Nice to meet you, too, Lance. The name’s Jake Martelli. Don’t even think about calling me Jacqueline, or even Jackie. Only my mother is allowed to do that. Luckily, Ma lives in Fort Lauderdale, and since it’s a good three-hour flight from where I live in Brooklyn, I don’t have to put up with hearing that too often.
Right, scotch and soda…and some of those little pretzels, if you have them.
Yeah, I actually have a pretty nice place there. I’ve got the garden apartment in a three-story brownstone, with dirt-cheap rent and pretty much a lifetime lease. There’s a bookstore on the first two floors, which is pretty nice. My best friend, Darla Pettistone, owns the shop…the whole building, as a matter of fact. Or maybe I should say, her and her crazy black cat named Hamlet. But that’s another story.
So, what’s a good-lookin’ broad like me doing alone in an Atlantic City dive bar on a Tuesday night? Not very original, are you, kid? Oh, and don’t even think about trying to put the moves on me. You’re, what, thirty? Well, I’m old enough to be your mother. But pour me another scotch and soda, and I’ll tell you why I’m here.
You remember that couple at the end of the bar awhile back? The fat bald guy in the pink shirt two sizes too small for him, and the skinny blonde with too much makeup? Well, Baldy’s married, but not to Blondie. She’s his “administrative assistant” down at the machine shop where he’s a manager. Turns out Blondie’s been administering to him, all right…and Baldy’s missus got suspicious, so she hired me to get the lowdown.
Yeah, you got it in one. I’m a private detective, just like the character in that paperback novel I see you’ve got stashed behind the cash register. Don’t worry, kid, I’ve got your number. Keep the scotch and sodas coming, and I promise I won’t tell anyone you’re a mystery fan.
Nah, tracking down these two geniuses was kid’s play. Blondie has a big mouth. All it took was going out to lunch the same place she and her pals go, and I found out all about her out-of-town “date” tonight and the “sick day” she plans to take tomorrow. So I show up here and, voila. I watched the two of them get all cozy here in the bar for awhile, and then I followed them back to their room at the motel next door.
Word to the wise, Lance…always close your curtains all the way. Oh, and skip doing a Chippendales striptease act if your belly hangs over your belt. I could go for a quart of brain bleach right about now, if you know what I mean. Anyhow, see this innocent looking smartphone? All the incriminating evidence that will help wifey get a nice little alimony settlement when she divorces the rat is right in here.
So, you think my life is more exciting than tending bar? Eh, sometimes it is. Maybe someday I’ll tell you about my little trip down to Florida last month with my friend, Darla, and her cat. Glamorous? Huh, not much. You try sitting in a parked car for hours at a time waiting for some cheating wife to show up at her boyfriend’s place, and telling yourself you don’t have to pee, and see how glamorous you feel.
Well, Lance, it’s been nice chatting with you, but time to go. I’m going to catch a few winks in that fleabag motel next door and then head out bright and early in the morning for home. But, don’t worry, there are plenty of cheated-on spouses out there just itching to hire a private investigator. I’m sure I’ll be back here again sometime soon tracking down another Baldy and Blondie.
Oh, and maybe next time we have a drink together, we’ll forget that whole “old enough to be your mother” thing and see what happens.
You can read more about Jake in Literally Murder, the 4th book in the “Black Cat Bookshop” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first book in the series is Double Booked for Death.
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on October 2 for the chance to win a copy of LITERALLY MURDER. The giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only.
About the author
Ali Brandon is the New York Times 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, 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.