Blogroll: evolvedworld.com

Review and Excerpt: Double Whammy by Gretchen Archer

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Davis must win this high stakes game before her luck runs out.

Davis Way thinks she’s hit the jackpot when she lands a job as the fifth wheel on an elite security team at the fabulous Bellissimo Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. But once there, she runs straight into her ex-ex husband, a rigged slot machine, her evil twin, and a trail of dead bodies. Davis learns the truth and it does not set her free–in fact, it lands her in the pokey.

Buried under a mistaken identity, unable to seek help from her family, her hot streak runs cold until her landlord Bradley Cole steps in. Make that her landlord, lawyer, and love interest. With his help, Davis must win this high stakes game before her luck runs out.

AVAILABLE as paperback and ebook on Barnes & Noble and Amazon. [Read more...]

Blogroll: CriminalElement.com

Fresh Meat: Double Whammy by Gretchen Archer

DOUBLE WHAMMY Double Whammy by Gretchen Archer is the first Davis Way Crime Caper novel, a humorous mystery set in Biloxi, Mississippi (available May 14, 2013).

Davis Way is divorced from her ex-ex-husband (so, yes, twice divorced from the same guy), unemployed because her father fired her, not getting along with her mother—which is par for the course, and frustrated. It doesn’t look like things can get much worse. After all, how many restraining orders can one girl face?

Things start to look up when she finds a job at the Bellissimo, a casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. The grand hotel offers a chance to start over, with a large paycheck and posh surroundings. After a gazillion interviews, Davis is hired to work undercover security, catching safe-cracking thieves and protecting the casino’s hard-earned gains. However, nothing in the Bellissimo is as straightforward or simple as it seems.

First off, the man who seems to be ripping off the Bellissimo’s biggest slot-game—the Double Whammy—is Davis’s ex-ex-husband.

Double Whammy is the first book in the new Davis Way series, and it is a fun introduction to a smart, funny new character that fans of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum will find refreshing. Davis is a former cop, so she knows the law but she breaks it with impunity. She has no reservations telling her coworkers where to get off, and has an instinct for spotting criminal activities—something the other security officers at the Bellissimo are concerned with:

“What team are you playing for?”I stared into Teeth’s eyes, and found nothing there.

He didn’t intend to move until I gave him an answer.

“Are you asking me if I’m a lesbian?”

He jumped up and the chair went down. “I don’t care if you’re a lesbian.”

He picked the chair up, holding it midair, and I thought he was about to throw it at me. Instead, he righted it and sat back down. In a lower voice he said, “I’m asking if you’re a criminal because you think like one. All. The. Time.”

Archer surrounds Davis with a great cast of side characters that are cherry-picked for making it a killer series. There’s the taxi driver with a mysterious past. A super-sexy landlord. A secretary who knows all the ins-and-outs of the casino (and has great fashion sense). A casino owner with connections to Las Vegas crime families. A father who is the sheriff of a small town. And Davis’s relationship with her mother would need a series of its own to get resolved:

I sucked in some oxygen. I did feel a stab of guilt at the pitiful state of our parents’ marriage, which wasn’t marriagey at all; it was a hostile roommate standoff. The big gridlock was ME, of course—Daddy’s “failure to allow me to suffer repercussions for any of my actions,” and Mother’s “Lack of human compassion for her own child.”(Guess whose side I was on.)

When it comes down to business, though, Davis can figure out puzzles with the best of them. Along with the smaller felonies, like the employees breaking into guests’ safes, Davis has to figure out how her ex-ex-husband, Eddie, is walking away with hundreds of thousands of dollars. The good news for tech-inspired readers is Davis has a degree in computer science. She breaks down a couple of slot machines in her apartment. She hunts people effectively on the Internet. She has epiphanies House-style. Davis Way might be a little crazy, and her personal life might be entirely imaginary, but she’s bright:

There were three computer chips, all soldered to the motherboard inside the slot machine. Two contained game data, and the third was a random number generator. It popped right off, and, as it turned out, wasn’t so random a number generator. That made good sense to me, because if it was completely arbitrary, the casino wouldn’t be able to guarantee that they would make money. Interesting, certainly, but I tossed that chip aside. I was more interested in the two that contained the game data written by Morgan George, Jr.

Her investigations lead her into a world of trouble the Gaming Commission and some Las Vegas heavy hitters. She discovers that the software programmer for the Double Whammy slot machine was murdered in Las Vegas. And two other men who have won jackpots from the Double Whammy are also dead.

Putting two and two together, Davis realizes she has to figure out who is behind the murders or the next person to wind up dead will be her ex-ex.

Davis Way is smart enough and sassy enough to carry a series forward for a long time. Gretchen Archer has developed a setting—a casino in the South—that is both interesting and sprawling enough to have an almost infinite number of criminals walking through its doors, which means Davis Way will probably have a great deal of work to do that won’t stretch the credulity of readers. If you’re in need of a good laugh and some wacky, loving characters after a hard week, you should definitely grab Double Whammy. It’ll make you smile.

See more coverage of new releases in our Fresh Meat series.

For more information, or to buy a copy, visit:

Buy at Powell’s   Buy at Amazon   Buy at Barnes and Noble

Blogroll: Mystery Writing is Murder

Using Pinterest for Pinspiration

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When I first heard of Pinterest, I wanted to cry. Another social networking site to use, learn, master? Can’t be done. It’s asking too much of me.

I can barely handle Twitter and Goodreads, and I’m not on the Facebook or Google Plus, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, StatWatch. (I made that last one up.) However, someone kindly took the time to show me what Pinterest truly was, and once I figured it out, and how it worked for me, I was hooked.

Pinterest is a way to organize all those beautiful pictures you see every day, from the delicious torte you’d love to make (but never will) to the beach you’d love to visit (and hopefully will). And for us creative types, it’s a visual playground of inspiration. In one weekend, I created boards for different aspects of my protagonist’s world. While Elliott Lisbon comes to life on the printed page, she’s viewed in vibrant color on the Pinterest page. [Read more...]

Blogroll: CRIMINALELEMENT.COM – Fresh Meat: Board Stiff by Kendel Lynn

Board Stiff by Kendel Lynn is the first book in the Elliott Lisbon humorous mystery series (available April 30, 2013).

BOARD STIFFAs director of the prestigious Ballantyne Foundation, Elliott Lisbon has her hands full. Not only is it her job to plan fundraisers and vet grant applicants, but the Ballantynes also expect her to fill their shoes as hosts whenever they’re away—a task that is often much trickier than it sounds:

Tod was helping me man the Bash in the absence of the Ballantynes, who were on safari in India. Or maybe it was mountain climbing in Pakistan. They entrusted me with their life’s work while away doing more life’s work. Tonight that included acting as one part host and one part referee.“So what’s up? Is Mr. Abercorn dancing naked on the tables again?”

“Not quite,” Tod said. “You have three fires to put out, though Jane is more of a firestorm of seething lava and flaming fireballs.”

“Don’t be so melodramatic.” I glanced at my watch. It was already past eleven, dreadfully late for a party that started at five. How did I miss seeing Nick Ransom for the last six hours? My lips tingled at the thought of him being so close. Traitors.

Tod snapped his fingers. “Hello, Elliott?”

“Right, melodramatic. Things can’t be that terrible, can they?”

“Jane is beheading board members, Mr. Colbert is serving guests from the canapés stuffed in his pockets, and Mrs. Kramer is singing with the band.”

“That doesn’t sound so bad.”

“They’re in the men’s room.”

Elliott’s also assigned with helping board members solve certain kinds of problems—ones police or press involvement would only serve to complicate. This part of the job is usually a piece of cake for Elliott; she does have a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice, after all, and is in the process of becoming a licensed PI, to boot. But Sam Spade, she’s not (at least not yet), so when the Ballantynes task her with solving the murder of eccentric board member Leo Hirschorn and exonerating prime suspect (and board chairwoman) Jane Hatting, she understandably balks at the request:

“About Jane,” Mr. Ballantyne continued. “I’m going to need your help sorting things out with the police.”“How can you possibly know about Jane? I heard not ten minutes ago.”

“The chief phoned me this morning, and I’ve just hung up with Jane. She assures me she has nothing to do with Leo’s murder, nothing at all, Elli, and I believe her. I need you on this one; I’m counting on your expertise. You’ve helped many a donor out of a pickle before, you can do it again!”

“But Mr. Ballantyne, this is a murder. I’m afraid I don’t have much expertise with those.” As I protested, my mind raced. I grabbed my notebook and started listing questions from yesterday’s excursion to Leo’s house: Why the mess? Where was Bebe?

“You can do it, my girl! Clear your plate. This is your top priority, your top priority, Elli. We owe Leo and we owe our Jane. I know you won’t disappoint me!”

I scribbled as we spoke: Police suspect Jane. Why? “I suppose I could poke around a bit. I don’t have any other inquiries at the moment.” How much harder could this be? A stolen golf cart, a missing brooch, a man shoved into a clock…My heart sank a bit as I thought of Leo. He definitely deserved better.

The Ballantynes have every faith Elliott can accomplish the task at hand, but Elliott suspects Leo’s murder will be more difficult to solve than the other cases she’s tackled. And as it turns out, she’s right. Her “client” is less than cooperative:

“Hi, Jane, it’s Elliott. Do you have a minute?”“No, Elliott, I don’t.”

“Great. I spent the afternoon with Leo’s neighbors. It seems you neglected to mention you were at Leo’s house the night of the murder.”

“Are you still pretending to be an investigator? I’m going to talk to Edward. You have too much time on your hands.”

“You didn’t answer my question.”

“You didn’t ask one, Nancy Drew. Care to try again? I should warn you, I may hang up at any time.”

I spoke slowly. “Jane. Why didn’t you tell me. You were at Leo’s. On Saturday. After the party?”

“Because I wasn’t there. If you’ll excuse me—”

“No, I won’t excuse you. Leo’s neighbor saw you, Jane. Saw. You. Black Sebring, scarf in your hair, speeding away from the murder scene. A witness.”

“That’s ridiculous. That police detective tried to pull this same stunt at the station. The neighbor is obviously lying. I wasn’t there. Period.”

“Then where were you?”

“Look, Elliott, I’m not interested in playing this game with you.”

“It’s not a game. I’m trying to help you. I’m the only person trying to help you.”

“You’ll have to try harder than this,” she said and hung up on me.

The local police force—of which her ex-boyfriend is a member—seems determined to freeze Elliott out:

“Now, if you’ve finished mocking me, I’d like to get back to work.”He slowly picked up his jacket. “I’m not mocking you, Elliott. I’m serious. This investigation doesn’t concern you.”

“Have you not been listening? Of course it concerns me. You are questioning one board member about the murder of another. This isn’t a job, Ransom, it’s my life. The Ballantynes treat me like a daughter; they’re my only family. They were there for me when my parents died. You left. They were all I had. I won’t let you shred their reputation while you witch hunt my board. Besides, your chief called my chief last night.” I stabbed his chest with my finger. Twice. “I’m in this.”

Ransom stepped forward, his jaw tight. “What did you say?”

“Mr. Ballantyne asked me to find out who killed Leo Hirschorn and I’m going to.” So maybe not exactly what Mr. Ballantyne asked, I thought, but close enough. The extra investigation hours could go toward my PI license, and that also helped the Ballantynes. “I don’t answer to you. We’ve always had the cooperation of the Sea Pine Police, and based on my phone call, this won’t be any different.”

“It will be on my terms,” he said, an edge in his voice.

“If you’d like to think that, have at it. Now, when I said afternoons spent by the pool, I didn’t mean me. I have a job.” I walked along the path by the garden toward the front. “I really liked Lieutenant Sully,” I muttered.

“Maybe you’ll like me, too,” he said over my shoulder. “Just stay out of my way and we’ll be fine.”

“You do the same, Lieutenant.”

Her love life is in shambles (which proves more than a little distracting):

I placed my palm on his chest to push him back. I met a warm brick wall covered in silk. “Stop. We’re not doing this here.”“Doing what?” Matty asked, walking up to us. I dropped my hand, startled. “Hey Matty.”

Ransom remained two inches from me, but stretched out his hand to Matty. “Lieutenant Nick Ransom, Island Police Department, former Special Agent FBI. Ex-boyfriend and new neighbor of Red’s.”

“Mattias Gannon, Headmaster of Seabrook Prep,” Matty said. “And a very close friend of Elli’s.”

They shook hands. They held on too long. The men were nearly the same height and their eyes locked together tighter than their hands. Seconds ticked by, then they finally released.

“Well, I’m glad we cleared that up,” I said.

It was kind of interesting, actually. To see men stripped down to their natural competitive instincts. Both vying for the top prize. Which I think was me in this bizarre scenario, considering neither man actually wanted me. Matty and I weren’t even dating and Ransom had a girlfriend.

I put my hand on Matty’s arm. “We should be getting back.” I wanted to get out of there before the tension swallowed me whole.

Ransom tipped his head. “Of course. Have a good night.”

I felt his eyes searing into my backside as I steered Matty through the lobby and over to our table. The waiter had delivered fresh pots of coffee and slices of pineapple upside-down cake while we were gone. A perfectly centered pineapple ring and cherry topped each one. Pete and Kyra had already finished; only crumbs remained on their pale blue saucers.

“You failed to mention your new neighbor is your ex-boyfriend,” Matty said. He chopped off a slice of his cake, but didn’t eat it.

“He’s not my ex-boyfriend, Matty. We spent one night together. Maybe five. Well, not like the whole night, every night. We kissed, made out, rounded a few bases.” Jesus, Elliott, what are you saying? I stuffed a piece of cake in my mouth.

Matty wouldn’t even look at me. I felt my cheeks pink up.

Which made me think of Ransom, which made them pink up another shade. Five more minutes and my head would explode.

“What did you mean by ‘we’re not doing this here’?”

“I didn’t mean anything, Matty. He’s probably on a date for Pete’s sake.”

“You’re on a date for Pete’s sake.”

A date? The stomach slivers returned. How did I miss that signal?

And then there are the other assorted and sundry hiccups she encounters over the course of her inquest:

I went to grab my handbag from the dining room and noticed it sat on a massive glob of puff paint. The entire back side was soaked in blue and stuck to the table. Like dried macaroni on a pencil cup. With a solid yank, the purse came loose but my elbow cracked into the Cookie Corral. It toppled to the floor, hitting the wall on its way down.Holy shit and OH MY GOD.

Dust floated everywhere and covered everything. The carpet, the drapes, the table, the wall. I started to choke. Air and sound battled for release. Breathe or scream? Breathe or scream? Panic crept from my toes to my fingertips. I stared at a large broken shard covered in Leo dust.

My fingers shook. I couldn’t think and I couldn’t look away.

The dust on the floor wasn’t dust. It was Leo. Literally Leo.

Ten seconds slid by, then twenty. I stared in horror, torn between doing the right thing and the wrong thing. Only I had no idea which was the right thing and which was the wrong. Other than Bebe simply could not find out about this. Nor could Mr. Ballantyne. Or any person I ever met, saw, or even thought about.

When it comes right down to it, though, the Ballantynes were right to put their faith in Elliott. Elliott’s not just a charity director or a social host or a disastrous dater or a fledgling private eye—she’s all of these things. Elliott Lisbon is a Renaissance woman, dammit, and that makes her uniquely suited for the task at hand. Renaissance women know how to throw good parties, but as it turns out, they’re also perfectly capable of catching cold-blooded killers; it simply takes determination and a little chutzpah—two things the Ballantyne Foundation’s director has in spades.

For more information, or to buy a copy, visit:

Buy at Powell’s   Buy at IndieBound!   Buy at Amazon

 

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Announcing the WINNER of our PIN IT to WIN IT Contest

8c51738240e8e4702d4cd03e792b5ae3And the winner is…Kathy Main! She won this week’s Pin It to Win It Book Hunt Contest for Christina Freeburn’s CROPPED TO DEATH. Kathy’s Pinterest board shows the coolest grandmothers – from sweet to sassy! We loved it, but don’t just take our word for it. Check it out here: http://pinterest.com/tink1216/cropped-to-death/ 

PRIZES! not just praise – Congratulations to Kathy who will receive $50 Visa gift card, 3 Henery Press eCards, a Henery Press coffee mug, an ARC of our latest release, plus a spotlight right here on our blog.

 Honorable mention goes to both Gena Rasmussen and Connie Schulz – love those grandmas…

 Thanks to everyone who participated. What a blast to look through all the boards! Faith’s scrappy world really came to life through some truly creative pinning. We hope you had just as much fun as we did perusing and pinning! 

Blogroll: Style Weekly

Murder(s) She Wrote

Richmond author LynDee Walker’s humorous thriller turns heads

 arts_culture2-1Who but a journalist could stroll along the leafy streets of the Fan and the lazy banks of the James River and see nothing but high-level crime rings and half a dozen bodies hidden in the shadows?

For LynDee Walker, a Texas-bred reporter turned fiction writer who lives in Richmond with her family, those thoughts are all in a day’s work. Walker’s recently released light thriller, “Front Page Fatality,” portrays Richmond caught in a web of intrigue, which hungry young journalist Nichelle Clarke is eager to untangle before she gets ensnared.

Since its late-January release, “Front Page Fatality” — the first of three books and a novella contracted by Texas publisher Henery Press — has caused a stir, shooting to a peak of No. 1 on Amazon’s new-humor list, fifth on its humor list, and 10th on its mystery list. No one is more shocked than Walker. [Read more...]

Blogroll: Kirkus review of LAST DINER STANDING

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 

LAST DINER STANDINGA waitress helps a friend charged with assaulting her worthless ex-husband.

Rose Strickland (Diners, Dives & Dead Ends, 2012) is having a hard time getting into the holiday spirit this year. As always, her mother is full of advice about the careers she could pursue if she just had the ambition to do more than sling hash at Ma’s Diner. Meanwhile, Ma’s stepped up the pace by going head-to-head with Rudy’s Roundup. Since Rudy’s been muscling in on Ma’s early morning business, Ma abandons her breakfast-only policy, producing a dizzying array of lunch specials that run Rose and her best friend, Roxy Block, off their feet without generating an extra dime in tips. Then, Janelle Johnson, Rose’s study buddy from Huntingford City College, calls to say that someone beat up her ex-husband right after Janelle came by to hit him up for child support and throw a little furniture around too. Now, Sheik “Asshat” Johnson is in a coma, and Janelle’s in the slammer. Rose looks for other suspects, starting with Crystal Waters, the stripper whose appearance in Janelle’s bed sent her marriage to the showers. She unearths many prospects, including Crystal’s other boyfriend, Sheik’s other lovers and the other lovers’ boyfriends. The clue that sends Rose careening, though, is a pile of pictures stashed at Sheik’s apartment of Thomas Sullivan, the bad boy who makes Rose’s pulse beat faster. Rose is convinced that Sheik’s criminal connections, not his ex’s wrath, put him out for the count. But convincing hard-assed Officer Andre Thomas and cute Officer Mike Goedecker may be even harder than convincing Ma to go back to bacon and eggs.  Austin’s second course has the menu of feisty underemployed gal detective with a side order of romance down pat.

Blogroll: Literary, etc

Book Review: LynDee Walker’s Front Page Fatality by Jessica

 

FRONT PAGE FATALITYTitle: Front Page Fatality
Author: LynDee Walker
Genre: Mystery
Series: Yes / Book 1
Rating: 5 out of 5

Richmond Telegraph crime reporter, Nichelle Clark, dreams of working for The Washington Post, however; she has yet to make an impression on them. Steadily working her beat, she’s never far from her police scanner in hopes of chasing the story that will give her the break she needs. When a drug dealer is found murdered, police are quick to assume it was a vigilante behind it, but nothing about the crime scene makes sense. Nichelle’s given a key piece of evidence and begins some overwhelming research, only to realize that everything is not what it seems to be. [Read more...]

PIN IT to WIN IT Starts TODAY!

It’s another Pin It to Win It Book Hunt – this time for LAST DINER STANDING! Here’s how it works: Pop over to our Pinterest board , repin the LAST DINER STANDING Pin It to Win It image, then using the list and instructions on the pin, create a board with all your found goodies! After that, just cross your chicken fingers that you’ll win the prizes (good prizes, too).

This contest runs until March 10, and we’ll announce the winner on March 12. Pretty cool, right? If you love Pinterest, or have been itching to try it (beware: it is ADDICTING), now’s your chance to showcase your scavenger hunting talent. And then WIN!

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Blogroll: Jerrie Alexadner | Dark, Gritty and Emotionally-Packed Romantic Suspense

Wednesday Coffee with LynDee Walker

LYNDEE WALKER

Welcome LynDee Walker! I’m thrilled to have you over today. Kick back and tell us all your secrets.

Thanks for having me, Jerrie! I really enjoy reading your blog and am glad to be here.

Tell us about your new release.

The book is a humorous mystery with sassy, smart heroine who is a lot of fun to write. Nichelle is a reporter who gets herself into more than she was really looking for when she starts poking around in a crime story that doesn’t add up. Plus, there are sexy men, shoes, and chocolate.

You write with a sense of humor, which I think is a true art form. What made you pick this genre?

I’m not sure I picked it—at least, not consciously. I read a lot of humorous mystery: Laura Levine’s Jaine Austen mysteries are some of my favorite books, and have been for years. When I started writing about Nichelle, I really didn’t know what kind of story it was going to turn out to be, but the funny elements have always been there. I love to read books that can make me laugh, so that’s what I wanted to write. The early drafts had a lot more romance, though. It wasn’t until I was revising that I figured out it was a mystery.

Where do you find story ideas?

A lot of the ones in Front Page came from my experience as a reporter, but I made them a little more interesting or funny.

How do you research for your novels?

I am on a first-name basis with Google (and probably on some sort of watch list for serial killers for some of my search terms). When I can’t find what I need online, I interview people.

What about your current release excites you the most?

Everything! It’s my first novel, so just the idea that people will read it and it might make someone laugh or make their day a little better is very exciting.

Do you set daily expectations or goals for your writing?

I try to hit at least 1,000 words a day, on average, and to write every day.

What do you know now that you wished you’d known when you started writing?

That fiction is a tough business! I worked in the news business for almost a decade and I have a pretty thick skin, but fiction publishing is a whole different beast. I took a break from querying for an entire year before I finally sold Front Page Fatality, and I think it really helped me gain perspective. Often, writers get so miserable in the query-go-round, they forget why they started writing in the first place. In that year, I wrote a whole other book, and rediscovered what I loved about writing. I think that also strengthened my skills, which helped when I went in to revise Front Page Fatality again.

Do you ever hit the wall or find you’ve written yourself into a corner? How do you turn that around?

All. The. Time. I plot out my mysteries (usually backward), but when it comes to the rest of the story, I’m a total pantser. So I find myself following rabbit trails that turn out to be ridiculous and won’t work in the story. I fix it by cutting the parts that don’t go. I’ve learned that you can’t get too attached to a particular scene or subplot, because that makes it hard to ax it.

Okay…enough with the business stuff! How about some personal insider info.

When you’re not writing or reading, what would we find you doing?

Playing with my little ones, drinking coffee, reading, or eating Mexican food. Or occasionally, sleeping.

Favorite food or recipe?

My all-time favorite food ever is my mother’s cornbread. She made it in a cast-iron skillet with sugar and Crisco, and it was legendary. Seriously. People talked about it in eulogies at her funeral. Unfortunately, no matter how many times she showed me, I never learned how to make it right. But I keep trying.

Do you have a pet? Cat or dog?

I have a six-pound toy pomeranian, and we think she’s the most awesome dog ever. Her name is Scarlett.

Tell us one thing about you that might surprise us…it can be a secret…we won’t tell. :)

Oh, goodness! I’m a reporter at heart, and as such, I’m lousy at keeping secrets. Let’s see … okay here’s something that people might not guess from reading my work: I’m a total Disney nerd. I have always loved the movies (Pooh bear is my favorite) and my husband took me to the parks for the very first time on our first wedding anniversary. It was on my “I want to do this before we have a baby” list, because I’d never been for myself. Now, we take the monkeys about every other year, and as much fun as it is for them, it’s more fun for me. I love the colors and the sounds and the food and the characters. I’m one of those people who could actually be happy going to Disney World every day.

FRONT PAGE FATALITY Blurb:

Crime reporter Nichelle Clarke’s days can flip from macabre to comical with a beep of her police scanner. Then an ordinary accident story turns extraordinary when evidence goes missing, a prosecutor vanishes, and a sexy Mafia boss shows up with the headline tip of a lifetime. As Nichelle gets closer to the truth, her story gets more dangerous. Armed with a notebook, a hunch, and her favorite stilettos, Nichelle races to splash these shady dealings across the front page before this deadline becomes her last.

Excerpt:

“Sweet cartwheeling Jesus. Let’s go see what else we can find out,” I said. “Kiss your Saturday goodbye, Mr. Columnist. You’re going to be at the office tomorrow.” And so was I. So much for my leisurely weekend.

I turned to dive back into the crowd in search of Aaron and mid-whirl, I noticed Jenna standing there, still and surprised. Her eyes were doing that white-all-around thing again.

“People died out there?” she squeaked.

I patted her hand. “You want to go back to the car?”

“No.” She squared her small shoulders and gripped my arm a little tighter. “I want to go to work with you.”

I turned back to Parker. “Grant Parker, this is my friend Jenna Rowe. This wreck crashed girls’ night. She drank too much tequila, but she’s very excited to see the glamorous world of journalism up close.”

“The best way to do that is after too much tequila,” he said. “Nice to meet you, Jenna.”

The thin fingers around my arm dug in tighter, and I didn’t think their owner was breathing. I elbowed her lightly in the ribs, rolling my eyes. Her forceful exhale sounded like a sigh as she gazed at Parker.

“I really love your column,” she lied. Jenna hated sports in any incarnation. She was already bemoaning the start of Gabby’s soccer season, and it was three months away.

“Thank you.” He smiled.

We moved through the crowd as a unit until I saw a familiar face.

“Mike!” I waved at Sergeant Sorrel from the narcotics unit.

“Nichelle,” he said, turning from the water to face me when I stopped next to him. “Where’ve you been? You missed the TV crews. They all left about twenty minutes ago.”

Damn. Charlie no doubt drank her margaritas with her scanner in her lap.

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