Title: THE SQUEAKY WHEEL GETS SNUFFED
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Word Count: 82,000
A dead body hangs chained to the door of Fred’s Burger Joint. Dez and Isabel are determined to catch the culprit. And Vicki has new shoes.
It’s just another day in the not-so-ordinary town of Amaia, Arizona, where the world’s master criminals have convened to retire and “get away from it all”. There’s Freddy Kerlitz, the mob hit man turned restaurateur. The Amaia town librarian is Eva Krestyanov, retired Russian “diplomat” from the heyday of the KGB. And don’t forget about Lex Pragner, the former ax murderer who now owns the town inn.
So when former eco-terrorist Jillian Harris is murdered, the suspect list is, well, the town phone book. Except for Dez, Isabel and Vicki, three younger members of the church choir and the only women in town without a criminal history, unless you consider lusting after your neighbor’s shoes a crime. While Mayor Oakes has his mind set on finding the villain through the application of baseball bat to kneecap, Dez, Isabel and Vicki – dubbed the “Choir Brigade” – opt for a more humane approach. To protect the kneecaps of all Amaians and to prevent a generally undesirable visit from the real police, the Choir Brigade volunteers to investigate.
With droll wit, friendship and a possibly unhealthy love for shoes on their side, the Choir Brigade sets off on an adventure to unmask a murderer and save the day… and not die in the process.
The whole unpleasant business began one Wednesday evening with a simple announcement at choir practice. The choir regulars were gathered already – the O’Gaffneys, Eva, Sophie and Lex, along with Isabel the pastor’s wife, Dez the artist and Vicki the choir director. Berkeley Halliwell arrived late as he always did, bringing the news with him. He didn’t know it at the time, but still he was the harbinger of the proverbial shot heard… throughout the small town of Amaia.
Jillian Harris was back in town.
Though the statement was unassuming enough, it was met with gasps and sighs. But since Amaia was a town of extremes, the dramatic response coincided perfectly with that which was considered socially acceptable. Everyone reacted and everyone was especially curious, because everyone had known Jillian Harris.
“Wait, who’s Jillian Harris?”
Almost everyone had known Jillian Harris.
“Seriously, who is she?” Vicki the choir director asked again, as she gathered her hair in a loose ponytail. A young mother and talented pianist, she was relatively new to Amaia and was yet unacquainted with much of the history that might also be called “gossip”, which as natural as homemade chicken pot pie in a small town.
“She was a pain in the…” Lex Pragner stopped short and cleared his throat. He owned and operated the Arbogast Inn – Amaia’s only hotel – and sometimes spent so much time alone there that he forgot his manners. But he remembered them just in time. His gray eyes sparked as he self-edited his comment. “She was a handful.”