Tuesday Sampler: Wired Secret by Toby Neal

Review: A tale so compelling that the reader feels they are a part of the book.

Palm trees, volcanoes, and black sand beaches are the backdrop for murder as security specialist Sophie Ang, and her dog Ginger, are swept up in a multi-layered case on the Big Island of Hawaii working with a US Marshal to protect an important witness.

A ghost from Sophie’s past returns to haunt her, and a love triangle tears at her heart. Sophie will need all of her friends, lovers, tech-savvy, and skills to stay alive…and that’s just her day job.

“Toby Neal once again demonstrates her ability to weave a tale so compelling that the reader feels they are a part of the book.”—F. M. Pepoon, Amazon reviewer

Toby Neal

Sampler

Sometimes justice wasn’t fair.

Security specialist Sophie Ang stared with dislike at the twitchy blonde woman on the bed in the jail’s infirmary. Holly Rayme’s gaunt face was blotchy with the green and yellow of fading bruising.

“I am in hell.” Rayme picked at a scab on the back of her hand as she addressed Sophie, Detective Kamani Freitan, and Hazel Matsue, a U.S. Marshal brought in to interview her for inclusion in the national Witness Protection Program. “You have to get me out of here.”

“Things could actually be a lot worse.” Freitan said. The tall, voluptuous mixed Hawaiian woman exuded volatility. Ancient Hawaiian chieftesses had accompanied their men into battle, and in another age, Freitan would have been perfectly in character carrying a club ringed with sharks’ teeth instead of the police issue Glock she currently wore. “You’ve been hiding out in a soft bed in the infirmary. Got your own TV, even.”

“I had to go through detox this week in this supposed comfy bed with my own TV. You think that wasn’t hell?”

“You drug, you lose. And it would have been a lot worse out in gen pop. You’ve had protection outside your door 24/7. But if that protection is going to continue, we need to know we have your full cooperation.”

Rayme’s watery blue eyes blinked. “You don’t give a shit about me. I get that, loud and clear.”

“You made your living robbing and extorting people. And now you’re going to get out of jail,” Freitan said. “I don’t have to like that. Or you.”

“We know you’ve been through a hard time, Holly.” Sophie stepped forward to try to defuse the tension as Matsue looked on, arms folded. “But you had medical support, and you’re through the worst of detox. You’re fortunate. Ms. Matsue here is willing to take you into protective custody, provide you with a new identity, and relocate you until you can testify.”

“Yes. I’m here to interview you, do your intake, and explain the program.” Matsue was a slender woman with a triangular face. Though she wore black pants, a white shirt and a shiny gold Marshal’s badge, Matsue had an innate style that set her apart, conveyed by deep red lipstick and an angular, asymmetrical bobbed haircut. She would have looked completely at home in Paris or Madrid rather than in the dingy jail infirmary with its bloom of ceiling mold and lingering smell of Lysol. “Do you understand why you’ve been referred to the Witness Protection program, Ms. Rayme? And that you must comply with our procedures and directives? The U.S. Marshals Service has a one hundred percent success rate in protecting its clients if they follow WITSEC directions and protocols.”

“All this ‘special treatment’ is because I’ll be testifying against the Changs and helping you bring down a crime family. But I don’t see that I have much choice,” Rayme grumbled. “I know I’m lucky to be alive. My boyfriend Jimmy isn’t.”

Jim Webb and Holly Rayme had been involved in an investigation Sophie had just completed that had resulted in the apprehension of the Chang family’s sadistic enforcer, Akane Chang. Holly’s boyfriend had not survived an assassination attempt in the general population of the jail once the couple’s importance as witnesses became evident, and Holly had barely survived her own attack.

“Can I turn this prisoner over to your custody?” Freitan asked Matsue. “I’ve got work to do.”

“I have some paperwork for Ms. Rayme to fill out and forms for you to sign.” Matsue handed paperwork on a clipboard to Rayme. “Once it’s done, we can process her out of here.” Matsue turned to address Sophie. “You’ve been a part of this team since I got here, but I’m unclear on your role, Ms. Ang.”

“I work for a private firm, Security Solutions.” Sophie’s ongoing attachment to the case had been a new development. She and her partner Jake Dunn had wrapped up their contract to find a missing girl, and she’d tried to resume the vacation and hiking trip for which she’d come to the Big Island. Only days later, she’d been contacted by her employer to assist in security and support for Holly Rayme. “The families of Akane Chang’s victims contracted with Security Solutions to pay for my services to support regular law enforcement.”

“The U.S. Marshals Service does not work with private entities,” Matsue said frostily.

“You want to work with this chick,” Freitan said. “She’s former FBI and a computer wizardess. Can’t hurt to have her in your back pocket.”

“And she’s a badass bitch with a mean left hook,” Rayme volunteered. “I happen to know. She and her partner were the ones to find out our part in the hustle we did with Akane Chang. And the only reason I’m saying anything nice is because her partner adopted our dog, and she can help keep me alive.”

Endorsement by these two unlikely allies almost made Sophie smile.

About Toby Neal:

USA Today Bestselling Author Toby Neal grew up on the island of Kaua`i in Hawaii. A mental health therapist, Toby’s career that has informed the depth and complexity of the characters in her mystery, thriller and romance books.

She writes fast-paced, character-driven stories set in wonderful places. “No one can read just one!” exclaims one fan.

Outside of work and writing, Toby volunteers in a nonprofit for children and enjoys life through beach walking, body boarding, scuba diving, photography, and hiking.

Please click HERE to find Wired Secret on Amazon.

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