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The Hot Mess!

I am pleased to host my good friend Gayle Carline on adventuresnwriting. Gayle is one of my most favorite people in the world. She is funny, smart, sweet, and kind. Plus, she is a horse chick! I love her and I love her writing! She is running an awesome contest right now! Read Gayle's books and enter the contest!!!

 I’d like to thank my good buddy Michele for giving me a little space on her blog to run a contest for my new book, THE HOT MESS. If you’ve been following the other blogs in the contest, 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 on occasion.
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.


Skip looked up at the ceiling, watching the lines of water running toward a common bead, forming a ball and falling when they got too heavy. The battalion chief, Cornelius Danes, had warned him not to stay too long in the house. The fire department liked to err on the side of caution when it came to civilians.
“Finish up and let’s get out of here. This might not be the safest place to be.”
Jason nodded his answer. Skip watched him label a final bag, before turning toward the doorway.
“I hate unstable crime scenes,” the CSU said, pointing to the bedroom ceiling. Skip followed his direction and saw the bulge in the drywall. The water was pooling here. It wouldn’t take much to bring the ceiling down and ruin any evidence.
Both men turned and left, moving through the rest of the house at a quick pace. Chief Danes was waiting for them at the doorway.
“Get everything you need?”
Jason held up his camera. “Need a few quick pictures of the rest of the house.” He disappeared down the hall toward the kitchen.
“Almost,” Skip added, and did a quick visual sweep of the room. In the last, untouched corner of one of Benny’s beloved end tables, he saw something he recognized. He pointed to the object. “Chief, can I take this with me? I may need it to help me with the homeowner.”
The chief agreed, so he picked it up. It was the ashtray from the Some Came Running movie set. Skip recognized it because Benny had shown it to him numerous times. There were a few dark smudges, but it had survived the fire without cracking. He carried it outside and waved it at Peri.
“I’m hoping we got enough evidence to figure it all out,” Skip said, stripping off his hazard gear. “We may not be able to get back in there.”
“Wish I could tell you different, but it’ll need a couple of days to dry out before anyone can assess the amount of damage,” Chief Danes told him.
The chief was still in his yellow uniform, carrying his helmet under his arm. His stocky build, along with his six-foot-four frame, made light disappear from doorways when he entered a room. A few gray hairs at his temple teased at his age, although his coffee-colored skin showed no wrinkles.
Skip paused, scratching through his short, peppery hair. “Any obvious cause?”
“There are remnants of cans, looked like paint and turpentine, where the blaze was hottest, so I’m guessing the homeowner was going to do some painting. My gut tells me it’s about the hoarding.” He regarded the house. “Granted, there wasn’t the kind of filth you associate with that kind of thing, but did you see all the furniture in there? All it took was a faulty wire, a can of turpentine and poof, it all goes up.”
“Yeah, Benny’s got a little problem.”
“Well, now it’s a big problem. We try to educate people but no one wants to think it could happen to them. This is gonna be an insurance nightmare.”
Skip thought about Benny’s obsessive need for his things. “I’m guessing the insurance will be the least of Benny’s bad dreams.”
He returned to Peri, who waited on the sidewalk. It amused him to see her attempting to look uninterested in what was happening. Her expression seemed almost indifferent, but her body was tense and restless, her fingers clenching and unclenching. He smiled and stretched his hand out as he approached, offering her the ashtray.
“His favorite ashtray,” Peri said. “Perfect.”
“Time for me to go to work.” He took his notepad out and observed the audience standing at the police barricade. “Think the neighbors might know anything?”
He could see the wheels in her brain grinding as she scanned the crowd. “Are you working on anything right now, Peri?”
“I’ve got a meeting this morning with a potential client. Other than that, just finishing a background check on an employee. Why?”
“Because I wish you were too occupied to want to snoop into this thing.”
She grinned. “Ah, Skipper, when do I snoop? Okay, forget I said that. All I want to know is, do you know who the body belongs to, and was it arson?”
“I don’t know and I don’t know. Chief Danes thinks it was probably faulty wiring and paint cans, compounded by classic hoarder’s neglect. Fire started in the living room, body was in the back bedroom.”
“Benny’s mom used to be in the back bedroom.” Peri frowned. “Paint cans? Why would there be paint cans in the living room?”
“Again, I don’t know. Doesn’t sound like our Benny, to paint anything. Body was a young male. Blanche couldn’t determine cause but time of death is probably about the same time as the fire.”
“This is all sounding weirder and weirder.”
“It’s too early to call anything weird. We on for dinner tonight?”
She ran her hand down his back. “I was thinking take-out and fool around.”
He smiled. “I’m on board with that. Now let me get my work done.”

* * *

The other blog sites are:

Our own adorable Andrew Kaufman,

The lovely and talented Jenny Hilborne,

A sweet cozy writer Teresa Trent,

Mr. All-Things-Dean-Martin,

When you’ve visited them, come on over on Monday and see me at


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