A day in my life? Okay, well, I can tell you about today, but I’ll need to backtrack a bit. Now, keep in mind that my motto is “When life gives you lemons, make Limoncello.” But after the events of the past few weeks, I’m sort of inclined to skip the “making” Limoncello part and go straight to drinking it.
It all started on the morning of December 26th in Austin, Texas, when my police partner and I responded to a 911 call reporting a woman in distress at a local motel. Let’s just say that a woman was in distress, but that woman was me—after I found my boyfriend, Vince, at the scene. And the woman? Oh, she was there too. But as it so happens, she wasn’t distressed at all. Quite the contrary.
Later that day I gave notice to the police department. Don’t think I’m a flake or anything, because I’m not. The thing is, I had issues with certain aspects of the job before the incident at the motel, like the routine violence. There’s just no getting used to, say, being punched in the face on Halloween night by a drunken sorority girl who—to add insult to injury—said she’d thought I was a civilian in an “unsexy cop” costume.
The time had come for a complete life do-over. So, I accepted my best friend Veronica’s standing offer to work at her startup detective agency, Private Chicks, Inc., in New Orleans. Then I packed up my 1965 cherry-red Mustang convertible and set off with my Cairn terrier, Napoleon, for The Big Easy, where I had fully intended to laisser les bons temps rouler.
But when I turned onto my new street in the Uptown neighborhood, an ominous pall was cast on my partying plans. (Did I mention that I’m somewhat superstitious?) Yes, there was a jazz funeral in full swing, so to speak. It turns out that the apartment Veronica had helped me rent in her ex-stripper landlady’s fourplex was right across the street from a creepy cemetery. And, thankfully, a bar.
So, on a typical day, I’m greeted by the cemetery’s spooky statues and ghoulish gargoyles before I drive to work in the French Quarter. Then, after I park, I usually have to dodge the ever-present hordes of tourists, drunks, crazies, artists, and mimes as I make my way to the office. I have to steer clear of the beignet vendors, too, because I just can’t resist those puffy, powdered sugar–covered pastries. (You know Italians and dough products.)
Sometimes, I stop by Ponchartrain Bank to do some banking and visit with my teller friend, Corinne. All right, so maybe I also go there to see Bradley Hartmann, the dashingly handsome bank president. But it’s not because I’m desperate or anything . . . At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.
You see, I’m 29, Italian-American and single. The single part would be okay if it weren’t for the fact that, according to my nonna, 29 is really 45 in Italian years. I know because she reminds me that I’m a zitella, or old maid, every chance she gets. My parents don’t try to stop her either, because I’m their only daughter, and they want to see me settled. I’d like that too, but not the way they would—that is, with a baby in one arm and another in the proverbial oven while I stir a pot of ragù in my red and white gingham apron. The problem is that my family has roots in Nola. So, my nonna has set me up with a slew of Sicilian suitors, which means that in addition to the tourists et al., I’m often dodging blind dates on my way to work (that’s right, she gives out my office address, just in case).
Once I’m safely at my desk, I check my mail, make some calls, update case files and things like that. Mostly, I do a lot of research, unless our part-time assistant, David, is available to help.
But today is different. Veronica and I are investigating the homicide of Jessica Evans, the beautiful young manager of a local LaMarca, the famous international boutique. Jessica was found there, strangled to death with a cheap yellow scarf. When I went to LaMarca to investigate, I found something the cops had overlooked—a sinister item with grave implications. The only one who can help me make sense of the murder (and, incidentally, my love life) is Odette Malveaux. Who’s she? Rumor has it that she’s the descendent of Marie Laveau, New Orleans’ legendary voodoo queen. So, I’m about to go to a voodoo store on Bourbon Street to find her.
No big deal. Right?
You can read more about Franki in Limoncello Yellow, the first book in the “Franki Amato” mystery series, published by Gemma Halliday Publishing. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.
Francesca “Franki” Amato is a tough-talking rookie cop in Austin, Texas—until an unfortunate 911 call involving her boyfriend, Vince, and a German female wrestler convinces her once and for all that she just isn’t cut out for a life on the police force. So Franki makes the snap decision to move to New Orleans to work at her friend Veronica’s detective agency, Private Chicks, Inc. But Franki’s hopes for a more stable life are soon dashed when Private Chicks is hired by the prime suspect in a murder case to find out what really happened to a beautiful young boutique manager who was found strangled to death with a cheap yellow scarf. When she’s not investigating, Franki is hoping to seduce handsome bank executive Bradley Hartmann, but most of her time is spent dodging date offers from a string of “good Italian boys”—make that not-so-good aging Italian men—that her meddlesome Sicilian grandma has recruited as marriage candidates. As Mardi Gras approaches and the mystery of the murdered shop girl gets more complicated, Franki must decipher the odd ramblings of a Voodoo priestess to solve both the murder and the mystery of her own love life.
GIVEAWAY: Comment on this post by noon EST on February 1, and you will be entered to win a copy of either the print OR digital version of Limoncello Yellow. One winner will be chosen at random.
Meet the author
Traci Andrighetti is the author of the Franki Amato mystery series. In her previous life, she was an award-winning literary translator and a Lecturer of Italian at the University of Texas at Austin, where she earned a PhD in Applied Linguistics. But then she got wise and ditched that academic stuff for a life of crime—writing, that is.
If she’s not hard at work on her next novel, Prosecco Pink, Traci is probably watching her favorite Italian soap opera, eating Tex Mex or sampling fruity cocktails, and maybe all at the same time. She lives in Austin with her husband, young son (who desperately wants to be in one of her books) and three treat-addicted dogs.
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