A Stand-Alone Novel
THE ILL- FATED SCIENTIST is Alice Zogg’s third stand-alone mystery novel.
Syndicated columnist Tara Blunt knows her track record with men hasn’t been stellar and now she’s faced with four men in her life… and one of them might be a murderer. But Tara figures her skill at sorting out facts for her news column will get her to the bottom of the unusual death of a brilliant scientist who was in the running to win a $5 million contest to create a new, environmentally friendly product that would replace all types of petroleum-based packaging. When he turns up dead on the day of her interview with him, her investigative-reporter mind goes on the hunt for an even better story, but the truth might kill her.
The Ill-Fated Scientist is available in paperback, hardcover, and e-book format at
Publisher: Aventine Press (September 2018)
Hardcover ISBN number: 978-1-59330-947-3
Paperback ISBN number: 978-1-59330-946-6
eBook ISBN number: 978-1-45663-163-5
List Price - Hardcover US$26.95
List Price - Paperback US$12.95
eBook Price – US$4.99
Excerpt from Chapter 1
Where to start? To be clear right from the beginning, I am not an author of books. My name is Tara Blunt. My métier as a syndicated columnist does not necessarily qualify me as being one. Still, I cannot ignore the events that put me smack in the middle of wickedness, and so I feel compelled to tell this story. I am writing it first and foremost for myself, needing to vent the morbid involvement, in order to draw the final curtain. Capturing any potential readers’ interest in the process, I consider a bonus.
I guess the kickoff was when all hell broke loose on the day I finally landed an interview with Dr. Jake Unger. I had discovered that several scientists had entered a contest sponsored by a leading company in the soft drink industry named Tops & Associates. They were to come up with an eco-friendly cellulose-derived product that would replace all types of petroleum-based packaging. I was determined to interview these scientists about their entries.
Let me explain a little more about myself. I’m a 33-year-old light brunette who inherited my high cheekbones and long legs from Mom, a former model, and the ability to think logically from Dad, who is an engineer. I run my columns in multiple major national newspapers and magazines. On occasion, I also submit my work to specific targeted publications. Among other things, I am interested in environmental and conservation issues, and some of my articles reflect those subjects.
The task of talking to the scientists proved harder than I imagined. Initially, they all refused to see me. Since Jake Unger lived in my hometown of Huntington Beach in Southern California, I was persistent and contacted him several times. At long last, he agreed to meet me at the Starbuck’s on Main Street for a short interview on that terrible Saturday morning of April 14 - - I presumed to get me off his back.
I judged him to be in his mid-to-late-thirties, tall and lanky, with a long skinny neck. I could not help comparing him to a giraffe as he awkwardly walked toward my table, cappuccino in hand. He was not a conversationalist at all. I had to drag every bit of information out of him, meager as it was. I learned that he had a master’s degree in physics and first worked in a government-funded laboratory doing experimental research, then switched over to the private sector and became self-employed. I asked him how he could survive being self-employed with the cost of research projects coming out of his own pocket. He gave me a look of annoyance at my obvious ignorance but answered the question, informing me that he contracted with different companies, who in turn financed the research for the assignments. When prompted about his current project as participant in the contest, he became even more tongue-tied.
I asked, “Are you close to a breakthrough or have you already found a solution?”
“You might say that.”
“But you won’t talk about it?”
“Correct.” And I was surprised that he opened up enough to add, “Deadline for submission is a week from today. Perhaps I’ll tell you afterward.”
No wonder the contestants did not grant me interviews. They were all pressured for time, I thought.
Aloud I said, “Dr. Unger, I take it that you are passionate about environmental issues.”
“Not really,” he admitted.
“So why did you enter the contest?”
“The prize money is substantial, and the prestige accompanied with it, welcome.”
“Where do you work?”
“I use the separate guest house in back of my home as a lab.”
“May I have a look?” I asked.
“Just curious. Besides, if you win the contest, I’ll not only write a generous column about you and your discovery, which will appear in numerous major newspapers and professional magazines, but I’ll add a photo of your lab to boot.”
He thought this over and then reluctantly agreed to let me have a peek. We settled on 4:30 that same afternoon.