Sampler: The Patience of Karma by Cynthia Hamilton

The detectives experience unexpected peril as they tackle three of the toughest cases they have ever faced.

A Florida man desperate to save his niece’s life seeks MDPI’s help in locating a nephew he hasn’t seen in five years—a drifter who was presumed dead after a tragic boating accident took the lives of his two friends.

A photo found online proves Daniel is alive and well and living in Santa Barbara. As the niece slips closer to death each day, Daniel has become her last hope for receiving a compatible kidney.

Meanwhile, a famous composer worries that his much-younger wife is having an affair.

But as Madeline seeks to prove otherwise, she discovers the truth is stranger and much more dangerous.

Finally, Madeline’s partner Mike Delaney must reckon with choices he made over a decade earlier, and the seismic changes they may bring to his already shaky life.

Why would a man decline to save his own sister?

Who is hiding secrets?

And can digging too deeply into the past result in being buried alive?

The detectives experience unexpected peril as they tackle three of the toughest cases they have ever had to face, and each will leave them changed in ways they could never have anticipated.

The Patience of Karma is the fifth installment in the Madeline Dawkins series.

Cynthia Hamilton

Sampler: The Patience of Karma

Crammed together in the backseat of Web Burnhart’s rental car, bracing Daniel on his right side while Samir flanked his left, Mike directed Web to turn right onto Figueroa Street and into the parking lot behind their office. Being a tenant with the equivalent of two offices entitled them to four parking slots up against the back of their building. Those spaces were assigned to Mike, Madeline, Lauren and Samir.

Since the only vehicle still parked in any of their spaces was Samir’s, Mike instructed Web to pull into the empty slot in the middle, allowing them plenty of room on either side to safely extract Daniel without any more funny business on his part. After the stunt he pulled outside the Santa Barbara Airport just minutes earlier, Mike wasn’t taking any chances.

Once they were parked, Samir exited the sedan on the left side and stood guard while Mike got out on the right, where Web was waiting to assist. Mike tugged petulant and uncooperative Daniel out of the backseat, reminding himself, as he had been doing for the last several hours, this babysitting gig would soon be over.

“Go unlock the office and turn off the alarm,” he instructed Samir, who jogged off to do as directed.

“I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with all this crap,” Web said as he and Mike yanked Daniel forward.

“Don’t worry about it. I’ve dealt with worse cases,” Mike said charitably as he scanned their immediate surroundings.

He was anxious about escorting someone against their will in broad daylight. Fortunately, it was just past five o’clock, and the number of vehicles in the lot had diminished. But knowing Daniel, he was liable to make a break for it, using any distraction to his advantage.

They’d gone about thirty feet when Mike motioned for them to turn left into the alley running between two multistory structures. It would provide a shortcut to the entrance of their building and give them cover, instead of having to parading their captive along busy Carrillo and State Streets, where any number of things could go wrong. Mike didn’t trust Daniel to not cause a scene, giving himself a chance to bolt.

The trio had gotten about twenty feet into the alleyway when an angry female voice echoed off the walls, the reverberations underscoring her threat as electrified currents of alarm shot through all three of them.

Mike and Web traded worried glances as they struggled to hang on to Daniel, who was fighting like a wildcat to slip out of their grip. They turned awkwardly as one to face whoever had ambushed them, all stunned to see a petite brunette clutching a gun in her outstretched hands.

“Valerie!” Daniel exclaimed, his voice full of shock and fear as he fought to free himself from his wardens.

“Don’t move,” she commanded as she inched closer.

One look at Karl’s widow and Daniel realized his situation had gone from aggravating to desperate. The prospect of returning to Florida suddenly had a lot more appeal.

“Watch what you’re doing with that thing! Someone could get hurt!”

“Just you, Daniel,” Valerie replied with surprising calm as she kept the gun trained on him.

Once Mike learned they were facing Karl Dobroski’s widow, he knew their current predicament had become even more volatile. Though he could detect a slight trembling from the adrenaline rush, the Smith & Wesson revolver Valerie was holding at arm’s length with both hands was very concerning. If she pulled the trigger, the chances of one of them catching a bullet were high.

“Valerie,” Mike said, holding up his free hand to show he took her threat seriously, “I know you’ve got a lot of questions for Daniel, but let’s not do this out here where innocent bystanders could get hurt.”

“You’ve got three seconds to move away from that low-life scumbag…”

“If you kill him, you’ll never get the answers you need,” Mike reasoned calmly, despite his mushrooming anxiety.

“Actually, whoever you are, what I need to know is that Karl and Walt’s deaths didn’t go unavenged. I lost a husband and a close friend because of Daniel, and he needs to pay for that.”

“I had nothing to do with their deaths, Valerie! You’ve got to believe me!” Daniel pleaded. “I wasn’t anywhere near the boat when the gas got to them. What happened out on the water wasn’t anybody’s fault. It was just really horrible luck. If Karl hadn’t thrown me overboard, I would’ve died along with them.”

“Let’s go up to my office where we can sort this out,” Mike tried again.

“You’re responsible for their deaths, whether you planned to or not,” Valerie spat. “Your bad karma cost them their lives.”

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