Moreno & Hart Mysteries

on July 18, 2014

Laura and I are thrilled that HIT AND RUN, book two in the Moreno & Hart Mystery Series, will be on-sale Monday. It’s available for pre-order at Amazon, Kobo, and the iBookstore.

Unfortunately, Barnes & Noble Nook doesn’t let most indie authors set-up a pre-order link. I’ve asked. Many times. Believe me … if I see the Nook rep at RWA, I’ll be asking them. They weren’t at Thrillerfest (Amazon and iBooks were both there!)

This is the HIT AND RUN weekend … so I hope you enjoy!

HitRunSmallLaura and I chatted a lot over the phone and via email creating our two characters. There are lots of “buddy” stories, but they’re usually two guys. We wanted a buddy story with two girls, so created former LAPD detective Scarlet Moreno and former LAPD rookie officer Krista Hart who left the force after an ambush nearly killed them, and have spent the last three years as private investigators in neighboring Orange County. They each have a love interest (Scarlet’s is Newport Beach Detective Alex Bishop; Krista’s is private investigator R.J. Flynn) but the core story is always about them, and how they depend on each other, not their boyfriend.

We’re planning three books in the series, with the third focused on solving the mystery about what happened to them three years ago. But for those who know me, you know I don’t plot, so I didn’t know until I was at the end of writing HIT what really happened … and now that I have a glimpse of the past, I can not WAIT to write it!

I’ll admit, I love, love, love these characters. And maybe we’ll write more than 3 books, I don’t know. Scarlet is so fun to write, she’s bitchy and smart and loyal, all attributes I love. And she lives above a sports bar.

For now, though, HIT AND RUN will satisfy Moreno & Hart fans because the stories take a dark and dangerous turn. Enjoy this brief snippet from the end of Chapter One of HIT:

Scarlet shoved the sheet of paper with Diego’s address into Jason’s hand. “Safe house. Get there.”

“How do I know you won’t turn me in?”

“You don’t. You’ll just have to trust me.”

Scarlet’s radio beeped. Krista said, “SWAT turned down the block.”


A movement in the front, outside the blinds, caught Scarlet’s eye. She didn’t know what it was, but she made a judgment call.

“Call Lea and tell her I’m house sitting.” She handed him her cell phone.


“Do not answer the phone unless caller ID reads Krista. Go. Now.”

Jason didn’t hesitate. He ran out the back, into the dark.

Damn, damn, damn.

She hoped her trust wasn’t misplaced.

Scarlet ran down the short hall to the guest room—twin bed, dresser, desk, and lots of books and boxes stacked in the corner. She pulled down the spread, hit the pillow a couple times, looked through the dresser. Old clothes? Okay, she could work with that. Lea was taller than her, but otherwise they were the same basic shape and build.

She striped naked and pulled on a T-shirt. Emblazoned across the front in script: High Flyers Do It Better with an airline logo underneath. It barely covered her ass, but she had to make this work.

Krista said into her radio, “Scarlet, SWAT and six Long Beach and LAPD patrol cars are here.”

“Stay hidden. I have a plan.”

“What plan?”

“No time. I’m signing off.” She turned off the radio and put it with her gun on the dresser.

She would have laid down in the bed to solidify her cover, but she was too jumpy. She heard boots outside the window. Standard protocol. SWAT was surrounding the house. Had Jason got away okay?

And why the hell was she helping someone escape? If he’d told her the truth, why was SWAT here? Had she just been duped?

Trust your friends.

Jason had been a friend practically her entire life. He’d stood by her three years ago. Even more than her fiancé.


She didn’t have a lot of friends left on the force, but Jason was one of them. She had to believe him, because if you couldn’t stand by your friends in the face of danger, you didn’t deserve to survive.

Krista had taught her that.

A pounding on the front door. She jumped, instinctively reached for her gun, but this was SWAT. They’d shoot if she were armed. She reached up and messed up her short choppy brown hair. Truthfully, she always looked like she’d just rolled out of bed.

More pounding. “This is the Long Beach Police Department! Open up or we’re coming in!”

Scarlet flipped on the light in the bedroom. Her heart was pounding. She felt along for more lights, found one in the hallway, and flipped it on.

“I’m coming,” she called, trying to sound intimidated, when she was more angry than anything. And confused, but that would have to come later.

More pounding and she involuntarily jumped. “LBPD!”

“Coming!” she screamed. She unbolted the front door and opened it.

SWAT lined the small staircase. “We have a warrant.” They pushed in. One officer took her by the arm and pulled her outside to the driveway where he pushed her to her knees.

“Hands behind your back.”

“Hey, you don’t need—“

He patted her down, then cuffed her. It was standard protocol, but that didn’t make her any more comfortable.

“Name,” he said.

“Scarlet Moreno. No need to be rough, I’m complying, okay? What’s going on?”

“Are you alone in the house?”


“Do you live here?”

“No. I’m house sitting.” Oh, God, she had just lied to SWAT. Maybe she should have run out back with Jason.

“Who owns this house?”

“Lea. Jones. She’s a flight attendant. Look, I used to be on the job, tell me what’s happening.”

“What department?”

“LAPD. Van Nuys. Detective, until three years ago.”


“Does it look like I have ID? I was sleeping!”

SWAT cleared the house and a detective approached her.

“Kyle Richardson, LAPD. What’s your name?”

“Uncuff me.”

“Answer my questions.”

She tilted her chin up. “Scarlet Moreno. Private investigator. Former detective with LAPD. If you need my creds, contact my brother, John Moreno. Or better yet, my dad—former LAPD Captain Andy Moreno out of the West Bureau.”

He said, “Do you have ID?”

“In the guest room. Next to my gun and wallet.”

He nodded to one of the SWAT officers, who went back inside. “What are you doing here?”

She sighed, feigning irritation for having to repeat herself. Okay, she was irritated, but she was also nervous. She definitely did not like being on this side of the blue line.

“Maybe I should ask you the same question. LAPD? You’re kind of far from home.”

“Ms. Moreno, the faster you cooperate, the faster I take off those cuffs.”

She wanted to argue, but instead said, “House sitting for Lea.” She prayed if the cops tracked her down, Jason’s sister would cover for her. That Jason could reach her. Scarlet had met her several times, but would she help her brother? That, Scarlet didn’t know.

“Do you know Jason Jones?”

“Sure, he’s Lea’s brother. We grew up in the same neighborhood. He’s LAPD, went through the Academy with my brother.” She paused. “What’s wrong? Did something happen to him? Why do you need SWAT here?”

No answer. An officer came out and handed the detective her gun, wallet and radio. Richardson checked everything, then said, “Uncuff her.”

“About time,” she mumbled.

“What’s this radio for?”

“I’m a private investigator. My partner and I were watching a cheating spouse earlier today, and it’s easier to communicate with a radio.” At least that wasn’t a lie.

She rose, and realized that she was standing in the middle of a dozen cops wearing a T-shirt that barely covered her ass. She was never going to hear the end of this.

“Detective Richardson, can I put some pants on?”

Richardson looked embarrassed. “Yes. Sorry. But we still need to talk.”

“Give me five minutes.”

On Monday, I’ll run a snippet from Laura’s story, RUN!

You can pre-order HIT AND RUN at Amazon, Kobo, and and now NOOK, too!