“Ciao, y’all. You’ll never guess where I am—in the dressing room at Madame Moiselle’s strip club on Bourbon Street. Why? Well, you remember Glenda O’Brien, my sixty-something ex-stripper landlady?”
“How could they forget me, Miss Franki?” Glenda fluffed her apple-pastied breasts in her Stripper Snow White shirt. “I’m a lady legend down here in New Orleans.” She pulled a sewing needle from a bosom-shaped pincushion. “Now face forward so I can finish your costume.”
“Oh.” I turned back toward the mirror. “So Glenda’s sewing me into a costume, but Marilyn Monroe at JFK’s birthday I am not. Thanks to a run-in with a raging Russian during a bikini wax, I look more like a Mardi Gras tiger with mange.”
“That babushka’s got a bad attitude.” Glenda stuck the needle into the tiger-striped fabric at my bottom. “But tell them about Amber, sugar.”
“Okay.” I cast a cagey look at my backside. “Amber is a young woman who used to strip at Madame Moiselle’s. The manager found her onstage, but she definitely wasn’t dancing. Instead, she was dead in a claw-foot bathtub surrounded by a candle, some incense, and a bottle of amaretto. But that’s not the weird part.”
“Bestill your booty, sugar.” Glenda brandished a pair of scissors at my behind.
I gave her a pre-pounce glare while she clipped her sewing thread. “As I was saying, the crazy thing is that before she was killed, Amber stole a necklace made from a piece of the missing Amber Room— a priceless work of art that the Nazis took from Russia during World War II.”
“And that necklace belonged to one of my squirrel friends, Carnie Vaul.” Glenda pressed the Velcro closures at my hip.
“In case you’re not up on drag queen discourse,” I said, eyeing the Velcro, “squirrel friends are men who hide their nuts. And Carnie doesn’t just hide her nuts, she is nuts. In fact, if she hadn’t hired me to find her necklace and Amber’s killer, I’d suspect her of killing that poor girl.”
Glenda handed me a pair of purple-and-gold platform pumps emblazoned with the LSU tiger. “She’s a little tense, but it’s hard being a queen. Just ask Elizabeth Windsor.”
I smirked and began to work my foot into one of the six-inch shoes. “Anyway, Glenda’s my consultant on Amber’s case, and we have a lengthy list of suspects. Besides the raging Russian, there’s the club manager, a Texas oil baron, a stripper named Saddle, and a pimp-turned preacher. So, we’re setting a trap for the killer by billing me as Amber’s cousin, Tiger Eye, in tonight’s strip revue at Madame Moiselle’s.”
I grabbed Glenda’s shoulder for support as I climbed into the other shoe, and I saw a gleam in her eye. “Why are you looking at me like that? What have you done?”
“Coming to the stage,” the club DJ boomed over the sound system, “Tiger Eye, the late, great Amber’s porn star cousin.”
“Porn star?!” I spun around on Glenda like a wild animal on the hunt.
“Go catch the tiger by the tail, Miss Franki.” She shoved me onto the stage.
I stumbled into the spotlight and caught sight of a tail she’d sewn onto my costume, and I had a sneaking suspicion that tiger she was talking about was me.
Amaretto Amber is the third book in the Franki Amato mystery series, published by Gemma Halliday Publishing, June 2016.
Private investigator Franki Amato has just turned thirty, and she feels anything but festive. For starters, she can’t have cake because she’s given up sweets, and one of her teeth is torturing her. To add insult to birthday injury, she has to investigate a surreal strip club homicide—with her sixtyish ex-stripper landlady. Then her Sicilian grandma crashes the New Orleans non-party and insists that she steal a lemon to land a husband. Unfortunately for Franki, the man she has in mind has his mind somewhere else, and their relationship seems to have soured. Adding to her troubles, she has to figure out what a missing amber pendant and a mysterious amaretto bottle have to do with the murder, not to mention why she’s being followed. When a second dancer goes down and a third is threatened, Franki turns to a weird witch to crack the case and cancel a curse before someone blows out her candles for good.
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About the author
Traci Andrighetti is the national bestselling author of the Franki Amato mysteries and the Danger Cove Hair Salon mysteries. 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 busy working on A Poison Manicure and Peach Liqueur, the forthcoming novels in her two series, then she’s probably still celebrating the news that Deadly Dye and a Soy Chai, the debut mystery in her Danger Cove Hair Salon series, is a finalist for the 2016 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense.
Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Amaretto Amber. US entries, please. Five lucky winners will be selected. The giveaway will end August 5, 2016 at 12 AM (midnight) EST. Good luck everyone!
All comments are welcomed.