Hi, this is Robert. I’m that totally handsome dude that works at Pettistone’s Fine Books here in Brooklyn. Ha, ha, just kidding about the handsome. I look pretty regular, I guess…except when I shave off my eyebrows and draw on eyeliner and put in my nose ring and earrings. Then I look kinda bad-ass, since I wear all black, too. Some people get, you know, freaked out when they see someone Goth like me, but I think it’s a good look. Of course, Ms. Pettistone doesn’t let me dress like that for work. And since she’s the owner of the bookstore, I gotta do what she says, though I do get to wear black.
Ms. Pettistone is really nice. She hired me even though I once kind of accused her of killing someone. I mean, she didn’t really, but me and my friends thought it was all her fault. It wasn’t, though. She’s not bad for a boss…I’ve worked for some pretty creepy dudes before, like the guy that runs the porn shop, so it’s nice to have a, you know, regular boss person in charge. Plus she even gives me a discount on books. She has this weird accent because she’s from Texas, but I try not to laugh at it. She probably thinks we talk funny, too.
Oh, speaking about funny, I’ve got this new thing I do. The Big Hoss—that’s Professor James, our store manager—wears these really lame sweater vests all the time since he used to teach at the college before he retired. So I went down to the thrift store with my girlfriend and got some totally retro vests that I wear to work, too. It’s pretty funny. We look like twins…well, except I’m a young white dude, and he’s this old black dude. Anyhow, I think he got the joke. He’s, like, really smart and stuff. I kind of wish he was my grandpa.
Okay, so I’m supposed to tell you about my day. I’ve worked here at the bookstore for almost six months now. It’s a really good job, especially ‘cause I’m eighteen and I don’t have, you know, a college degree or anything. It’s not that hard of work. Mostly I get to stock the shelves and move all the boxes while Professor James recommends books to little old ladies and sells books online for the store. But I get to run the cash register sometimes when it’s busy, and I make sure the security system is running okay, and stuff like that.
On the days I help Ms. Pettistone open up the store, I have to get up really early, like at nine in the a.m.! (Seriously, who gets up then?) While Ms. P. starts the register and goes through the paperwork, I go up and down the aisles and sweep the floors and make sure the books are where they’re supposed to be. You wouldn’t believe how some people are so freakin’ dumb. They think it’s this big joke to put books on the wrong shelf, so I’ve always got to put stuff back in the right place. But one morning I found twenty bucks on the floor when I was sweeping. No one came back to claim it, so Ms. Pettistone let me keep it. Sweet!
Oh, I almost forgot to tell you about the coolest thing here. We have this really sick mascot (that means “cool” for all you old people reading this). He’s this huge black cat named Hamlet, and he’s, like, almost a person. I call him my little Goth bro. Ms. Pettistone tells everyone that Hamlet actually is the one who hired me. He chased everyone else out of the store who filled out a job application. But we’re, like, on this same mental wavelength. I taught him how to fist bump and everything. He’s supposed to be Ms. Pettistone’s cat, but I kinda think he likes me best. Well, maybe after Professor James.
Okay, I could tell you more stuff, like about the lady PI who lives in Ms. Pettistone’s building. Her name’s Jake and she’s really sick even though she used to be a cop. (No offense if you’re a cop, or something.) I don’t know if she has a gun, but she could totally beat someone up. And next door at Bygone Days Antiques there’s Miss Plinski and her brother, Mr. Plinski. They’re, like, really really really old. I mean, they’ve got to be seventy, at least. I get to live in the apartment in their basement for really cheap since I help them out sometimes at their store. Sweet times two!
Anyhow, that’s it. I have to get back to work. Chillax!
You can read more about Robert in Words With Fiends, the third book in the “Black Cat Bookshop” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first book in the series is Double Booked For Death. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.
Thanks to Penguin, I have one (1) copy of “Words With Fiends” to give away. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. Contest ends November 13; US entries only per publisher’s request.
Meet the author
Ali Brandon is the national bestselling author of the Black Cat Bookshop Mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime. Writing under her real name, Diane A.S. Stuckart, she penned the popular Leonardo da Vinci historical mystery series—also from Berkley—which has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, as well as a Florida Book Award. Additionally, she is the author of five critically-reviewed historical romances which will soon be re-released as ebooks. A native Texan with a degree in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma, Diane a/k/a Ali now lives in South Florida. She’s a member of Mystery Writers of America and the Cat Writers Association. Visit her at www.dianestuckart.com or www.alibrandon.com.