Nothing Ever Happens Here by Mar Preston

About the Book

A trio of IT thieves dig in deep under the radar in a California mountain village to divert a truck shipment to sell on the black market in China. Holly Seabright, Village patrol chief and animal activist, is pulled into a high-tech heist of a rare cancer drug for children. Distracted by burglaries, and her best friend’s decision to become a dominatrix, Holly struggles to calm the Facebook-fueled anxiety that is setting neighbor against neighbor in this isolated town with one road in, one road out.

The murder of a popular dump worker and a rich Chinese tech marketer, people Holly knows, must connect? But how? Murder is the business of Holly’s boyfriend, the sheriff’s detective who could use her help but is too proud to take it. Despite his allergies, he is still pushing Holly to move in with all her cats. Where does he fit in her crowded life? How does Holly run a department, flee with her own animals and then rescued horses during a wildland fire?

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Russ DeMarco knew he’d found his man when he saw Gerald Mencken prying the top off a Tupperware sandwich container, sniffing the contents, and pulling a Thermos from a refrigerated bag. Ah, bringing his lunch and saving money. Mencken set up his laptop in front of him, giving anyone who approached his corner table an icy stare of discouragement. A skilled hacker, Russ already knew Gerald had medical debts; he was passed over for promotion. Russ figured he’d be open to his plan. Like Gerald, Russ’s career as an IT specialist at a national freight forwarding company was stalled. Nearing thirty, and in lifetime competition with his brothers, it was time to take the risk. But he needed someone like Gerald to make it happen.

Russ sat down at the table opposite Gerald with a swagger of confidence. They were an unlikely match, Russ tanned and sinewy, Gerald, fat and pasty pale. Russ ignored the noontime buzz of the cafeteria at a pharmaceutical manufacturing company in Los Angeles. Nobody was looking at them.

“I’ve got an idea,” Russ said.

“Who are you?” Gerald growled.

Russ handed him a business card from a well-known freight shipping company. He read IT Security and the name Russ DeMarco.

Gerald looked at it, turned it over, and shrugged. “Do I know you from somewhere?”

“Not yet. But I know a lot about you.”

“Yeah? I don’t talk to people I don’t know,” Gerald said, pulling the screen down on his laptop, packing away his lunch in the refrigerated bag, and stiffly getting to his feet.

Russ toned down the smile. He was a shrewd judge of people, especially the ones under pressure. Besides, Gerald had two ways to interpret the invitation.

“You have access to cargo shipments by truck. I can access — and change — schedules and drivers and destinations.” He carefully enunciated each word. “You ever heard of pharmaceutical shipments diverted, trucks getting out of the GeoFence and turning up missing?”

Gerald gave Russ a pale stare. “I could report you.”

“You didn’t ask me what else I know about you.” Russ leaned forward and took the business card from Gerald’s hand. “Maybe you will. Maybe you won’t. There’s a bar in the hotel at Sunset and the 405 on the way home. Meet me there at seven tonight.”

“You live in the mountains?”

“I do,” Russ said, bringing up the smile. “Just like you.”

That was the beginning. Russ’s job was to plug the weak spots an able thief could exploit to snatch cargo from a loaded semi. No one was better placed to pull off a major cargo heist. He had tested his plan, a simple one, a few palettes off the back of a truck, and it worked. To make it lucrative enough for a heist big enough for the risk, he needed partners.

Gerald’s company had a cancer treatment in production Russ had been following in the industry news. A major shipment was going out to Asia sometime this summer. Diverting that shipment off the back of the truck was a payoff that would set him up for years. He knew it could be done. And how.

He needed Gerald and one other partner who had Chinese connections.

Russ didn’t have friends he could casually sound out to see if they were interested. He woke up at night, ridden with anxiety, trying to think of somebody he could approach. Jerking off calmed him briefly, but it wasn’t enough. The pestering thoughts wound around him, making him forget all the problems sex caused him.

Maybe something would happen. Maybe it wouldn’t. Urgency throbbed in his chest like a worrying A-fib heartbeat. Soon. It had to be soon. He tossed the ID badge he’d dummied up into the trash on the way out. So much for the plant’s security.

About the Author

Mar Preston is the author of eight gritty police procedurals, five of them set in the Santa Monica Police Department against the backdrop of a glitzy beach city bristling with celebrity, international, and homeless crime. Her books might be described as quirky, more character than action-driven. Readers remember good characters more than chase scenes and explosions.

A second series takes place in a tranquil California mountain village, featuring a Sheriff’s detective from Bakersfield and his ally, the chief of the village patrol department. The third in the series is titled “Nothing Ever Happens Here.”

She distilled what she learned writing whodunits into a series of seven eBooks on the topic of “Writing Your First Mystery.”

She would like to tell you that she has a writing and blogging schedule that she adheres to rigidly, but this is also not true.

In 2019 she upended a 40-year hiatus in California, 20 of it in Pine Mountain Club, where “Nothing Ever Happens Here” is set, and returned to her roots in Ottawa, Canada. She has almost convinced herself she can stand the Canadian winter.

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