Sampler: The Year of the Mantis by P.J. Mann

A dedicated detective relentlessly pursues a murderer aided with clues from the victim’s elderly, eccentric neighbor. 

P.J. Man will be featured Wednesday night, September 29, at 7 .m. EST on Indie Book Source’s Meet the Author Podcast. A great place to learn more about P.J., her writing, and her books. You can find the podcast HERE.

A murdered executive.

Key suspects with bulletproof alibis.

Can a headstrong investigator catch the killer before the trail disappears?

Rome, Italy. Detective Maurizio Scala has a strong debt of honor to the victims of brutal crimes.

So when a well-liked man is found dead in his car, Scala becomes determined to deliver deserved justice.

But with every suspicious person appearing to have proof of innocence, the driven sleuth fears he won’t be able to bring peace to the deceased.

As he uncovers the powerful family’s dark secrets, Scala’s investigation takes a shocking turn as his list of potential culprits suddenly widens.

And with new information upending his search, he dreads the perpetrator will slip through his fingers and strike again.

Will Scala outsmart the elusive assassin before he vanishes in the night?

The Year of the Mantis is the first suspenseful book in An Inspector Scala Mystery series. If you like police procedurals, gritty heroes, and surprising twists, then you’ll love P. J. Mann’s thrilling whodunit.

P.J. Mann

Sampler: The Year of the Mantis

Without any hesitation, she walked in the boat. “Anybody there?” she called, hoping to find at least one member of the crew.

Aldo’s head peeked from the cabin, and when he saw Irina, he opened up into a bright smile. “I thought you would have enjoyed a longer stay here in Italy,” he joked with a chuckle.

“That was only half an enjoyment, and I was here for business.” She leaned against the baluster. “I need to leave right away. When is your next scheduled departure?”

“We can arrange it in a couple of days, perhaps on Monday at one o’clock in the morning. Do you need a ride?” with a confident stride, he reached her.

“Yes, I will need to contact Alec to get me from the international waters to the coast. We will need the maximum discretion, if you know what I mean.” Her lips trembled anxiously, as she pursed them together.

With a light nod, Aldo agreed, considering how to make sure the two things would have combined. “Let me talk to Alec, once I have spoken with the rest of the crew, be reassured of it. We should agree together, so everything can run smoothly. The price is going to be the same as for the trip from there to here, and we’d prefer payment in advance.” His expression toughened. The agreement was different, but he needed to also acknowledge the risks.

Narrowing her eyes, she clenched her fists, glaring at him, “That was not what we agreed!” she shouted, barely containing herself, coming closer to his face.

Her attitude couldn’t impress a rough seaman like Aldo, although he knew what she was capable of and that it was better not to try her patience. Nevertheless, he was aware there wouldn’t have been another way for her to reach the French coast, then to rely on their ride.

“The risk is getting higher. If we get caught by the coast guard, we will end up in trouble. I’m not going to risk any of my business for you. I need my insurance.” His voice remained calm, but rage boiled inside at the demands of this spoiled brat.

Averting her eyes from him, she considered her options. Indeed, if I want to have everything cleared, I need to come to a compromise, although the deal has suddenly changed.

She didn’t have time for bargaining with anyone, so she inhaled deeply, trying to quell her rage. “Fine, you will have your compensation the moment we leave. In this case you will have to deal with another issue.” What seemed to be a problem suddenly offered her the solution she was looking for. “My father will come with me, but he won’t reach any of the coasts. His journey will have to end in the middle of the Tyrrhenian Sea.”

“You’re insane!” His voice got louder, and he didn’t care that she was one dangerous girl— it wasn’t even the question of the money anymore. The change in the deal she proposed wasn’t something easily arranged. A dead body was always something difficult to conceal. It didn’t matter whether they would have dumped him in the sea or taken care of him in an alternative way. Their connection to the murder wouldn’t have been difficult to establish.

“We didn’t agree on being charged twice for the service, so I guess I’m asking a fair exchange. You are going to have more money than you asked for, and I’m going to get rid of a nuisance that starts to get quite annoying, to be honest.”

Shaking his head, in the desperate attempt to find a solution, Aldo turned his eyes to look at the clear surface of the sea. For a moment, he remained to listen to the waves lapping against the boat, letting his mind rest for a bit.

“It’s too dangerous,” he muttered.

A long pause of silence broken only by the water battering against the side of the boat and the far chattering of other fishermen, preparing for the evening, fell upon them.

He opened his mouth as if to say something, but he immediately closed it as a couple of fishermen passed by. One of them waved to Aldo and greeted him, to which he replied with a nod and a smile.

Aldo followed them until he was sure he couldn’t hear what they were talking about. “Come with me, it’s not safe to talk here.”

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