High StrungMy name’s Jax and I live in Seattle, the Emerald City—not because of how lush the landscape is, but because of all the green Starbucks signs everywhere you look. I love it here, not just for the coffee, but because Seattle is a mecca for glass art. I make glass beads for a living, melting slender rods of colorful glass that I sculpt using a 2,000 degree torch. I use the beads I make to create handmade jewelry that I sell at local shops.

When I inherited a bungalow from my Great-Aunt Rita in this glass-loving city, I had to leave Miami, with its hurricanes and jumbo-sized bugs, behind. Several years ago, my great-aunt had split the house down the middle to create a duplex. I live in one side of the house and Val lives in the other. I’ve lived next door to her for nearly three years now, and they have been some of the best in my life. Val is enormous in every way—big red hair, big bones (I say with the utmost tact), and big jewelry—the glitzier, the better. Oh, she’s a science-fiction fan girl, but that’s too complicated to explain right now.

Most days, I’d get up and pull the beads I’d made the day before from the kiln. It’s always fun to see how everything turns out and decide what I want to work on next. Then I’d head down the hall to the kitchen, where my cat Gumdrop would be impatiently pacing back and forth. I’d pull out a green ice cube from the cute pink plastic tray in the freezer and pop it into the cat’s empty food bowl. As soon as Gumdrop saw the frozen cube of catnip, he’d go wild, jumping on the bowl, and skidding across the hardwood floor into the hallway. While Gumdrop enjoyed his treat, I’d usually make a big pot of coffee, and enjoy the first of many cups of the day.

A Bead in The HandBut today is not a usual day, and this has not been a usual weekend. This was supposed to be a Weekend of Education, Enlightenment, and Design—I haven’t told Judy that the acronym for her event is WEED. It’s not the best choice for an event where a bunch of women are going to buy and sell beads and drink a little too much chardonnay at a bead shop.

Rosie, the owner of the shop, was strangled with her own necklace last night. Fortunately, I got to her just in time and called 911. At the hospital, the doctor thought she would recover, but was running tests to make sure there was no permanent damage. Without my purse or cell phone, I had to bribe a taxi driver with one of my favorite necklaces so I could get home from the hospital.

This morning, instead of waking up to Gumdrop’s impatient yowls from the kitchen, I woke up to the sound of someone pounding on my front door. It was my best friend Tessa, who is punctual, bossy, and petite. In other words, she is the opposite of me in almost every way. We sat at the old oak table in my dining room so we could fill each other in on what had happened last night when Rosie was injured.

My houseguest, Marta, shuffled into the kitchen with her Bassett hound galumphing behind her. I can’t believe I let her stay here this weekend with her high-maintenance dog. To make matters worse, Gumdrop has flown the coop, and I’m frantic to find him. Not only had he been traumatized when Marta showed up with her dog, but he’d gotten into a lot of trouble when he tried to jump into the cocktail glass of a reporter who was sitting on my sofa two nights ago. I can tell you this: cats and mojitos (laced with catnip) in the lap of someone you’re trying to impress are not a good combo!

Tessa was anxious to get over to the bead shop to make sure it was ready for today’s WEED events. As we drove to the store in my red VW convertible, The Ladybug, I thought about Rosie. When I found her last night she was sliding down the stairs with one end of her necklace wrapped around the balcony’s railing and other end cinched tight around her neck. Was this an accident or something more sinister?

I needed to find out.

High Strung is the first book in the “Glass Bead” mystery series, published by Booktrope Editions, August 2015.

After inheriting a house in Seattle, Jax O’Connell is living the life of her dreams as a glass beadmaker and jewelry designer. When she gets an offer to display her work during a bead shop’s opening festivities, it’s an opportunity Jax can’t resist—even though Rosie Perez, the store’s owner, is the surliest person Jax has ever met.

The weekend’s events become a tangled mess when a young beadmaker is found dead nearby and several oddball bead enthusiasts are suspects. Jax must string together the clues to clear her friend Tessa’s name—and do it before the killer strikes again.

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All comments are welcomed.

Meet the author
Janice Peacock decided to write her first mystery novel after working in a glass studio full of colorful artists who didn’t always get along. They reminded her of the odd, and often humorous, characters in the murder mystery books she loved to read. Inspired by that experience, she combined her two passions and Janice Peacockwrote High Strung: A Glass Bead Mystery, the first book in a new cozy mystery series featuring glass beadmaker Jax O’Connell.

When Janice Peacock isn’t writing about glass artists who are amateur detectives, she makes glass beads using a torch, designs one-of-a-kind jewelry, and makes sculptures using hot glass. An award-winning artist, her work has been exhibited internationally and is in the permanent collections of several museums. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, three cats, and seven chickens. She has a studio full of beads. . .lots and lots of beads.

Connect with Janice Peacock at www.JanicePeacock.com, on her blog, Books, Beads and Babble, on Twitter, on Instagram, on Esty, on Goodreads, on Pinterest and on Facebook. You can also sign up for Janice’s newsletter HERE.

Giveaway: Leave comment below for your chance to win one digital copy of High Strung and A Bead in the Hand. The giveaway will end February 3 at 12 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

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