Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Book 3 - The Haunted Heist - by Angie Fox!

I kept both hands on the soaking wet skunk in my kitchen sink while a small tsunami of water sloshed over the front of my pink sweater set and white jeans. Bath time wasn’t Lucy’s favorite recreational activity, and by extension it wasn’t mine, either. As I readjusted my grip, she braced her back legs for a wild leap onto the counter. “Lucy,” I admonished, nudging an eggshell off her petite, velvety ear, “it wasn’t my idea for you to go digging in the compost bin.” She grunted and wriggled while I slid her into a soft mound of soap bubbles and washed day-old banana off her cheeks. My little girl loved fruit and would take it any way she could get it. “You’re almost done,” I told her, rinsing the double white stripe on her back with the hand spout while she tried to eat a soap bubble. I nearly had her calm when the spirit of my
gangster housemate shimmered into view next to me. Frankie “The German” appeared in black and white, like an old movie, but I could see through him. Almost. Lucy jerked at the presence of the ghost and launched into a rolling twist that soaked me to my elbows. “Lucille Désirée Long,” I warned, regaining my grip on her. 
Frankie smoothed his 1920s-style pinstripe suit and straightened his fat tie. His long face and sharp nose made him appear every bit the utterly ruthless gangster he had been when he was alive. It would have scared me if I didn’t know him. 
“We got company.” The ghost cocked his head, and I heard the faint crunch of gravel. “A black sedan creeping down the side drive.” 
Strange. “I wasn’t expecting anyone.” 
“I got this,” he said, shoulders stiffening as he drew a revolver out of his coat pocket. 
“Frankie, wait—” It was eight in the morning. I doubted we were under attack. Frankie ducked through the back wall and out onto the porch. Lucy used my split second of distraction to break for the counter. She made it halfway across before I snagged a clean towel off the kitchen island and captured her behind the toaster. I snuggled my skunk close and towel dried her fur as I peeked out the window over the sink. A black Mercedes parked out back. 
My friend Lauralee sat in the passenger seat. Frankie holstered his gun when he saw her exit the car. 
I gripped my skunk a little tighter when Lauralee’s uncle Reggie, the big-time banker, emerged from the driver’s side. Here I stood, drenched in skunk water, with one of the most powerful men in Sugarland about to knock on my door. Lauralee had seen me at my worst, but Reggie was another matter. He’d never encountered me in anything more casual than a summer dress at a picnic. I set Lucy down on the floor. Her wet fur stood out at all angles around her scrawny little body. She appeared half her usual size when wet. “Oh my, sweetie. 
We’ve got to fix this,” I told her. Not her hair or mine. Those were lost causes. But I could still put the last of the coffee on and then raid the laundry room for a dry sweater. I was on my way to dig through my laundry pile of limited options when a horrible sight stopped me in my tracks. 
In all the excitement, it had quite slipped my mind that a huge black outdoor trash can occupied the space where my kitchen table used to stand. Worse, rich garden dirt filled it to the brim and provided a home for one very large, teetering, heirloom red rosebush. How to explain… 
I chewed my lip as my guests started up the walk. I certainly couldn’t tell them the truth: that I’d trapped the spirit of a long-dead gangster in my house and that this was part of our attempt to free him. Lauralee might understand if I could convince her ghosts were real. But Reggie would think I’d lost my mind. He was respectable, proper. He’d come back home from Chicago to take over the oldest bank in town. And if he told another soul in Sugarland, my secret would be out before suppertime. There simply had to be a way to handle this. 
I’d hide it in the parlor. Curling my fingers around the edge of the trash can, I pulled hard. It slid… a bit. It was heavier than I’d imagined. I gritted my teeth, wincing as my arm stretched half out of its socket while I dragged the can one foot, two feet, almost three… 
“Where do you think you’re going with that?” Frankie demanded.
“We have to hide… you,” I said, having no time to sugarcoat it. It was either that or reveal his final resting place to my guests. Then I’d have to somehow explain that I’d mistaken Frankie’s urn for a dirty old vase and dumped his ashes out into my rosebushes, grounding him on my property. And that we’d moved him inside for safekeeping. “Please step aside.” I could walk through him, but it would give both of us an icy shock. 
“I ain’t going anywhere.” He removed his white Panama hat. “Those are my ashes you’re messing with.” He pointed his hat at the mess. “My urn.” Heavens to Betsy, we’d left his urn nestled at the bottom of the rosebush. I met Frankie trash-can-to-hips, eye-to-eye, trying not to let my gaze wander to the neat, round bullet hole smack dab in the middle of his pasty white forehead. He hadn’t gotten it by being a nice guy. 
“Please, Frankie,” I said, praying he had a sliver of gentleman in him, “I’m not ready to explain this to company.”
“You don’t got much of a choice. That can ain’t budging.” Frankie glided toward the back wall while I took hold of the trash can and pulled with all my might until I succeeded in tugging it into the parlor. Except the parlor held my only piece of furniture suitable for entertaining company— a purple velvet couch I’d gotten in exchange for solving a ghostly problem. Frankie shoved his head through the back wall and whistled. “Smokes. Get a load of that sharp suit.” 
“Frankie!” I protested. “You’re not helping.” He didn’t even bother to take his head out of the wall. “You know I can’t move anything on the mortal plane.” That wasn’t the point. I put my butt to the can and pushed backward, nudging it toward an out-of-the-way out-of-the-way corner. It slid two feet, then two more, probably leaving a mud spot on my white pants. Nobody but me could see Frankie, and if I could just get rid of the evidence… 
“The big cheese is coming up the porch steps,” Frankie called. “Spit-shined shoes. Ritzy watch. I do like his style,” he added, almost to himself. “What do you suppose he wants with you?” My sneakers slipped on the hardwood. Dirt spilled from the top of the can. I’d barely made it past the fireplace. “Your friend’s carrying a box. They’re at the door now.” 
No. A knock sounded. We were out of time. The lower branches of the rosebush flopped toward my face as I forced the can back against the wall by the antique marble fireplace in the parlor. In one smooth move, I grabbed the bedsheet from the futon and tossed it over the rosebush. “There.” 
“That looks worse,” Frankie said.
It would have to do. I frantically brushed dirt from my white jeans and wet sweater, and tried to pat down my hair as I hurried to answer the door. 
Lucy, who loved visitors, ran from the main hallway to join me. She grunted with excitement, her scraggly little body churning with each step. 
Oh, to be a skunk without a mirror. I opened the door and tried for my most carefree smile. “Good morning!”

The Haunted Heist:
The Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries

By Angie Fox

The Beginning of Book 3 of The Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries gives readers the perfect opportunity to get to know the lighter side of Verity's living with her housemates - Lucy and Frankie. You see, we open with Verity having to give a bath to Lucy for getting in their garden compost and now being covered by the mixture...banana peelings, egg shells and all!😒

And just for good measure, Frankie pops in next to the two of them--Lucy does not like Frankie and she struggles to run away...

So that when Verity has the first warning of company visiting, she is, ah, not exactly looking like it's time to meet and greet...

Lauralee was one of her best friends, so she didn't mind her visiting, but she had brought her uncle, who had come back to Sugarland to take over the town's bank... Thankfully, Reggie was a good man and handled Verity's embarrassment in a gentlemanly fashion. And by the time the visit was over Verity was scheduled to meet with him about a job at the bank! A real job, using her design expertise! 

Only thing is, when she was in the midst of the interview, Reggie was called to another floor for an emergency situation... And died... You get the feeling that Verity is going to be chasing more ghosts for an even longer time!
Soooooo, here's a trick question! What happens if you're in the midst of digging a tunnel to rob a bank, and you die?
Well, you become a ghost and keep on digging...
Now, employees at the bank had been hearing noises in the vault for quite some time and they had wanted the new president to hear it as well, hoping they'd be able to discover what it was--was the bank haunted?

Well, of course it was--at least by one lonely ghost who hadn't been out of a tunnel for years... But, when Verity had run down to see what was happening and saw the body, and those there, she felt it had to have been one of those individuals, especially after talking with Frankie and having him check things out with his friends. Only thing was, there were marks on his body that were the signature of a known criminal, and using his normal method of operation... Of course he was dead...

Still, Frankie was happy with it all...his friend, Suds, who'd died in the tunnel, was found and Frankie broke the news that he was dead. Still, it did free him and wouldn't you know it, Suds was soon often a visitor to Verity's house...

Then there's the jilted mother-in-law who discovers Verity having dinner with another son!
Her expression hardened. “I thought you learned your lesson the first time when I took you for everything you had,” she drawled. “I’ll do it again if you’d like. Just give me an excuse.” Her lips twisted into a faint smile as she closed the door. I turned and walked away, and I kept going, even when I heard Ellis’s voice as I opened my car door. “Verity?” He sounded surprised and harried. Ellis wore a flannel work shirt, jeans, and a fine dusting of plaster that would have been endearing if he hadn’t appeared almost as frightened as he was confused at my sudden appearance on his front porch. “I have to go,” I said as his mother stepped onto the porch behind him, her arms crossed in front of her. I’d had a bad day and knew better than to stay for round two with Virginia. I’d come to him bruised and battered enough. And I believed her threat. She would enjoy hurting me.
Now you've got to admit, the minor plots in this series are outrageously enjoyable...A Pet skunk, ghost house guests, a furious jilted-to-be-mother-in-law who is not only vengeful but willing to act to ruin Verity's life in any way she can!

Plus a murder mystery to be solved. And instead of starting a new advertising campaign for the bank president, Verity is once again helping to solve the latest mystery by working with her unseen "confidential informants..." This mystery is complex, intriguing, and certainly surprising as it develops, as secrets start coming out from both humans...and...ghosts!

Delightfully entertaining! A winning series from an excellent mystery writer!


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