My name is Ivy Meadows. Actually that’s my stage name. My real name is Olive Ziegwart, which my dad says means “victory nipple” in German, and my agent say is a very bad name for an actor. So now I’m Ivy Meadows. As you may be able to tell, I’m an actress. I also work part-time at my Uncle Bob’s detective agency, so it’s not unusual for me to be searching for someone. It is unusual for me to searching for a little black pug, but my friend Marge’s dog Lassie had joined a pack of feral Chihuahuas that were running amok through Sunnydale, a retirement community on the edge of the Arizona desert. I really needed to find Lassie before a coyote did. And I loved him and Marge so much that I did the near-impossible: I got up at five o’clock in the morning.
Yes, five o’clock. In the morning. The last time I was up at five o’clock I was still awake from the night before. “Not a morning person” is stamped heavily on my DNA. But I’d heard that the pack of Chihuahuas was most active in the early morning and late night and I was at a callback for Annie Get Your Gun last night. So I bit the bullet, got up before anyone ever should, and drove to Sunnydale, where I went through a Jack in the Box drive-through. I took a big swig of coffee as I pulled back into traffic and promptly burnt my tongue. Even that didn’t wake me up entirely. I drove until I came to the spot where I’d seen the Chihuahuas disappear into the desert the night before last. I eased my truck onto the gravelly shoulder and scanned the desert, now charcoal gray under the lightening sky. Nothing.
Even so, I put my plan into action. I got out of the car with my two big Jack in the Box bags. I took a wrapped-up kiddie hamburger from one bag and threw it as far as I could into the desert. I had a pretty good arm, so the burger made it forty feet, rattling a desert broom bush as it touched down. I lobbed another one a bit closer to the road, then another, until I had a Hansel and Gretel trail of burgers leading to the road. Before getting back in my truck, I carefully placed the piece de resistance—a bacon ultimate cheeseburger—on the shoulder near my truck. Lassie loved cheeseburgers. And he loved me. I figured if I could get him this close, his cheeseburger-and-Ivy love would be strong enough to overcome his yearning for a pack, and he’d leave the Chihuahuas and come with me.
I waited in the cab of my truck with the window rolled up, partly because the pre-dawn morning was chilly, but mostly so the dogs would smell hamburgers instead of me. I sipped at my cooling coffee and watched the sun rise over the desert, its long fingers painting the desert gold.
The desert broom near the first burger shook. I watched carefully, but I couldn’t see any animal. Then again, Lassie was black and the Chihuahuas were short. The next bush moved. Definitely something there. I eased open the car door a crack so I could call Lassie when he got near. I watched the brush along the hamburger trail shiver as the dogs got closer.
Wait, what was that rumbling noise? Not thunder. No clouds in the sky. I heard it again, a low growling noise. Oh, sheesh. I took the lone breakfast sandwich out of the Jack in the Box bag and bit into it. Ugh. Cold egg and sticky cheese. At least it could keep my grumbling stomach from scaring the dogs away.
Or was it my stomach? No. Another growl, definitely from outside the truck. And closer. I slid down so most of me wasn’t showing and peered out the dirty window. Two figures slunk close to the dirt, gray and tan bodies blending into the indistinct shadows thrown by the rising sun. They came closer, and yes, they were growling. The noise made the hair on my arms stand up. So I did what any human being would do. I jumped out of the car.
“You better not eat Lassie!” I yelled at the surprised bobcats, whose ears flattened against their heads when they saw me. “If you do, I’ll come for you. And you owe me twenty bucks. Hamburgers don’t grow on bushes, you know.”
You can read more about Ivy in Ivy Get Your Gun, the fourth book in the “Ivy Meadows” mystery series.
There’s a new sheriff in town—and she can sing! When Gold Bug Gulch’s actor-gunslinger Mongo winds up shot for real, actress and part-time PI Ivy Meadows goes undercover as the ingénue in the tourist town’s melodrama. Unfortunately, she’s distracted by a pack of marauding Chihuahuas, a problematic love life, auditions for Annie Get Your Gun, and a personal mission: to show people the real Annie Oakley.
What’s more, the no-good, yellow-bellied varmint who killed Mongo isn’t finished with the Gulch—or with Ivy. Will our heroine prove she can get a man with a gun—before the killer gets her?
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About the author
Cindy Brown has been a theater geek (musician, actor, director, producer, and playwright) since her first professional gig at age 14. Now a full-time writer, she’s the author of the Agatha-nominated Ivy Meadows series, madcap mysteries set in the off, off, OFF Broadway world of theater. Cindy and her husband live in Portland, Oregon, though she made her home in Phoenix, Arizona, for more than 25 years and knows all the good places to hide dead bodies in both cities.
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