Cozy Mystery 3rd in Series
Setting - Texas
Berkley (April 3, 2018)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
Digital ASIN: B073TJH4FF
Book descriptionTex-Mex waitress and part-time reporter Josie Callahan serves up more Lone Star justice in this spicy mystery from the author of The Good, the Bad, and the Guacamole.
It's fiesta time in Broken Boot, Texas, and tourists are pouring into town faster than free beer at a bull roping for the mouthwatering Cinco de Mayo festivities. Tex-Mex waitress Josie Callahan, her feisty abuela, and even her spunky Chihuahua Lenny are polishing their folklórico dances for Saturday's big parade, while Uncle Eddie is adding his own spicy event to the fiesta menu: Broken Boot's First Annual Charity Chili Cook-off.
But Uncle Eddie's hopes of impressing the town council go up in smoke when cantankerous chili cook Lucky Straw is found dead in his tent. And when Josie's beloved uncle is accused of fatal negligence, she, Lenny, and the steadfast Detective Lightfoot must uncover who ended the ambitious chilihead's life--before another cook kicks the bucket.
Meet the author - Rebecca Adler
Rebecca Adler grew up on the sugar beaches of the Florida Gulf Coast. Drawn to the Big Apple by the sweet smell of wishful thinking, she studied acting on Broadway until a dark-eyed cowboy flung her over his saddle and hightailed it to the Southwest.
Author Links Webpage: www.AuthorRebeccaAdler.com
On such a gorgeous May morning, what could be better than a power walk to Cho’s cleaners with my long-haired Chihuahua, Lenny? The morning sun had tossed a wide blanket of gold over the Davis and Chisos mountains, awakening the piñon pines and the weeping junipers from their slumber, illuminating the bluegrass and scrub so they looked like desert jewels. The plan had been to retrieve my abuela’s folklórico costume and burn some extra calories. And though we made good time—considering the length of my canine sidekick’s pencil-thin appendages—the morning sun galloped down Broken Boot’s cobbled streets while I paid Mr. Cho with a crumpled five-dollar bill and a coupon for a dozen free tamales.
“Yip.” Lenny lapped from the pet fountain in front of Elaine’s Pies, soaking his black-and-white coat.
“¡Vámonos, amigo!” If we were late to the final dance rehearsal before the Cinco de Mayo parade, God only knew when Senora Marisol Martinez, our matriarch, would permit me to call her abuela again.
During my first few months back home, I was elated to find I could accomplish tasks in far less time than in the crowded thoroughfares of Austin. Almost a year later, I was forced to admit the slower pace of our dusty little town didn’t aid me in my quest to check things off my list. It merely encouraged me to meander.
On that happy thought, Lenny and I raced down the sidewalk toward Milagro. Suddenly I tripped over the plastic clothes bag, nearly kissing the pavement with my face. “Whose great idea was it to rehearse this early?”
“That’s what I was afraid of.”
When we barreled through the front door of Milagro, the best, and only, Tex-Mex restaurant on Main Street, I expected the folklórico rehearsal to be in full swing. Instead my best friend, Patti Perez, glared at me, which only made me smile. I was wise to her marshmallow center, in spite of her ghostly Goth appearance.
“Sorry,” I mouthed. After all, it had been my idea for all of us to join the local folklórico troupe—my way of embracing life back in good old Broken Boot, Texas.
“About time,” she chided as I draped Senora Mari’s costume over a stack of hand-painted wooden chairs. In my absence, the other dancers had cleared the dining room to create a dance floor on the beautiful Saltillo tiles.
“I would have called,” I began.
“But I was trapped in a dead zone,” we said in unison. Service was so bad in Broken Boot and its outlying communities that folks were slower here than in the rest of the country in ditching their landlines.
“Where’s Anthony?” When our headwaiter offered his newly formed mariachi band to play for our first performance, I didn’t have the heart to say no. Beggars can’t be choosers, or look a gift band in the mouth.
“Tsk, tsk.” Across the room, Anthony’s new fiancée placed her hand over the bar phone’s mouthpiece. Though christened Lucinda, we’d quickly dubbed her Cindy to avoid calling her Linda, my aunt’s name, and vice versa. “He says his truck has a flat tire.” She scowled at whatever Anthony said next and responded with a flurry of Spanish.
“Who doesn’t keep a spare in the desert?” Patti, whom I referred to as Goth Girl if for no other reason than to hear her snort, delivered this line with a deadpan expression and a flick of her rehearsal skirt.
“Yip,” Lenny said, chasing after her ruffles.
Goth Girl snapped her head in my direction and gave me the stink eye. “Tell me you replaced your spare.”
“Uh, well, not yet, but I will after Cinco de Mayo.” Money was a bit tight, what with the loss of tourists during the winter months.
To my right, Aunt Linda, a stunning middle-aged woman with warm chestnut hair, modeled her bright-colored skirt better than any fashionista in Paris. “That’s what you said about Valentine’s Day.” She was my late mother’s older sister. She might look great in her Wranglers, but she and rhythm had never been introduced.
“And Saint Patrick’s,” chimed in Senora Mari, executing a double spin. This morning she wore a rehearsal skirt of black-tiered lace along with her Milagro uniform of peasant blouse, gray bun at her nape, and large pink flower behind her ear. No matter how much I rehearsed, none of my moves could compare to her sassy head turns and flamboyant poses. Who knew my seventy-something, four-foot-eleven abuela would turn out to be the star of our ragtag troupe?
A sharp clapping interrupted our chatter. “Let’s try it on the counts,” cried Mrs. Felicia Cogburn, mayor’s wife and self-appointed dance captain.
“Yip,” Lenny agreed.
“Why is that dog here?” Mrs. Cogburn demanded, her hands raised in mid-clap.
“He has a key role, remember?” My abuela smiled, an expression so rare on her dear weathered face it made folks uncomfortable.
Mrs. Cogburn blinked several times. “Of course.” Before she could begin, a small truck landed at the curb with a bed full of musicians, trumpets and guitars in full serenade. The band stopped playing long enough to hurry inside.
“¡Ay, Dios! Senora, I had to borrow a spare. Mine was flat.” Anthony waved his friends into a semicircle just inside the door.
Senora Mari thrust a finger into the air. “So you say.” She snapped her head dramatically to the side. “Play.”
With a worried look, Anthony counted off, and the group of dark-haired men and boys began to play the "Jarabe Tapatío", the Mexican hat dance. I spied a familiar face on trumpet. Anthony’s little sister Lily gave me a wink and a nod.
As the trumpets and guitars played, Mrs. Cogburn called out, “And one, two, three, four.”
“Where’s your skirt?” Patti asked as we twirled first right and then left.
“Ah, chicken sticks.” I dodged the dancers, ran up the stairs to my loft apartment, and retrieved my long skirt from a chrome dining chair.
“Yip, yip, yip,” Lenny cried from the bottom of the stairs.
“Sorry.” I found his straw hat on the yellow Formica table and made it downstairs without mishap. “Here you go, handsome.” I perched the hat on his head and tightened the elastic under his chin. As we danced, Lenny would spin in place on his back legs, melting the hearts of the crowd faster than fried ice cream in August.
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