If you love humor and mysteries, allow me to introduce you to Gayle Carline, who does both brilliantly:
Hi, all. My friend, Jenny has allowed me a little space on her blog to run a contest for my new book, THE HOT MESS. If you clicked through from the other blogs, you’ve come to the right place.
It’s the third book in my Peri Minneopa Mystery series. Peri is a housecleaner-turned-detective, who traded in her dustmop for a PI license. Surveillance and background checks are easy money, unless you’re getting chased, beaten, or shot—which seems to happen to her a lot.
In THE HOT MESS, Peri is asked to investigate a case of arson and murder. It’s not exactly on her menu of services, but she agrees to help her friend. What she uncovers are family secrets… and danger.
Here are the rules: There are excerpts from the book on this and four other blogs (see below). Visit my blog on Monday, November 26th, and I’ll ask five questions, the answers to which can be found in these five excerpts. The first person who answers all five correctly gets a free copy of THE HOT MESS, either e-book or paperback. I’m feeling so good about everything right now, I might even give out more free copies.
Peri stood at the corner of Morse Avenue and Angelina Drive, gaping at what she saw. A house, previously aflame, now belched smoke and expelled rivers of murky water. The acrid smell ate at her sinuses and assaulted her eyes. It was not a good beginning to the day.
She’d started her morning with a two-mile run. It was not her favorite time of day, but she had a new client coming at ten o’clock and the southern California afternoon would be too warm for jogging. At fifty, she felt she sweated plenty without external encouragement.
The smell had hit her first, followed by the sight of smoke. A private investigator’s job is to be curious, so she trotted toward the source and saw fire engines pulling out of Morse Avenue onto Kraemer Boulevard. Two police cars were at the corner, officers directing traffic away from the scene. Fortunately, it was already mid-June; the elementary school down the street was out for the summer, so the police didn’t have to re-route frazzled parents.
Now she stood and looked at the devastation. She wanted to cry and it wasn’t even her house.
It belonged to Benny Needles.
Benny was a one-time client, part-time assistant, and full-time needy little man with a big obsession with Dean Martin. He had spent the last couple of years running through his inheritance, stuffing his house with Dino items he bought on eBay.
Peri was never sure whether he was actually a hoarder. While his house was so full it was difficult to move around, it was full of specific things. Tables, chairs, and sofas from the sets of Dean Martin movies littered the living room. Posters, and photographs, all signed, were on the walls. And then there were the tchotchkes—ashtrays, barware, even an ice cube tray that had been the center of Peri’s first murder case.
She wanted to get a closer look at the damage, but she wasn’t certain if the police would let her past the barricade. She knew everyone in the Placentia Police Department, so she surveyed all the uniforms, hoping to see someone who didn’t view her as a buttinski private eye. Officer Chou was on his phone. A friendly face, he smiled and motioned her over.
She adjusted her ball cap over her blonde ponytail and approached the group.
“Hey, Peri,” he said after he ended his call. “I was just talking to Detective Carlton. He’s on his way here.”
She smiled. If Chou couldn’t let her pass, Skip Carlton might. For one thing, he was a reasonable man. For another, she’d been dating Skip for ten years. But why was he needed on the scene?
“For a house fire?”
“House fire’s not the problem. The body inside is.” Officer Chou looked worried. “I’m assuming it’s Benny.”
“No.” Peri shook her head. “I happen to know he’s out of town this week. It’s Dean Martin’s birthday, and he went with Phil and Nancy Nickels to some town in Ohio. Dino’s birthplace and all that.”
“It’s nice you keep tabs on him.”
“Not really. I’m watching the Nickels’ cat.”
When his owners died, the orange tabby named Mr. Mustard had been adopted by the Nickelses, along with Benny to some extent. In keeping with his Dino-centricities, Benny had re-christened the cat Matt Helm. They were ready to send Matt to a boarding facility, but Benny had insisted on keeping him at home.
“He’ll miss his stuff too much,” he told them.
When they wondered how he could stay alone in the house for a week, Benny had the answer at his fingertips: “Ask Miss Peri. She loves Matt Helm.”
Peri moved past Officer Chou to take a good look at the house. The two-story home next to the church had fallen into disrepair, due to Benny’s inattention. His mother had maintained an immaculate curiosity. Salmon pink paint with cobalt blue trim, its white picket fence enclosed a neat little garden, guarded by two rather whimsical gnomes. Since his mother’s death, nothing had been painted, or even refreshed. Even the gnomes looked depressed.
Now there was a hole in the roof, over the living room, ragged edges tipped in black. The front window was shattered. Everything dripped of dirty water and debris. Black stripes tattooed the front door.
* * *
The other blog sites are:
Our own adorable Andrew Kaufman, http://www.andrewekaufman.blogspot.com/
The fierce but friendly Michele Scott, http://adventuresnwriting.blogspot.com/
A sweet cozy writer Teresa Trent, http://teresatrent.wordpress.com/
Mr. All-Things-Dean-Martin, http://ilovedinomartin.blogspot.com/
When you’ve visited them, come on over on Monday and see me at http://gaylecarline.blogspot.com/