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Did honor force him to abandon his wife and kids? Or is he just a weasel?

Six years ago, Marcy Wagner hired PI Angelina Bonaparte to find her missing husband Hank, who cleaned out their bank accounts and disappeared. Then Angie finds his obituary in an upstate newspaper. Marcy wants to know what why he abandoned her and the kids. Angie does, too!

She embarks on a mission that will blow the lid off Hank’s hidden life and reveal the reasons he ran. Was he a lowdown skunk? Or did he do the honorable thing when he left? Angie follows a twisted path to the truth and discovers that it lies perilously close to her own family life.

Interview with Nanci Rathbun

Nanci, welcome to Island Confidential! Can you tell us about your sleuth?

PI Angelina Bonaparte¬–Boe-nah-par-tay, please, she’s Sicilian-American and uses the correct pronunciation, not the Frenchified version that Napoleon adopted–lives and works in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Angie left a long marriage after her husband, whom she refers to as “Bozo,” cheated on her–twice. While assessing her situation post-divorce, Angie took wings. She traded in the family house for a lakeside condo, bought a sporty little cherry-red Miata convertible, and used her degree in library science to jump-start a career as an investigator. Underneath her business attire, she’s wearing sexy lingerie!

How much do you and Angelina have in common? 

Hmmm. Well, we’re both women “of a certain age,” as the French say, but Angie’s a decade younger than I am. Her white hair is spiky, while mine is more conservative in style–although I did just get some blue streaks, after my middle granddaughter told me they would look “cool.” I wish I were as fit as Angie. She’s a runner and does Pilates and yoga, while my daily exercise comes from walking my Maltipoo, Teeny, and some stretching. I have a strong logical bent, which helped me succeed in IT before retiring, and Angie’s also able to use logic to puzzle out situations. And we’re both compassionate women, with a strong sense of justice and a slightly snarky sense of humor.

Do your characters change and evolve throughout consecutive books in the series?

They do. Bobbie Russell, who met Angie in the first book, Truth Kills, was going to be a minor character who disappeared after helping Angie get some information from the office where he was working. But Bobbie wasn’t having that! He teamed up with Angie to uncover the murderer of the woman who had his job previously. Everybody loved Bobbie–I got lots of comments about him–so he evolved into Angie’s intern as he sought his own PI license in Cash Kills, book two. In Honor Kills, the new release, Bobbie took on an expanded role, as he and Angie search for a dead man who is apparently still breathing. By the end of the book, Angie offers Bobbie a job as her associate investigator, once he gets his license. Bobbie’s Rock Hudson good looks and his connections in the gay community open Angie to a new clientele and new resources for her investigations.

Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean?

Um, well, yes. Don’t tell anyone.

How realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?

I use a lot of real Milwaukee settings in the stories and I try to keep them realistic. Ma Fischers’ restaurant features prominently in all the books. It’s an east side institution, after all. There’s a story of a ghost who haunts the Pfister Hotel, which is casually mentioned. And in Cash Kills, I use a set of underground tunnels to get Angie, Bobbie and their client Adriana safely away from an attorney’s office. There are real underground tunnels in downtown Milwaukee, but Attorney Matthews’ offices are in the old Third Ward, so I took a writer’s liberty and resituated them.

When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?

If only! I think Helen Mirren would be a super choice for Angie.

Helen Mirren at the Moët British Independent Film Awards on 7 December 2014
Helen Mirren

Her love interest, homicide Detective Ted Wukowsi, is described by her as a slightly older Dana Andrews. Since he’s no longer living, Gerard Butler might fit the bill. He plays that brooding tough guy well. Matt Luckey could definitely play Bobbie. As for Papa, gotta be Hector Elizondo. Lucy Liu would certainly glam up Angie’s Asian accountant friend and office mate, Susan.

What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard or received as an author?

Worst advice: Study what’s selling now and write that, even if it’s not what you want to write.
Best advice: Hire a professional editor, cover designer, interior designer and book description writer. Your readers deserve the best.


Angie and her intern, Bobbie Russell have found the hidden password to a dead man’s ultra-secret email account. They need some help decoding it and turn to Spider Mulcahey, a tech guru who aided Angie in Cash Kills.


Spider hung our coats on a large wooden coat rack. “Let’s head upstairs,” he said.

At the end of a long hallway, he leaned down to look into a small rectangular box, mounted on the wall outside a door. “Iris scanner,” he said. “Knows if you’re alive, so pulling a Demolition Man won’t work.”

I shuddered, remembering the scene where Wesley Snipes escapes from a futuristic prison by gouging out the warden’s eyeball and holding it up to a retinal scanner. The door opened and Spider ushered us into the windowless room.

‘High tech’ was not high tech enough to describe Spider’s office.  Electronic equipment was stacked on shelving on two sides of the room.  Locked cabinets lined the other two sides.  A large desk with a massive natural-plank top, sanded and finished to a glossy shine, dominated the middle of the room, with two smaller workstations flanking the desk and its tryptic of display screens.

Spider pulled a couple of side chairs over for us and settled in the executive desk chair. “So let’s look at this email,” he said.

I showed him the phone image of the password.

“I guess he did love her,” he said.

Huh? “How do you get that from this password?” I asked.

“It’s Leet, Angie. Computer geek-speak, where you substitute symbols and numbers for letters. Like L-zero-V-three for ‘love.’ But this is a step up in complexity.” He typed the password into an empty text file and then, symbol by symbol, showed us his interpretation:

0                      O

/\/                     N

1                      L

’/                      Y

u                      YOU

^^                    M

@                    A

|2                     R

c                      CY


“‘Only you, Marcy,’” I read aloud. “You can look at that more than one way, Spider. ‘Only you,’ as in ‘you’re my only love,’ or ‘only you,’ as in ‘you’re the only one who should read this.’”

He rolled back in his office chair and grimaced. “I should have seen that. Jeez, is all this domesticity turning my nasty, suspicious brain to mush?”

Bobbie laughed. “Don’t worry about that, Spider. I took it the same way you did. Angie has a bit of a trust issue.” I raised an eyebrow and he hurried to add, “But that’s a good thing when it comes to the business.”

While we waited, Spider accessed S-Mail from a search engine called Duck Duck Go. “It doesn’t track your searches, so no one can find out where you’ve been online. Of course, it’s a little irritating to have to retype favorite sites, but that’s the price you pay.”

The S-Mail site resembled Gmail. Spider entered Hank’s supposed username and password and we held a collective breath until the inbox displayed. One message waited, with a Subject line of “For My Wife.”

About the Author

Nanci Rathbun is a lifelong reader of mysteries – historical, contemporary, futuristic, paranormal, hard-boiled, cozy … you can find them all on her bookshelves.  She brings logic and planning to her writing from a background as an IT project manager, and attention to characters and dialog from her second career as a Congregationalist minister.

Nanci grew up an Army brat, living in Germany, France, and Korea, as well as several states in the U.S. After her dad retired from the service, the family settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There, Nanci raised her daughter and son, while working at AT&T. She never expected to move, but when her second grandchild was on the way, she wanted to be closer. One of her greatest joys is hearing her three granddaughters shout ‘Nana’ when she comes in their front door in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Nanci’s Maltipoo, Teeny, and she now live in Wellington, Colorado. No matter where she makes her home, she will always be a Packers fan.

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