A BAD APPLE is Alice Zogg’s sixth stand-alone mystery novel.
The pandemic changed everything, so catching a killer will require new methods after Cecile Long-Horton is found strangled in her doorway and Lt. Claudia Campbell has to use modern technology to discover the murderer.
Cecile was CEO of a small company that employed her two sons and daughter. At a board meeting just before she was killed, she mentioned that there was a bad apple in their midst. Unfortunately, each of her children has a secret. So do a few others who were close to Cecile.
But which one has the most to gain? And can Lt. Campbell unmask the killer using a computer screen and her skills as a detective?
A Bad Apple is available in paperback, hardcover, and e-book format at
www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com and other online vendors.
Publisher: Aventine Press (August 2021)
Hardcover ISBN number: 978-1-59330-998-5
Paperback ISBN number: 978-1-59330-997-8
eBook ISBN number: 978-1-45663-824-5
List Price – Hardcover US$ 26.50
List Price – Paperback US$ 13.50
eBook Price – US$ 4.99
A Stand-Alone Novel
Excerpt from Chapter 1
The board of directors' meeting of Basic Wrappers held via Zoom at the end of August in 2020 was in full swing. Cecile Long-Horton, owner and CEO of the corporation had called it to order and heated arguments soon ensued. Even though the gathering was only virtual, the dispute was no less fierce.
Jason, her oldest son and CFO, moved his face closer to the camera and stressed, "Producing face masks and giving them away for free was a nice gesture at the beginning of the pandemic, but Mom, you know good and well that we can no longer afford to do so. If no substantial money comes in soon, we'll be operating in the red!"
Cecile's other son, Darrell, the company's CIO, jumped in, saying, "I'm sure that I don't need to remind everyone that our clientele consists of restaurant owners, hair salons, and customers ordering Halloween costumes and outfits for special occasions. Covid-19 practically put the first two out of business, and who wants to have anything to do with dress-up parties of any kind in the current situation? The only thing that's a hot sell right now are face masks, and we're giving them away!"
Cecile, who had always led her company with an iron fist, stayed firm and said, "Most businesses are suffering, ours included, but I will not take advantage of the less fortunate during this time of their urgent need. We will keep offering the masks for free. Basic Wrappers will manage and survive."
The CEO's daughter, Julie Martinez, who had been silent thus far, spoke up. "At first, when masks were scarce, it made total sense to give them away. It kept our seamstresses and other employees busy, as orders from clients became limited, but now disposable masks are readily available and cheap. Nobody needs to rely on getting cloth masks any longer."
Cecile shot back, "They're not cheap for the homeless and poor people. And who among them could keep a steady supply, since they're only worn once and then discarded? No, I'm staying firm in my decision: The masks we produce are free of charge."
Darrell raised both arms and shouted, "How do you propose we can stay above water? We are more than five months into the pandemic and it doesn't look like there's an end to it soon. We have practically no new orders. Our only steady source of income would be the masks, should we start selling them. We could even make a nice profit if we were to turn out fashion and sports team masks."
Jason said, "I agree. It looks like the masks are here to stay for a long time. Why not profit from them? We could use a little profit rather than keep operating at a loss."
Not blinking an eye, their mother stated, "You heard me; the masks are and will be free for the duration. I tell you how it's done. We tighten our belts. I, for one, am not drawing any money out of the company until our troubles are over. If necessary, I'll help the corporation out of my own pocket. And I suggest that we cut all of your salaries down by half."
That announcement silenced her adult children and left them staring open-mouthed into their respective cameras.
She looked over to Jason's Zoom square and asked, "How much profit did we make last year?"
"I would have to look up the figure," he stammered.
"No need. I am positive that it was substantial. We can draw from that profit to sustain us for right now. If the pandemic continues for many more months, we'll all tighten our belts, like I said."
Julie questioned the CEO, "You told me not to furlough any of the employees. How can I keep all our staff busy? Sewing only masks isn't going to do it and most of our outstanding orders are filled."
"Get creative! You could design patriotic flags people can attach to the sides of their cars. After all, we are in an election year. Since you're also in charge of advertising, offer people either red ones or blue ones, depending on their choice of political party. And if undecided, they can attach one of each to the sides of their vehicles."
Darrell saw the humor in her last remark and could not suppress a grin.
Ready to end the board meeting, Cecile Long-Horton announced out of the blue: "There is a bad apple among us." And pointing a finger straight at the camera she added, "You know who you are. It needs to stop! I'm keeping an eye on you."
That said, she adjourned the meeting.