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Jacqueline Vick Books

A Scaly Tail of Murder EBOOK

A Scaly Tail of Murder EBOOK

Book 5 in the Frankie Chandler Mystery Series

Regular price $7.99 USD
Regular price Sale price $7.99 USD
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A new fiancé, an old boyfriend, and a murder that will change everything.

Frankie Chandler is finally at peace with her life. She’s engaged to Detective Martin Bowers, her pet psychic business is booming, and she’s overcome the emotional residue of a past relationship that destroyed her self-respect.

Just when everything’s going swell, trouble strolls through her front door. Jeffrey Ross, the ex-boyfriend who betrayed her, needs Frankie’s help. To get rid of him, she agrees to retrieve the keys he left with yet another hostile ex-girlfriend, a masseuse. Unfortunately, when Frankie shows up early at Friendly Fingers Spa, Jeff’s latest fling is face down in the new Jacuzzi. Murdered right in front of her Fiji Crested iguana.

The reptile refuses to tell what he knows, and when Frankie’s involuntary entanglement in the investigation threatens to ruin Bowers’ chances for promotion, she takes steps. After calling an uneasy truce with Jeff, the two form a crime-solving team that will either solve the mystery or bring an end to everything she’s worked for.

Cringeworthy past mistakes have never been so funny!

What Readers are Saying

“A fresh, entertaining read with snappy dialog and plenty of well-rendered action.”

“A cracking fun read!”

Read a Sample

The woman who stared back at me from my bathroom mirror had nice eyes. Hazel, with more green than brown. They sat under natural brows somewhere between pencil thin and caterpillar. Auburn hair that hung past her shoulders curled inconveniently from an overabundance of cowlicks. Slightly full lips. Enough to notice she had lips. Not a classic beauty, but not an ogre.

Leaning forward, I studied the light creases edging my eyes. They couldn’t be laugh lines. Not with my disposition. Now that I was in my thirties, I had to stop squinting. And frowning.

I fought off disappointment. Silly, I know, but I thought my recent engagement to Detective Martin Bowers would show on the outside. My face. Or my posture. I thought I’d look different. Peaceful. Glowing. Ready to break into song.

Straightening my shoulders, I let one drop in a relaxed pose. My left hand crept up to my cheek like a pale spider.

“Oh,” I said, affecting surprise. “This?”

When I wiggled the fourth finger on my left hand, my engagement ring didn’t sparkle because it was a pull tab from a can of soda. Bowers had taken the morning off to whisk me away on a quest for the perfect symbol of our love. Not having worn a ring since I’d won a plastic ruby at the fairgrounds—I was seven—I thought I should practice.

Lowering my voice to a sultry level, I puckered my lips. “Darling. You shouldn’t have.”

I sucked in my cheeks and ran my fingers through my hair. The tab caught, and it took five minutes to work it free. With a long, loud sigh, I moved back to my bedroom and hung up the clothes piled on my bed, all discards in my quest to look like the perfect fiancée. Or at least a grown up.

Bowers, dressed for work, would most likely wear a suit, or at least a sports jacket and tie. At six feet tall, with short hair a shade above black and deep-blue eyes, my fiancé could wear a gunny sack and still make pulses race. Not that he was metrosexual or obsessed with hair products. He was rugged enough to be manly without overdoing it. Not the kind of nut whose idea of a fun date included hiking Mount Everest or paddling the English Channel.

PE, or Pre-Engagement, my go-to outfit was sweatpants and a t-shirt. Maybe jeans. However, if we walked down the street holding hands, I wanted the people we passed to think 'What a lovely couple.' Not 'That’s one seedy customer Detective Bowers is hauling to the station.'

For today’s grand event, I’d settled on a short-sleeved royal blue blouse with white polka-dots, beige slacks, and leather sandals with low heels. Open-toed sandals. Should I have attempted to paint my nails? Did I own a bottle of nail polish? No need to go crazy.

I moved back to my home’s combination living room/dining room for a quick assessment. After a sniff, I sprayed an evergreen aerosol to mask Emily’s cat odors. Then I sprayed again. Once I’d straightened the mismatched pillows on the blue-and-white plaid couch donated to me by my parents, I tried to see my home through impartial eyes. Well, not impartial eyes. Bowers’ eyes.

Would he be surprised by the watercolor of a Gambel’s quail that now hung above the couch? I’d brought her home last night. Painted by a local Wolf Creek artist, the picture gave me a rush of joy every time I gazed at it.

I frowned. She might be lonely. The rest of my standard off-white walls were bare. Then the arrangement of dried flowers on the end table next to the lamp caught my eye. That counted as a decoration.

As I considered the rest of the room, my excitement died. What had one painting and a vase of crummy flowers accomplished? I’d created a glaring contrast to the rest of my home.

Boring off-white. Like the curtains covering the sliding back door that led to my patio and my dingy old carpet. Pedestrian, like my second-hand furniture, which included a marred dinner table with a row of divots that made me think of a bear mauling. And the coffee table that reminded me of Grandma’s house. Who was I kidding? My home’s interior resembled an indifferent safehouse.

At least it was neat for once. Everything in its place. Except my bra. Right where I’d dropped it last night on the floor between the couch and the torchiere lamp. As I tossed it into my bedroom, I wondered if I’d have to give up comfortable habits like discarding my clothes on the floor after we were married. Closing the door behind me, I sniffed my armpits and ran my tongue over my minty-fresh teeth.

Ten minutes to go before Bowers arrived. Excitement and nervousness battled for control. Excitement over what engagement ring shopping meant. Nervous for the same reason. And I had little experience with jewelry. Not that I hated jewelry. It just wasn’t on my list of priorities.

Nerves took the lead.

Stepping out my back door for a change of scenery, the heat immediately settled on me like a wool blanket worn at the beach. Tricky thing, the Arizona sun. While it allowed you to remain free of sticky sweat, luring the uninitiated into skipping sunscreen and loitering outdoors, it sucked the liquids from your body until even your eyeballs were thirsty.

The morning trills of a Lucy’s warbler brought me to the stone wall that looked over the dry creek bed behind my house. Straining my ears, I waited for the comforting three-part call of the Gambel’s quail that frequented the shrubby area near the bank.

When I set my hands on the wall, I heard a metal ping. I’d forgotten the pseudo engagement ring. I twisted the pull tab off my finger. It left behind an indentation. Mortified, I rubbed the skin until it looked like I’d frolicked in ragweed. Better Bowers should think I had allergies than know I’d been prancing around the house pretending to show off my ring.

Finally, the quail called out. A good omen. If she could make her home in the overgrowth that had reclaimed the creek, surely, I could establish an inviting environment for Bowers and I to live in with my credit card and a few decorating magazines.

I stepped inside. After closing and locking the sliding door, I pulled the monotonous off-white curtains shut to keep out the heat.

Bowers would be here any minute.

Returning to the bathroom mirror for one last critical review, I forced out a reassuring nod. Frankie Chandler, you’ve come a long way. Since fleeing to Wolf Creek, Arizona, two years, eight months, and five days ago, I’d slowly rebuilt my confidence and carved out a new life.

I was engaged to the man I loved. A man who at one time feared touching me after I’d transmitted an image of an angry cat to him while we were holding hands.

My best friend lived a few miles away, and I saw her for breakfast at her bistro almost every morning. My pet psychic business, which I kept subtly tucked behind an animal behavior storefront called U-Behave, had grown to where I didn’t have to buy my parents a tin of popcorn for Christmas.

When the doorbell rang, I straightened the collar on my blouse and ran a hand over my slacks. Bowers was just as lucky to have me as I was to have him. I’d have to repeat that mantra a few times, but it would stick. Eventually. Especially after we married, and I discovered his faults. I walked to the front door and swung it open with a bright smile on my face. It wasn’t Bowers.

The man on my front stoop stood over six feet tall, wore a tight-fitting white t-shirt over his muscled torso, and his smile showed off straight white teeth. In one hand, he held a dark-green gym bag. He ran the other hand over his short light-brown hair in a self-conscious move.

I couldn’t remember how to breathe. I shouldn’t need instructions, but the natural mechanics of pulling in air escaped me.

“Jeff?” I croaked.

And then the room swam.

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Reading Order

The Frankie Chandler reading order:

Barking Mad at Murder (1)

A Bird's Eye View of Murder (2)

An Almost Purrfect Murder (3)

What the Cluck? It's Murder (4)

A Scaly Tail of Murder (5)

A Scape Goat for Murder (6)

The Harlow Brothers Reading Order:

Civility Rules (1)

Bad Behavior (2)

Deadly Decorum (3)