An Excerpt and Reviews
May 20th, 2023
Matt stared into the woman’s striking green eyes. To his surprise, they calmed him. He let out a breath and walked to Claire’s body. He stared at the sheet they’d placed over her. The woman was right. Claire was gone. Matt turned and thanked the woman and then walked out of the suite, leaving the team to do their work.
Back in his study, Matt stared at the art on the walls. Despite his wealth, there were no paintings by Monet or Van Gogh, or Pollock. Wildlife and landscape photography by Mangelsen dressed the room. They showed the Tetons, Mount Denali, mama grizzlies and their cubs, and a striking shot of a male lion in Africa, a Leo like Matt, who stared back from its spot above a barren fireplace. Even though his villa had three guests, as well as housekeepers, caretakers, and his security force, the place was silent. Only the waves from the sea below broke the stillness in a natural rhythm.
Then, the call he’d been dreading but wanted to get behind him came from Washington. It was the President.
“Mr. President,” Matt said calmly. “I have some news to report.” When Rogers didn’t respond, Matt filled him in. “Claire Dale didn’t kill herself in New York.”
“How can you say that? You think someone murdered her?” Rogers asked.
“No sir, she didn’t die in New York, and I know that because two days ago she turned up at my house in Capri.”
Matt pulled the phone from his ear as Rogers shouted. “What! How is that possible? The FBI found her body in that room!”
Over the next few minutes, Matt told Rogers how Claire’s final trip to Capri had unfolded. “She showed up here, her hair cut short and dyed blonde. She’d crossed into Canada and then hitched a ride over to England and made her way here. I wasn’t able to find out who gave her the lift but she was sharp, and there won’t be a trail to walk back. She told me the body she left in that hotel was a fentanyl junkie she’d stumbled across. The woman was about the same size and build as Claire so she gave her a ride from a gas station near Lake George. She said she fed her and offered her somewhere warm to sleep. Then Claire shot the woman with the shotgun she took from Annapolis after the attack. Claire was smart—she took out the woman’s dental records with the twelve-gauge blast and the fire she set took care of the rest.”
Matt listened for a response from Rogers but heard none.
“I’m here, Matt. Just sitting at my desk in shock.”
Matt waited for a response.
“Good, because as we’ve discussed before neither of us knows who can be trusted around you, sir, and until we know, it’s best that Claire died in New York. I’ll use what I know when the time comes to show who can keep a secret and who can’t.”
“Fentanyl. This shit has to stop,” Rogers said in a softened tone.
“Yes sir,” Matt said. “I guess, but based on what Claire told me, she put the girl out of her misery.”
“So what do we do now, with Claire?” Rogers asked.
“Bury her, sir.”
“What? What are you talking about?”
Matt got up and walked to the door and the long hall that led to the kitchen. He could hear noise coming now from there. “Because last night, under this roof—with more security around the place than you have there right now—someone killed her while she slept.”
“What?” Rogers shouted into the phone.
“Yes sir. I’ll need to sort this out. I’ll have to put some people to the test. Right now, other than a kid and some dogs I left back in Wyoming, I’m not sure who I can trust anymore.”
Matt ended the call. Twice now in such a short time the women Matt had loved in one way or another had been found dead in their bedrooms. Matt looked around his office and then walked to his desk. Moments later, his footfalls could be heard heading for the kitchen, a compact 9mm pistol hidden beneath his black t-shirt. Then, he stopped.
Passing the half-open door to Wes and Anne’s suite Matt saw a suitcase laid open on the king bed. He knocked at the door frame. With no response he knocked again, harder, and then entered the room. As Anne walked into the suite from the bathroom she startled and dropped her toiletries bag, the muffled sound of glass heard as it smashed on the tile.
“Matt—you scared me,” she said, half embarrassed, half scared.
Matt gestured to the suitcase. “What’s this?”
Anne knelt and began to clean up the mess the drop had made. She didn’t answer. Matt watched and waited for her to finish. When she stood up she realized she was still wearing the extra-large orange tank she’d worn to bed, and nothing more. She turned and reached for a blue Denver Broncos lightweight jacket she’d brought on the trip.
“Sorry about that, Anne. I knocked, twice.”
Anne forced a smile but continued to pack, ignoring her host. He stepped closer.
“Anne, this has been quite a ride. I understand you’re wanting to get out of here.”
Anne threw a handful of clothes into the suitcase and then stood close to Matt. There was a foot of difference in height between them but her posture showed that didn’t concern her.
“This whole European adventure has been more like assholes gone wild and I’m done with it,” she stated.
“Where’s Wes?” Matt said as he stepped away and took a seat on the gold-tiled floor near the balcony door and leaned back against the wall. Perhaps this now passive posture would defuse some tension, he hoped.
“He went out for a run, of all things.”
“And it looks like you’re running too.”
“Fuck!” Anne shouted at the ceiling. She stormed to the bedroom door and slammed it shut. When she turned to Matt she stopped and took two deep breaths.
“Listen,” she began. “I don’t know you from a hole in the ground. Wes said you were solid and as far as I can tell you seem to be—except for maybe leaving a kid with PTSD alone with strangers back in the states.”
“But—” Matt began.
“But my ass,” Anne said. “Anyway, I figure I have two choices. I can stay here and wind up under a sheet-like Claire or I can get moving and at least have a fighting chance. This place is crazy!”
“Tell me about it,” Matt offered.
Anne stared at him, studying him. Then she sat back on the side of the bed.
“Come here,” she directed. Matt stared back at her.
“Matt,” she asked again. He got up and sat down beside her.
“I’m going to tell you something that just might get me killed but I don’t want to run, I never have—only this place and your shit have me rattled.”
Matt raised his eyebrows. “Go on.”
“Last night, remember when I left the table after Francesca threw the glass at Claire?”
“Yep, keep talking.”
“I went down the hall to the balcony where Wes had a cigar the night before. He’d taken Claire there. I heard them talking but I don’t think either of them heard me coming.”
Matt gestured with his hand, give me more.
“I stopped in the hallway and listened. Wes was angry. He said something like, ‘You told me Matt was in danger. That’s the only reason I took the job.’”
Matt stared at Anne.
“What job?” Anne shrugged her shoulders.
“Got me, but then Claire said that he—meaning you—were and that if the woman had testified at the Supreme Court you and about a hundred others would have gone to jail. Maybe worse.”
Matt tensed and stood up abruptly, startling Anne again.
“What else did you hear?”
“Nothing. One of your damn maids called out my name and then I had to make my entrance on the balcony. But as I did, Wes was pulling back from Claire as if he’d whispered something in her ear.”
Matt studied Anne. “Think that was all? It wasn’t a kiss or the end of an embrace?”
“Don’t think so, but that’s reason number nine that I’m packing. I may not leave the island but I can’t stay here under this roof.”
Then, the suite door sprung open and...
IF YOU’RE HOOKED, you can acquire THE BLOOD COMPASS on Kindle here. If you enjoy reviews here are a few from NetGalley:
Kelly’s writing draws you in and takes you on a spectacular ride, including spills and thrills, twists and turns, romance, murder, revenge, and so much more. Brilliant writing – sensational story. A highly recommended read, and no hesitation in giving ★★★★★ to this chilling crime thriller novel. RON B. NetGalley
This is a well-written, entertaining, and high-quality read. It is paced perfectly, keeping me glued to the pages. I loved all the jet-setting. I highly recommend this book with ★★★★★! JOHANNA K. NetGalley
A unique mystery novel. ★★★★★ I was drawn in from the first page. The characters were really well done, and I was glad to read them. J.K. has a great writing style, and I look forward to more from this author. KATHRYN M. NetGalley
Matt Christopher is out to protect the abused; you will see it is no easy feat. I loved Kelly’s writing style. ★★★★★ EDNA G. NetGalley
This political thriller keeps right on moving from the first page to the last. The characters were flawed, rich, bold, intriguing, and smart. ★★★★I couldn’t have asked for a better book to read. AMANDA B.
Thank you for your consideration and best wishes for a great summer of good reads and great times!