BY: ZARI REEDE
Lana Madison is a twenty-three-year-old, unconventional private investigator, who is searching for the men who abducted her identical twin. Lana and Dania are complete opposites, but their bond from birth allows them to share emotions. These brief moments of connection prove to Lana that her twin is still very much alive. Lana suffers flashbacks of past events, which she believes are her sister’s memories, and realizes there are gaps in her own timeline from the day of her sister’s disappearance. She has given up on believing that the police will ever find Dania and is determined to find her sister on her own. But as she gets closer to finding her twin, the barriers that protect Lana’s façade steadily melt away, and now her own life—as well as her sanity—is on the line…
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In Sins of the Sister by Zari Reede, Lana Madison is looking for her missing twin sister who was abducted some three years ago. Through the bond that identical twins often share, Lana catches glimpses of her sister’s emotions and knows that she’s still alive. But Lana has given up any hope that the police will ever find her, so she is determined to do it herself. But as Lana gets closer to the truth, she uncovers some dark secrets that could destroy both twins.
Tense, intriguing, and unpredictable, the story will keep you on the edge of your seat all the way through.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: Sins of the Sister by Zari Reede is the story of two identical twins, Lana and Dania Madison. When Dania is kidnapped and vanishes, Lana becomes a private detective in an effort to find and rescue her. The police have done nothing so far to find her, and she doesn’t think they ever will. Lana is sure that her sister is alive because she gets flashes of emotions or dreams that she knows are not her own. As Lana searches for the truth, the walls she has built up to help her cope begin to crumble and she comes face to face with some hard facts and dark secrets that she is totally unprepared for.
Filled with marvelous characters, an intriguing plot, and plenty of surprises, Sins of the Sister is one that mystery fans of all ages should love. I couldn’t put it down.
The air was thick and hot. Lana Madison struggled to breathe in the small trunk with her head wedged between a soft duffel bag and an attaché case. She presumed the car belonged to a man since a stifling, woodsy cologne permeated the tight compartment. Probing the contents of the duffel yielded clothing–nothing useful. She wriggled around to explore the rest of her surroundings. The tight zip ties cut off her circulation, but she managed to grapple with the remaining few items in the trunk. Only the spare, a tire iron, a car jack, and the sheet of plastic she lay on were left at her disposal–creepy.
Lana tried not to panic as sweat beaded between her breasts and soaked into her army T-shirt. The lack of oxygen made her edgy. She trained for this. She was ready for this. The one purpose in her life was to find her missing sister. Three long years had passed since Dania’s disappearance, but Lana knew her identical twin still existed out there somewhere. Her instincts chased away the fear, because she still sensed Dania’s presence.
Before disappearing, her sister, Dania, ran the popular trail downtown three nights a week. They may have changed the name of the lake, but the trail’s well-lit path was still referred to as Town Lake by the locals. A pre-med student at the University of Texas, it wasn’t unusual for Dania to stay out late with a friend or go to a bar. There was nothing to alert Lana of her twin’s distress that night, except for the hair rising on her neck at seven forty-five p.m. and a sinking sensation in the pit of her stomach. When her sister failed to answer her cell, Lana began the hair-pulling, desperate scavenger hunt that proved fruitless, for all her efforts.
Right now, she envisioned a stymied Detective Samuel Norris shaking his head as she ditched his tail again. That’s what he gets for trying to follow me. If the law didn’t do its job, Lana would. She avoided Norris, hoping to keep her vigilante activities hidden. Lana clung to the belief that her sister remained alive, but in the eyes of the authorities, the disappearance was a cold case. Her steadfast determination strengthened her hope to find her twin. If Dania died before Lana could save her, those responsible would pay.
The trunk barely had room for Lana to curl into a ball and fish the Kevlar cord from inside her sock. Amateurs. She eased the cord between her wrists and then slipped the nooses at each end over the toes of her feet. As she scissored her legs, the Kevlar sliced through the zip tie, and she was free. During a tight corner turn, she slid to the right and winced when her bruised back hit the metal trunk wall. The car slowed, then stopped. Lana gripped the tire iron and slid it beneath her. Keeping her wrists tucked close, she grinned and licked the blood from the corner of her mouth.
Doors slammed and footsteps faded away. She waited as long as she could, then hit the light button on her watch. Thirty minutes. Enough of this shit. Lana wiggled the tire iron out from beneath her but kept it near. She swung her body around so her head faced the trunk door, pulling her knees to her chest, then moved them like pistons against the back seat. She felt it give. Either her kidnappers would catch her escaping, or the back seat would collapse, and she’d get the hell out of Dodge. Regardless, her assailants would regret choosing to nab this diminutive blonde.
She pushed through the broken seatback, wiggled between the bucket seats, and crawled across the cracked leather on the passenger side of the sedan. The musk-scented upholstery, carpet mold, and a general well-worn condition dated the jalopy. She knew it was built prior to 2011 because vehicles produced after September of that year had releases inside the trunks, and this one didn’t.
Lana crouched and kept her head low in case someone happened nearby. It was eerily quiet and woodsy wherever the hell she was, but she could hear a faint drum in the distance. The same thump you heard when a car blared music, riding its rhythms around the neighborhood in annoying loops. The smell of water and earthy foliage told her she was far from the asphalt of the city. The car had bumped her around the last five minutes, indicating she wasn’t in downtown Austin anymore. A shiver ran down her spine. Lana was strong, but for a moment, she feared the unknown. The guy who nabbed her punted her cell phone into the lake, preventing any calls for help. She calculated they were a mere twenty minutes from the trail. There could be a band of thugs waiting for her delivery. She was tough but not sure she could take on a gang.
When she slowly lifted her head to peer outside, pressing her forehead to the autumn-chilled glass, inky blackness filled her field of vision. Dark shapes of trees and brush camouflaged the night. Holding her breath, she listened for voices, anything–but heard nothing. She pulled the interior latch with caution and winced as the door shuddered with a grinding whine.
“Fuck.” She breathed the word.
Gravel crunched beneath her feet when she eased her legs from the car and placed her tennis shoes upon the dusty rock. She gripped the tire iron tight to her side and skittered out, letting the door whine shut softly in the night. Rolling into the brush, she said a silent prayer to the gods of fate.
“Fuck man! I’m tellin’ ya, this broad is hot. The dude will pay a fortune. She might be a little long in the tooth, but her tits were bouncing up and down when she was runnin’ and not an ounce of fat–all curves and muscles.” Footsteps crunched gravel as two men’s shadows approached the opening in the circle of trees. The moon took a break from the clouds, choosing the moment to rise behind their lithe forms.
“How long in the tooth? You know Mickey says they like ’em young. She was probably some MILF running from yo ugly ass.” From the voices, these were white men–correction, boys. Bad boys with bad grammar–wannabe gangsters.
“Fuck no, she wasn’t running from me. Yo, you know I’m a Romeo, dog. Trust me. Mickey will be happy we showed some initiative.”
Lana spied the pompadour hairstyle bobbing in the moonlight as he talked shit and threw his arms up and down, posturing. He paused in his gesticulations to hitch up his pants.
“She didn’t even see me, stupid bitch.” His silhouette turned to the other and stopped to dig in his pocket for something. “I just used the cloth, came right up behind her, and bam!” He struck a fist into one hand. “She didn’t even resist. How could she resist Romeo?” He waved a hand at himself. “As easy as stealing candy from a baby.”
Chuckling, he pulled keys from his pocket and jangled them. This was Lana’s cue. She needed to surprise the confused thugs from behind or make a run for it. She jittered with anticipation.
Candy from a baby, my ass. Then how did this “baby” end up with a fat lip and bruises? If it hadn’t been for that slick spot on the trail, Lana was sure, with a little effort, she could have taken him down.
A third man emerged from the dark. Maybe he was the buyer? Three men visible–could be more. She had broken out of the only car there. Lana guessed that the kidnappers and buyer agreed to meet where no one would hear or see the exchange. The leery customer opted to wait alone. From what she knew about sex-trafficking gangs, the customer verified the transaction was legit then called an accomplice for his ride. They would exchange the money for the goods, namely her.
If they were unarmed, she would make mincemeat of them with the tire iron. If armed, she might still be successful. The car stereo music was getting louder and louder. Someone was coming. That decides it. Run.
Lana crept farther into the woods. The nearing car worked in her favor. The bass became audible music, and she recognized the song playing, “What Went Down,” by the Foals. Criminal he may be, but he had surprisingly good taste in tunes. The music covered the sound of her departure. She risked shuffling faster, saying a prayer that she wouldn’t wake any hibernating snakes. Lana was no Girl Scout. She didn’t want to trek too far into the forest and find herself lost with a mean case of poison ivy. Going just far enough into the foliage to be undetected, she worked her way parallel down the drive, which led back to the main road and the direction of civilization, she hoped.
Hiding behind a tree trunk, she glanced back to gauge her progress. No calls of alarm, so, her absence remained undetected. Even with the oncoming headlights, she could barely make out the figures standing in the clearing, so she must be invisible to Romeo and company. Letting out the breath she hadn’t known she was holding, Lana risked another step back. An arm snaked around her waist, trapping the tire iron against her body as a hand clasped her mouth. Trapped, she didn’t think. She thrust her head back and heard the satisfying crunch of a nose breaking, but her capturer’s grip was like a vise. He moaned and fell back, bringing her with him. There was an audible “oof,” when he hit the ground.
“Police, freeze!” someone bellowed.
“Fuck, dogs, clear out!”
Lana recognized the voice of the guy who nabbed her. Doors slammed, engines roared, tires squealed, and beams of light flashed in circles as the cars peeled out. The spray of rocks peppered the gravel road.
Groaning she identified the hard thing biting into her shoulder as a badge. She forced herself to relax and let the officer do his job, allowing him to cuff and Mirandize her. With a muffled, nasal voice, the cop said, “We have some questions for you, ma’am,” then turned her toward the light of the clearing and him. “You?” the detective gasped.
“Sorry about the nose, Detective Norris.”
“Go figure–it’s your nose that’s going to get you into trouble, Miss Madison. What the hell are you doing out here with these thugs?” Norris’s hand gripped her hard with a meaningful shake. “Goddammit, Madison! Are you aware of how long I’ve been shadowing these men? The undercover agent will blow his shit when he finds out you tipped them off.” Norris let her go with a shove and cursed again, looking at the empty clearing.
“Me? Are you crazy? You’re the one who yelled ‘Police’ and tackled me! I’m the one who escaped from those thugs’ trunk and tried to get the hell outta Dodge.” Her hair came loose from the ponytail she sported, and she flipped it over her shoulder with a shake of her head, glaring at the detective. “Now that we’ve established that I’m the victim here, could you kindly uncuff me before we lose them?”
© 2018 by Zari Reede