To Catch A Bad Guy
Book 1 of The Janet Maple Series
Book 1 of The Janet Maple Series
Janet Maple’s stellar career ended with a lay off and her boyfriend of almost five years told her that he wants to be just friends. When she lands a job at one of New York’s premier boutique investment firms, Janet begins to hope that her luck is finally turning for the better. Not only is she happy with her new paycheck, but things also seem to be looking up on the personal front, as the company’s handsome attorney expresses keen interest in Janet. However, her euphoria is short-lived, as Janet soon discovers alarming facts about her new employer’s business tactics. When her boss dismisses her suspicions as groundless, Janet finds herself confiding to a cute IT engineer, Dean Snider. The closer she gets to Dean, the more Janet is tempted to break her rule of not dating co-workers, but what she doesn’t realize is that everything she knows about Dean, including his occupation and even his name, is a lie.
Dennis Walker is a top-notch white collar crime investigator who will stop at nothing to put culprits away. When an opportunity for an undercover assignment at one of New York’s premier boutique investment firms comes up, Dennis jumps at the chance, adopting a persona of geeky IT engineer, Dean Snider. While he may be an ace at his job, years of experience fail him when Dennis meets Janet Maple and finds himself torn between his professional obligations and his personal desires. Will he have to choose between his feelings and duty, or will he find a way to satisfy both?
What the Readers are Saying:
“The author does a great job of engaging the reader with a fast-paced storyline full of intrigue, suspense and romance. I look forward to reading the second book in the Janet Maple Series.”
~ Jersey Girl Book Reviews
“If it’s one thing I love, it’s a good mystery novel. I thought To Catch a Bad Guy had all the elements of intrigue, and it was hard for me to put this down!”
~ Chick Lit Plus Reviews
“I enjoyed this book very much it has a hint of romance, mystery and is just a little bit sassy, making it a great read.”
“Another wonderful read from Marie Astor! To Catch a Bad Guy is a wonderfully entertaining read filled with romance, suspense, and intrigue that will keep you turning the pages.”
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Bostoff Securities was located on Park Avenue and Fifty Third Street, and Aquavit, the restaurant for the rendezvous with Tom Wyman, was on Fifty Fifth Street, between Madison and Park. Despite her monstrous heels, Lisa nimbly maneuvered her way down the street, while Janet struggled to keep up in her kitten pumps. After four years of working downtown, midtown felt like a foreign country: she’d forgotten how touristy and crowded the streets there could get.
“Ah, here we are.” Lisa motioned at the screened restaurant entrance.
Just as they were about to go inside, a man smoking nearby hurried to open the door for Lisa – a concrete demonstration of the power Lisa had been wielding over men ever since she had entered her teens.
Inside, the décor was Nordic minimalism, with wooden paneling accompanied by slender white fixtures hanging low from the ceiling. It was Monday afternoon, and the atmosphere was all business: financial and advertising types sporting expensive suits loitered by the bar, waiting for their clients.
“There is a reservation for three under Tom Wyman,” Lisa addressed the hostess.
“Oh, yes.” A rail-thin blonde smiled at them. “Mr. Wyman is already here.”
“Lisa!” A velvety baritone called from across the room. A man rose from his seat by the bar and walked toward them.
“Tom, so wonderful to see you!” Lisa leaned in for an air kiss exchange. “So sorry we are late.”
“Nonsense, good company is worth waiting for.” Tom grinned.
“You’re such a charmer.” Lisa batted her eyelashes.
She’s flirting with him, Janet felt a sting of irritation. She was not even interested in this Tom Wyman character, but, in spite of herself, she was hot with resentment. Lisa’s behavior was reminiscent of all those teenage double dates Janet had endured, with Lisa flirting away with the very guys Lisa had supposedly invited as Janet’s dates. Sure, Janet was much older now, but when it came to her friendship with Lisa, other than the number of candles on her last birthday cake, not much had changed.
“Tom, Tom Wyman.” Tom’s eyes locked in on Janet’s as he extended his hand. Coiffed was the word to describe him. Everything about this man was polished: his manner of speech, his silky dark eyes, his curly black hair, which was carefully slicked back, and his tailored outfit of Brooks Brothers suit and pink shirt with onyx cufflinks.
“Janet Maple.” Janet blinked, sensing Tom’s smooth, manicured fingers wrap around her hand.
“Janie just started working for me today,” Lisa cut in.
Janet nodded good-naturedly. She hated it when Lisa called her Janie – the diminutive was reserved for family only, but somehow, years ago, when Lisa had overheard Janet’s mother call her Janie, she had picked it right up and Janet never had the heart to tell her to stop.
“Some would say never hire your best friend, but I’m of a different opinion. Janie and I are the best of friends, and I know that we’ll get along splendidly at the office.”
Tom let go of Janet’s hand and looked at Lisa, bemused. “Well, Lisa, from what you’ve told me about Janet, she is going to be a great asset to the firm.”
Janet beamed him a smile. She did not know much about this Tom Wyman character, but she could have kissed him on the spot for putting Lisa back in her place.
As if reading Janet’s mind, or more likely her facial expression, Tom said, “Columbia Law School graduates rarely come clamoring for employment, especially those who graduated magna cum laude.”
“I see that Lisa has been talking about me.” Janet returned Tom’s wink with a smile. She might not like the idea of Lisa meddling in her personal life, but that did not mean that she would let Lisa steal the limelight from her date – not anymore.
“Yes, she has.” Every word uttered in Tom’s silky voice sounded like a caress. “And I for one am glad to know that I’ll be working with an alumna.”
“You went to Columbia also?”
“I did: class of two thousand.”
He is seven years older than me, Janet’s mind did an involuntary calculation. “It’s always a pleasure to meet fellow Columbia alum.”
“Indeed. And I hope that we’ll be seeing quite a bit of each other.” Tom’s eyes lingered on Janet a second too long for a casual glance, and she was not quite sure how to respond.
“Well, should we get seated?” Lisa tapped her foot. “I’m starving.”
“Forgive me, I seem to be forgetting myself.” Tom nodded at the restaurant hostess who had been lurking in the background, careful not to interrupt their conversation.
“Please follow me.” With gazelle-like grace, the hostess glided across the floor.
Her head cocked, Lisa sashayed after the hostess. Tom stepped aside, letting Janet go in front of him, and she could not help a warm, giddy feeling spreading in her chest. She certainly did not intend to get involved with Tom Wyman, but it sure felt nice to be the center of his attention.
“So, Janet, tell me more about yourself,” said Tom after they had ordered lunch.
“I’m not sure where to begin. I’m afraid I’m not that interesting.” Janet lowered her eyes, breaking away from Tom’s gaze. His eyes were like two black olives: dark, glistening, and unsettlingly sharp.
“Why, Janie, as usual, your modesty is getting the best of you!” Lisa pursed her lips. “Tom, do you know that Janie has spent the last four years at the DA’s office?”
“Oh?” Tom’s eyebrows shot up high. “What an interesting career choice. And may I ask what division you were in?”
“I was in the Investigation Division.” When Janet spoke of her former occupation as Assistant District Attorney, most people were either impressed or terrified – the latter were usually employed in the financial industry. There was one memorable occasion when Janet had mentioned her employment while being flirted with by a handsome financial type during happy hour, which resulted in the guy’s falling off his bar stool and promptly vacating the bar premises. But then there were plenty of occasions when her choice of occupation elicited accolades and admiration – those were mostly from members of senior citizen communities who were frequent victims of financial rogues whom Janet so diligently tried to catch. In either case, most people never went as far as inquiring about the specifics of her job, which made Tom’s pointed question surprising.
“Very impressive. I hear it requires a special transfer to get into Investigation, correct?”
“Yes.” Janet nodded. “I started with the DA right after law school. My first assignment was with the Trial Division, but I asked to be moved into Investigations, and my supervisor agreed to recommend me.”
“No doubt for exceptional performance.”
Janet blushed, unaccustomed to such keen interest in her work. “Well, I did contribute to several important cases.”
Tom’s pointed gaze travelled from Janet to Lisa. “Well, Lisa, it sounds like you hired a first-rate sleuth: a qualification that is bound to be an asset for employment with Bostoff Securities.”
Just as Tom finished his convoluted compliment, a waiter approached the table, carrying a bottle of wine.
“I believe this calls for a toast. Here’s to the latest addition to Bostoff Securities.” Tom raised his glass.
“I’m so glad you’re here, Janie.” Lisa raised her glass.
Janet eyed the wine hesitantly. Alcohol during lunch would most certainly be frowned upon at the DA’s office, but she was no longer at the DA’s office, and it was time to put her former employer behind her.
“Relax,” Lisa jeered, “it’s all right to have a sip with your boss.”
Janet picked up her glass.
“Welcome to the family, Janet.” Tom’s glass clinked against Janet’s and Lisa’s. “Forgive me if I sound too forward, Janet, but I do so much work for Bostoff Securities that I feel a part of the team.”
“Thank you, Tom.” Janet smiled. Perhaps she was being too guarded after all. This Tom Wyman was bound to be a decent fellow if he called his employer ‘family.’
The rest of the lunch was spent in gastronomical exploration as the waiter brought out one intricate dish after another. By the end of the two-hour meal, Janet felt the waistline of her skirt pinching. There was one good thing to be said about having a limited budget: it prevented one from overindulging, and if four-course lunches were de rigueur at Bostoff Securities, she would have to acquire formidable self-restraint.
“Ah, I’m stuffed.” Lisa leaned back in her chair, and Janet noticed that Lisa’s plate looked like it had been barely touched, while Janet’s was swept clean.
Tom checked his watch. “Wow, it’s after two o’clock. I hate to break up the party, ladies, but I’ve got to get back to the office. I am, after all, working on billable hours.” Tom grinned.
“Please, Tom.” Lisa waved her hand. “With the bill you sent me last month, I think you’ve fulfilled your quota for the rest of the year.”
“In the words of Hank Bostoff, there’s no such thing as too much money.”
“Yes.” Lisa nodded. “I’m constantly reminded of it by Jon. Hank Bostoff is the founder of the firm – he is the CEO,” Lisa explained for Janet’s benefit. “You haven’t met him because he only interviews the most senior people. I might as well tell you about all the big wigs. Jonathan Bostoff is Hank’s elder son. He is the company president.”
“Paul Bostoff is Hank’s younger son and the company’s COO, and Lisa’s soon-to-be fiancé,” Tom explained.
“Please, Tom, don’t jinx it!” Lisa smiled coyly. “But, getting back to business, Tom, it would be great if you could give Janet an overview of Bostoff Securities’ business. Do you think you could do that?”
“Certainly,” Tom replied. “It will be my pleasure. Shall we say eleven o’clock tomorrow?”
Lisa reached for her purse and leaned over to whisper into Janet’s ear, “See, he likes you.”
“Eleven is fine.” Janet nodded. If Lisa wanted to play matchmaker, Janet had no choice but to play along. She needed this job.”