Reckoning and RuinFashion tips, huh? That’s my topic for the day? I mean, I have expertise in many things, but fashion is not one of them. I work at a gun shop that caters to Civil War reenactors – I’m considered fancy if l don’t have gun oil on the seat of my pants.

Granted, I do have a boyfriend with a closet full of Armani. Trey is a corporate security agent, so he’s required to dress a little more up-market than I do. Plus he has a taste for red couture cocktail dresses, which means I have a few of those hanging in the closet with the tee shirts.

Dressing nicely is usually a waste of time and money for me though, because I have a tendency to stumble into what Trey describes as. . .problematic situations. Things involving grotty skulls and dusty relics and occasionally even bloody murder. Literally. And being a true daughter of the South, I do not hide when trouble rolls up in the yard – I roll up my sleeves and deal with it. And I have learned that having the proper clothing and accessories makes that a whole lot easier.

So if you ever find yourself with an unexpected corpse to deal with, here are some style tips I’ve picked up that might prove helpful.

1. Dump your mascara in the trash. Eye make-up runs when you do, and believe me, solving crimes usually requires running. And then when the cops start asking impertinent questions around the neighborhood, like if you were hanging around some crime scene when you shouldn’t have been, you’re easily identified by your blotchy, raccoon-eyed, sad panda face.

2. Ditto the lipstick. It leaves telltale evidence on glasses and cigarettes. And believe me, you do not want to set yourself up as a suspect when the body count starts to rise.

3. A fine face powder, however, should be in every amateur detective’s bag, along with a roll of transparent tape. Bingo – instant fingerprint kit.

4. Sunscreen is a must, especially if your significant other has Irish skin. Boyfriends, even those of the former cop variety, look for any excuse to avoid helping with an investigation, so you don’t want to give them an easy out like the fact that the Atlanta sun is a blistering melanoma beam.

5. High heels are a mixed blessing. On the negative, they hobble you like a calf rope and screw up your balance something awful. On the plus side, stilettos make a wicked good weapon. . .in your hand. So dress to kill, but if push comes to shove, snatch those shoes off your feet and aim for the eyes.

6. No matter how cute that purse is, if it doesn’t have a lockable holster, it’s not worth the money.

7. If you are ever forced to wear a hoop skirt, remember – those crinolines will conceal just about any weapon you choose to carry. Also, reinforced stockings will hold a knife on one thigh and a bottle of pepper spray on the other. Don’t ask me how I know this.

8. Accessories make or break the outfit. I find that you can’t go wrong with a .38 Special and a hot ex-SWAT boyfriend who drives a Ferrari. Those are classic pieces that never go out of style.

And there you have it – my tips for the fashionable amateur sleuth. So if you find yourself accused of a crime you didn’t commit, or you have to confront your murderous KKK cousins, or if some no-goodnik starts spraying bullets in your general direction. . .you know you’ll look good in the news coverage. Or the mug shot. Whichever.

Reckoning and Ruin is the fifth book in the Tai Randolph mystery series, published by Poisoned Pen Press, April 2016.

Reckoning and Ruin. That’s what Savannah is to Tai Randolph who’s gladly rebooted her life in Atlanta and is celebrating several landmarks. A year running the Confederate-themed gun shop she inherited with its busy schedule of reenactments. A year with her sexy, ex-SWAT-team lover Trey, now working a corporate security gig, who’s having to reboot his own life and brain after a terrible auto accident. A year of confronting a checkered list of ruffians and outright villains, mostly now put behind bars. One of those convicted criminals is her cousin Jasper, whose disreputable family was a big part of Tai’s childhood in Savannah.

Tai is determined to keep her amateur sleuthing in the past, not just for her sake, but for Trey’s. But here comes Jasper again, complete with a fancy, high-priced new lawyer and a scheme that will surely ruin Tai and Trey financially. But is there more? Jasper, the leader of a white militia splinter group too violent for even the Klan, must be up to something worse than wrecking Tai’s life. When other witnesses against Jasper start turning up dead, she decides she has to take him down once and for all. And act on her own, a strategy that high-adrenaline Tai has been working to modify in her life with Trey.

Soon she’s back in Savannah and deep in familiar troubles―a missing ex-boyfriend, a creepily poetic stalker, a passel of stolen money. She’s forced to confront old memories and older ghosts, including an uncomfortable reunion with her Uncle Boone, who’s keeping secrets he’d rather die with than reveal. Worst of all, her relationship with Trey starts to fray, and she realizes that chasing the truth might cost her the man she loves.

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About the author
Tina Whittle’s Tai Randolph/Trey Seaver series — featuring intrepid gunshop owner Tai and her corporate security agent partner Trey — has garnered starred reviews in Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal. The fifth book in this Atlanta-based series, Reckoning and Ruin, is available now from Poisoned Pen Press. A nominee for Georgia Author of the Year, Tina enjoys golf, sushi, and reading tarot cards. You can find her at her official website —

Giveaway: Leave comment below for your chance to win a paperback or e-book of any book in the series (The Dangerous Edge of Things, Darker Than Any Shadow, Blood, Ash, And Bone, Deeper Than The Grave, Reckoning and Ruin). US entries only for print; e-book open to everyone. The giveaway will end April 14, 2016 at 12 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

All comments are welcomed.

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