By Elaine Viets
"Fixing to Die," my new Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper mystery, will be there for you in November. Josie, newly married to veterinarian Ted Scottsmeyer, hunts for their first house – and learned that real estate agents speak their own language.
Eventually, Josie and Ted buy the perfect house. Then Ted finds a body under the gazebo and his clinic partner is charged with the murder. Josie’s tween daughter, Amelia, is fighting mean girls at school. Josie has to look for a killer who hit way too close to home.
Here’s a scene from "Fixing to Die" where Josie looks at a house that’s all gray.
Sally Redding Rutherford, the real estate agent, called the grim gray entrance hall "cozy." Josie had looked at enough homes to translate real estate lingo. "Cozy" meant coffin sized. There was barely room for her and Sally in the entrance. Josie felt like she was stuck in an upright burial vault.
"Gray is chic again," Sally said. "The right paint and a nice mirror will transform this entrance into a real showcase."
Sally was small, blond, and muscular with a perpetually perky smile. Josie thought she must have been a cheerleader for a hopeless high school team, the way she relentlessly cheered one loser after another. Sally had shown her so many dogs Josie felt like like she was at the Humane Society.
The living room was gray, too, from the floor to the fog colored ceiling.
"Uh, the floor’s gray concrete," Josie said.
"That’s right," Sally said proudly. "Concrete flooring is stylish, smart, and tough. And look at that fireplace!"
"You won’t find a feature like that in a—"
If Sally says "starter house" one more time, I’m going to brain her with that poker, Josie thought. She’s said it six times since we parked in the driveway.
"—starter house," Sally finished.
Josie’s fingers twitched. The poker was in reach. A jury of house hunters would never convict her.
Instead, she got a grip on herself. What’s wrong with you? she asked herself. Sally is a hardworking divorcee. You were single long enough to know it’s a tough world.
"The dining room is taupe," Sally said.
More gray, Josie thought. But she saw bright spots of red in the chandelier, the only color so far in the house, except for Sally’s pink pantsuit.
"The owner wants to take the chandelier," Sally said. "It’s Southwest style and he had it custom made."
Josie fought back a giggle. The spiky wrought iron chandelier was trimmed with polished cow horns and long red plastic peppers.
"It’s amazing," Josie said, truthfully. "But I don’t think this is the house for us."
"But the seller is motivated," Sally said.
That means "desperate," Josie thought.
"Josie, honey, you’ve given me so many restrictions," Sally said. "You don’t want to buy a foreclosure."
"This is our first house," Josie said. "I don’t want someone else’s misery."
"You insist that the house be in either in Maplewood or nearby Rock Road Village," Sally said.
"Ted spends long hours at his veterinary clinic in Rock Road Village," Josie said. "I don’t want to add a commute to his already long day."
"It needed a gut rehab," Josie said, "and was located between a highway ramp and the railroad tracks."
"Not coming through the living room," Josie said.
"What about that sweet split level with the country kitchen?" she asked.
"Ten minutes in that kitchen and I had nightmares that I was pursued by ducks with yellow ribbons around their necks," Josie said.
"It’s just wallpaper. You can make those ducks go away," Sally said, flapping her fingers.
"Not from my mind," Josie said.
"You said the executive home near Brentwood Boulevard was gorgeous," Sally said.
"It was," Josie said. "It was also too big and too expensive."
"What was wrong with the charming rambler with the green shutters?" Sally asked. "It had a big sunny lot."
"Sunny! So’s the Sahara," Josie said. "Nothing grew in that yard, not even grass."
"You’re overlooking the—" Sally said.
Potential, Josie thought, bracing herself. Sally’s going to say "potential." I hate that term even more than "starter house."
"—– potential," Sally finished, predictably. "But don’t you worry. I’ll find you the perfect house."
Josie saw the agent’s blond hair and trimly tailored suit swallowed by the red door and waved good bye. She didn’t realize this was the last time she’d ever see Sally Rutherford.
Watch the trailer here: http://tinyurl.com/kwqfouh
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Mystery Lovers Bookshop: http://tinyurl.com/k528k58
NOTE Photos from DREAMSTIME.com