A Maizie Albright Star Detective Mystery #2
by Larissa Reinhart
Body doubles, dead bodies, and hot bodies abound…Wait, what?
“Fresh from Hollywood get ready to bubble along with Maizie Albright Star Detective. She’s #adorbs.” — Jena’s Books
“Another fun outing for Maizie Albright, former child star. Larissa Reinhart always brings humor and grit to her mysteries.” — Terri L. Austin, author of the Rose Strickland Mysteries and the Null for Hire series.
In continuing her career-makeover quest as a for-real detective, ex-teen and reality star Maizie Albright has a big learning curve to overcome. A sleuthing background starring in a TV show— Julia Pinkerton, Teen Detective--does not cut the real life mustard. It doesn’t even buy her lunch, let alone extra condiments. Her chosen mentor, Wyatt Nash of Nash Security Solutions, is not a willing teacher. He’d rather stick Maizie with a safe desk job and handle the security solution-ing himself. But Maizie’s got other plans to help Nash. First, win Nash’s trust. Second, his heart.
Wait, not his heart. His respect. His hearty respect.
So when a major movie producer needs a babysitter for his hot mess starlet, Maizie eagerly takes the job. But when her starlet appears dead, and then not dead, Maizie’s got more than an actress to watch and a missing corpse to find. Body doubles, dead bodies, and hot bodies abound when the big screen, small screen, and silent screams collide. Maizie’s on the job, on the skids, and on thin ice, hunting a killer who may be a celebrity stalker. And Maizie just might be the next celebrity who gets snuffed.
Barnes & Noble/Nook: http://smarturl.it/16MMNook1
Black Pine, the city, edged along Black Pine, the lake, which bordered Black Pine, the mountain. This lack of creativity in the name department occurred when rich carpetbagging Georgians of the Gilded Age decided to escape the summer heat in the North Georgia Mountains and parked a golf resort at the base of Black Pine Mountain. In the 1930s, their children persuaded the federal government to spend WPA money on Black Pine. They dammed off a river, creating Black Pine Lake, thereby expanding Black Pine Resort into a yacht club. Now along with wealthy Georgians, rich Californians resort at Black Pine, playing golf and tennis, yachting, and boozing at the Cove bar and restaurant.
I’m sure that’s exactly what Roosevelt had in mind for the New Deal.
Cambria and the other big stars, as well as Leonard Shackleton and the director Ed Farmer, stayed at the villas. The villas were part of the resort, built to resemble their ‘20s bungalow ancestors. The Craftsman-styled one and two bedroom cottages dotted the lake and one golf course. They were darling. Handcrafted wood and stone, with overhanging eaves, little porches, and hipped and gabled roofs. Besides the bedrooms, each cottage had a small living area with a kitchenette. Mucho dinero to stay in a villa. And there weren’t many. Twenty in all. Expensive and exclusive.
Hollywood’s favorite words.
Leonard had called Cambria and arranged for our dinner—“for old time’s sake,” which was weird because Leonard wasn’t part of our old time—and finagled me an earlier invitation to her villa to “catch up.” I showed early, hoping to find her before she began any evening imbibing. At the Cove, I parked my childhood dirt bike, Lucky.
Long story, but minimum wage and the cost of freedom meant I couldn’t afford a real vehicle. Yet. But—as I like to tell myself while I rub Sisley-Paris restorative cream onto my inner thighs at night to relieve them from dirt bike fabric burn—at least Lucky is motorized and not an actual bicycle because I’ve always detested spin.
Anyway, I planned to be on Cam-Cam like Donkey Kong. Referrals were everything. If we did a good job for Leonard Shackleton, it could lead to any number of jobs related to Black Pine’s film and television industry. And like Donkey Kong, I needed to lock Cambria in a tower and prevent the Marios of the world from carrying her off into a booze and drug-infested sunset.
Donkey Kong is so misunderstood.
Summer in Georgia promised the sun heating my bare shoulders at six o’clock. Yachts and speed boats bobbed next to the docks. A few sailboats drifted on the lake. With Black Pine Mountain in the backdrop, the tranquil lake and golf course made for a beautiful setting. The club’s paths were for electric, low-speed use only. No gas vehicles, not even dirt bikes allowed. All the villas guests were given golf carts. I wasn’t a member or guest. Unfortunately, my appearance would give me more street cred with Cambria, so I swapped my sensible Golden Goose sneakers for a pair of delicious Gianvito Rossi Marquis d’Orsay sandals.
After ten minutes of walking, the charm and placidity wore off. Screw appearances, I should have kept the tennies. Sweat pooled in my bra and darkened my Juan Carlos Obando blouse. My feet ached. After a half-mile hobble, I pulled off my Rossi’s and minced off the smoldering rubber path. Taking a deep breath, I wiggled my toes in the cool grass. A cart sped from the cottages toward the resort. I pulled out a packet of wet tissues from my carryall. Checking for stray golfers, I wiped my pits and folded the tissues in the armpits of my cutout sleeves.
Ruining a Juan Carols Obando with sweat stains was worse than getting caught with tissue hanging out of your armpits.
Continuing on my route, I enjoyed the non-pinched feeling of my bare feet and the scent of fresh cut grass breezing from the golf course. The lane moved away from the lake, leading into the woods. Another cart flew past me, the driver intent on gunning the whining engine to its max. Which was tots ridic. Like 20 miles an hour was going to get you to the bar that much faster? These industry peeps needed to take a note from the South and slow the hells down. Stop and smell the roses. Or the golf greens, as it were.
A sign pointed me toward “The Woodland Villas.” My feet and I gladdened and together we set off to find number six. Most of the villas’ tenants were out, golf carts gone. I could hear the drone of a lawn mower somewhere on the resort, but in this area, birds chirped, squirrels scampered, and the spindly Loblolly pines swayed in the breeze, making a rushing sound reminiscent of the California beaches I missed.
The peace broke at the approach of villa six. Music pumped inside. I didn’t hear it so much as felt the tremorous whomping bass. Despite the sunny day, lights glowed in the windows. Yet the golf cart was gone from its spot under the overhang. I slipped on my sandals, yanked the tissues out from under my arms, and did a quick clothing malfunction check (necessary when wearing a V-neck cami). My heels pattered on the slate stones leading to the villa’s porch. A big basket lay askew on the top step. I recognized the basket as the resort’s continental breakfast drop-off. Someone must have set it out recently because the resort wouldn’t have dallied in picking it up. I righted the basket, noting the pretty checked cloth tucked around the edges had kept the pastries from rolling down the steps.
Feeling like the big bad wolf, I peeked inside the Red Ridinghood basket. Cam-Cam hadn’t eaten her muffins. Of course. For a starring role in a big budget, carbs were more evil than controlled substances. And if Leonard Shackleton was producing, Cambria’s part would require a mega-intense fitness regime. Her trainer would be worse—in a better way—than my old trainer. Jerry wouldn’t even let me smell muffins, let alone eat them.
That thought had me reaching for a lemon poppyseed. Good old Jerry seemed long ago and far away. Plus, Cambria couldn’t eat lemon poppyseed for fear of mucking up her drug test. I crammed a chunk of muffin in my mouth, knocked on villa number six’s door, and fast-chewed. Pressed the bell twice, but still no answer. The wood-paneled door was framed by two picture windows. I shifted right. The drapes had been parted to display an empty living room. I angled for a glimpse inside, shading my eyes and squinting. Built-in bookshelves held matching bound books and a massive flat screen. Craftsman-styled furnishings and accessories completed the room, including the kitchen barely visible in the corner. Open bags and cases with camera equipment lay on the thick oriental rug covering the wooden floor.
Music continued to thump through the porch’s floorboards. I rang, then hammered on the door again, tried the knob, and wondered what Cambria was doing with videographer kits. Maybe they were doing pre-release documentary footage for marketing and the final DVD extras. Or she had another job before Leonard’s movie started. I tore off another lemon poppyseed hunk, popped it in my mouth, and thought about leaving. I glanced behind me to the long, long, long path back to the club. Wiggled my pained toes. Considered sitting on the porch to wait. With the basket of muffins. Noted the recent tightness of my jeans. Then traipsed to the right-side window to see what Cambria was doing.
Light gleamed between the curtains and shone on a California King with rumpled sheets and a spread that had half-slid off the bed. Satin-cased pillows had been piled in the middle. Other paraphernalia had been scattered across the sheets. My lemon poppyseed chewing slowed and I felt heat suffuse my cheeks.
I didn’t want to know what kind of filming Cambria had been doing. Or not doing. I backed away from the window, turned toward the stairs, and stopped.
The kind of filming Cam-Cam might have been doing was the exact kind of “shitting up his movie,” Leonard Shackleton had been talking about. Cambria could be blowing her chance for this epic part if she and her boyfriend were getting frisky in front of a camera. A professional camera, by the look of the kit.
Why in the hell would they make a “home movie” with what looked like the kind of camera a documentary director would carry? This wasn’t a GoPro box or a camcorder. My heart thudded and blood heated to shoot up the back of my neck.
Dammit, Cambria was going to blow her shot and my shot and Nash’s shot all in one idiotic, depraved video.
Unless I stopped her.
I spun around and pounded on the door. After waiting another beat, I tromped off the porch and circled the villa to the bedroom side window. A slope made the window too high for easy peeking, but the blinds were up and no curtains barred the view. I tiptoed around to the back of the villa. At the far end, a screen door swung out to reveal a locked, windowed door leading to the tiny kitchenette. The bathroom window revealed nothing except Cambria had a crap ton of makeup.
I stepped away, and spied a pile of logs. Found a sturdy looking piece cut evenly on both ends, hefted it against my satin blouse, and walked back to the bedroom window. Dropped the heavy log, missing my toes by an inch, positioned it below the window, and attempted to pull the splinters from my off-the-shoulder ruffles. Gave up on the splinters and cursed Cambria for her stupidity and for ruining my Juan Carlos Obando. Climbed on the log, rose to my toes, and peered in the window.
Saw the body on the floor.
And fell off the log.
Larissa writes humorous mysteries and romantic comedies including the critically acclaimed Maizie Albright Star Detective and Cherry Tucker Mystery series. She was a contributor to the 2017 Silver Falchion Reader’s Choice winner, was the 2015 Georgia Author of the Year finalist, 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist, 2012 The Emily finalist, and 2011 Dixie Kane Memorial winner. Larissa’s family and dog, Biscuit, had been living in Japan, but once again call Georgia home. See them on HGTV’s House Hunters International “Living for the Weekend in Nagoya” episode. Visit her website, LarissaReinhart.com, and join her newsletter for a free short story.