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Jacqueline Vick Books

A Scape Goat for Murder PAPERBACK

A Scape Goat for Murder PAPERBACK

Book Six in the Frankie Chandler Mystery Series

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A gourmand goat. A mysterious woman. A phone call that will change Frankie’s life.

Frankie Chandler’s upcoming nuptials suffer a devastating setback when her fiancé, Detective Martin Bowers, is injured on the job. How badly injured? The doctors are mum on his condition, and his colleagues are just as evasive, telling her they don’t know what he was doing on the lonely hillside where he fell.

Convinced that the key to Bowers’ recovery lies in finding out what happened, the pet psychic’s only hope for clarity is a gourmand goat who demands payment in pastries before he’ll reveal his secrets. When he does, his responses are confusing…and terrifying.

Then Bowers’ very mysterious, possibly dangerous, and definitely skeptical sister, Edith, arrives, and every step forward becomes a battle. As the dysfunctional duo maneuver through suspects, witnesses, and the occasional corpse, the pet psychic decides to go it alone, because Frankie is determined her groom will make it to the church on time…if the killer doesn’t get her first.

A devilishly funny peek into a bride-to-be’s nightmares!


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Sometimes Life with a capital L steps in and kicks you in the teeth, making your priorities excruciatingly clear. A speed lesson. I got mine the third week of September, about six weeks shy of my wedding.

***

“And if he doesn’t stop piddling on the floor, I’ll have to get rid of him.”

Bart Waller’s droning diatribe over his new morning ritual of mopping tinkle from the kitchen floor was getting on my nerves. I couldn’t see why it bothered him so much. It wasn’t a great floor. The beige tile was the cheap stuff that comes on a roll.
It went with the white Formica countertop and wood cabinets in need of a coat of varnish to cover years of wear.

The room smelled of scrambled eggs and stale coffee. The former still clung to the dishes in the sink. Not my idea of the Ritz.

As the man continued to complain, I slipped a quick glance out the kitchen window over the sink. Not a single cloud dotted the September Arizona sky. Our flight from Phoenix’s Sky Harbor airport tomorrow morning should take off without a hitch.

However, as I feel it’s my responsibility to clutch the armrests and hold up any aircraft I’m in, I kept the weather under close watch.

“And then I stepped in it,” he continued.

Biting my lip to hold back my opinion that any man who ran into piddle two weeks running should learn to watch his step, I put an end to his comments. I still had to get my cat, Emily, to her sitter and pack last minute odds and ends. After that, I would sit on my couch and sweat nervous perspiration until my fiancé, Detective Martin Bowers, and I arrived in Loon Lake, Wisconsin, for his first in-person meeting with his future in-laws.

“Be quiet,” I snapped. “Please.” Holding up one hand, I switched to the airy-yet-somber tone most people expected from a pet psychic. “I need silence to connect with Sparkles.”

He was a beautiful roan—the dog, not the guy—with his liver-colored base coat lightened by strands of white and speckles of liver throughout. His snout was mostly gray, but that wasn’t a surprise in a ten-year-old dog. Neither was his inability to hold it all night. Heck. I sometimes woke up with a need to tinkle, and I was only in my mid-thirties.

After slipping a glance at my watch and confirming I had wasted too much time on this appointment, I opened the imaginary yet intimidating wooden door I used as a mental gateway to stop random messages sent by animals from sneaking into my head. Every creature has its own signature vibration.

Sparkles gave off a sweet flutter. Once I created a path of light between the dog’s mind and mine, I sent him an image of this same kitchen at night. Then I focused on the doggie door and raised my eyebrows.

Sparkles lowered his head. His long ears covered his eyes in shame. My head drooped in sync with Sparkles’, and my limbs trembled along with the dog’s. With extreme clarity, the animal showed me the fastened lock on the doggie door. I exclaimed with disgust.

“What’s the matter?” Bart whispered the question.

“If you block o! his access to his toilet, where do you expect him to go potty?”

A vibration from my back pocket warned me the persistent caller who’d already tried to reach me three times during this appointment hadn’t given up. I ignored it.

Bart barked out a laugh. “You think I lock him in?” He strode to the door. “I unlock this door every night before—” He paused, fingering the fastened lock. “I don’t understand. I—oh.”

In an act of feigned confidence, he puffed out his chest and cracked a grin. It wasn’t difficult to read his genuine emotions in the micro-expression that escaped before the grin. Guilt. Embarrassment.

“We had a raccoon get in a few weeks ago. He was after Sparkle’s food. Or she. I’m not sure. How do you tell the difference between a male and female raccoon?”

His babbling confirmed it. This man was up to his neck in a puddle of his own making. I ignored his attempts to divert my attention.

“And how long ago did Sparkles start relieving himself on your floor?”

“About the same time.”

To his credit, especially after the comment about getting rid of the dog, he cried out, fell to his knees, and pulled the cocker spaniel into a hug.

“Sparkles, Daddy is an idiot. I’m so sorry. And I was just venting. I’d never let anyone take you from me.”

The spaniel’s short tail thumped a beat on the floor. He gazed at me over his “daddy’s” shoulder, eyes bright. Dogs were so willing to forgive. I, however, cared little for my fellow human beings and resisted the urge to express my disappointment with a slap to the back of Bart’s head. People. Ugh.

Other than my best friend, Penny, and my fiancé, and my parents, of course, I could do without most of them.

As I tapped my foot, waiting impatiently for the love fest to finish, I ran down a list of what I had left to do before my plane took off tomorrow morning.

Before I drove my cat to the sitter’s house, I had to clean the litter box. Last minute toiletries were on my bathroom sink, left out so I wouldn’t forget to put them in my carry-on. I needed to shower tonight, since it was an early flight.

When my client stood, I cleared my thoughts and gave him a professional smile. “Do you have questions?”

“None.” He took his wallet off the counter and pulled out a fifty-dollar bill. “Thank you so much.”

“My pleasure,” I said, accepting my payment.

I’d made it to my car but hadn’t opened the door when my cell phone rang again. “Mother,” I said through gritted teeth. I’d already suffered a flurry of phone calls with reminders to pack a dress for dinner with the Douds, Penny’s family. And earrings. And makeup.

My mother planned to traipse me, her engaged daughter, past her friends like a calf in a 4-H competition. More like a mature cow. Most of their daughters had wed in their twenties. It had taken me a decade longer to find my mate.

I snatched my phone from my back pocket and cleared most of my irritation from my tone. “I can either finish packing or spend my entire vacation on the phone with you.”

It wasn’t Mom. The clear alto belonged to Detective Juanita Gutierrez. “Get to Holy Cross Hospital. Now.”

And then she hung up.

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Shipping times can be up to two weeks.

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)