A young intern at a congressional office is murdered in Margaret Truman's Internship in Murder, a gripping installment in the New York Times bestselling Capital Crimes series
Twenty-two-year-old Laura Bennett is thrilled when she lands an internship in a congressional office in Washington, D.C. Her boss, Congressman Hal Gannon, is serving his fourth term in the U.S. House of Representatives. The handsomeand marriedGannon is a rumored womanizer, and indeed, he and Laura quickly strike up an affair.
Laura’s dreams of a future with the Congressman are dashed when she catches a stewardess at his apartment. She vows to Gannon that she will destroy him, and before long, rumor of their affair begins to spread across town. Then Laura goes missing. Private investigator Robert Brixton, a former cop who has also worked for the FBI, questions Gannon. The congressman vehemently denies having anything untoward to do with Laura, but Brixton’s suspicions return in full force when Laura is found dead in the congressional cemetery.
About the Author
MARGARET TRUMAN won faithful readers with her biographies and her novels, particularly her Capital Crimes mysteries. Her books let readers into the corridors of power and privilege, poverty and pageantry, in the nation’s capital.
DONALD BAIN, the author of more than 115 books, including forty bestselling Murder, She Wrote novels, was a longtime friend of Margaret Truman. He worked closely with her on her novels, and more than anyone understood the spirit and substance of her books.
Read an Excerpt
Margaret Truman's Internship in Murder
A Capital Crimes Novel
By Donald Bain
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2015 Estate of Margaret Truman
All rights reserved.
THREE MONTHS EARLIER
"I'll have one of your patented Collins drinks," Congressman Harold "Hal" Gannon told party host Lucas Bennett.
"Tom or John?"
"What's the difference?"
"Bourbon or gin? Tom uses gin, John uses bourbon."
The congressman laughed. "Where did Florida's leading malpractice attorney learn so much about making drinks?"
"I bartended during law school, got interested in the subtler aspects of it. Besides, if doctors ever stop cutting off the wrong limb or leaving sutures inside patients, I might need a job behind a bar."
"One John Collins coming up. By the way, I only use Meyer lemons."
"As opposed to?"
"The usual lemons. Meyers have a deeper taste, a hint of orange," Bennett said as he prepared the drink behind the marble bar top in his posh waterfront home. "They were invented in China. Some guy tried to grow them in California, but his trees had a virus that damn near wiped out every other citrus tree in the state. They eventually figured it out." He shook the bourbon, freshly squeezed lemon juice, sugar, and ice in a stainless shaker, poured the concoction into a glass, added club soda, garnished it with an orange slice, and handed it to the congressman.
Gannon took a small sip. "Wonderful," he said, smacking his lips. "I know some bars in Washington that could use you."
"I'll send my surrogate," Bennett said as his twenty-two-year-old daughter, Laura, joined him and accepted his embrace.
"She's a lot prettier than you are," Gannon said.
"Which means she'll get better tips."
Lucas Bennett was a big man in every sense. He was overweight, but the pounds were solidly packed on his six-foot-two frame. His flowing white hair gave him the look of an orator of yore. His ruddy face and ready smile belied a keen legal mind and a killer instinct when engaged in an adversarial situation with another attorney. Hal Gannon had been one of those lawyers who'd once felt the heft of Bennett's intellect and the sting of his silver tongue.
But that was before Gannon put his Tampa law practice into mothballs and successfully ran for the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida's Fourteenth Congressional District. He was in his fourth term. In an amusing irony, Lucas Bennett, his former opponent in court, had been one of his most generous backers, and Laura had worked as a volunteer on his most recent campaign.
"Has Laura acquired your skills, Luke, as a — what's it called? — as a mixologist?"
"I make a dynamite cosmopolitan," she said, "and I can pop a cap off a beer bottle in the wink of an eye."
Both men laughed as Bennett's wife, Grace, joined them. "You have to get out from behind the bar, Luke," she said, "and mingle with our other guests."
Grace Bennett was reed-thin but not emaciated. A physical therapist at Tampa General Hospital, she was a workout fanatic, and her sinewy, muscular arms and chiseled face — not an ounce of excess flesh anywhere — testified to a lifetime spent in gyms and lifting paralyzed patients back into wheelchairs.
"I suppose I should," her husband said as he rinsed his hands in a small sink and dried them. Before he followed his wife to where their other guests were gathered on an expansive patio that led down to the water and the slip at which their small cabin cruiser was docked, he said to Gannon, "I know I've thanked you before for arranging Laura's internship in your Washington office, Hal, but I'll say it again."
"Looking forward to having her," Gannon said.
"Just make sure she doesn't fall in love with some knee-jerk Democrat," Bennett said jovially.
Gannon, a conservative Democrat, said, "Even if he's a Blue Dog?"
"Well, that might make a difference," said Bennett. "Enjoy your drink Hal. I'll be back in a few minutes to whip up another round."
Gannon's reference to Blue Dogs reflected his leadership in the House of Representatives' band of right-leaning Democrats who often sided with their Republican counterparts. They'd taken the name Blue Dogs to mock the Yellow Dog Democrats of the early 1900s who were branded with the nickname because it was said that they would vote for anything, even a yellow dog, rather than a Republican.
Gannon and Laura watched the Bennetts go through open French doors to the terrace.
"Your folks are great," Gannon said, placing his barely touched drink on the bar.
"You aren't drinking this?" Laura asked, picking up the glass.
"I don't drink much, just an occasional social sip. Didn't want to offend your dad."
Laura took a healthy swig and smacked her lips. "Yummy."
"I'll take your word for it."
Congressman Hal Gannon would be considered handsome by any standard. He had a shock of unruly black hair that defied taming, which could also be said about his earlier bachelor days in Tampa. He topped six feet in height, and even beneath his red-and-blue-striped sport shirt you could see that he was physically fit. Like Grace Bennett, Gannon was no stranger to gyms, both when he was home in Tampa and when in Congress, where he took full advantage of the House's workout facilities. His jaw was square, his green eyes probing, mouth always on the verge of breaking into a boyish grin. The Washingtonian magazine had named him one of the House of Representatives' handsomest men.
"Looking forward to coming to work for me?" he asked Laura, who took another sip of the drink.
"Are you sure I'll be working for you?" she said playfully. "When you work for someone, you usually get paid."
"We have rules about that in the House," he countered, "but maybe I can squeeze something out of the budget — if you're good."
"Good at what?" she asked, raising a nicely shaped eyebrow.
Gannon looked through the open doors to where his wife, Charlene, waved at him.
"I'm being summoned," he said.
"Your wife is so beautiful," Laura said.
"She is, isn't she? Looking forward to when you arrive in D.C. The housing service landed you a prime spot, a two-bedroom on Capitol Hill, only a few blocks from the office, lots of space for you and your roommate. Roseann, my chief of staff, will help get you settled. Ace those final few exams before you come. I like my interns to be achievers and ..."
"And?" she said playfully.
He shrugged. "Available, I suppose. Excuse me. See you in a month, Laura." He hesitated, came forward, kissed her cheek, and joined his wife.
Laura finished the drink her father had made for Gannon and placed it on a tray of dirty glasses behind the bar. She took in her image in the back-bar mirror. She was her mother's daughter, albeit more fleshy, more womanly. Her legs were long, her waist narrow. Unlike her mother, her bosom was large and amply occupied her pink silk blouse, its top buttons undone to reveal some cleavage. Both mother and daughter were brunettes, although Laura's hair had more of a copper tint to it; she wore it loose and shoulder length.
She turned her attention to the terrace, where what someone had said generated gales of laughter. It was a money crowd. Social gatherings at the house were always attended by her parents' wealthy friends, and Laura knew that she was fortunate to have been born into the Bennett family. She'd never wanted for anything and had been blatantly spoiled. She was in her senior year at the University of Southern Florida, majoring in health administration in its College of Public Health. She hadn't chosen that major. She would have preferred something more artistic, like acting or painting. But her father had convinced her that she should graduate with a usable degree, which wouldn't preclude her from pursuing artistic endeavors on the side. Law school? That's what Lucas Bennett really wanted for his only child.
Laura's attention went to Charlene Gannon, the congressman's wife. No doubt about it, Charlene was a stunning woman — silver-blond hair, lovely figure, and perfectly painted oval face. She and her husband made a picture book couple. The media, always on the hunt for juicy stories about elected officials, pounced on every aspect of the Gannons' private life, focusing most recently on the fact that Charlene spent little time in D.C. with her husband.
"Why would anyone choose to run for office and open himself to such public scrutiny?" Laura once questioned her father after reading that the public's view of members of Congress ranked only slightly higher than serial rapists and below identity thieves.
"Ego," he replied, "pure, unadulterated ego."
Hal Gannon certainly had such an ego. Maybe "self-assuredness" was a better term. Laura smiled as she watched him break into a contagious laugh at something a woman said. If anyone had the right to be self-assured, she decided as she went to the patio and joined in the spirited conversation, it was Hal Gannon, successful attorney, popular member of the U.S. Congress, and movie-star handsome.
A real hunk.
In a month she would be leaving Tampa for Washington to become an intern in his office. Growing up in the opulence of the Bennett family had been wonderful, as carefully measured and nurtured as her father's favorite drink recipes.
But it was time to taste something new.
She couldn't wait.CHAPTER 2
Mackensie Smith had come full circle.
He'd been one of Washington's top criminal lawyers, a go-to guy when a case seemed hopeless. But after losing a son and his first wife to a drunk driver on the Beltway — and seeing the drunk get off with what Smith considered a slap on the wrist — he closed his office and accepted a professorship at the George Washington University School of Law, where he'd taught fledgling attorneys about the real world of law.
While his stint in academia had been satisfying, the call of the courtroom became too loud to ignore. After many long discussions with his wife, Annabel Reed-Smith — herself a former attorney, now owner of a pre-Columbian art gallery in Georgetown — and with her less-than-enthusiastic blessing, he resigned his post at the university and put out his shingle again: MACKENSIE SMITH, ATTORNEY-AT-LAW.
He'd spent most of the day taking depositions in a case involving the allegation that his client, a prosperous businessman, had bribed a government official in return for a lucrative contract. Mac was in the midst of reading the stenographer's transcript when his receptionist informed him that Mr. Brixton wanted to see him.
"Send him in, Doris."
How's my favorite private investigator?" Smith asked as Brixton entered the spacious office on Pennsylvania Avenue.
"Could be worse," Brixton said. "I could be on a long flight sitting next to a congressman."
Smith smiled. He'd never heard Brixton say he was good, or fine, or feeling great. His response always bordered on the negative.
* * *
Robert Brixton's decision to open his own private investigation agency in Washington, D.C., hadn't been easy. How could it have been? It seemed that nothing good had ever happened to him in the nation's capital.
Born in Brooklyn, he'd ventured south to where cops were being hired, and spent four years in Washington as a uniformed officer. He'd also met and married his now ex-wife there. The marriage hadn't been any more successful than his stint with the MPD had been. On the positive side were two precious daughters from his ill-fated, hormone-driven coupling with Marylee, and they'd grown into beautiful, albeit vastly different, young women.
But an event occurred many years later that led to the death of his younger daughter, Janet, during his second unpleasant stint in Washington. It drove a stake into his heart and sent him back to Brooklyn.
You could take it and shove it, as far as Robert Brixton was concerned.
But leaving D.C. for good following the tragedy of his daughter's death wasn't to be.
He could thank (or blame) Mackensie Smith for that.
* * *
"Have a seat, Robert. Drink?"
Smith opened a custom-built cherry cabinet and placed a glass on the drop-down shelf. "Gin?" he asked over his shoulder.
"Got any brandy, or cognac?" Brixton asked.
"Cognac," Smith said, pulling out a snifter, pouring two fingers of Hennessey into the glass, and handing it to Brixton.
"I'm drinking alone?" Brixton asked.
"Looks like it," said Smith. "I have a prospective client coming in an hour. How's that case you've been working the past few weeks?"
"Not too bad, but it barely covers the rent. I'm getting paid out of MPD's informant fund." Brixton sampled the drink. "Good stuff, Mac. About the case. I've had two sessions with the wife, who thinks she's talking to a hit man. The wire works, the cops are happy."
"She wants her husband killed," Smith said flatly. "Who was this fellow who put her in touch with you?"
"Name's Augie. He's a street guy I used to get information from when I was a cop on the force. He's older now but still a nut job, into drugs, petty theft, the usual. This wife meets him in a bar and starts talking about how she hates her husband and would like to see him gone. Can you imagine? This married lady who lives in a million-plus house, has kids, the works, tells a low-life like Augie, who she never met before, that she wants her hubby killed? Stupid, huh?"
"That's being kind."
"So Augie, who knows I've opened this agency, tells her that he's got a friend who might be able to help."
"He thought that you might be a hit man?" Smith said, chuckling.
"Do I look like a hit man?"
Mac raised his eyebrows.
"Don't answer that. Anyway, she calls me and we meet. She claims that her hubby beats her now and then. I think she's got a sweetie on the side and wants the old man out of the way so she can run off with the guy. 'Get a divorce,' I tell her. She says, 'He'll never give me one.' I say, 'Just leave.' She says, 'I'll be broke. He'll keep the bank accounts, the house, everything.' I ask her why she hates the guy so much that she wants him dead. She tells me that he's a moron who is cheap with money, is a lousy father, and his feet smell."
"His feet smell?"
Brixton joined in Smith's laughter. "I told her it'd be cheaper to buy him a lifetime supply of foot deodorant. That made her laugh. That's the key to setups like this, Mac, keep it light."
Smith shook his head. "She is a foolish woman," he said. "How much has she agreed to pay you?"
"Depends on what she decides she wants done. For a couple of broken knees and a messed-up face, twenty grand, double to get rid of him."
"So you went to the police."
"An old buddy of mine at MPD. He meets with his superior and they decide I should wear a wire and get her on the record paying me to have her husband killed. 'Wearing a wire.' That's old cop-speak, huh? I used to wear a wire when it was a bulky machine taped to your body. It was a Swiss recorder, a Nagra. The batteries generated heat, made you sweat, which wasn't good when the guy you were recording was suspicious. Man, I remember taking that damn thing off. You pulled the tape and your chest or groin hair came off with it. Not pleasant. The so-called wire I wear now is about the size of a dime, fits into a shirt button, sends the signal back digitally to the guys recording the feed. Big difference. Anyway, I balked at first when they asked me to record her, but they upped the ante so I said okay."
Smith shook his head. "What's her husband do for a living?"
"He owns a garbage collection company."
"In Washington, D.C.? I thought J. Edgar claimed there was no Mafia in D.C."
"Hoover claimed a lot of things that weren't true."
"Mafia connections? I don't know, and I don't give a damn. His murderous Mrs. and I haven't gotten that chummy."
"What's the next step?"
"One more meet with her tonight, usual place, the parking lot in the Pentagon City Mall. They can't haul her in until she actually hands over the down payment and it's clear on the wire what it's for. She's supposed to have the cash with her tonight. After that, I'm done. They'll have her on tape, they'll arrest her, she'll get an attorney, and the legal circus begins."
"As long as she doesn't seek out this attorney," Smith said.
* * *
Brixton's relationship with Mackensie Smith and his wife, Annabel, had led to his decision to remain in Washington after the death of his daughter. Smith had announced that he was going back into private practice and assured Brixton that he could use his experience as a cop and private investigator, provided he became licensed in D.C. While he disliked Washington and its major industry — politics — he decided that Smith's offer was too good to pass up. Smith advanced him the $5,000 for his PI bond and took enough space in his law practice to include a small suite for Brixton's new agency. Brixton passed the mandatory FBI background check, renewed his license to carry a concealed weapon, his favorite Smith & Wesson 638 Airweight revolver, and settled into his office adjacent to Smith's: ROBERT BRIXTON, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR.
Excerpted from Margaret Truman's Internship in Murder by Donald Bain. Copyright © 2015 Estate of Margaret Truman. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
What a boring book. Unoriginal plot, and the main characterBrixton was horrible. Very disappointed.