Excerpt from High Five by Janet Evanovich, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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High Five

A Stephanie Plum Mystery

by Janet Evanovich

High Five by Janet Evanovich X
High Five by Janet Evanovich
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  • First Published:
    Jun 1999, 292 pages

    Paperback:
    Jun 2000, 255 pages

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"Your Aunt Mabel would be grateful if you'd look for Fred," my mother said. "Maybe you could just go over and talk to her and see what you think."

"She needs a detective," I said. "I'm not a detective."

"Mabel asked for you. She said she didn't want this going out of the family."

My internal radar dish started to hum. "Is there something you're not telling me?"

"What's to tell," my mother said. "A man wandered off from his car."

I drank my milk and rinsed the glass. "Okay, I'll go talk to Aunt Mabel. But I'm not promising anything."

Uncle Fred and Aunt Mabel live on Baker Street, on the fringe of the Burg, three blocks over from my parents. Their ten-year-old Pontiac station wagon was parked at the curb and just about spanned the length of their row house. They've lived in the row house for as long as I can remember, raising two children, entertaining five grandchildren and annoying the hell out of each other for over fifty years.

Aunt Mabel answered my knock on her door. She was a rounder, softer version of Grandma Mazur. Her white hair was perfectly permed. She was dressed in yellow polyester slacks and a matching floral blouse. Her earrings were large clip-ons, her lipstick was a bright red, and her eyebrows were brown crayon.

"Well, isn't this nice," Aunt Mabel said. "Come into the kitchen. I got a coffee cake from Giovichinni today. It's the good kind, with the almonds."

Certain proprieties were observed in the Burg. No matter that your husband was kidnapped by aliens, visitors were offered coffee cake.

I followed after Aunt Mabel and waited while she cut the cake. She poured out coffee and sat opposite me at the kitchen table.

"I suppose your mother told you about your Uncle Fred," she said. "Fifty-two years of marriage, and poof, he's gone."

"Did Uncle Fred have any medical problems?"

"The man was healthy as a horse."

"How about his stroke?"

"Well, yes, but everybody has a stroke once in awhile. And that stroke didn't slow him down any. Most of the time he remembered things no one else would remember. Like that business with the garbage. Who would remember a thing like that? Who would even care about it? Such a fuss over nothing."

I knew I was going to regret asking, but I felt compelled. "What about the garbage?"

Mabel helped herself to a piece of coffee cake. "Last month there was a new driver on the garbage truck, and he skipped over our house. It only happened once, but would my husband forget a thing like that? No. Fred never forgot anything. Especially if it had to do with money. So at the end of the month Fred wanted two dollars back on account of we pay quarterly, you see, and Fred had already paid for the missed day."

I nodded in understanding. This didn't surprise me at all. Some men played golf. Some men did crossword puzzles. Uncle Fred's hobby was being cheap.

"That was one of the things Fred was supposed to do on Friday," Mabel said. "The garbage company was making him crazy. He went there in the morning, but they wouldn't give him his money without proof that he'd paid. Something about the computer messing up some of the accounts. So Fred was going back in the afternoon."

For two dollars. I did a mental head slap. If I'd been the clerk Fred had talked to at the garbage company I'd have given Fred two dollars out of my own pocket just to get rid of him. "What garbage company is this?"

Reprinted from HIGH FIVE by Janet Evanovich, a St Martin's Press publication, by permission of St Martin's Press. © 1999 by Janet Evanovich.

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