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Jacqueline Vick Books

What the Cluck? It's Murder EBOOK

What the Cluck? It's Murder EBOOK

Book Four in the Frankie Chandler Mystery Series

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"A Most Entertaining Read.”

“Meeting the family turns into a clustercluck!”

A broody hen. A dead body. The ultimate test of a relationship.

Pet psychic Frankie Chandler finally (and reluctantly) agrees to meet Detective Martin Bower’s family. All she has to do is impress the pack of sisters who raised him. Not difficult, right? The only thing at stake is her relationship with the man she loves.

The weekend at his eldest sibling’s farm surpasses her worst nightmares. His former guardians excel at finding her faults. Even the chickens have it in for her. Then her first moment alone with Bowers on a romantic stroll ends with the discovery of a murdered farmhand.

Now the marshal is fixed on Bowers’ sister Dymphna as the chief suspect. On a homestead overrun with animals, there must be a witness. The broody hen? The carrot-obsessed horses? The suspect’s self-involved dog? As she wrangles information from animals both furry and feathered, the case against Dymphna worsens. Should Frankie’s loyalty be to the truth? Or to Bowers’ family?

Join Frankie and Bowers on their most personal case yet.

Read a Sample

“You can’t make me.”

I took a hurried step back from the source of my fear,
stumbling over my own feet in the rush. The solid chest of Detective Martin Bowers broke my fall. He hooked his arms under mine to help me catch my balance.

Normally, I’d enjoy physical contact with the handsome
police officer, currently off-duty. However, my attention
remained on the black eyes that locked onto me in an
unblinking stare. It didn't take a pet psychic, which I was, to tell those eyes held more than contempt. They held murder.

The eyes belonged to the snow-white face of a Leghorn
hen, and she showed no signs of the happy, aw shucks attitude of Foghorn Leghorn, one of my childhood cartoon heroes.

Why on this beautiful early afternoon in March was I,
Frankie Chandler, reluctant communicator with all things
furry or feathered, facing off with a vicious hen?
It goes back to my best friend Penny’s wedding cruise
last fall. There had been laughter, tears, and a few murders.

Not that the murders were part of the agenda. They just
happened, and I discovered the first body below my stateroom balcony.

Penny tattled to Detective Bowers in Wolf Creek,
Arizona, and she made it sound as if I was a damsel in
distress. That irritated me to no end, as Martin Bowers had made it clear he wanted nothing to do with me. It wasn’t so much that he couldn’t handle the embarrassment of dating a pet psychic. The clincher came when he, while holding my hand, got caught up in one of my psychic experiences with an angry feline, and he didn’t like it.

What a baby.

Anyway, he responded to Penny’s request for a White
Knight and joined the cruise a few days later, and in
between finding corpses and searching for the kitty who
held the key to solving the murders, Bowers and I had a few friendly moments.

At the end of the cruise, the normally stoic detective approached me in an unusual state of nervousness to ask for another chance at romance. Or maybe it was a first chance since we had never made it to an actual date.

That was the good news. For balance, there had to be
bad news.

Bowers also wanted me to meet his sisters. All
seven of them. Yes, seven. After the death of his mother, Bowers had been raised by a week's worth of sisters who doted on him as if he were the pearl without price.

The invitation to meet his guardians, the guardians who would hate me for stealing their little brother away, was as enticing as a naked run through a minefield. I expected disapproval in the form of tight-lipped silence and sarcastic comments. Maybe a voodoo doll. Still, it was important to him, so after a few months of dating, and I mean honest-to-goodness dating, I agreed.

I sized up my surroundings in case I had to make a quick escape. The coop was a rectangular wooden building with a cement floor covered in earthy-smelling mulch. This was where the chickens slept and laid eggs and ate from PVC piping that released their food. They even had a water bottle with nipples they pecked at when they were thirsty and a round thingy that held little pebbles to help them break up their food.

I shoved this last item aside with my foot to give me a clear escape path. Several wooden clothes-drying racks leaned against one wall under a high wooden shelf, both providing places for the chickens to roost. Along the opposite wall, half a dozen nesting boxes sat atop a pine box about three-feet tall and ten feet long. It reminded me of the caskets they used in the Wild West.

The nesting boxes consisted of milk crates set on their
sides and stuffed with hay. Bowers’ sister had put up little privacy curtains, something I found hysterically funny until I opened one and found the angry chicken inside.

Most of the birds had abandoned the coop and moved to
the run outside to scratch for bugs or do whatever chickens did to amuse themselves. Maybe Bowers was right. They didn’t care, so why should I?

I moved down the row of nesting boxes and felt around
each one. As I picked up the warm eggs and added them to my cache, the few birds remaining in the coop watched my progress with soft clucks. Too soon, I was back to old beady eyes.

Even though the window shutters kept the warm, spring
sun out, and the temperature inside was a cool seventy
degrees, sweat trickled down my back.

When June had asked me to perform this chore, I’d foolishly thought, “What an easy way to get into her good graces.” Stupid, stupid, stupid. If I blew this, she would think I was an idiot or, even worse, an incompetent female who’d spent her pampered life avoiding hard work.

That would not happen. Counting today, Friday, I had
three days to win over those seven women, and I would not waste this opportunity because of a moody hen.

“Here chick-chick,” I said in a sing-song voice as I
stretched out my hand. “Be a nice girl.”

Her body stiffened, and she hissed at me. I pulled back
my fingers just in time to avoid a peck.

I gritted my teeth. “Look. That egg is just an egg. It’s not
a chick, so hand it over.” Then I sent the hen an image of an egg cracking and no chick inside. Mistake. I sensed her stiffen.

Reaching out my hand, slowly, I continued to hold eye
contact. She stared back without blinking, though she trembled a little. My fingertips touched her feathers, and still she didn’t move. They crept under her, and I splayed my fingers so they could surround the first egg. Gently, gently, I pulled.

“See? That didn’t hurt.”

And then the chicken from hell attacked.

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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)