Sampler: The Nine Deadly Dolls by CW Hawes

He looked terrified when he saw what was in the bag, threw it to the floor, staggered backwards, and then collapsed

Nine little voodoo dolls.

A dead body.

What’s next?

Bobby Joseph Frieden believes his uncle was murdered and that nine little voodoo dolls have something to do with it.

Ace Minneapolis private investigator Justinia Wright agrees and takes the case.

But how are the dolls connected? And what’s with the box a mysterious and dangerous voodoo cult wants to get back?

When a second and third murder occur, Tina decides it’s time to fight fire with fire.

The Nine Deadly Dolls is a novelette set in the same world as the novel-length Justinia Wright Private Investigator Mystery series.

If you like the traditional puzzle mystery, with enough wise-cracking humor, thrills, and spills to keep things interesting, then you’ll love this latest addition to the world of Justinia Wright.

C.W. Hawes

Sampler: The 9 Deadly Dolls

“I’m here about my uncle,” Bobby Joseph Frieden said. “The police said it was suicide, but now I’m pretty certain he was murdered.”

Tina’s eyebrows shot up and then dropped back down. “Tell me about it.” If she was a cat, she’d have been purring.

“In 1990, my uncle, Derrick Frieden, moved to Haiti with one hundred thousand dollars and began a clothing business. He got his business going and made millions. While there he got involved with a Haitian woman who was apparently a mambo. That’s a Voodoo priestess.”

Tina nodded.

“When the earthquake destroyed everything back in 2010, my uncle took his money, left the island, and came back home.

“All was fine until three months ago, when he received a package in the mail: a handmade bag, black in color, shaped like a rooster, that contained nine little dolls.

“He looked terrified when he saw what was in the bag, threw it to the floor, staggered backwards, and then collapsed. I thought he was having a heart attack and called nine-one-one. He was awake by the time the paramedics came and refused to go to the hospital.”

“Do you have the bag and the dolls?”

“No. He burned them. But I did bring the ones I got yesterday.”

Tina raised her eyebrows. “You received a bag of dolls?”

“Yes. Just like the ones my uncle received.”

“And you have them with you?”

“Yes. Do you want to see them?”

“Not now. Continue with your uncle’s part of the story.”

“After my uncle received the dolls, his behavior changed. He bought a pistol and a shotgun, and he didn’t even like guns. He began drinking heavily and would get raving drunk every night. Towards the end, I think he began hallucinating because he’d shout and yell at nothing.

“Then about five weeks ago, during an especially bad fit, he fired the shotgun inside the house a couple times. I was afraid for my life and left. In the morning, when I returned, I found him in the basement hanging from a beam. There was a chair nearby. The police said it was a suicide, and that was that.”

“But you don’t think it was. Why?”

“Uncle Derrick was not suicidal. When I left, he was, I believe, shooting at what he thought were those spirits. What are they called?”


“Yes, them. My uncle was a fighter. He wasn’t a quitter.”

“So you don’t believe he committed suicide because of his personality.”

“That, and the fact that yesterday I received one of those rooster bags, with nine dolls and a note.”

“Let me see them.”

He got up and put a bag, about twice the size of my hand, on Tina’s desk.

I got up, moved to her desk, and stood next to her. She opened the bag, emptied nine little dolls on her desk, along with a note. The writing on the note was in black letters. The message read:


Put the casket on your front doorstep at sunset, and leave it there, three days hence, or you will die.


“Three days hence would be, if you got this yesterday, the day after tomorrow. Do you have any idea what this casket is?”

“No, I don’t.”

“It’s late. Tomorrow morning I want to see your home.”

“You’re going to take my case?”

“Yes. Harry, give Mr Frieden a contract.”

I did so. He read it over and signed it.

Tina told him we’d be at his place at ten, after which I escorted Bobby Joseph Frieden back out into the Minnesota snow and cold.

“This is a strange one,” I said, when I got back to the office.

“It is.” She had one of the dolls under the magnifying glass. After a minute or two, she put the doll and glass down. “You don’t know anything about Voodoo, do you?”

“Nope. Other than there should be a set of pins to stick in those dolls.”

“Sometimes, Harry, for having been a college professor, you are incredibly ignorant. I don’t know a lot about the religion, but I know this doll,” she held up one of the nine little white dolls from the bag, “is no ordinary doll.”

“Well, no, it’s a Voodoo doll.”

She rolled her eyes. “It’s an image of Maman Brigitte. The loa of death and cemeteries. And there are nine of these dolls. The number nine in Voodoo numerology is the number of endings.”


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