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Rushin' Death - KK5 accessibility pack

Rushin' Death - KK5 accessibility pack

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Russian Deaths

The cold reception Kenzie got from the stranger when she arrived at her mother’s house on Christmas day was nothing compared to what he got when he arrived at the morgue.

The anomalies in the Christmas rush at the Medical Examiner’s Office have Kenzie and Dr. Wiltshire scratching their heads. But things are about to get a lot more personal.

Lisa Cole Kirsch claims to know nothing about what is going on, but is she telling the truth? Even more concerning, is she covering up for her ex-husband? Kenzie would ask her father if he was around, but his presence was apparently required elsewhere. She’s never known him to be unreachable for so long before.

Kenzie is glad that her father is not involved in anything shady. She’s just seeing specters where there aren’t any. But her relief is short-lived.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ P.D. Workman is one of my favorite authors and can always be depended on to deliver a good solid read. I enjoyed this book and am looking forward to the next in the series.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ What an excellent story. This one kept me wondering what was happening with Kenzie’s dad. So much going on.
If you are a reader of the Zachary Goldman Mysteries series, you have already met Kenzie Kirsch. This series is a spinoff from Zachary Goldman Mysteries, giving Kenzie a front-and-center position in solving medical mysteries.

Looking for a strong female lead in an engaging medical mystery? Award-winning and USA Today Bestselling Author P.D. Workman brings you an up-and-coming Medical Examiner’s Assistant who is right up your alley.

Join Dr. Kenzie Kirsch as she uncovers mysteries, conspiracies, and thrills!
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It had been too long since Kenzie had been to Burlington to see her mother. She couldn’t remember for sure when the last time had been. Long enough to make her feel guilty about it. But she wasn’t going to wallow in that guilt. She was on her way to Lisa Cole Kirsch’s house for a surprise Christmas Day visit, and that would make up for her negligence over the past months. Lisa loved Christmastime. Kenzie could remember how she used to decorate the house; everything draped in fairy lights, Christmas trees in almost every room, garlands, nutcrackers, candles, and every other kind of Christmas decoration she could think of. It was beautiful, like stepping into a fairyland.

But she knew that wasn’t how it would be when she got to the house. Walter had mentioned that Lisa didn’t go “all out” for Christmas anymore. Without any children at home, she didn’t see the point in going to all of the work. Kenzie could understand that, even though it made her feel a little sad.

They would have a nice afternoon and evening just visiting, reminiscing over old times and, of course, whatever Kenzie’s mother managed to drag her into. There was always a cause or function or soup kitchen. Lisa Cole Kirsch’s name was known all over the state, maybe all over the northeastern states, for her philanthropy. She was always working on some campaign. And Kenzie would help her out this time without any eye-rolling or complaints. That would be her gift to her mother.

Walter Kirsch, Kenzie’s father, would probably be there too, even though he and Lisa had been divorced for many years and lived in different cities. They still saw each other often and kept up. They were great friends. They just weren’t married anymore. Since the Senate was closed for Christmas break, there wouldn’t be much lobbying for Walter to do, and he could sit back and relax for a few days. Though Walter probably wouldn’t actually take much time off. Just because the Senate wasn’t sitting, that didn’t mean all of the backroom lobbying had ceased. It might be just the opportunity Walter needed to see people who were normally unavailable. They were off for Christmas and, if he was lucky, feeling more charitable than usual.

But he would probably be with Lisa for Christmas Day at least. When Kenzie had talked to her mother that morning, Lisa had said that she might see him.

Vermont was beautiful during the winter. Yes, it was cold, and the roads got bad, and Zachary hated the postcard-perfect views of snow-laden trees in the days leading up to Christmas. It was a difficult time of year for him and, consequently, for Kenzie. But that didn’t ruin her enjoyment of the view. It looked like the inside of a snow globe.

She didn’t enjoy driving Zachary’s car as much as she would have enjoyed driving her sporty red convertible—her “baby”—but Zachary had suggested that she use it while he was in the hospital. It was better for winter driving and certainly held the heat better than her baby with its canvas top. Kenzie had finally conceded and left her car in the garage, taking Zachary’s nondescript white compact instead. He had purchased it because it blended in so that he could conduct surveillance. He didn’t want a vehicle that would stand out or be identifiable. There were white compacts everywhere, and his was never the only one parked on the street, no matter where he went.

Kenzie exited the highway and pulled into the familiar streets of Burlington. They had been her stomping grounds growing up, but felt foreign now, like they were from another life. Really, they were from another life. From before Amanda had died. Before Kenzie had overhauled her life and gone to medical school. Before her job at the Medical Examiner’s Office. Before Zachary. She hardly even recognized her younger self when she looked back at her old life. A spoiled trust-fund kid, even if she hadn’t thought she was. She thought that she was independent and had her own mind. But really, she had just been drifting. “Finding herself,” Lisa had said generously. Kenzie had been rebelling against her mother’s socialite life but still living on her trust fund, not needing to find work. So she went to a lot of parties, took home a lot of young men, and helped her mother out with one of her causes when Lisa managed to twist her arm hard enough. Kenzie hadn’t been unique; she had been a cliche.

Now she had educated herself, supported herself by working, had her own little house, and had welcomed Zachary Goldman into her life. She rarely touched her trust fund except for charitable purposes. She didn’t spend all of her time trying to make the world a better place as Lisa and Walter both did, each in their own way. Still, she tried to make her little corner of Vermont a better place, keeping the Medical Examiner’s Office running smoothly, learning the practice at Dr. Wiltshire’s side, helping to solve the mystery of death and bring some peace and solace to the loved ones left behind. She loved her work, found it challenging, and was happy to go home at the end of the day to her own little castle and to Zachary, when he was there.

The estate house rose up in front of Kenzie as she turned onto the long drive. She wished for a moment that she had been arriving at night. She liked how the house looked when it was lit up in the darkness. Like a lighthouse to guide her home. In the gray afternoon light, it looked empty and desolate. She wondered for a moment whether Lisa would even be there. One of the problems with showing up unannounced was that Lisa could well have other plans. She might already be out at one of the churches or soup kitchens, donning a cap and gloves to serve the city’s indigent. Or she might have gone to a friend’s house or be working with a committee, though both of those options seemed less likely on Christmas Day. Everyone would want to spend time with their families on Christmas Day, even if they were not home any other day.

Kenzie pulled into the parking area in front of the house. There was another car parked there ahead of her. She didn’t recognize it, but she wasn’t home often enough to know the vehicles of any of Lisa’s regular guests. Of course, it wasn’t Lisa’s car; hers would be parked in the garage, sheltered from the weather and not visible to thieves. It could be Walter’s car, though Kenzie would have also expected his to be parked in the garage. He was a frequent enough guest at the estate to have his own bedroom, office, and space in the garage.

She parked and shut off the engine, removing her key from the ignition. Kenzie pushed back her dark, spiraling locks, trying to make herself look tidier, and reapplied bright red lipstick. She let out a long breath to clear any tension or anxiety about going back home. She was just there for a friendly visit. She didn’t have to step back into any old roles. She knew her parents well enough to tell them “no” to anything she didn’t want to be involved in and to ask them to back off if they were being too intrusive, asking questions about her life or telling her what she should be doing with it. She didn’t have to think about Amanda and past Christmases. Or all of the ones she had missed after leaving home, instead of going home each year like an only child should.


Kenzie walked up to the front door and rang the bell. She was surprised that Lisa wasn’t standing at the door waiting for her. A motion detector at the entrance to the driveway alerted Lisa when someone was coming, and cameras were strategically placed so that Lisa would know who was there before ever opening the door. It was strange to have to ring the doorbell and even stranger to wait for Lisa to answer it.

Once she had been standing there for a minute, Kenzie thought that maybe she should have just gone straight in. Or rung the bell and then entered. It was, after all, her childhood home. She belonged there as much as anyone else. She wasn’t a visitor. But having already stood there waiting for a full minute, she couldn’t very well open the door and barge in. It would look odd.

Eventually, she could hear barking and the door opened.

Kenzie looked past Lisa as she opened the door. A dog? They had never had a dog, even in her childhood. Kenzie and Amanda had begged for a dog or other pet and Lisa had never allowed them to have anything. Dogs were messy and unruly and needed to be properly trained, walked every day, and cleaned up after. Cats shed and clawed the furniture. There was no question of being allowed a rodent that might escape into the house, or of birds or reptiles, perish the thought.

Kenzie looked at the friendly dog who came to the door and was eager to thrust her muzzle into Kenzie’s hand and get some ear scratches. Kenzie turned her surprised eyes to Lisa.

“MacKenzie, this is a surprise,” Lisa said, sounding more like it was an intrusion than a welcome. “You didn’t tell me you were coming.”

“I wanted it to be a surprise.” Kenzie shook her head at the dog. “When did you get a dog? I never thought you would agree to have one in the house.”

And this dog was no teacup poodle or other pampered pooch that Kenzie would have pictured any of Lisa’s socialite friends with. It was a large German shepherd, mostly brown in color.

Lisa’s eyes crinkled into a smile, something they had not done when she had found Kenzie waiting on her doorstep. She stepped forward and kissed Kenzie on both cheeks. “Come in and I’ll tell you all about it.”

Kenzie was relieved to be invited in. She had been starting to worry that Lisa didn’t want her there after all and would send her smartly on her way with a brick of Christmas cake and well wishes. Lisa pushed the door open wider to allow Kenzie in. The dog pressed up against Kenzie’s leg, looking for more affection.

“What’s her name?” Kenzie asked as they walked through the great hall and found seats in Lisa’s cozy sitting room.

Lisa sat on the couch and patted the cushion beside her, inviting the dog to jump up, which she did. Kenzie shook her head. Not only did Lisa get a dog, but it was allowed in the house and up on the furniture! It was time to check the weather in hell and be on the watch for the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

“You don’t recognize her?” Lisa asked, a slight smile playing over her lips.

“Well…” Kenzie studied the animal. The dog did look like one she had seen just a couple of months earlier. But there was no way that it was the same dog. No way. “I mean… she looks like Lola.”

The dog gave a small bark of acknowledgment and panted, tongue hanging out, looking very pleased. Lisa played with the dog’s ears.

“Yes, it’s Lola.”

“But… how did you end up with Lola? I don’t understand. What is she doing here?”

“She lives here. We rescued her.”

Kenzie shook her head in disbelief. “But this dog… had a deadly virus. I was sure she would be put down.”

Lisa covered the dog’s ears. “Don’t say that in front of her,” she said in good humor. “It took a lot of work to convince them to treat and release her. They wanted to you-know-what and examine her brain. I told them there was no way that they were going to do that, so they might as well put it out of their minds.” Lisa said it as if it were a foregone conclusion, the same way she had told it to the scientists and medical officials who had wanted to euthanize the dog to examine her brain and any other effects of the virus on her body. Lisa’s firm, take-no-prisoners approach had allowed her to cross most barriers in her life. She had been able to go places and accomplish things that Kenzie would never have expected people to allow this older, wealthy white woman to do.

“And that was all that it took?” Kenzie asked skeptically.

Lisa shrugged. “I needed to remind them that the dog had been in the papers and if a reporter following up on the story was to find out that they had put her down, even if it was for a good reason, there would be quite a backlash. I told them that they could do whatever imaging and lab tests they wanted, that I would cover all of those costs, and bring her back whenever they needed to do follow-up tests. They would look like heroes in the media instead of villains.”

Kenzie nodded slowly. Lots of money, authoritative orders, and pointing out how it would look in the eyes of the public. Lisa knew how to use all the tools at her disposal.

“So… how is she? How did they treat her? There’s no sign of the virus persisting?”

“I believe it was the same protocol you and Zachary were given in the hospital. They monitored her virus levels very carefully, and there has been no sign it has come back in her follow-up appointments. Every week, initially, and every month for the next year.” Lisa stroked Lola’s head. “She doesn’t seem to mind all of the poking and prodding. She thinks they’re just giving her attention.”

“Why did you do it?”

“I didn’t see any reason the dog should have to be put down just because of what happened to her. It wasn’t her fault. She has been very well-behaved and is very friendly. I could see that from the moment I laid eyes on her.”

“I didn’t think you liked dogs. You would never let us have one as kids.”

“Kids and dogs.” Lisa rolled her eyes. “I didn’t need that headache. And with Amanda’s health…”

They had put all of their time and attention into caring for Amanda when her kidney disease was diagnosed. There had been some close calls with her health as a child and she had spent a lot of time in the hospital. With Lisa always at the hospital at Amanda’s side, it would have been challenging to take care of a dog, taking it out for regular walks and whatever else it needed. They could have hired someone, but that would have defeated the purpose of having a dog for the family.

Kenzie would have promised them that she would do everything necessary to take care of the dog, but Lisa was probably right with her sigh of “kids and dogs.” Kenzie would never have done everything required for the dog’s upkeep. Walks several times a day, feeding, vet appointments, making sure it didn’t chew all of Walter’s—or Lisa’s—shoes. Kenzie had been a fairly reliable child, but she probably could not have kept up with everything.

“I suppose. I never expected you to get one, though.”

“I never expected to get one,” Lisa acknowledged, petting Lola, who was now settling down to go to sleep.

Kenzie looked around the sitting room. The first thing that she noticed was that there was no tree. Not just a smaller tree and a reduction in the number of decorations around the house. No tree at all. No lights. No garlands. No string of Christmas cards received from her friends and foundations. It could have been any time of year. Zachary could have been there without worrying about triggering flashbacks to the fateful Christmas day he had suffered when he was ten.

There hadn’t been any trees in the great hall, either. Kenzie could remember years when there had been two or three huge trees, branches reaching upward, looking as though they had been decorated by a hired interior design consultant. Maybe they had been. But Kenzie thought she remembered Lisa doing all of the work. It must have been a massive effort. In the years that Kenzie lived on her own, she sometimes decorated a small tabletop tree. Still, she couldn’t be bothered with a full-sized one, untangling and testing out lights, going through boxes of ornaments to find the most important ones, and then coordinating colors and textures. One little tree, preferably pre-lit, with a few personal touches…

But Lisa hadn’t done even that much. Kenzie didn’t see any sign of Christmas. Of course, she hadn’t been through the whole house, and maybe Lisa had decorated another room. And there would be outside lights, surely.

Kenzie heard footsteps on the stairs and looked up to see Walter. Only, it wasn’t her father at all.

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P.D. (Pamela) Workman is a USA Today Bestselling author, winner of several awards from Library Services for Youth in Custody and the InD’tale Magazine’s Crowned Heart award, and has published over 100 mystery/suspense/thriller and young adult books.

Workman loves writing about the underdog. She has been praised for her realistic details, deep characterization, and sensitive handling of the serious social issues that appear in her stories, from light cozy mysteries to darker, grittier young adult and mystery/suspense books.

P. D. Workman does not shy from probing the deep psychological scars of childhood trauma, mental illness, and addiction. Also characteristic of this author, these extremely sensitive issues are explored with extensive empathy, described with incredible clarity, and portrayed with profound insight.
—Kim, Goodreads reviewer