lucky stiffMattie Winston as seen through the eyes (and nose!) of her dog, Hoover

My name is Hoover and I’m a dog. I share a house with two cats and a human named Mattie Winston. I don’t much like cats, but one was already here when my mistress brought me home. She calls him Rubbish because she found him in a garbage bin. It wasn’t too bad when it was just him and me, but then a black and white cat called Tux appeared and nearly got me and Mattie killed in the process. Fortunately we all survived and now the cats have it made. Mattie lets them share the bed with us, their food smells way better than mine, and they get to go to the bathroom inside all the time, something that comes in handy during the cold Wisconsin winters.

I do typical dog things, like chase squirrels, dig in the dirt, fetch balls, and adore my mistress. But my absolute favorite thing to do is smell. I have a very sensitive nose, so smells are fascinating to me whether they’re good smells, bad smells, or something in between.

It was a really good smell that led me to Mattie. I was starving and scavenging for scraps by the garbage bins in a grocery store parking lot. Then there she was, this tall, blonde woman, calling to me. I was afraid at first because other humans weren’t always nice to me, but she had some kind of chicken stuff and it smelled so good I couldn’t resist. I ate so fast I barely tasted it. Then Mattie petted my head and stroked my fur and talked to me so sweet that from that moment on I was devoted to her. As soon as she opened her car door I jumped inside and I’ve been living with her ever since.

Mattie works with dead people all the time. She says she used to cut people open to save lives in her job as a nurse, but now she works for Izzy, our neighbor, and she cuts people open to see why they died. She also works with this other human named Hurley. He is something called a detective and based on the smells he and Mattie emit when they’re together, I’m pretty sure my mistress would like to kick me and the cats out of her bed and let Hurley in it instead. I can understand why she likes him. Not only does he pat me on the head and scratch behind my ears all the time, he doesn’t like cats! Plus he always has lots of interesting smells on him.

Mattie has a lot of interesting smells, too, especially when she comes home from work. She always smells like food, but sometimes she smells of other things, like death, or chemicals, or more recently, smoke. I love all these fascinating smells, but Mattie is quick to get in the shower and wash them away. She does the same thing to me when I find something dead and stinky outside to roll in. As soon as I come inside she drags me into the bathtub with some foo-foo shampoo, and I end up fluffy and smelling like flowers. It’s humiliating. The cats laugh at me because they never have to get bathed. Cats never have to do anything they don’t want to because they have claws like ninja throwing stars.

Mattie works crazy hours and gets called out in the middle of the night a lot. Sometimes she lets me ride along with her, though she usually makes me wait in the car. And what a great car it is! Mattie calls it a hearse and I guess it used to be used to transport dead people. Mattie’s job has nothing to do with how she got the hearse, though. Apparently it was the only car she could afford after leaving the guy she usually calls a cheating scumbag, although sometimes she calls him David. I’m glad because this car is filled with interesting smells. It’s really big and when it’s not too cold Mattie puts the windows down and lets me hang my head out. I love feeling the wind on my face and all the great smells that come with it. The hearse has great smells when the windows are up, too. I also like the way it makes Mattie laugh when I’m lying down in the back and we go to a drive-through and she tells the people in the food place to throw in an extra burger for her friend in the back. The people in the food place don’t laugh. They look like I do when I’m facing down a cat.

Mattie does a lot of drive-throughs and take-outs, and sometimes people bring food to the house. Mattie doesn’t cook much but she loves to eat as much as I do and she’s always willing to share. I once heard her say she chose my name because I suck up food like a vacuum. I find that a little insulting because I now know what a vacuum is and that thing scares the crap out of me! Even the cats are afraid of it. It’s loud and it makes things go away and never come back.

If only I could use the vacuum on the cats.

Beth is giving away one (1) copy of LUCKY STIFF. Contest open to US residents only and ends March 6. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. Book will be shipped from the author.

Meet the author
Annelise Ryan is a pseudonym for author Beth Amos, the author of the Mattie Winston forensic mystery series. Previous books in the series include Working Stiff, Scared Stiff, and Frozen Stiff. The fourth book, LUCKY STIFF, comes out March 5, 2013.

Beth is a real life emergency room RN working and living in Wisconsin. She has always believed laughter truly is the best medicine, and with the Mattie Winston series she is hoping to “medicate” the masses. Beth penned three suspense novels under her own name in the nineties, and has a new mystery series coming out under the pseudonym Allyson K. Abbott beginning in September of 2013 with Murder On The Rocks.

There are several reasons why Beth decided to use pseudonyms, not the least of which is the fact that her ER patients might not be comfortable knowing she spends her spare time thinking up creative ways to kill people.

Visit Beth at and

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

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