted, not all her books resonate with me, but there are a few that I absolutely love, like The Enchanted Barn and Crimson Roses . And the best part is that she wrote over 100 books and I haven’t yet read them all! When I have time, I like to dive into a new GLH novel. I like the fact that most of them are romances, and I especially appreciate that they all have strong Christian themes. Occasionally the Christian content is a little heavy-handed for my taste, but it’s so interesting to see what the Christian faith was like in the early part of the 20th century. These books are often Cinderella-type stories or A Little Princess (Frances Hodgson Burnett) type stories, which I love. And the best part is that they’re all set in the early 1900s, so the time period is absolutely fasci

Follow Camy on BookBub

Follow my author profile on BookBub! You’ll get an email from BookBub whenever I have a new ebook release and when my books are ever featured there. Click here to go to my Camille Elliot page on BookBub.


「ひとり寿司」をブログに連載します! ひとり寿司 寿司シリーズの第一作 キャミー・タング 西島美幸 訳 スポーツ狂のレックス・坂井 —— いとこのマリコが数ヶ月後に結婚することにより、「いとこの中で一番年上の独身女性」という内輪の肩書を「勝ち取る」ことについては、あまり気にしていない。コントロールフリークの祖母を無視するのは容易だ —— しかし、祖母は最終通告を出した —— マリコの結婚式までにデート相手を見つけなければ、無慈悲な祖母は、レックスがコーチをしている女子バレーボールチームへの資金供給を切ると言う。 ダグアウトにいる選手全員とデートに出かけるほど絶望的なわけではない。レックスは、バイブルスタディで読んだ「エペソの手紙」をもとに「最高の男性」の条件の厳しいリストを作った。バレーボールではいつも勝つ —— ゲームを有利に進めれば、必ず成功するはずだ。 そのとき兄は、クリスチャンではなく、アスリートでもなく、一見何の魅力もないエイデンを彼女に引き合わせる。 エイデンは、クリスチャンではないという理由で離れていったトリッシュという女の子から受けた痛手から立ち直ろうとしている。そして、レックスが(1)彼に全く興味がないこと、(2)クリスチャンであること、(3)トリッシュのいとこであることを知る。あの狂った家族とまた付き合うのはごめんだ。まして、偽善的なクリスチャンの女の子など、お断り。彼はマゾヒストじゃない。 レックスは時間がなくなってきた。いくら頑張っても、いい人は現れない。それに、どこへ行ってもエイデンに遭遇する。あのリストはどんどん長くなっていくばかり —— 過去に掲載済みのストーリーのリンクはこちらです。 *** キッチンテーブルの上にごちゃごちゃと置かれている食べ物を見つけた。フルーツが入ったお皿は、すでに子供たちがめちゃくちゃにしていたが、新鮮なマグロの刺身は、巻き寿司の隣にきれいに並んでいた。天ぷら鍋から取り出したばかりのもち粉チキンは、まだ湯気が立っていて、祖母の自家製たくあんが、その隣の小皿に置かれている。 「わあ、叔母さんか誰かが、エビの天ぷら作ったんだわ」トリッシュはエビの天ぷらを紙皿に取った。 レックスはお皿をつかんだ。ここに来た唯一の理由。祖母ですら、美味しい日本食を食べていると

A List of my Free Blog Reads

Curious about what my writing is like? Here’s a list of all my free books and the free short stories, novellas, and novels that you can read here on my blog. I’ll update this post as I add more free reads. Christian Humorous Romantic Suspense: Year of the Dog (Warubozu Spa Chronicles series, Prequel novel) (Currently being posted monthly on my blog as a serial novel) Marisol Mutou, a professional dog trainer, finally has a chance to buy a facility for her business, but her world is upended when she must move in with her disapproving family, who have always made her feel inadequate. When she stumbles upon a three-year-old missing persons case, security expert Ashwin Keitou, whose car she accidentally rear-ended a few weeks earlier, is tasked with protecting her. However, danger begins to circle around them from people who want the past to remain there. Can they shed light on the secrets moving in the shadows? Christian Romantic Suspense: Necessary Proof (Sonoma series #4.1, n

Just another day at youth group

My Christian contemporary romance, Single Sashimi , includes some of the wilder tales from my and my husband’s stints as youth staff workers at our church. The Steven character in the book is actually the same Steven who’s the associate pastor and youth group leader at our church now, since I wrote Single Sashimi when he was still in youth group. :) He’s a young man in his late twenties (maybe early thirties?), and he’s full of great ideas and lots of energy. On one particular Saturday, my husband and I were at youth group as usual. Steven had bought a tug of war rope—the really long, thick kind that looks like it belongs on a sea trawler. The opening game for the kids was, of course, tug of war. Then we came indoors for a three-song worship set. After worship, we usually split up into Junior High and High School for lessons, but this time Steven had an idea: “Okay guys, we’re going to have a tug of war--staff versus kids. If you guys win, we’ll ditch the lesson and go out t

Tabi socks, part deux

Captain's Log, Stardate 07.25.2008 (If you're on Ravelry, friend me! I'm camytang.) I made tabi socks again! (At the bottom of the pattern is the calculation for the toe split if you're not using the same weight yarn that I did for this pattern (fingering). I also give an example from when I used worsted weight yarn with this pattern.) I used Opal yarn, Petticoat colorway. It’s a finer yarn than my last pair of tabi socks, so I altered the pattern a bit. Okay, so here’s my first foray into giving a knitting pattern. Camy’s top-down Tabi Socks I’m assuming you already know the basics of knitting socks. If you’re a beginner, here are some great tutorials: Socks 101 How to Knit Socks The Sock Knitter’s Companion A video of turning the heel Sock Knitting Tips Yarn: I have used both fingering weight and worsted weight yarn with this pattern. You just change the number of cast on stitches according to your gauge and the circumference of your ankle. Th