Being a former beauty queen and a private investigator can be problematic, but before you get any misconceptions about me, the pageant part was all my mother’s idea. If there’d been a way to enter me into those ghastly child contests before I was born, I would’ve been a contender for Little Miss Fetus. Now that I’m out from under all the sequins, I’ve managed to make my own career, and I’ve solved several murders in my little southern town of Celosia, North Carolina.
My latest case involves wealthy Wendall Clarke, who has decided to renovate an old building on Main Street and open an art gallery. As an artist, myself, I think this is a great idea, but the local Art Guild has gone into orbit. Wendall’s past reputation as a show-off isn’t helping his cause, and there’s something iffy about his new wife, Flora. Wendall’s ex-wife, Larissa, resents this newer, younger, blonder wife, and members of the guild are fighting over whose art work goes in the gallery first. Someone has even gone so far as to heave a brick through the gallery’s front window. It doesn’t take much to set off my fellow Celosians, and tempers are seething all over town.
However, my biggest challenge is trying to reform my husband, Jerry Fairweather. He’s promised not to hold any more fake séances or run any more cons, but his shady friends keep pulling him back under. He’s being pestered by Honor Perkins—yes, there’s a con woman named Honor, who not only wants him back in the game, she wants him back in her life. She has quite a reputation, too. Her schemes and tricks are distracting, but not as distracting as my strange little bouts of morning nausea. Lord, I can’t be pregnant. That’s the last thing I need.
Today, I’m hoping to settle things with Bea Ricter, a member of the Art Guild, an ornery little woman who holds some sort of grudge against Wendall. Well, she holds a grudge against practically everyone. I’m also hoping to find something else for Jerry to do. He enjoys playing the piano for our community theater productions, but music, like art, really doesn’t pay.
Wendall’s boasting, Honor’s pranks, Jerry’s backsliding, and Bea’s just plain meanness—I’ve got my work cut out for me. Someone’s reputation is going to get them in trouble.
You can read more about Madeline in A Bad Reputation, the fourth book in the “Madeline Maclin” mystery series, published by Poisoned Pen Press. The first book in the series is Case of Imagination. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.
GIVEAWAY: Comment on this post by noon EST on February 7, and you will be entered to win an autographed copy of A Bad Reputation. One winner will be chosen at random. Unless specified, U.S. entries only.
Meet the author
Jane Tesh, a retired media specialist, lives in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, Andy Griffith’s hometown, the real Mayberry. She enjoys working with the local community theater and writing plays for children. A Bad Reputation is the fourth Madeline Maclin Mystery featuring ex-beauty queen Madeline Maclin, her con man husband, Jerry Fairweather, and the fractious inhabitants of Celosia, NC.
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