My boss’s mother, Mama Bones Bonacelli, is on line one when I arrive at the office — some kind of confrontation with the Branchtown police. Oh, boy. Line two is that tight-assed cutie from the American Association of Securities Dealers, Ann Marie Talbot. A pretty-but-repressed schoolmarm type, Ann Marie wants to update me on her regulatory audit of our bond firm.
I’d like to update her audit.
I flip a coin to see who gets first shot at me.
“Hi, Mama Bones. What’s up?”
“’Allo, Austin. I need-a your help.”
Mr. Vic’s mom, Angelina Bonacelli, has lived in Branchtown, New Jersey sixty-three of her sixty-eight years, but she still speaks English as if she’d heard our language for the first time last week. She does this on purpose — makes herself sound helpless — when in truth the woman is tougher than week-old tomato pie. I tuck the phone between my shoulder and ear. “What’s the matter, Mama Bones. One of your zombies bite a cop?”
“Up yours,” she says. “My boy Vittorio says I should call you if I need help while he’s outta town. And I need your help. I’m under the arrest.”
“Under arrest? You’re at the police station?”
“I’m home now, but the policeman is here to take me there. He says I cheated on the bingo game.”
“At the church. You know. I go every Sunday night. The policeman says the game is fixed, that I gotta go to jail. Can you believe such a thing about Mama Bones?”
“Austin?” It’s my associate Carmela, tugging on my sleeve. “Ms. Talbot said to tell you she’s finished the audit and that she’s leaving town. She needs to talk to you immediately. And Bobby Gee says you have to speak with one of Vic’s clients.”
The heck with Talbot, the AASD, Vic’s client, and Bobby Gee. Bingo, huh? I’m really curious about this. The world of chance is Mama Bones’ oyster, and if there’s a way to cheat at bingo, she’s the one to have figured it out. By successfully playing the ponies each Saturday, the long widowed Mama Bones put Vic through four years at Rutgers.
“Can I talk to the policeman, Mama Bones? Maybe I can straighten this out.”
“Sure, smarty pants. That’s why I called. It’s your friend, Jimmy Mallory.”
This is how my days have been going since Shore Securities’ boss Vic Bonacelli took his family on an extended vacation to Italy, an event that kicked off my second mystery adventure, BIG MONEY. And right about here I would love to ask author Jack Getze some pointed questions about this novel of mine, but since I did that last time, Dru said it was Getze’s turn to make the inquiries.
The Famous Author (TFA) (His family and I call Getze The Famous Author because he is so NOT famous.) – Scruffy, naïve, cocky, shady, scumbag, accursed and “a hot mess” are a few of the terms Goodreads reviewers have used to describe you. What’s the truth, Austin? Are you a good guy or a bad guy?
Austin Carr (AC) – Black or white, I’m a good guy. Pretty women can potentially make me twist a financial regulation or two, so I’d understand if you wouldn’t want me to handle your stock and bond investments. But my two children — Beth and Ryan – are the most important things in my life. I’m a single dad. I love animals, redheads, Mexican food. And when life calls me to battle, my weapon of choice is a full-boat grin. Easy-going is my middle name. Also, in BIG MONEY, you’ll see I’m loyal to a fault.
The Famous Author (TFA) – I guess easy and loyal are two ways to describe your actions in the second Austin Carr Mystery, although I can think of less flattering terms: Risky, stupid, naïve –
AC – Hey! Everything I do, everything I say comes from your head, bozo. Don’t start.
The Famous Author (TFA) – And don’t forget self-incriminating. I love what Kirkus Indie said about your “vestigial moral sensibility, which like an appendix, makes itself felt at inconvenient times.”
AC – You want to talk about moral sensibilities, Getze? How many more times than twice have you been married?”
The Famous Author (TFA) – Ouch. Okay, I’m backing off. Let’s keep this discussion on point. Although it’s not really fair because I still owe you a zinger from the last time we appeared on Dru’s blog.
AC – You owe me two zingers now, ace. But trust me, a truce is in your best interests. I will out zing you all day and all night. You couldn’t catch up in a month of Sundays — with Jimmy Fallon writing your material. You have no timing. Now ask me a decent question. Something interesting.
The Famous Author (TFA) – Dru’s guests often describe a typical day in their life. Why don’t you tell us what your days are like.
AC – Are you kidding? I did that already, remember? Mama Bones needed my help with Branchtown’s local law enforcement?
The Famous Author (TFA) – Oh, yeah. What crime did she commit again?
AC – She got caught cheating at the church bingo game.
The Famous Author (TFA) – That’s right. Odd. I already know the answer, of course, and I’m not going to ask, but shouldn’t you tell Dru’s readers how Mama Bones actually cheated at the bingo game? I bet they’re curious.
AC – I’m not telling. They have to buy the book, or ask someone whose read it, or wait for Dru to tell them if she reads it. It’s called a sales hook, TFA.
The Famous Author (TFA) – Sounds more like a cheap trick. Some people reading this are really anxious to know.
AC – Cheap trick is my middle name.
The Famous Author (TFA) – I thought you said easy-going was your middle name?
AC – That’s right. I have three: Easy-Going, Cheap Trick and TFA is a Sucker.
You can read more about Austin in Big Money, the second book in the “Austin Carr” mystery series, published by Down & Out Books. The first book in the series is Big Numbers. Books are available at online booksellers.
GIVEAWAY: Comment on this post by noon EST on February 2, and you will be entered to win a copy of either the print OR digital version of Big Money. One winner will be chosen at random.
Meet the author
Former Los Angeles Times reporter Jack Getze is Fiction Editor for Anthony-nominated Spinetingler Magazine, one of the internet’s oldest websites for noir, crime, and horror short stories. His screwball Austin Carr mysteries, Big Numbers and Big Money, are being reissued in 2013 by Down and Out Books, with the new Big Mojo set for 2014. His short stories have appeared online at A Twist of Noir, Beat to a Pulp, and The Big Adios.