Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Thursday Excerpt - Killer Career

A topic in Morgan Mandel's third novel, Killer Career is quitting your day job. Morgan still has hers. She puts her experience as an administrative assistant at a workers' compensation law firm to use in this book's setting. The excerpt below, taken from the 12th chapter, provides a short glimpse into the workers' comp world.

The chapter also illustrates how even a gorgeous day can turn deadly. A side issue here is Julie's fear of elevators and closed-in places. Her phobia becomes a major part of the plot later in the book.

From "Killer Career" by Morgan Mandel

Julie sighed. Vacation must wait until she waded through the mounds of paperwork which claimed her attention. Legal descriptions to examine, trials to get ready, new cases to consider, telephone messages to answer, her duties were endless. Would she ever break loose?

She needed to remind Dade to look for a partner. He seemed to be ignoring the inevitable, as if that would make her stay longer. He had to accept she couldn’t go on like this. It wasn’t her anymore.

She’d driven downtown early his morning instead of relaxing on the train, since she’d be working late again.

Julie swung the top of the holder closed and took a deep breath. In a few minutes she’d tear herself away from the office and trek to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission where she’d fight for her clients’ rights. Before that, she’d relax a few more minutes, enjoy the loons on the paperclip holder, and think good thoughts.

Like how in a few days she’d be at the workshop. Delicious anticipation shot through her at the thought. She loved the learning process and could hardly wait to incorporate some of it in her book. Also, she had to admit Jensen’s continued interest in her was flattering.

It was fun daydreaming and not thinking of chores. With her mind still in the clouds, she grabbed her briefcase and told Dee she’d be back around noon.

As she stepped into the dreaded elevator and the doors closed behind her, the familiar helpless feeling rushed over her, making her feel faint. The slow descent began. Would the torture every stop?

It wouldn’t hurt to adopt Jensen’s advice. Transferring her fears to the typewritten page would be daring, but ignoring them hadn’t helped. As soon as she got a chance, she’d explore that possibility.

As the doors swung open on the ground floor, she breathed a sigh of relief. She’d made it. She was safe.

* * *

Julie was almost in front of the Thompson Building, when her cell phone rang.

“I’m sorry to bother you, but do you know where Dade is,” Pam, the receptionist asked.

“He didn’t say anything to me. What’s the problem?”

“Mr. Burns says Dade was supposed to meet him an hour ago at the Commission about an offer, but he hasn’t shown up. I can’t reach him on his cell.”

“The client may have gotten the date wrong. Dade’s good at remembering appointments. Just in case, I’ll look around for him inside. If I see him, I’ll let you know. Don’t worry, he’ll show up.”

As she replaced the phone in her purse, she smilingly admired the play of sunlight across the glass panes of the octagonal architecture of the James R. Thompson Center, which housed the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. On such a gorgeous July day, nothing could go wrong. Sure, she had tons of work and it might take a while to follow her dream, but she’d survive.

Another good thing was her dizzy spells had vanished. They’d probably been caused by overwork. That situation wouldn’t last forever. Her goal was within reach.

She just knew she’d win all of her cases today.

Stop woolgathering, she told herself, using a favorite phrase of her mother’s.

Upstairs on the eighth floor, she glanced around for Dade but didn’t see him. Just in case he turned up, she left a message with the receptionist for him to call the office. She called Pam back and told her what she’d done. After that, she gathered her client, Danny Devers, out of the waiting room. “Let’s go get ‘em,” she said.

He flashed her a timid smile.

“Don’t be nervous. Just tell the truth.”

The man had a good case. They’d get through in no time.

Her prediction proved correct. It wasn’t long before Julie smilingly sent her client on his way. She sailed through the next case as well, then strolled across the concourse to look for Dade. She didn’t see him in the hallway, meeting rooms or the downstairs eating area where the attorneys often met to hash over cases. He must have already gone back to the office.

She may as well head back too. When she saw him, she’d learn soon enough how the mix-up had occurred.

As soon as Julie stepped into the office, Pam’s frantic voice greeted her. “You didn’t see Dade at all at the Commission?”

“No. You mean he still hasn’t called?”

Pam shook her head. “He never did. I don’t know where he is. The phones are going crazy. What do I tell the clients?”

“Just say he’s at an emergency trial and will get back to them.”

Julie frowned. A strange uneasiness gripped her, making her terrific mood evaporate. Dade was meticulous about advising the office of his whereabouts. Something was wrong.

Her steps quickened. Even before she reached her desk, she grabbed her cell phone from her purse and punched the quick dial. “Be there,” she said.

It didn’t even ring. Strange. If the telephone were out of range, at least his voice mail should kick in. Maybe his phone was broken.

Or maybe his mom was sick and he had to rush her to the hospital and didn’t have time to call. No, it couldn’t be that. Marcia and Avery had gone to Wisconsin. They wouldn’t be back for a week.

Now what to do? Julie glanced at her watch. It was past one. Maybe she was being an alarmist, but she couldn’t help it. What if Dade had fallen and banged his head in the shower this morning. His life’s blood could be flowing out of him while he hung on, hoping to be rescued. God forbid, it might already be too late.

She called the operator and asked for his condominium’s office. Once she was connected, she requested a well being check. Ten minutes of pacing passed. Julie was about to dial back when Dee’s voice rang over the intercom, “There’s a Linda, from Dade’s building on line nine.”

Julie snatched up the receiver. “Is he all right?”

Thanks for letting me share a portion of my book with your readers, Diane.
Morgan Mandel

Website - Morgan Mandel
Blog - Morgan Mandel


  1. Thanks for sharing an excerpt, Morgan! Killer Career sounds intriguing.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  2. I'm glad you like my baby so far, Elizabeth.

    Diane, thanks for sharing your blogspot with me today.

    Morgan Mandel

  3. Great excerpt. Draws the reader right in.

  4. Hi L. Diane and Morgan~

    Great excerpt. I know a lot of people with fears of elevators-super concept...nice read. Can't wait to read KILLER CAREER.


  5. I enjoyed the read, Morgan. And I so identified with her fear of elevators. Still have to grit my teeth to ride in one of those.

  6. Okay - is he all right? I know, I know... I have to buy the book. It's already on my list. Enjoyed the excerpt.

  7. You're welcome, Morgan! Always happy to promote a friend.

  8. Morgan--good ending! And the fear in the elevator--not me, my best friend--she stands right in front of the door so she can bolt out the second it opens. I enjoyed this little bit of your novel. Celia

  9. Wow, elevator fears seem more common than I thought. I hate the ones that go up way high and start shaking, like at the Sears, oops, now called Willis Center. Also, the really small ones that go real slow and seem like a coffin. The on in my work building is fine and most other ones for me. A bigger hangup of mine is escalators. If it's a really high one, I'll take the elevator instead.

    I'm glad you guys are liking the suspense.

    Morgan Mandel

  10. Hi Morgan, pencil me in as one who doesn't trust elevators. So much could go wrong, including having the doors slam shut before I can get on (happens at the local mall and Disneyland parking structure all the time) to getting stuck shoulder-to-shoulder with a group of weird looking strangers.

    And then the ultimate fear, getting stuck with a mime. Just you and a mime. What could be more terrifying? An insurance salesman, maybe.

    Stephen Tremp

  11. Good excerpt, Morgan. Really need to know what happened to Dade, which is the point, right. :-)

    I am not afraid of elevators, but used to be terrified of escalators when I was a child. Thought I would get sucked into the top where the stairs disappear.

  12. Stephen - where did you ever come up with the mime thought? You do have a great imagination!

    I've gotten stuck in the elevator at work a few times, but we managed to pry open the doors. Not recently. The ones at work still don't bother me.

    Morgan Mandel

  13. Killer excerpt, Morgan! Another fine stop on your tour - fun to watch a pro do it. Thanks Daine, too. :)

    Marvin D Wilson

  14. Ah, the tension builds! Good job, Morgan.

    Bob Sanchez

  15. I just read this part last night! I have only about 60 pages to go.

  16. Hi Morgan, the excerpt was sensational. This is a great idea. Makes you really want to rush out and get the book. Great writing.
    Thank you,
    Jo Ann Hernandez
    BronzeWord Latino Authors

  17. Glad you guys like the excerpt. I could have used the first chapter, but I wanted something a little more suspenseful.

    Keep reading, Debra. (g)

    Morgan Mandel

  18. Is it weird that I don't like escalators? :)

    Great excerpt!

  19. Now I don't feel so bad. I'm not the only one who doesn't like escalators.

    Morgan Mandel

  20. Great excerpt. I look forward to reading the book.

    When I was little, I had a deathly fear of escalators so I insisted on taking elevators or stairs. I thought I'd fall down and have my fingers cut off.

    I guess a lot of us have phobias.

  21. I really thought it was unusual that I don't care for escalators. I guess not.

    Morgan Mandel

  22. Wow! Talk about perfect timing for this title!
    Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Author of the multi award-winning The Frugal Book Promoter

  23. I'm all for frugal book promoting!

    Morgan Mandel

  24. Way to end a chapter Morgan! I tried to turn the page to find out if he was okay - my pc did not respond well!


  25. Well now, I gotta read it!!

  26. I'm glad I kept some of you guessing. That's the idea.

    Morgan Mandel