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Dead Serious Case #1 Miz Dusty Le Frey - (HARDBACK) Hardback Print Edition with Hidden Cover

Dead Serious Case #1 Miz Dusty Le Frey - (HARDBACK) Hardback Print Edition with Hidden Cover

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Hidden Cover Hardback

Dead Serious Case #1 Miz Dusty Le Frey

In the business of unfinished business...

 Tristan Everett has always preferred the company of the dead because they usually don't talk back. Being a somewhat awkward introvert working as a pathologist at the Hackney Public Mortuary suits him just fine. That is, until a freak accident with a rogue ice cube and suddenly he can see ghosts.

Just when he thought his life couldn't get any weirder, sassy drag queen, Dusty Le Frey, is wheeled in with a toe tag and she's not prepared to go quietly into the light. Not only is she furious at the prospect of spending eternity in last season's gold lame, she's determined that he help her solve her murder.

Suddenly Tristan finds himself thrown into a world of sequins and fake eyelashes, and worse still, he may have developed a bit of a crush on Scotland Yard's brand new drool-worthy detective, Inspector Danny Hayes, who's been assigned to Dusty's murder. Oh, and as the icing on top of a really crappy cake, the killer now wants him dead too...

All he ever wanted was a simple life but suddenly he's juggling work, a deliciously sexy detective, a stubborn ghost and a relentless murderer... and things have just gotten dead serious....

A hot and funny, slow burn, opposites attract paranormal caper across the East End of London.

Paperback - Hardback Print Edition (Hidden Cover) 336 pages
Dimensions 9.21 X 6.14 inches
ISBN: 978-1-8381847-9-7
Publication Date January 3rd, 2024


This Hardback has a special edition hidden cover beneath the dust jacket showing Dusty’s post-mortem report.



All print books, both paperback and hardback are printed to order by Bookvault and shipped directly from their facility.


Stage 1. Denial
Chapter 1.

“There we go, Mrs Felton, all done.” I roll my shoulders and crack my neck.
The air is cool in the sterile room with a faintly clinical scent to it, but it’s so familiar I barely notice. A tired sigh is hovering on the edge of my lips, but I hold it in.
It’s been a long day and stifling a yawn, I glance down at the old lady laying serenely on the stainless steel drawer. The pristine white sheet covers her bare chest modestly, barely revealing the edges of the ‘y’ incision in her weathered skin. My gaze migrates to her wrinkled face. I’m certain I can see a faint impish cast to her thin lips, and I swear she looks almost amused, which is a ridiculous conclusion considering the woman is clearly as dead as disco. If her cold white skin and lack of a pulse didn’t give it away, the fact that I’d just spent the last four hours performing her post-mortem would have done it.
Shaking my head, I pat her cold, hard shoulder almost comfortingly. It’s a strange habit I picked up somewhere along the way. As if somehow they still require a soft bedside manner and warm reassurance despite the fact that they have definitely checked out of existence.
Ignoring that sardonic expression permanently etched into the late Mrs Doris Felton’s delicate, bony features, I pull the sheet up and cover her fully until all that’s left is a small tuft of grey hair poking out the end.
“Rest well, Mrs Felton. They’ll be along to collect you in the morning,” I mutter softly.
And this is why people think I’m weird—talking to the deceased as if they’re still here. With my lips curving self-deprecatingly, I slide the drawer in, and the steely hiss of the runners echoes in the cavernous tiled room followed by a soft clunk as I close and latch the small square door.
Crossing the room toward the now empty table, I scoop up the folder containing Mrs Felton’s notes and remove a pen from the breast pocket of my lab coat, clicking it absently as I sign off on her post-mortem with a barely legible scribble.
That’s me done for the day. The silence of the room is suddenly broken by my stomach giving a surly growl of protest, and as I glance up at the large round clock mounted on the wall, I realise it’s gone eight. I was supposed to be finished hours ago, but we’re already getting backed up, and with one of the pathologists out on leave, we’re short staffed. Add into the equation that we’re now heading through October and firmly into flu season, I know from experience it’s only going to get busier. It’s a sad but immutable fact that we’re going to see a lot more senior citizens passing through the mortuary before spring.
Shaking off that morose fact, I take a deep breath. Sometimes it makes me feel sad, but death is just a part of life, one I can’t change. Being a pathologist suits me. I don’t have great people skills, and more often than not, I just feel awkward and out of place. There also seems to be some kind of continuous miscommunication between my brain and my mouth, often leading me to blurt out an embarrassing amount of word vomit.
As a person, I know that I’m somewhat of an acquired taste. There are very few people who can speak fluent Tristan, as my dad calls it, and even fewer people I feel comfortable enough to call friends. My world may be small, but it’s quiet and peaceful, just the way I like it. The deceased don’t talk back, they don’t have any expectations of me, and they don’t make me feel bad about myself.
My thoughts scatter as the door opens abruptly, and a familiar mop of red curls peeks around the corner followed by a pair of merry hazel eyes, a slim face, and a cute button nose.
“Hey, Tris.” Henrietta, one of my co-workers grins at me. “Are you done hiding out in here?”
“I’m not hiding out, Hen.” I roll my eyes with a small, resigned sigh. “I was working.”
“Really?” She raises her brows slowly. “Because I could’ve sworn you’ve been avoiding us all day so you don’t have to come to the pub with us tonight.”
“Well, I haven’t,” I deny innocently.
I totally had.
“Tris, come on.” She flutters her eyelashes at me. “Jesus, hun, you’re only like what, twenty-five?”
“Twenty-seven,” I correct absently.
“Exactly, you’re young and hot.”
“And you need a trip to Specsavers,” I snort quietly.
“Uh, have you looked in a mirror lately, Tris?” She steps more fully into the room and lets the door bang shut loudly behind her. “You’re a fox and should have blokes lining up for you. You’re way too young to lock yourself away in a cold, dark room with a bunch of corpses.”
“It sounds really disturbing when you say it like that.” I can feel the smile tugging at the corner of my lips. “Besides, that’s what I’m paid for.” Henrietta, as annoying as she is when it comes to my non-existent love life, is one of the few people that I can not only tolerate but consider a friend.
“You still need a life, hun.” She fists one hand on her cocked hip. “You’re coming down The Crown with us, and I won’t take no for an answer. It’s Seamus’s retirement do, and he’s been here thirty-five years wheeling corpses back and forth, so the least we can do is get him pissed on his last day.”
“I signed his card and gave, I might add, very generously toward his leaving present.” I frown. “Although, what he’s planning to do with a Segway is beyond me when he’s on the waiting list for a hip replacement.”
“It’s what he wanted.” She shrugs. “If you can’t live a little at his age what’s the point?”
I blink at her slowly.
“Anyway,” she continues. “At least we got him one with the safety handlebars.”
“Hen, the guy’s pushing seventy, we should’ve got him a mobility scooter.”
“Don’t be so stuffy.” She pokes her tongue out. “And don’t think arguing will distract me. You’re coming to the pub whether you like it or not. It’s for your own good.”
“Hen.” I sigh tiredly, my plan of a long indulgent soak in the bath with bubbles and a glass of wine is rapidly disappearing like smoke through my fingers. “I’ve just signed off on Mrs Felton, and I’m satisfied her death was of natural causes, but we still need to call the funeral home to come and collect her first thing in the morning. We’re running low on space. Plus, I’ll need to be in early to cover Alan while he’s off.”
“Excuses, excuses.” She rolls her eyes and gives a dismissive wave of her hand. “And none of them valid. It’ll take you five minutes to call the funeral home.” She glances down at the brightly coloured bubble gum pink watch at her wrist. “Besides, they probably won’t even be there at this time, you’ll have to leave a message. Oooh, in fact…” She brightens. “If they do pick up, you can always invite Tony. He’s a gorgeous hunk of a man, and he’s totally got a thing for you.”
“I am not inviting Tony anywhere.” I frown.
“Why not?” She tilts her head. “He’s always been sweet on you.”
“He’s not anything on me,” I protest nervously. It’s not that Tony isn’t a nice guy, he is. He works at the funeral home, so our paths cross several times a week. The problem is, as nice looking as the guy is, I don’t get involved with co-workers or colleagues. Besides, if I’m being completely honest, Tony makes me nervous in all the wrong ways. He’s got such a big, booming personality that it just blankets everything and everyone in his path. He’s too forward, too loud… just too overwhelming for an introvert like me.
“What’s wrong with Tony?” she asks.
“He’s a bear,” I reply. “He’ll probably snap me like a glow stick.”
She chuckles affectionately. “Tris.” Her voice is low and soft. “Just one drink, that’s all I’m asking. I’ll even pay for your Uber home.”
“Fine,” I relent with an eye roll. “But you don’t need to pay for an Uber for me. I mean it though, one drink and only because I like Seamus, and the truth is I’ll miss his gruff voice and inane love of pointless trivia.”
She smiles widely. “Call the funeral home for Mrs Felton’s collection. I’m locking up and heading out in twenty minutes,” she informs me before disappearing back through the door, leaving me once again alone in the stark room.
“One drink,” I think to myself, feeling nerves dancing the full-on Rhumba in my stomach. “I can do one drink… what’s the worst that could happen?”
Following Henrietta out of the room, she disappears down the corridor, I head into my small office and set the folder down on my untidy desk. Sliding off my lab coat and absently hanging it on a nearby hook, I turn and catch my reflection in the window. It’s dark outside now, and I can clearly see myself reflected back against the cold glass of the brightly lit office.
Cocking my head unconsciously, I study myself meticulously for a moment trying to see what Henrietta does. She’s insisted on more than one occasion that I’m hot, coupled with the fact she seems convinced that Tony is desperately attracted to me, but I just don’t see it.
I’m skinny and at roughly five seven, not particularly tall. My eyes are grass green and hidden behind thick black framed glasses. My skin is pale and smooth with a light dusting of golden freckles across my cheekbones and the bridge of my nose, which more often than not makes me appear younger than I am. Seriously, you don’t want to know how often I get ID’d when buying alcohol.
My hair is a dark non-descript brown and has an alarming tendency to do whatever the hell it wants no matter how much I try to ruthlessly style it into submission. It just has a mind of its own.
My gaze trickles down my body to the dark blue fitted V-neck sweater over a white t-shirt that clings to my petite frame, past my skinny jeans to the plain black Doc Martens loosely laced at my feet. I’m really nothing to write home about, so no wonder I’m still single. I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m no virgin, but even if I’m not completely unfortunate looking, I seem to have a personality that’s just not compatible with finding and keeping a boyfriend.
I huff out a laugh, ruthlessly squashing the small pang of longing in my chest. Nope, not going down that particular rabbit hole tonight. I do not need a man, I am not lonely, and my life is just fine the way it is.
Straightening my spine, I pull on my navy blue pea coat and wrap my favourite scarf around my neck loosely a couple of times. It’s a deep aubergine colour, as soft as a cloud, and decorated with little white dancing skeletons. It was a birthday gift from Henrietta, who’s always been good with gifts. Although I really am still debating the wisdom of her buying a seventy year old with a dodgy hip a Segway.
Shaking my head softly in mild amusement, I slip my keys and wallet into my pocket and head out of the office, flipping off the lights as I go and locking the door firmly behind me.
Heading through the silent, deserted corridors I find Henrietta standing alone by the main entrance, glancing down at her watch impatiently. Her garish lime green jacket clashes with her purple beanie and violently red hair, but it’s so perfectly her that I can’t help the affectionate smile I feel creeping over my lips.
“There you are,” she huffs, rolling her eyes as she grabs my arm and tows me toward the door. “They’ll be wondering where we’ve got to. I thought I’d have to come searching for you again.”
“Nope.” I give a slightly pained smile. “I’m here, as promised. Young, single and ready to mingle.”
“If only that were true, Tris,” she laughs as I step through the door, and she turns to set the alarm.
Heading out of the main door I step onto the pavement as a gust of wind rushes past me, sweeping a pile of dry, dusty leaves over the toes of my boots in a mad tumble of red and gold. The temperature has dropped sharply, and my breath expels from my lips as a diaphanous mist. A shiver runs down my spine as I jam my hands in the pockets of my coat, lamenting the fact I have once again lost one of my gloves. I tuck the lower half of my face into the curve of my scarf, allowing my breath to warm my jaw as I stare up at the sweet, little two storey Victorian stone building that houses the Hackney Public Mortuary.
Henrietta is locking the door, which is painted a bright fire engine red and to the right is a huge set of double gates painted in the same hue, through which our charges are delivered or collected. Three white framed sash windows dominate the front of the building, one on the lower level and two dormer windows on the second floor with little pitched roofs, which oddly enough look like a pair of quirked eyebrows, and the two chimneys either side of the main roof jutting up into the night sky like feline ears.
All in all, it’s a cute, homely sort of building despite what goes on behind its hundred year old walls, and I find I infinitely prefer it to the cold, impersonal sleek glass buildings, which are so often characteristic of modern architecture.
“Okay, all done. Let’s go before you change your mind.” Henrietta joins me on the pavement and links her arm through mine.
We amble companionably down the empty back street arm in arm with the stars above us twinkling like little silver pin pricks in the indigo sky. Turning left at the end of the road, we head toward the main high street and toward the warm, welcoming glow of The Crown. Another cute little Victorian building, a main staple of London’s East End, the exterior is painted a deep midnight blue in contrast to the bare brickwork and warm walnut coloured bay window and doors. Fairy lights twinkle in the windows like tiny fireflies, and as Henrietta purposefully strides up and yanks the door open, I’m hit with a blast of heat and noise.
I can do this.
I step into the bustling space behind Henrietta and follow along obediently in her wake. Music is drifting in the air, but I can’t make it out over the low hum of animated chatter. Brick columns are scattered through the space in front of the bar, each with a polished wooden skirt mounted around it to serve as a standing table. The rest of the columns are wound with more white fairy lights. It’s a pretty and inviting space I have to admit, with only one downside. There are way too many people for my comfort level.
I can already feel the scratchy edge of discomfort dancing around me, my shoulders tensing slowly and inching up toward my ears defensively. I have to remind myself to relax my posture and take a breath.
Just one drink…
My gaze scans the bar and snags on a small group of people gathered at the end of the bar. There’s nothing exceptional about them other than the absolutely gorgeous man standing with them. He’s tall, over six feet at least, with broad shoulders and a narrow waist. He’s wearing a suit with the jacket unbuttoned. His collar is open, and his tie stuffed into his jacket pocket. I drift along absently, watching in fascination as he lifts his pint to his lips, his exposed throat rippling as he swallows. His hair is short and golden blonde, hanging just slightly in his eyes, the colour of which I can’t make out from this distance.
Christ he’s delicious, and way out of my league, I think to myself as he smiles and laughs at something one of his companions says. He looks away from his friend, and his gaze scans the room until it locks on me, tracking me across the room and all the breath leaves my lungs.

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