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They Sought Vengeance - ZG 14 ebook

They Sought Vengeance - ZG 14 ebook

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A mystery thriller from USA Today bestselling author, P.D. Workman that will keep you turning the pages!

Deadly Secrets

When hired by four siblings to investigate the circumstances of the death of their father, private investigator Zachary Goldman finds out that not all is as it first appears. As Zachary uncovers more information, he discovers both family secrets and a dark side of John Godfrey’s life. Somehow, he’ll have to find a way to tease the truth out from amongst the web of lies.

Was Godfrey killed out of revenge by someone from his past or one of his own children? Has Zachary unintentionally put himself and his loved ones in the crosshairs of a killer? Will he be able to uncover the truth before it’s too late?

They Sought Vengeance is an enthralling tale full of suspense and intrigue that will keep readers guessing until the very end. Join Zachary Goldman on his journey as he searches for answers and justice for John Godfrey.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Such a great series. I love Zachary and Kenzie. I meant to wait and read the rest of the book tonight, but I had to keep reading to find out whodunnit. Loved it!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Get They Sought Vengeance by the amazing PD Workman today to find out if you got it right, before the denouement of this riveting crime-thriller – satisfaction is guaranteed!

Zachary Goldman, Private Investigator, is flawed with a capital F. Shattered by the tragedies of his own life, he will somehow still manage to pick himself up and dig just a little bit deeper than anyone else to piece together the vital clues and solve the mystery.

Maybe being broken makes it easier for others who have faced tragedy to trust him. Walk with Zachary as he solves cases that will stretch his abilities to the limit.

Even with his own life in shambles, Zachary Goldman is still the one you want on the case.

Looking for a thriller that will keep you up all night and stay with you long after the last page?

Investigate this P.I. Mystery now!

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The No Grounds for Alarm cafe was quiet. The morning rush was over and most of the staff were wiping down counters and chatting idly with each other, taking the time to restock and get ready for the lunch rush. Sun streamed in the front window. A few customers trickled in, ordered their beverages, and either wandered back out of the cafe with blank expressions on their faces or sought out a table and sat down with a computer or other device to work on something important. Or to check out their social media feeds.

Zachary had arrived before the appointed time to check out the location and ensure he wasn’t late for the appointment. If there was one way to lose a new client, it was by being late. It didn’t matter what the reason was; it could be perfectly legitimate. The client would go somewhere else.

So he sipped his coffee and watched the customers trickle in, speculating which would be Karen Camden. He had a picture in his mind after hearing her voice, but had not run any background on her. He wanted his first impressions to be of her in person, not on social media, in news articles, or wherever else he might find records of her life.

She hadn’t had a lot to say on the phone. She hadn’t been referred by a friend, but had heard his name in the media on one of his other cases, though she didn’t specify which one. A few of them had made the news. Zachary was always a little leery of the potential clients who had seen him in the media. They tended to have unrealistic expectations of what he could or would do. And somehow, those people didn’t seem to understand that they would be expected to pay an up-front deposit and that he would be paid for all of his work, whether he came to the resolution they wanted or not. People who approached him because of a business listing or as a referral from another client were much more realistic and likely to pay their bills.

A woman stepped in the door and looked around the coffee shop rather than immediately going to the service counter. She was slim, probably in her mid-twenties to early thirties. Dark brown hair and blue or gray eyes. She had an attractive face but was made up in a very plain style, her hair pulled back in a no-fuss ponytail that made her seem severe. The woman wore a dark green skirt, a white short-sleeved blouse, and black flats.

Zachary smiled and raised his hand slightly. She walked over to his table.

“Mr. Goldman?”

“Zachary.” He stood up and offered his hand, which she shook firmly. She had long tapered fingers and dry, warm hands. Her perfume was a combination of light florals with a hint of citrus. “Nice to meet you, Miss Camden.”

“That’s missus. But you can call me Karen.”

She wore no wedding ring. No jewelry except for a gold chain around her neck that disappeared into her blouse and might have a locket, stone, or charm on it. Zachary ran his hand over his own very short black hair, aware that she was also evaluating him. He had shaved for the meeting, but usually had a few days of stubble, which tended to make people look away and discount him. For once, he didn’t look too gaunt. The cocktail of medications he was on no longer included drugs that made him nauseated. Kenzie didn’t let him forget to eat, and they indulged in a few too many restaurant meals, leading to her working hard to keep from putting the pounds on and Zachary filling out and reaching what his doctor considered a healthy weight for once.

Introductions and initial evaluations out of the way, Zachary suggested, “Why don’t you grab a coffee, and then we can get down to it?”

She nodded her agreement and went over to the counter. She glanced at the densely-written blackboard only briefly, and had either been there before and knew the menu, or already knew what she wanted. What she brought back to the table looked like the cafe noir—plain black coffee. Not one of the fancy, calorie-laden varieties that covered the board.

Karen pulled out a chair for herself and sat down. She wrapped both hands around the coffee mug as if she were warming her hands and stared down at the black, shimmering surface. Zachary waited, having a sip of his own cafe noir. It was often difficult for a client to bring their troubles to a stranger. Jumping right in and explaining what they needed was a big step. There might be small talk first. Questions about Zachary’s background and references. Fishing to find out his knowledge on various topics or situations while they weighed his words to see whether he was really the right man for the job or if they even wanted to hire anyone. Sometimes it was just too much but, usually, given a period of silence, each would speak up and tell him a bit of their story.

“My father recently passed away,” Karen said eventually, not yet looking up from her coffee. “It was unexpected. The police looked into it but said it was a natural death. He had some health conditions.” Her shoulders rose and fell. “The coroner said it was heart failure. He had cardiovascular disease. But it wasn’t expected,” she reiterated. “And… we think that there’s more to the story. It was too sudden. There was no warning.”

Zachary nodded. “It can be difficult when someone passes away so suddenly.”

Karen grimaced. She took a sip of her coffee and put the cup down again. “You think that we’re just imagining things because it was unexpected. But there’s more to it than that.”

“We? Who else is concerned about it?”

“My brothers and I. There are four of us altogether. Three boys and a girl. And the others think that something is wrong too; it isn’t just me. We kept going back and forth on it, and we finally decided to… hire someone independent to look into it.”

“So the four of you think… what?”

Karen sighed. She looked out the window at the people walking by on the sidewalk. “We think… he was poisoned.”

That seemed oddly specific. But maybe something about his death had led them to think that it was poisoning.

“You think he was murdered.”

“Yes.” She nodded, one jerk of her head. “I guess… yes. That’s what we think. Or what we are hoping that you can prove or disprove.”

“It might be hard to disprove. There are hundreds of poisons that could have been used. Who do you think killed him? You have a suspect in mind?”

Maybe her mother or a business partner or rival of her father. When people came to Zachary, they had often already built up the story in their minds. And despite the preponderance of murder mysteries on TV and in books, murders were usually obvious and the killer easy to identify. If they thought they knew who the killer was, they were probably right. Maybe the mother, since they had all met together to discuss it and agreed to hire someone.

“Well, one of us, probably,” Karen said. A blush started at the base of her throat and chest.

“You or your brothers?” Zachary wasn’t sure he had understood her correctly.

“Yes. We’re clearly the ones who benefit from his death. None of us were… close to him. I know it’s probably weird, but we’re all… looking at each other, wondering which one of us did it.”

“So you decided to hire a private investigator? To investigate you?”

“Yes. The four of us.” She shrugged. “I mean, we’re not going to figure it out by arguing with each other. If one of us did it… then that person should go to prison. We might not have been that close to him… but it’s still not right. We can’t just divide up the inheritance and give a quarter of it to the killer.”

Better that a third of it should go to each of the non-killers.

“Is the estate… significant?”

She nodded, jaw clenched tight. “It’s millions.”


Zachary tried not to react to this declaration. “The estate is worth millions?” he asked, pulling out his notepad and pencil to start jotting the pertinent information down.

“Yes. Even just the house is a couple million. When you figure in all of his accounts, what his company is worth, and the art and furnishings and vacation property… Yeah. It’s enough to make all of us very comfortable.” She took another sip of the coffee. “It doesn’t matter to me whether I get fifteen or twenty million. My motive for finding out if one of the others killed our father is not to get his share. It’s just… justice. Because the person who did this shouldn’t be allowed to profit from it.”

“Right,” Zachary agreed. His mind boggled at the very idea of inheriting fifteen or twenty million dollars. Why had they chosen him to investigate it? There had to be other private investigators out there who were used to dealing with a bigger fish. Hiring a small one-man—well, two-person—operation instead of one of the big security firms from the city with a whole fleet of investigators seemed like an odd choice. “I am willing to take on the case and have the time for it in my schedule right now. I’ll need an up-front retainer.” He had his usual rates on a card that he handed out to people but, in light of how large the estate was and their expectations, he might have to increase his rates. “I’ll email you the details. And if I need to contract other investigators, I’ll let you know first so you can control costs.”

“We want you,” Karen said firmly, looking Zachary in the face for the first time. “Not anyone else.” Maybe they had seen him on the news lately. “We don’t want word of this getting out. One person can stay unobtrusive, and we can explain why you’re there, but we don’t want strangers running around the neighborhood asking questions.”

“Well… okay, then. Just be warned that it may take longer to get to the bottom of this with only one person. And my full-time admin, of course. She won’t be on site, all of her activities will be remote, and her fees are built into my rates.”

Heather, Zachary’s older sister, helped him with some of the computer investigations and kept him organized. She would be amused at his calling her a full-time admin, but he didn’t want Karen to think she could nix Heather’s involvement too.

“But I need to make sure that you understand… I won’t necessarily be able to prove that it was murder or who the culprit was. I know that on TV, the private investigator always figures everything out and brings the murderer to justice, but real life doesn’t always work out that way. Some cases remain unsolved for years, even decades. You can tell me if you want me to stop investigating at some point. Or I may come to you and tell you that I’ve exhausted all of my leads. And it might not have happened the way that you imagine.”

Karen nodded. “I know it’s a long shot. The coroner already said it was natural causes, so that’s a big obstacle. But he could be wrong. Sometimes they are.”

“I know.” Zachary had experienced that before. Getting the medical examiner to reverse his position was difficult, but it could be done. And Kenzie working in the medical examiner’s office gave him a bit of an “in.” He’d been able to convince Dr. Wiltshire to change his mind and reopen a file before. “I’ve succeeded in getting to the truth in other cases. It’s just a warning… sometimes things are not as they seem. Or we can figure out what happened, but still not be able to prove it and put the culprit behind bars.”

“I’ll take that risk.”

“Okay. Why don’t I get the details from you? Your father’s and brothers’ names. Where or who I should start with. Interviewing you, I assume. And you haven’t mentioned your mother…?”

“She died five years ago.” Karen’s lips compressed into a thin line.

“Oh, I’m sorry. So it’s just you and your brothers now? And was anyone living in the same household as your father? Or was he alone?”

“Logan is living there. And household staff. We all come and go as we please; we have our own keys. And we were all home for a family dinner the night he died. Mom had always insisted on having a dinner once every month or so, and we’ve tried to keep that up, even if it’s just the five of us.” She sighed and looked away from him. “It’s a little suspicious that he would die suddenly right after having dinner with us.”

“Right after? While you were there?”

“That night. When everyone had gone home. He died… in his sleep, I guess. In his own bed.”

Zachary nodded. He wrote down Karen’s name and Logan’s, trying to keep his printing tidy enough that he would be able to read it later, but not take so long that she grew impatient with him.

“So there is you, and Logan; tell me something about each of you. And your birth order.”

Karen sat back, her posture relaxing. This was more familiar ground. She had talked about herself and her brothers many times before.

“Alex is the oldest, then Eddie, then me, and Logan is the baby.”

“Which is why he is the only one still at home.”

“He wasn’t. He moved out when he went to college. But… things didn’t work out. He ended up dropping out and going back home again. If it had been me…” Karen trailed off, thinking about it. “I would have found a job so I could afford my own apartment instead of going back there. I think it was a bad choice.”

“What is Logan like?”

“Well, he’s the baby of the family, so a little bit spoiled. Actually, maybe a lot spoiled by my mom, but not by Dad. Unless it was because Mom insisted on something. You know, if she told him he had to let Logan do something. But he would only do it grudgingly, under protest. Loud protests, so that everyone knew it was not his idea.”

“Was he verbally abusive?”

“I suppose. We never really thought about it that way. Or I didn’t, anyway. I just thought of it as Dad being right, because he was always right. If he got after me for something… then I knew that I was in the wrong, because there was no way he was. Now that I’m older, I have more perspective, I guess… yes. He was.”

“Was there physical abuse as well?”

“No, I don’t think so. I mean… he would grab one of the boys and force them to do what he wanted them to. But that’s just part of parenting. I don’t remember him ever causing any kind of injuries. Not that I knew about. I don’t remember any hitting or anything that might have done permanent damage. Just… being rough and forceful.”

“Was there any other reason that Logan was spoiled, other than being the youngest in the family?”

“What do you mean?”

“Was he sick a lot? Your mom had a hard time getting pregnant again and knew he would be the last baby? He looked more like her side of the family?”

“Oh.” Karen was nodding, thinking about it but already sure of her answer. “Yeah… I guess it was a hard birth, and he was born early. He had learning disabilities. I remember he was in speech therapy before he was five. He was awkward physically, just the kind of kid that gets bullied at school for being different. A dweeb or a baby. So there were a lot of reasons for Mom to want to protect him and make things easier on him.”

“Right.” Zachary nodded, reflecting on his own learning disabilities and behavioral problems when he had been in school. His mother had not been the nurturing type and he had not gotten therapy in the earlier years that might have set him on the right course. And when the family had dissolved and he had landed in foster care, group homes, and institutions, there had been no one to spoil or protect him. He’d already been identified as a bad kid, and the foster parents and other adults responsible for his care or education had not gone easy on him.

“I guess I didn’t understand that as a kid,” Karen said with an embarrassed smile, “I never understood why he got out of responsibilities and was allowed to get away with stuff that I never would have. And why he got all of the attention and help when I was told to work harder.”

“Even if she had explained, you probably would have been too young to understand.” Zachary hoped this would let her off the hook as far as her guilt toward her brother went. “And they were probably of the school of thought that he should look and act like everyone else as much as possible so you didn’t see all of the differences.”

“Maybe. I expect more of myself now, but I still catch myself thinking of him as a spoiled brat. That he just needs to quit messing around and work harder, like I was told to.”

“What was he going to college for?”

“I don’t think he had decided. Just some kind of general upgrading to start with. But he couldn’t handle it. I should be more sympathetic about it than I am.”

“And then there are… Alex and Eddie,” Zachary prompted.

“Right. Alex and Eddie.” Karen closed her eyes for a moment, gathering her thoughts. “Alex is the eldest, always the perfect one. The good son who got straight A’s and followed all of the rules and did what was expected of him without question. He was the one who got all of the attention and praise from Dad… but I’m starting to wonder if he was treated differently in private. If things were said that none of us the rest of us knew about.”

Zachary nodded.

Karen went on, “Eddie was a wild card. He was always a bit of a rebel. Always trying to get away with things.” She looked up at Zachary, her blue eyes wide with worry. “I don’t see how it could be any of us. I know it must have been, but it just doesn’t make any sense. I can’t see any of my brothers doing anything to hurt Dad. Even if they were just trying to make him sick and not kill him. I can’t wrap my mind around it.”

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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