Xyz Affair by Mary BilliterXyz Affair by Mary Billiter

Xyz Affair

byMary Billiter

Paperback | June 1, 2014

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Mystery writer Dani Quinn hasn't been home for years. Once she put Casper, Wyoming, in her rearview mirror, she expected it to stay a distant childhood memory. But when her second marriage ends and a University teaching job in her hometown is offered, the single mom loads her three children in her Suburban and heads West. Casper, which many locals refer to as the "Ghost Town," holds its own ghosts that emerge when Dani returns home. When human skeletal remains are unearthed during renovations on campus, the University tries to keep the story buried. But skeletons and secrets are too irresistible for any mystery writer to ignore, and Dani finds herself in the center of a decades-old mystery. She gets help from Chris Gorham (aka Gorm) her parents' hot new neighbor, who follows the Code of the West by offering to help the newly-divorced damsel in distress. But Gorm has hidden secrets that Dani unintentionally unburies along with a skeleton and a ring. Why the ring and the bones have been shelved by the University is just one of the many questions she has. The answers may cost not only her job, but also her life.

Author and weekly Star-Tribune columnist Mary Billiter's first work of fiction, "Not My Kid..." was published in May, 2011. She followed in the footsteps of her father, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, by earning a BA in Journalism from California State University at Northridge. She is finishing her Masters of Arts degree in Adult ...
Title:Xyz AffairFormat:PaperbackDimensions:222 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.51 inPublished:June 1, 2014Publisher:Koehler BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:194019220X

ISBN - 13:9781940192208

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Read from the Book

Chapter 1 Home Home. I didn’t even know where that was anymore. I glanced at the GPS mounted on the windshield of my Suburban. By its calculations, I’d be at the only home whose doors hadn’t closed on me or my children, within ten to twenty minutes. It all depended on traffic. It was Memorial Day weekend. The two-lane highway had been thin of traffic, but now that I had crossed county lines into Natrona, more cars signaled to pass. Everyone it seemed was in a hurry to reach Wyoming’s largest city, Casper. “Did you know a lot of the locals call it ‘Ghost Town’? Get it? Casper. Ghost.” I glanced at my three children in the rearview mirror. My teenager, Michael, rolled his eyes. “Hey, check out the plane landing.” I pointed out my side window. The airport was tucked off the highway behind a canopy of aspen trees that waved their silvery leaves in the wind to welcome visitors to the Cowboy State. We passed the airport just as quickly as I had announced it. Casper was only a big city by Wyoming’s standards. Despite Casper’s population, there was more land than people. Most Wyomingites preferred it that way. The turn off to my parent’s house was two red bleeps away on the mini-computerized map. I took a deep breath and stared at the green highway sign in the distance. It would direct me to veer left. I knew the way to my parents’ house, I just wasn’t sure it was the way home. I flipped on my turn signal and felt my heart keep rhythm with the constant clicking. Oh God. I hadn’t eaten so I wasn’t sure if the ache in my stomach was from hunger or dread. I gripped the steering wheel. “Okay, we’re getting close.” Michael’s face popped up in the rearview mirror. The tension in my shoulders lessened and so did my hold on the steering wheel. I smiled at him. “So are Grandma and Grandpa excited that we’re coming?” he asked. I took another deep breath. “Excited…isn’t probably the word I’d use.” I exhaled. “Upset…is probably a bit more accurate.” “They don’t want us there?” Michael’s teenage voice peeked and then dropped in octaves. I glanced at him and lowered the volume on the car radio. He had one ear bud protruding from his ear and the other one dangled on his chest. His iPod was in his lap. “Michael, Grandma and Grandpa are thrilled and excited to see their grandbabies. They adore you. It’s their forty-something-year-old daughter they aren’t too thrilled with right now.” Michael sat back in his seat. I don’t think he was too thrilled with me either. Uprooting my children from their fathers, friends and the Wyoming valley they had called home for more than a decade wasn’t my first option. But when Cowboy University called with a teaching job, I literally couldn’t afford to pass it up. I returned the rearview mirror to its original position and wiped away the streaks of smeared mascara that circled my eyes. I looked like a raccoon and probably smelled like one too. Lovely. With each passing street sign, my Suburban narrowed the distance between my parents and me. Let this go well. My palms began to sweat. I quickly wiped them on my jeans and resumed steering. “Yup, we’re getting close.” Michael reached up and squeezed my shoulders. “Mom, relax.” His hands had a tight massaging hold on my tense muscles. “It’s only G-ma and G-pa.” “Okay, that’s our nickname for them,” I felt the tightness in my neck return, “but I don’t think Grandpa would be too fond of it. So just call him Grandpa, k? Or Professor Quinn that’d really impress him.” “You gotta chill or you’re going to have a heart attack.” I nodded. He was right. I looked forward and reacquainted myself with Casper. “Oh hey,” I wagged my finger. “Just up ahead is the square-shaped ice cream store.” I turned right at the next intersection, but instead of seeing the corner store with ice cream cone decals dancing happily across the windows, there was an obnoxious neon green poster. “Coming Soon! Sam’s Electronics.” “Ahh, man that stinks. It’s the only place where you can get a square-shaped ice cream in a square-shaped cone.” I hit the steering wheel with the palm of my hand. “What the heck. We don’t need an electronics store. We need our square-shaped ice cream.” Josie was laying her head on Izzy, our golden-mutt. “Fred” her stuffed dog was tucked between them. When Josie leaned forward to talk to me, Izzy groaned. “Geez, Mom. It’s only ice cream.” Her long, chestnut hair softly framed her face. Her brown eyes locked onto me in the rearview. Josie and Michael were one of the few blessings from my first marriage. She squeezed my shoulder. “It’s okay Mom, we’ll find you another ice cream store. I promise. It’ll be fun.” Josie was sitting behind me so when she giggled it tickled my neck. I rubbed my shoulder against my ear. “It won’t be the same.” I could hear the disappointment in my voice. “I was going to take you guys out for a cone later…” When I needed a break from G-Ma and G-Pa. “I like ice cream, Momma.” James tried to lean forward but the straps on his car seat secured him in place.

Editorial Reviews

"An intriguing premise, well-developed characters, and a great sense of place (Casper, Wyoming) make Mary Billiter's The XYZ Affair a strong mystery debut novel."- C.J. Box, New York Times Bestselling Author of Stone Cold"There are three key ingredients in a romance: captivating characters, witty banter, and an emotionally satisfying story. Mary Billiter blends all three marvelously in The XYZ Affair. -Dana Volney, Crimson Romance author of Paradise Point and Holiday Hoopla"Mary Billiter once again explores the dynamics of family relationships in a great whodunit."-Diana Enzi, book lover and wife of U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, Wyoming