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Authors: Susan Kandel

Not A Girl Detective

BOOK: Not A Girl Detective
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To Kyra and Maud,

who are small but stealthy

Contents

1

When I couldn’t tell the rain from my tears I…

1

2

I’m the sort of person who’s always looking

for

signs.

11

3

Most people don’t find out about Carroll Avenue

until

they…

20

4

What the hell did you do to him?” The voice…

32

5

Things can go from bad to worse faster than you…43

6

We couldn’t see Bridget. Her entire body was

obscured

by…

53

7

At any hour, in any time zone, by any stretch…

63

8

And speaking of Nancy Drew’s long-suffering

beau, Ned, why do…

74

9

We spent the morning at a number of thrift

stores,…

84

10

Edgar Edwards’s pool turned out to be an

excellent

place…

96

11

The Eames chairs in Edgar’s living room were

unrelenting.

I…

102

12

The next few days Gambino and I were

all

about…

108

13

Andrew was persuasive, but no match for me.

I

was…

121

14

The gathering on Carroll Avenue was under

way by the…

128

15

Gambino and I looked at each other across

the

breakfast…

136

16

What took you guys so long?” asked Lael,

studying

her…

145

17

Asher Farrell did not have a Rottweiler.

What he did…

154

18

He won’t be in until eleven,” explained the

girl

with…

161

19

I came home loaded down with supplies. Post-it

notes

in…

169

20

Say cheese!” The flash went off in Mitchell’s face.176

21

Maybe it was better to do things in reverse

chronological…

182

22

It was almost eight P.M. Gambino would be

here

any…

189

23

The phone rang at 2:11 A.M. Startled, I

reached

over…

198

24

What are you doing here at this ungodly

hour?”

asked…

206

25

I sat there for almost two hours. Back and forth… 213

26

You’ve got freckles.”

222

27

The thing about mind-bombs is they generate

an awful lot…

228

28

A minute later there was a soft knock at the…

234

29

Turned out I got Mitchell’s fingerprints instead,

which wasn’t entirely…

240

30

Perhaps it was naive to expect Detective King

to

welcome…

246

31

With the midweek discount, the room only cost

me

$159…

252

32

I was on my way out when I noticed a…

262

33

I drove home too fast and threw open the front… 269

34

It was early Thursday morning, around eight. I

was

parked…

276

35

I froze in place.

288

36

Let’s go over the whole thing again,” Lael said.

295

37

A registered package was waiting for me the

next

day…

304

Acknowledgments 310

About the Author

Praise

Other Books by Susan Kandel

Cover

Copyright

About the Publisher

1

When I couldn’t tell the rain from my tears I knew

it was time to pull over. I laid my arms across the steer-ing wheel and choked back a sob. I had gone through

the first four stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression. Now I was stuck on stage five—damning

the mechanic. But what good was that going to do?

My Toyota Camry was dying. Not peacefully but spec-

tacularly, with great plumes of smoke emanating from

the rear and strange wails coming out of the air-

conditioning vents.

Yesterday, the tape deck shredded Frank Sinatra’s

greatest hits. The day before, the cup holder snapped off in my hands, sending Diet Coke all over my favorite beaded sweater. Hell, if I had known it was going to end like this, I would’ve leased a Jaguar in the first place.

If only I were the cheerful sort, like my best friend Lael. It’s unseemly how cheerful Lael is. That’s all I’ll say. Or conniving, like my second best friend, Bridget, who knows just what to say when, and to whom.

Scary. Or better yet, the resourceful type, like teenage 2

S U S A N

K A N D E L

supersleuth Nancy Drew. I spent my entire youth idol-

izing that girl. I’m pushing forty now, but some fan-

tasies die hard.

If only I were Nancy Drew.

I’d pull some Vaseline out of my handbag and fix

those windshield wipers lickety-split. I’d solve the

mystery of the air-conditioning vents with my superior knowledge of dehumidification, say. And if I couldn’t get the car to stop smoking by any other means, I’d ask my daddy to buy me a new one. A pretty blue roadster

to match my pretty blue eyes.

Self-recrimination has long been a favorite pastime.

I could keep it going forever, but I had someplace to be.

I opened the car door and stepped directly into a puddle. Damn. With my raincoat pulled up over my head, I waded around back and stared at the exhaust pipe in

wonder. How could it betray me? Vexed, I gave it a

kick. It belched, evil thing. Then it occurred to me that it could explode any second—the whole car, I mean.

These things do happen. But I was such a sodden mess

I probably wasn’t combustible. And they say it never

rains in Southern California.

I fished my cell phone out of my purse and was about

to call for a tow when I realized the bookstore I was heading to was only a few blocks away. I decided to

make a run for it. That would be the end of my spike-

heeled boots, of course, but they were already halfway to kingdom come. Maybe I could claim them as a business expense. I’d been taking a more aggressive ap-

proach to tax deductions lately. My accountant’s

thinking was that I made so little money they’d never in a million years bother auditing me. I wasn’t sure that was sound reasoning, but Mr. Keshigian had managed

N O T

A

G I R L

D E T E C T I V E

3

to keep all his gangster relations out of the hands of the IRS, so I could hardly question his expertise. And god forbid he should fix me up with one of the cousins again.

Dodging the mud puddles, I sprinted down Melrose

Avenue. No one sipping organic coffee at the Bod-

hisattva Café today. What a neighborhood. On sunny

days you could drop your car with the Bodhisattva’s

valet, pick up a soy latte to go, and in the space of a single city block have your palm read, buy a New Age

tome, get your colon cleaned, and take a ceramics

class—not necessarily in that order. It wasn’t my thing.

I grew up in New Jersey. I live for synthetics.

Frederick A. Dalthorp Rare Books and Bindery was

just around the corner, and talk about synthetic. It had fake gothic spires poking into the sky, stained-glass windows, turrets. No serving wenches, however. Too

bad. I could’ve used a tankard of ale right about then.

Nope, just the Dalthorp twins. They’d inherited the

business from their father, Frederick, a smooth operator who’d sweet-talked the building out of some morticians who’d been there since the thirties. The Dalthorps were cousins of my purported boyfriend, Peter Gambino. A few weekends ago we’d had brunch together

and they’d made a big to-do over Gambino’s mocha

chip pancakes, which I found impossible to stomach

myself. But those girls were clearly addicted to sugar.

They were eating marzipan at their desks when I

pushed open the massive wooden door.

“Heave ho!” I said.

“For god’s sake, don’t spray the books!” yelled

Dena, the older of the two by seventeen minutes and ac-customed to milking every one of them.

“What do you think I am, a Saint Bernard?”

4

S U S A N

K A N D E L

“Oh, Cece,” murmured Victoria, Dena’s more politic

sister, “look at your turtleneck! It shrank in the rain!”

She handed me a wad of paper towels.

“It’s cropped,” I explained, drying off. “It’s supposed to be that way. It matches my cropped toreador pants.”

“Good god,” said Dena. Dena did not appreciate

fashion. She was wearing a shapeless woolen sweater, a longish kilt, and brogues. Perfect for stomping through the heather.

Victoria gave me a sympathetic look. “I’m sure you

looked lovely.”

“Thank you,” I said, crushed by her use of the past

tense.

“The seventies, right?”

“The fifties, actually. Gina Lollabrigida goes beat-

nik?”

I was used to being misunderstood. My mother, a

rummage-sale diva, never met a pot holder she couldn’t love. Or a TV tray table not worth saving. She’d happily plunk down five dollars for a moribund blender, ten dollars for a card table with three legs. Yet she was unable to figure out why I’d want to wear old clothes.

Worse yet, somebody else’s old clothes.

“So what’s this about Nancy Drew?” Dena asked.

The chitchat was over.

“Cece’s writing a book about Nancy Drew!” Victoria

exclaimed. “Remember how much we loved Nancy

Drew when we were kids? Twisted candles flickering at midnight! Bloodcurdling screams and secret passage-ways! But we didn’t have an attic,” she said, sighing.

“Nobody in L.A. does. And how could we be detectives

without a musty attic to explore?”

“There are plenty of mysteries to solve around this

N O T

A

G I R L

D E T E C T I V E

5

moldering old relic,” Dena snapped. “Like why the

pipes are always backed up. And where my favorite

coffee mug went. Why don’t you solve them?”

Thank god I had brothers. They just slugged you.

I slid into a leather club chair. “Actually, my book

isn’t exactly about Nancy Drew. It’s a biography of

Carolyn Keene, the author of the series.”

“There is no Carolyn Keene,” Dena said with a smirk.

BOOK: Not A Girl Detective
13.95Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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