From New York Times bestselling author Rita Mae Brown comes the latest novel in her enthralling series of foxhunting mysteries. Richly imagined and utterly engaging, Hounded to Death reveals the cutthroat world of competitive hound shows as both humans and animals alike try to solve a series of bizarre deaths.
“Sister” Jane Arnold, esteemed master of the Jefferson Hunt Club, has traveled to Kentucky for one of the biggest events of the season: the Mid-South Hound Show, where foxhounds, bassets, and beagles gather to strut their champion bloodline stuff. But the fun is squelched when, immediately after the competition, one of the contestants, Mo Schneider, turns up dead–facedown, stripped to the waist, and peppered with birdshot. Universally detested by his peers, Mo had no shortage of enemies, making the list of suspects as long as the line for homemade pecan pie at a church bake sale.
Two weeks later, back in Virginia, Sister is rocked when her friend the popular veterinarian Hope Rogers dies from what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Sister refuses to believe that Hope killed herself and vows to sniff out the truth. But before she can make real headway, a wealthy pet food manufacturer vanishes during the granddaddy of all canine exhibitions, the Virginia Hound Show.
Ever reliant on her “horse sense,” Sister can’t help but connect the three incidents. And what she uncovers will make her blood run colder than the bodies that keep turning up in unexpected places.
Thrilling adventures with horses and hounds, breathtaking vistas, furry friends, familiar faces–including Shaker Crown and the girls from Custis Hall–Rita Mae Brown weaves all these elements into a dazzling novel of suspense.
Rose twilight lingered over Shaker Village in central Kentucky, which, this Saturday, May 24, was hosting the Mid-America Hound Show.
Jane Arnold, master of Jefferson Hunt Hounds in Virginia, drove alongside dry-laid stone walls, quietly relishing the village’s three thousand well-tended acres of land. It was as if the spirits of the Shakers hovered everywhere. Sister Jane, as she was known, respected the sect’s unswerving devotion to equality, peace, and love, qualities that suffused those past lives like the rose-lavender tinted twilight suffused the rolling pastures with ethereal beauty.
Pared-down functionalism, the essence of Shaker design, pure as fresh rainwater, prefigured later architectural and furniture development. Sister admired the care and intelligence the Shakers used to build their houses while fortifying their spirits with song and hard work.
Much as she admired their clean straight lines, she herself felt more at home in a mix of eighteenth-century exuberance allied with modern comfort.
She laughed to herself that her nickname, Sister Jane, meant she’d fit right in if only she could slip back in time to work alongside the Shakers. However, she’d soon have run afoul of the sisters and brothers as they did not practice sex, which had eventually resulted in the extinction of the sect. No one had ever accused Sister of being celibate.
Shaker ideas and ideals lived after them. Perhaps most people hope to leave something behind, usually in the form of progeny. But some are able to also impart inventions, artistic achievements, or new ways of seeing the same old problems. What Sister hoped to leave behind was a love of the environment, belief in the protection of American farmland, and respect for all living creatures. Foxhunting was one of the best ways to do that because a person could inhale the best values while having more fun than the legal limit.
It pained her that so many people thought that foxes were killed in the hunt. Countless times she’d patiently explained that hunting practices in the United States were different from those in England. Given that the Mid-America Hound Show would be made up of foxhunters showing their best hounds, she breathed in relief. She wouldn’t need to have that conversation here.
Her new Subaru Forester followed the gray stone walls, rolling through a deep dip in the road, passing over a creek, and climbing a steep incline. She’d bought the SUV in hopes of saving a bit of money, seeing as her everyday vehicle was a big red gas-guzzling GMC half-ton truck. Like many Americans, she wanted to conserve fuel, but living out in the country made this a pipe dream.
Sister found pleasure in driving the handy little vehicle, which burned less gas, but she still had to use farm trucks for work. She couldn’t envision how that would change without driving the cost of food up to the point where there’d be bread riots like those that helped jump-start the French and Russian revolutions.
At the top of the steep hill, a flat green pasture beckoned, now silvery in May evening haze. In the middle of this lushness, surrounded by large trees, rested a two-story Shaker house, perfect in its simplicity, and just beyond the house were horse trailers converted for hound use. Sister drove to the Jefferson Hunt trailer, proudly displaying the JHC logo, a fox mask with two brushes crossed underneath.
Before she could step out of the car, Shaker Crown, her huntsman, a rugged curly-haired man in his early forties, dashed over to open the door. His Christian name had nothing to do with the Shaker sect. It had been his great-uncle’s name, bequeathed to him at birth.
“Boss, glad to see you.”
She teased him. “You’re glad to see me because I brought sandwiches and drinks.”
Before the sentence was out of her mouth, he’d lifted the back hatch of the Forester to retrieve a large cooler.
Tootie, a senior at Custis Hall, a private girls’ secondary school, slipped out of the trailer’s side door. “Food?”
“You poor starved thing.” Sister walked with Shaker as he plopped the cooler under the awning he’d set up off the side of the trailer.
Inside, a high covered fan ran to keep the six couple of hounds comfortable, a generator on the other side of the trailer providing the power. Kentucky could fool you in May, temperate one day and sweltering the next. Shaker and Sister put hound happiness before their own.
Tootie, full name Anne Harris, sat down in a director’s chair and Sister handed each of them a sandwich.
“Are you tired? How can you be tired at seventeen?”
The young woman grinned. She was exceedingly beautiful. “Just hit a low plateau. After this”—she held up the sandwich— “I’ll be right back up.”
“Sure. You just can’t keep up with an old lady in her seventies.”
“You’re not seventy, whatever.” Shaker eagerly unwrapped his turkey sandwich. “Your mother lied on your birth certificate.”
“That’s a joyful thought.” Sister could smell the tangy mustard on her roast beef and cheese sandwich. “Isn’t this the loveliest setting for a hound show? Sure, nothing’s as spectacular as the twin peaks of the Virginia Hound Show, or the Bryn Mawr Hound Show, but Shaker Village—well, to my mind it’s the best location.”
“That it is.” Shaker had already devoured half his sandwich.
“Glad I brought two of everything,” said Sister.
“I don’t know why I’m so hungry.”
“Sometimes I think it’s cycles. Ever notice how your appetite and your sleep patterns change whenever the seasons change? At least mine does.” Tootie listened, as usual soaking everything up while remaining quiet.
“Yep, and I can’t sleep during a full moon.”
“Get up and howl, do you?” Sister smiled at her huntsman, whom she loved.
“I thought that was you.” Tootie slipped that in.
“Well, so much for respect from the young.” Sister laughed, which made Dragon, a hound, howl.
They all laughed.
“Does Woodford”—Tootie named the hosting hunt—“always have this show at Shaker Village?”
“No. Actually, they used to have it over at the Kentucky Horse Park, smack in the middle of Lexington, when Iroquois Hunt ran it for three years.” Shaker named the other hunt outside of Lexington, Kentucky. “The Horse Park is a hotbed of activity. What a draw it’s become for tourists. Anyway, I sure hope Woodford keeps it here even though its half an hour from Lexington.”
Sister greatly admired Jane Winegardner, MFH of Woodford Hounds, whom she knew better than the two other joint masters, hard-hunting men. She always referred to Miss Winegardner as “O.J.” for “the Other Jane.”
A familiar voice sounded from behind the trailer. Hope Rogers, DVM, popped round and greeted them under the awning. “Party?”
“Sit down, honey.” Sister pointed to a director’s chair. “When did you get here?”
Hope, an equine vet specializing in lameness, most particularly navicular disease, kept a practice five miles from the Jefferson Hunt kennels. In her late thirties, she’d become a hot commodity in the equine world, being flown to Japan, Korea, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Poland, and Austria to present her findings on degenerative diseases causing lameness. Her travels now comprised a great chunk of her practice, requiring her to take on a partner, Dan Clement, which was working out quite nicely.
“Last night. Had a lecture at the University of Kentucky. That facility knocks me out every time I go there.”
“Better than Virginia Tech or the Marion DuPont Center?” Shaker named two outstanding Virginia equine facilities.
“As a Virginian, I can’t answer that.”
“Ah.” Sister pointed to the cooler as Hope shook her head.
“Saving myself for the party at the kennels.” She checked her watch. “There’s a little time left but I want to wash up first. Wish I could stay for the show tomorrow, but I’ve got to get back. At least I’ll see old friends at the party.”
“O.J.’s been whirling around like the white tornado.” Shaker laughed. “You know O.J., she checks and rechecks everything, a born organizer. She’s over at Woodford kennels now.”
“I’ll catch up with her there.” Hope reached into the cooler for a Mountain Dew. The caffeine hit would carry her through until she reached the party.
“Get to the back pastures of any farms?” Sister knew Hope had a wealth of contacts in the Thoroughbred world.
“No. I did get over to Bardstown to the Evan Williams distillery. You know I have a lot of Japanese clients.” She paused a moment, then continued. “And I’m sure you know that Japanese buy brands. In bourbon, that means Maker’s Mark, with the red wax covering the cork. ’Course it’s not real wax anymore, but the Japanese can recognize Maker’s Mark. I’m trying to educate some of my clients in the finer points of American whiskey, which is to say bourbon. So I bought two bottles of Evan Williams 1987 Single Barrel, number fifty-one. Not cheap. And then to sweeten the punch I drove down to Maker’s Mark distillery and bought two bottles of Limited Edition Kentucky Straight Bourbon, the highest Maker’s Mark, if that term applies.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you drink bourbon.” Sister carefully folded the aluminum foil wrapper of her now nonexistent sandwich.
“I’m learning.” Hope smiled.
“Did you buy any for yourself ?” Shaker asked.
“Actually, I did. One bottle of each for me, and I also bought a bottle of Wild Turkey Single Barrel, number ten, Rick number nine, Warehouse D. How’s that for memory?”
“Drink enough bourbon and you won’t have any memory left.” Sister laughed.
“Don’t fret. I won’t. I’ve become so fascinated that each trip to Kentucky I visit a distillery. You know, I rather like the taste of these expensive bourbons. They’re actually quite complex.”
“And you’re drinking a real drink,” Sister stated, then paused to change the subject. “Romance?”
“I wish.” Hope slumped in the chair for a moment. “My divorce will be final at the end of June. I have to live because I don’t want Paul to get any more than he deserves. He’s coming out ahead on this, the bastard.” She stopped herself. “You know what Paul’s real sin is? He’s boring.”
A small silence followed this, broken by Sister. “People say there is no such thing as a good divorce, but I don’t know. If you can part without vats of hostility, maybe something can be salvaged.” The talk of bourbon had brought up the word vat.
“We’ve been erratic about that.” Hope sighed. “Let me go pull myself together. I’ll root for JHC tomorrow while I drive east on Sixty-four.” She stood up, then leaned over slightly. “Speaking of bourbon, I’ll bet anyone here five dollars you won’t see Gentleman Jack at the bar.”
“Not taking that bet.” Shaker laughed.
As Hope walked away, Tootie asked, “Why?”
“Gentleman Jack is a Tennessee bourbon, high end. Well, technically it’s Tennessee Sour Mash but it’s bourbon to the rest of us.” Shaker, who had once had a problem with alcohol, was something of an expert. “Also, Jack Daniels Black, Label Number Seven, and George Dickel are Tennessee bourbons. Won’t see them either.”
“Shit,” Sister whispered, then quickly said, “Sorry.”
Shaker followed the direction of her eyes.
Striding toward them was a tall, whip-thin, hawk-nosed man.
“Master Arnold, looking divine as ever. America’s own Artemis.” Mo Schneider beamed, no doubt feeling he’d burnished his intellectual credentials by using the goddess of the hunt’s Greek name.
Sister responded coolly. “Evening, Mo. I thought you’d be at the party.”
“On my way, on my way, and I do hope you’ll be there to sully your reputation with me.” His grin seemed like a sharp beak opening wide.
“Woodford puts on a good party,” Sister replied. Mo’s eyes widened—as did those of most men of the heterosexual persuasion—when he spotted Tootie, with her café-au-lait skin and gold-flecked light-brown eyes.
Tootie extended her hand. A lady always extends her hand first, and at seventeen she certainly was a power-packed lady.
“Pleased to meet you, Master.”
“You come on down to Arkansas on one of your school vacations and hunt with me.”
“Thank you.” Tootie smiled, which added to her considerable allure.
Mo peered in at the hounds. “As always, you’ve got some lookers. Might I go in?”
Sister smiled at his double entendre, which was intentional. “Specialize in it.” She rose, as did Shaker, to open the trailer door.
Sister stepped in, followed by Mo. “Four couple of young entry, two couple of hounds already hunting.”
Mo surveyed the group: beautiful coats, shining eyes on everyone.
“Who’s this? He’s outstanding.”
“Giorgio. American hound, obviously. Bywaters blood.” Sister cited a famous bloodline that had gone out of fashion in the 1970s but was making a comeback.
“You never waver from the Bywaters line.”
“Works for me,” Sister said pleasantly. “Plus it’s a line developed in northern Virginia for Virginia conditions.”
He swept his eyes over the hounds. “Thanks for letting me see them.”
They returned to the director’s chairs.
“How many hounds did you bring?” Shaker inquired, as he made a mental note to count Mo’s hounds when he had the chance.
“Six couple. All entered.” This meant they’d been hunted. Unentered designated a young hound who had not yet been out.
“Enough to keep you busy,” Sister said.
“Shaker, didn’t mean to ignore you,” said Mo. “How have you been? Heard you decked a member.” He turned to Sister. “Heard you decked him, too.”
“We performed this service at different times.” Sister smiled slyly. “He needed a lesson in Virginia manners.”
“Bad. Needed the lesson bad.” Shaker smiled also, at the memory of Crawford Howard, Midas rich, hitting the floor.
Mo laughed with false heartiness. “Sister, there are other ways to drop a man.”
“Yes, Mo, I know them all,” she replied lightly. “I went around the block before the block had sidewalks.”
“Not you. You’re a beautiful icon to us all.” He cast his eyes again at Tootie, who wanted to squirm but didn’t. “Well, on my way to the party. There’s a horn-blowing contest. Going to try.”
“Surely you’ll toot your horn fine.” Sister’s voice was bland. Shaker had to look away, because if he caught her eye he’d laugh.
Mo walked off, the slight missing him since he thought it was a compliment.
Once out of earshot, Shaker growled, “I hate that lying piece of shit.”
“Tell me how you really feel.” Sister reached over to touch his muscled forearm covered with light auburn hair.
“I’d kill him if I could.” Shaker meant it. “Why?” Tootie asked.
“He’s cruel to hounds, horses, and women.” Sister nodded, then turned to Tootie. “I guess because some men figure all three are obedient. They’ll put up with it.”
Sister stood up, then entered the hound trailer as Shaker patted his stomach. He’d already put up his generously sized tent next to the awning.
The hounds looked up as their master returned.
The trailer was spotless. Two levels connected by a ramp, with everything, even the trailer sides, covered in heavy rubber gave choices as to where to sleep. Although it was warm, Shaker had bedded the hounds down with straw that could easily be brushed off come morning. The night would cool down quickly, and if one of those famous Kentucky thunderstorms came up, the temperature could drop like a stone.
“Hello, Mother!” A happy chorus rang out.
Sister laid her hand on each glossy head, all six couple of them; hounds are always counted in twos, coupled. On reaching Diddy, she quietly reassured the youngster. “You’re going to be a star tomorrow. You just reach out and show those judges your fluid movement.”
Sister, an animal person, knew that a soft voice, pitched low, calms an animal. Placing your hand on the head of a cat or dog also calms them. With horses, a hand on the head works, but if you press your fingers alongside and high on the horse’s neck, moving from the poll down to the withers, that soothes them, too. She left her hounds, quietly shutting the slatted door behind her. No sooner had she left the trailer than a robust salt-and-pepper- haired man, arms swinging in easy rhythm, bore down on her.
He came right up, caught her in his arms, and gave her a big kiss. “You beauty!”
Sister hugged him back. “Where have you been?”
Shaker stood to shake an outstretched hand once the newcomer had released Sister. “Been a long time.”
“Too long, too long.” Judge Barry Baker, retired from Virginia’s Supreme Court, slapped Shaker on the back.
“This young lady will be attending your alma mater.” Sister introduced Judge Baker to Tootie Harris.
Barry took Tootie’s hand in both his own. “How I envy you. Some of the happiest days of my life were spent at Princeton.” Sister filled Tootie in. “Judge Baker was captain of the football team and the baseball team.”
“But I liked foxhunting best, and when I could I’d slip away and hunt with Essex. In those days there was still country in New Jersey. Well, young lady, I wish you the best of luck. You have a grand teacher in Sister.”
“Her best friend at Custis Hall also got in. Unusual,” Sister said.
“Princeton likes smart women, and Custis Hall specializes in them.” He smiled again, his bleached-white teeth giving him a more youthful appearance than his seventy-four years.
“You just missed Mo Schneider,” Sister remarked. “Maybe someone will mix up a cyanide cocktail for him at the party. Do us all a world of good.” His gray eyes glinted at Tootie. “If he so much as looks at you cross-eyed, you come straight to me, hear?”
“Are you showing hounds or spectating?” Shaker inquired.
“O.J. asked me to be ring steward. American ring.” He threw up his hands in mock surrender. “Who doesn’t want to be in demand?”
“You can show a hound. Drat.” Sister snapped her fingers. “I was hoping we could go head-to-head.”
He kissed her on the cheek. “We can, dear heart, we can. Head-to-head!”
After he left to go to the party, Tootie noted, “He’s very distinguished-looking.”
“That he is. He could have been governor, but he said he didn’t have the stomach for electoral politics. He made the right choice.”
“He really likes you. Not fake. Not like Mo.”
Tootie, sensitive and observant, was right.
“Men always like Sister. Women, too. She gets along with both sexes.” Shaker checked one of his tent poles.
“Are you sure you want to sleep out here?” Sister said.
“Boss, I do.”
“You know you have a room next to mine.”
“I’ll use it to shower. I want to stay here with the hounds.” He sucked in a breath. “Especially now I know Mo is here.”
“Why?” Tootie was puzzled. “He’s been known to take a hound and then lie through his teeth, but we always know because two years later he’ll arrive at a show with get that look just like the dog that went missing. He can hide the stolen hound so no one sees it in his kennels, but blood tells.” Shaker crossed his arms over his chest. “Bloodlines are gold, you know. It’s just like stealing gold.”
“But you-all allow people to breed to our hounds and you go breed from other kennels.” Tootie wasn’t contradicting Shaker, just being curious.
“Tootie, we go to Middleburg or Deep Run, Casanova, Orange, Keswick, Farmington, or Colonial, and we do it properly, with permission. We know the people, and those hunts are within three hours’ driving distance. Sometimes we’ll drive to Maryland to Green Spring Valley for hounds. Not only do they have lines we want, the huntsmen take excellent care of their kennels. Mo doesn’t take care of anything. He starves his hounds and then fattens up the pretty ones for the shows. He hunts his own hounds and can’t hunt a hair of them. He’s really a despicable human being.” Sister felt that first chill of night air and shivered. “Although I did hear he hired a kennelman two years ago, so at least the starving and beating stopped. He once ran a horse to death, too.”
“Why doesn’t the Master of Foxhounds Association throw him out?” Tootie asked the right question.
“Because he’s sneaky. They have to catch him at it. Somehow he gets word of surprise visits to his kennels or stables in time to spirit away the raggedy-looking hounds and horses. He’s got so much money, who knows who he’s paying to spy on the MFHA? If he is. Sooner or later, I swear, he’ll get his,” Sister answered. “Ninety-nine percent of the people in this sport love animals, but there are a few who don’t.” Shaker shrugged. “Vicious creeps.”
“I say we send them to Congress where they’ll be with their brethren.” Sister laughed.
Shaker laughed, too. “If I didn’t know you better, I’d think you don’t believe in democracy.”
“Don’t.” Sister inhaled. “All right, what’s left to be done?”
“Nothing,” Shaker replied.
“Let’s party, then.”
“Okay,” Shaker said, “but I’m leaving early. I want to be fresh tomorrow. And I want to feed hounds, walk them out at six-thirty a.m., too. I’ll unhitch the dually. I know once you get there you won’t be able to get away. Going to be a big day.” Shaker felt the buzz of competitiveness begin.
“You bet.” Sister grinned.
Many competitors had already left for the party. Few people were around or, if they were, they kept out of sight.
The three entered the house to freshen up before going to the party.
Stepping back outside, Sister saw her hounds in full cry. She dashed back into the house as Shaker and Tootie emerged from the two bathrooms.
“Our hounds are out and scorching the wind.”
“Holy shit!” Shaker tore out the door, Sister and Tootie behind him.
They reached the Subaru. Sister hopped in the driver’s seat.
The back door of the trailer swung open like a slack jaw.
“Horn?” Sister asked, before cranking the motor. “Goddammit.” Shaker, upset, got back out, ran to the truck, and pulled his horn from the glove compartment.
Windows down, they listened to the hounds now turning toward the barn, perhaps half a mile from the house.
“Hope they don’t go to Sixty-eight.” Tootie mentioned the paved road leading to Shaker Village.
Sister gunned toward the barn as Shaker, hanging out the window, kept blowing the three long notes which asked hounds to return to him. With every rut in the road, he’d bob up, then drop down.
Hounds were already beyond the barn. Running flat out, they climbed the steep hill on the northern side of the barn. The gate to that large pasture was shut.
Sister stopped. Shaker and Tootie got out.
“Locked. Goddammit to hell!” His face red, he threw his hands up in fury.
“We can lift it off the hinges.” Tootie noticed the heavy chain.
Shaker lifted the gate up while Tootie steadied it. Because of the manner in which the chain held the gate to the fence post, there was enough room for Sister to squeeze the car through. Once on the other side of the gate, Shaker put it back on its hinges.
Back in the car, Sister drove to the top of the hill and parked, because it afforded them a commanding view. The pack was working beautifully together, the unentered hounds folded right in. Heartening as this was to behold, the three on the hill could only think of getting them back.
Shaker continued to blow. The horn, air clear today, could be heard for three miles by human ears much as a train whistle can be heard for miles. Hounds can hear farther than that. He blew and blew, then called, voice booming. “Come to me! Come to me!”
“Coyote.” Sister cursed.
Tootie pressed her lips together; she knew what coyote meant.
Coyote scent is heavier than fox so it’s easier for hounds to detect. Also, the coyote often runs in a blazing straight line, although he may make a big circle eventually to return to his den. Exciting though those runs may be, the larger predator lacks the skillful ruses, the engaging mental superiority of the fox. Hunting coyote, you want to stick in the saddle. Hunting the fox, you want to keep your senses razor sharp, since your quarry is smarter than you.
Often a coyote will run right out of the territory allowed to a hunt. This can create all manner of problems, of which a cranky landowner can be a big one.
Shaker kept blowing and one by one, hounds slowed, stopped, and listened.
Glitter, an unentered female, littermate to Giorgio, asked Diddy, “Why are we stopping?” “Huntsman’s calling us back.” “But,” inquired Glenda, another littermate, “we’ve been hearing those notes all along.”
Dragon, handsome and in his prime, a trifle blocky in the body, chuckled. “Scent was so good we had to let ’er rip a little.”
“Look at that!” Shaker slapped his thigh as hounds trotted back to him. “You know what my grandfather used to say.” Sister held up a finger pointing to the sky, presumably where her grandfather was.
In unison, both Shaker and Tootie repeated his words. “Trust your hounds. If you don’t trust your hounds, don’t hunt them!”
Sister opened the hatch of the Forester as hounds neared.
Tootie counted heads. “Giorgio’s missing.”
“Blow again, Shaker. Case he got far ahead.”
Shaker did as his master commanded, but they both knew the stunning unentered hound would not outstrip Dragon, a strike hound. Dragon would have turned on him like a snake. Cora, another strike hound and back in the kennel, would have bumped the younger hound, too. Cora and Dragon had to be used separately. They refused to cooperate with each other, so great was their pride in being first.
Diddy, first one to hop in the SUV, beamed. “Invigorating!”
Soon they were all in the green vehicle, Tootie happy with hounds since they had to flip the back seat down.
Tootie was one of those people who was most herself, most full of life, when with hounds. Her family, suburban people, just couldn’t understand it.
Down at the gate, Tootie wiggled out of the back, and she and Shaker again lifted it off the hinges.
As Sister drove through she wondered if they should have stayed on the hill and blown longer. But she knew Giorgio, inexperienced though he was, would have returned. This country was much more open than her hunting country. At home, a hound might get separated, lost and scared or confused. Occasionally, a youngster would do that. But here, she could see for miles. A tricolor hound is easy to spot.
As Shaker and Tootie climbed back in the SUV, Sister, voice clipped, pronounced, “My hound has been stolen.”
A silence followed. Then Shaker answered, “Yeah.”
“You think . . . ?” Tootie’s voice trailed off.
“Yes, I do,” Shaker, angry, replied. “How can we prove it?”
“He created a distraction. Grabbed Giorgio and let the others out,” said Sister.
“You think?” Tootie was appalled as the two in front nodded their affirmation.
“I will kill that bastard.” Sister meant it, too.