Deadly Deception: The Return of Santa Fe’s Foremost Female Forensic Psychologist

Deadly Deception ($12.95, 200 pp., ISBN: 978-1-60381-893-3), is Marie Romero Cash’s second murder mystery featuring intrepid but fragile forensic psychologist Jemimah Hodge.

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Forensic psychologist Jemimah Hodge, who has just returned to Santa Fe after a few months in special training, is handed a cold case from almost ten years earlier. The matter is especially sensitive because it concerns the death of a police officer’s wife in a car accident, and Santa Fe’s finest have not been cooperative.

Detective Rick Romero has waited patiently for Jemimah’s return. She would like to respond to his interest in her, but is held back by emotional scars left over from her conservative Mormon upbringing. Despite their tense personal relationship, they must find a way to work together.

Romero and Jemimah survive separate shooting incidents they suspect are related to the case. Each faces obstacles and distractions. Jemimah is missing key evidence, and Romero is coping with a wounded shoulder, his ex-con brother’s screw-ups, and the arrival of a sexy FBI agent. Will they be able to identify the would-be killer in time to save themselves?

Says Cash, “Deadly Deception was inspired by an old case from the Albuquerque Police Department files. The victim’s husband was a police officer who claimed his wife had died of cancer, but the police told the media she had died in a car accident. The husband was later indicted for first degree murder and evidence tampering, but never stood trial. The family petitioned the District Attorney and the grand jury to reopen the case, but it eventually disappeared from the news.”

Marie Romero Cash was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and has lived there most of her life. In her mid-thirties she discovered the traditional arts of northern New Mexico. After twenty years of creating award-winning art, she began to write about it. At fifty she enrolled in college and, five years later, graduated with a degree in Southwest Studies. In 1998, she received the prestigious Javits Fellowship to pursue her education. Since then Marie has written several books about the art and culture of the southwest, including a memoir about growing up in Santa Fe. Coming soon: Treasure among the Shadows, the third book in the Jemimah Hodge Mystery Series. Click here to find Marie on the Web.

Read on for an excerpt:

Romero struggled to regain consciousness. It took a few minutes to realize he wasn’t home in bed. The moistness of the ground beneath him saturated his shirt. A bright moon shone overhead, peeking through the tall pines. He moaned. The pain in his head pulsated as he tried unsuccessfully to pull himself into a sitting position.

He tried to remember where he was and how he got there. A wave of nausea hit as he braced himself on the ground, smelling the pungent aroma of juniper and piñon around him. As he channeled his inner Rambo and pulled himself to his feet, a gush of blood streamed down his shirt. Jesus, he’d been shot.

The moonlight lit the way toward the outline of a vehicle in the distance. As he drew nearer, he realized it was his cruiser. He fumbled through his pockets for the keys and finally found them on the seat. Gripping the steering wheel to pull himself up into the vehicle, he pushed the key into the ignition, grateful that the engine kicked over. Pain shot through him as he backed into the brush and jerked as the tires drove over felled branches on the road. He remembered walking on the forest service road to Los Cabreros Mesa about ten miles from the Cerrillos substation, about to approach a dark sedan with an obscured license plate, when a bullet tore through his shoulder, knocking him to the ground. Whoever had shot him must have figured he was dead. They hadn’t even bothered to take his revolver or his wallet. They’d probably been hiding drugs or contraband, but he never had a chance to find out.

Detective Romero drove the vehicle onto the interstate in the direction of the hospital in Santa Fe. He felt around for his cell phone and speed-dialed Detective Artie Chacon to meet him there. The drive felt considerably longer than the twenty minutes it should have taken. If he pulled over to the side of the road he would pass out. Finally, he spotted the lights of St. Vincent’s on the hill up ahead. Blood continued to ooze down the front of his shirt. Detective Chacon’s cruiser lights flashed at the front entrance to the hospital.

The emergency room at the hospital was jammed. The lobby was filled to capacity, the ailments ranging from swine flu to some kid who swallowed the head of a plastic action figure. A man wearing a camouflage jacket held a bag of ice on his swollen arm, while another stared ahead and conversed with nobody in particular about the bats hanging from the ceiling. The woman next to him looked at herself in a hand mirror. Romero figured she was inspecting the most recent batch of cuts and bruises inflicted by her live-in boyfriend. Detective Chacon ambled up to the ER nurse.

“Excuse me, Nurse,” he said.

“Sir, please take a seat,” she said stiffly. “The emergency room is on a first come-first served basis, and unless your emergency is more urgent than everyone else’s, you’ll just have to wait. We’re seeing as many patients as we can at the moment.”

Undaunted, Chacon flashed his badge, reached over and pulled Romero’s bloody shirt open to expose a gaping wound. “Sorry, Ma’am. This won’t wait.”

The nurse hollered for the orderly to bring a wheelchair, plunked Romero down and directed them to a curtained-off cubicle in the far corner. She took Romero’s vital signs and proceeded to cut away his shirt. Over the intercom, they heard the ER doctor being summoned.

Romero felt the room spin. He closed his eyes.

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