Drag queens meet the high-fashion mob in this fun, fast-paced follow-up to Halliday's delectable Spying in High Heels. A kids' shoe designer whose best creations end up in Payless, Maddie Springer is a down-to-earth blonde whose tough luck with men has her forbidding friends and family to mention her last boyfriend, LAPD detective Jack Ramirez. Her mom had similar luck with Maddie's father, Larry, who ran off to Vegas with a showgirl named Lola when Maddie was three. But when Maddie receives a cryptic plea from Larry on her answering machine�punctuated by a gunshot�she decides to investigate, trekking to Sin City with her voluptuous, well-armed best friend Dana and their gay cohort, Marco. There, they soon discover that Larry and Lola are one and the same, that an innocuous nightclub fronts an ingenious counterfeit shoe scheme and that�naturally�there's a murderer on the loose. This amusing whodunit scores big with inimitable characters like psychic Mrs. Rosenblatt, Maddie's tell-all mom and bad-boy Ramirez, who shows up with some surprises in tow. Maddie's winning return, with her bold comical voice and knack for thinking fast on her strappy slingbacks, will elicit cheers from fans of the growing chick mystery field. (Mar.)Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Killer in High Heelsby Gemma Halliday
L.A. shoe designer Maddie Springer hasn't seen her father since he reportedly ran off to Las Vegas with a showgirl named Lola. So she's shocked when he leaves a desperate plea for help on her answering machine - ending in a loud bang. Gunshot? Car backfire? Never one to leave her curiosity unsatisfied, Maddie straps on her stilettos and, along with her trigger-happy best friend, makes tracks for Sin City in search of her MIA dad.
Maddie hits the jackpot, all right. She finds not only her dad, but also a handful of aging drag queens, an organized crime ring smuggling fake Prada pumps, and one relentless killer. Plus, it seems the LAPD's sexiest cop is doing a little Vegas moonlighting of his own. In a town where odds are everything, Maddie bets it all on her ability to out-step a vicious murderer. She just hopes her gamble pays off... before her own luck runs out.
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Read an Excerpt
Killer in High Heels
By Gemma Halliday
Dorchester PublishingCopyright © 2007 Gemma Halliday
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThere are two things in life I hate more than getting shot at. Number one: Birkenstocks, one shoe I am proud to say I did not design. And number two: sit-ups, the torture routine my best friend, Dana, was currently making me perform on the floor of the Sunset Gym.
"Come on, two more, you can do it!"
I grunted, giving my personal cheerleader the evil eye as I struggled to a sitting position.
"I"-pant-"can't"-pant-"do it." My stomach muscles started to shake, and I could feel an unattractive bead of sweat trailing from my blond roots down to the tip of my chin.
"Come on, Maddie. I know you've got two more in you. Think of how good you'll look in a bikini this summer."
"I'll buy a one-piece," I grunted.
"Think of how great you'll feel knowing you did something good for your body."
I raised one eyebrow, giving her my best "get real" look.
"Okay, think of this," Dana said, a lightbulb moment flashing in her blue eyes. "Think of how bad Ramirez will want you when he sees your ripped abs."
That did it. With one really unladylike grunt I clenched my teeth together and hauled myself into a sitting position.
"Woohoo! I knew you could do it!"Dana stood up and did an end-zone-worthy victory dance on my behalf. Dana was a 5'7", 36 double D, strawberry blond aerobics instructor slash wanna-be actress with the kind of body that inspired rock songs. I don't need to add that every male head in the gym suddenly turned our way.
"Thanks," I said. "I needed that."
"No prob. What are friends for?"
"But you do realize you violated The Oath."
Dana bit her lip, getting a guilty look on her face. "Oops."
The Oath was the vow I had made all of my friends and family take to never mention the name "Ramirez" to me again. Last summer Detective Jack Ramirez, or as Dana had dubbed him, the Panty Melter, showed up at my apartment with a pocket full of condoms. He kissed me. I kissed him. A mad frenzy of clothing fell to the floor. We were one Vicky's push-up bra and a pair of Hanes Her Way from the bedroom ... when his pager went off.
He left me with a platonic kiss on the forehead and a promise to call me the next day. Yeah right. Two weeks later I got a message on my machine. "Sorry, been busy. Work. Gotta go. Call you later." And not a peep since.
Then again, what did I really expect? Jack Ramirez was a cop with a big gun, a big tattoo, and a big ... well let's just say his BVDs didn't hide much that night. So, I shouldn't really be surprised he wasn't turning out to be Mr. Cleaver material. I had to admit, though, Ramirez was still an improvement over my last boyfriend, Richard, who ended up getting arrested for conspiracy and embezzlement.
Do I know how to pick 'em or what?
"Sorry," Dana said, "but you had to finish the set. Honey, you're doing so good."
Actually, I kind of was. When the Name that Shall Not Be Spoken did his disappearing act last July, I did what any other normal, rational, single woman would do when being completely ignored by the object of her affection. I junk food binged. Oh, mama, did I binge. Cheetos, pizza, Oreos, Ben and Jerry's Chunky Monkey by the bucketful and Keebler fudge cookies in every size, shape and variety. Dana finally did a chocolate chip intervention, pointing out that if I didn't cut it out soon, I would a) have permanent cheese doodle stains on my fingers, b) not be able to fit into my favorite black Nicole Miller dress, and c) qualify as an official member of the Pathetic Losers of America club. She was right. My Miller was a little snug. Which is why I didn't even protest (much) when she dragged me to the gym and forced me to perform the modern equivalent of medieval torture. Sit-ups.
I flopped back onto the blue gym mat, breathing heavily. "Please tell me we're done?"
Dana (who, by the way, hadn't even broken a sweat yet despite the fact that we'd been here nearly an hour) put her hands on her hips. "But we haven't even worked your glutes yet."
"If I promise to have lettuce for dinner, can I skip the glutes?" I pleaded. Even though I was actually dreaming of lettuce sandwiched between a sesame seed bun and a quarter pound beef patty.
Dana let a little frown settle between her strawberry blond brows. But, since she was such a good friend (and I was still panting like a Doberman), she let me off the hook. "Fine. But I expect to see you back here on Saturday ready to do some lunges and squats."
"Aye, aye, captain."
Taking pity on me, Dana helped me up and I dragged my sweaty behind to the locker room.
"So," she asked, "any big plans tonight?"
Considering it was Friday night and the only action I'd gotten in months was from a battery-powered rabbit, the answer to that one was a no-brainer. "Nope. Why?"
"I've got a Pilates class at five, but I was going to go shopping after that. Wanna come?"
Does a bear go poo poo in the woods? "I'm there."
Twenty minutes later I pulled my little red Jeep up to my second-story studio in Santa Monica. Two blocks away from the beach, my apartment was my little piece of heaven. And I do mean little. A fold-out futon, a drawing table, and three dozen pairs of shoes had the place at max capacity. I let myself in and even though the half-eaten bag of Chips Ahoy was calling to me from the back of my cupboard, I resisted, popping the top on a can of Diet Coke instead while I played my messages.
The first one was from Blockbuster. "The Sex and the City second season DVD you ordered came in," a bored-sounding teenager informed me. "The computer also shows that you have out Pretty Woman, When Harry met Sally, and ..." She paused. And she might have even done a little laugh slash cough thing. "... Joanie Loves Chachi, the complete set."
Yes, this is what life without a man has driven me to.
I hit the delete button.
The next message clicked on.
"Hi, this is Felix Dunn with the L.A. Informer. We're doing a follow-up story to your ordeal last summer. I'd like to schedule a time to interview you about-"
Ever since my ex-boyfriend, Richard's, very public arrest, which at one time had included a charge of murder, the press had hijacked my phone number. Okay, I'll admit there had been a little stabbing incident involving me, a homicidal ex-mistress, her popped breast implant, and a stiletto heel in the jugular, which had somehow captured the imagination of the media. I'd been featured no fewer than three times on the cover of the Informer since then. Twice with my head superimposed over the body of a slasher movie heroine and once as the bride of Bigfoot. Hmmm ... maybe that's why Ramirez hadn't called.
The machine clicked over to the next message.
"Hi honey, it's Mom. Guess what? Ralph finally got our Hawaii pictures printed! You must come see them. They are fabu! Call me!"
Mom had recently come back from an extended Hawaiian honeymoon with husband number two, Ralph. Or, as I liked to call him, Faux Dad. My real dad had run off to Las Vegas with a showgirl named Lola when I was only three. All I remember of Real Dad is a hand, connected to a slightly more hairy than normal arm, waving goodbye out the driver's side window of his '74 El Camino. Needless to say, Faux Dad and I had bonded right away. (And it didn't hurt that he ran one of Beverly Hills' most exclusive salons and offered me all the free manicures I wanted, either.)
The machine clicked and the mechanical voice proclaimed, "End of messages."
Sigh. No Ramirez. No Brad Pitt. No handsome stranger who saw me in line at Starbucks and looked up my number on the Internet.
I hated Friday nights.
I finished my Diet Coke and hopped in the shower, washing the gym sweat off my sore limbs. I threw on a pair of jeans, a sparkly pink wrap top with little silver sequins, and brand new, totally kickin' Ferragamo pumps. Which, by the way, had put me in debt (again) but the two inches they added to my 5'1 1/2" frame were so worth it. A little mousse and blow-dry number to my (mostly) naturally blond hair and I was ready.
Dana picked me up in her tan Saturn and we hopped on the 10. Rush hour traffic had died down, but there were still enough cars on the road to make it light up like a Christmas tree in the early fall dusk. As soon as we pulled into the left lane a blue Dodge Neon grabbed onto our bumper and tailgated us the entire way east to the 405. I looked at the speedometer. We were doing eighty. Only in L.A.
I glanced back to get a look at the driver, but the glare from his headlights was all I saw. I sent him the universal hand gesture for "back off, pal."
Only thirty minutes, two lewd truck drivers, and one cell-phone-related wreck later we were parked in front of our destination.
Sepulveda Guns and Ammo.
"Um, what are we doing here?"
"Shopping," Dana replied.
"This isn't exactly what I had in mind." I took in the barred windows, NRA posters on the door and homeless person peeing on the side of the brick building. "You sure you don't want to go to Macy's?"
Dana shook her head at me. "I need a piece."
"A 'piece'? What are you, Clint Eastwood?"
"Last week Rico told the class we needed to think about protection."
After my "brush with death" last summer, as my overly dramatic best friend called it, Dana went on this self-defense kick, immediately going out and signing up for a class at the rec center. Surveillance and Protection for the Urban Soldier. The instructor of the class, Rico, looked like a cross between Rambo and the Incredible Hulk. I could see Rico needing a "piece." The thought of Dana handling a deadly weapon was, however, mildly frightening.
"Do you even know how to shoot a gun?"
"Yep." Dana smiled with pride. "Rico's been giving me some private lessons."
Considering Dana's uncanny ability to pick up men destined for short-term relationships, I could just imagine the kind of "private lessons" Rico had been giving her.
"I don't know about this." I eyed the store again. The homeless guy zipped up and began yelling at passing cars. "I'll buy you a Wetzel's Pretzel with extra cinnamon sugar if we can go to the Glendale Galleria instead."
Dana got out of the car. "Come on, don't be such a wimp. Rico said this place was the best."
I shrugged. I'd known Dana since we bonded in seventh grade over a shared crush on Corey Feldman circa The Lost Boys. And I knew once she set her mind to something, I could no more dissuade her from buying a gun in North Hollywood now than I could stop her from FedExing Corey her training bra then. Besides, I guess it wouldn't hurt to pick up a can of pepper spray.
Dana clubbed her steering wheel and locked the car with a backward glance at the homeless guy. He was still busy shouting obscenities at a Ford Festiva on the corner.
The bell over the door to Sepulveda Guns and Ammo jingled as we pushed through the NRA posters, prompting all eyes to turn our way. Two homeboys in low-slung jeans and baseball caps were hunkered over an assault rifle in the corner, planning something I so did not want to know about. A tall guy with a greasy blond ponytail and a shirt liberally stained with mustard stopped his inspection of a long-range scope and took to inspecting us, his tiny eyes doing a slow up and down thing.
I suddenly needed a shower.
Dana grabbed my arm and steered me over to the woman behind the glass counter, who wore a nametag that read MAC. She was shorter than me, which put her near the five foot mark, with bushes of frizzy red hair that Carrot Top would be jealous of. And an eye patch. Seriously. A black, Johnny Depp-style eye patch that looked like it should come with a parrot. I tried not to stare.
"What can I do for ya, honey?" she asked, her voice rough with years of cigarette smoke. Or maybe just trying not to inhale the homeless guy stench wafting in through the ancient ventilation ducts exposed in the ceiling.
Dana stepped up to the smudged glass counter and did her best Dirty Harry. "I'm lookin' to pack."
I rolled my eyes.
Scary Gun Lady narrowed her good one at us.
"What my friend means," I jumped in, "is that she's looking for a starter sort of gun. Something small. And safe. You know, that won't go off easily."
Her eye narrowed further and she did a hands on hips thing. "You want a safe gun?"
I think I heard Ponytail Guy snicker behind us.
I looked to Dana for help but she was busy scrutinizing the display case full of deadly weapons. I knew that look in her eyes. It was the same one I got when Dior pumps went on sale. My mild fear jumped up a notch.
Scary Gun Lady gave me a once-over, her gaze stopping at my sparkly pink top, which, by the way, would have been perfect for a stroll around the mall.
"Honey, you've never held a gun before, have you?"
No, but I had wicked accuracy with a stiletto heel. "Nuh uh," I replied.
She shook her head, her red hair flying around her face like Bozo the Clown's. Though, in all honestly, my gaze was still riveted to that eye patch. Why we had ventured into the depths of North Hollywood for guns was still a bit of a mystery to me. I mean, they sell guns in Beverly Hills too.
"I like this one," Dana, said, pointing to a DDA .45 caliber pistol. Neon pink.
The saleswoman did the hands on hips thing again. "Honey, I could sell you that gun. But the first time you pull it out, you know what your attacker's gonna say?"
Dana and I shook our heads in unison.
"Nothin'. He'll be laughing too hard."
Dana nodded solemnly. "Right. No pink." She straightened up and did her serious face, scrunching her eyebrows together like she was thinking really hard. "See, I'm mostly looking for some kind of protection against those smarmy kinds of guys who hit on you in clubs, and then when you turn them down wait for you to go to the bathroom, then slip you a roofie and you wake up in some stranger's bed the next day. Know what I mean?"
Mac raised her eyebrows and looked from Dana to me, as if saying, "Is this chick for real?"
"Okay, look. You seem like nice enough girls, and I don't wanna see you get hurt. How about some pepper spray?"
"What, do we look like amateurs?" Dana asked.
Even I had to agree with the snort of laughter Ponytail Guy let out at that one.
But Dana wasn't giving up. "Listen, Rico told me you could help me find something. He said you were the best."
"Rico?" The woman's face softened and she shifted her defensive posture. "Why didn't you tell me you knew Rico?" She reached into the glass case and pulled out a silver handgun. "Here, this is what you girls need. A Smith and Wesson LadySmith. Semiautomatic, nine millimeter, rubber grips in stainless finish. Hardly any recoil, but it packs quite a punch and fits in your purse."
Dana's eyes lit up like a kid at Christmas. "Can I hold it?"
Gun Lady nodded. Dana picked it up, doing her best James Bond stance. The guys in baseball caps took a couple steps backward.
"There's also the semiauto, barrel tip." Mac reached into the case again, pulling out a gun in black. "They're lighter, easier to load than a LadySmith. The only disadvantage is they don't retain spent casings. Little harder to explain when the cops show up." She gave me a wink and a nudge.
I did a feeble laugh, trying not to picture how many "explanations" Mac had spun in her lifetime.
"I like this one," Dana said, still holding the LadySmith, staring down the barrel at her reflection in the smudged glass.
In all honesty, the light in her eyes was getting a little scary.
"I'll take it."
The saleswoman beamed like a proud Mama. "And you?" she asked me.
"I think I'll stick with pepper spray."
Twenty minutes later I had my mini canister of Pepper-Guard and Dana had a trunk full of ammunition. Not only had she laid out her Visa for the Smith and Wesson-which she could take possession of in a mere ten days, provided she'd never been arrested for gun running-but she'd also come away with a box full of cartridges, a leather holster, handcuffs (I so did not want to know what those were for!), and last, but certainly not least, a stun gun in the shape of a cell phone. Dana was armed and dangerous.
Miss Guns and Ammo dropped me off at my Santa Monica studio before heading off to class to show Rico her new "toys". She tried to get me to come with her, saying they were going over frontal assaults tonight, but I begged off with the fact that I had to get some work done or my employer might threaten to fire me. Again. Which wasn't a total lie. They hadn't been too happy with the way my stabbing incident (not to mention marriage to Bigfoot!) had played across the front page, tarnishing their family-friendly image.
Excerpted from Killer in High Heels by Gemma Halliday Copyright © 2007 by Gemma Halliday. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Gemma Halliday is the author of the High Heels Mysteries, the Hollywood Headlines Mysteries, the Deadly Cool series of young adult books, and a brand new thriller series starting with Play Nice. Gemma's books have received numerous awards, including a Golden Heart, a National Reader's Choice award and three RITA nominations, as well as hitting both the USA Today Bestseller List and the New York Times Bestseller list. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area where she is hard at work on several new projects.
To learn more about Gemma, visit her online at www.GemmaHalliday.com
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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This is the 2nd book in the series. And Im still enthralled. Yes, there were some grammatical errors, but in my opinion thats no reason to give it a low-rated review. Book is exciting and fun! Just was I was looking for! Except I like them so much that I read them too quickly lol :( Im so thankful for my tablet showing this series as a recommendation! On to book #3!
Loved the book, but someone needs to edit it for mistakes. I am surprised that a book could be published with that many errors (spelling and grammar)in it.
This book is somewhat entertaining, I thought the first in the series was better. I can't help but feel like the main character is a Stephanie Plum wannabe. Nowhere near the talent of Janet Evanovich and the story line is almost too silly. Hopefully the next in the series improve!
While I understand some of the criticisms of this book- such as lots of bad decision making by Maddie and lots of typos, this series is just fun. I sometimes enjoy books that let me escape from my everyday life and that don't require too much thinking. This book fit the bill!
I really like these books. They are really cute, and funny. However, i find myself getting really, really annoyed by the main chatacter. She does a LOT of stupid things. To the point that it is almost beyond ridiculous. I just krpt thinking that there was no way anyone a) could be that dumb, and b) would be able to keep a man like Ramirez with all of the stupid things she does.
Halliday's first book, Spying in High Heels, was enough fun to make me overlook the egregious lack of editing and the made-up words. Less than halfway through Book 2, I was bored. Bored with Maddie's unchanging bubble-headedness and the near sexual encounters. After awhile it gets tiring, just let them get to it. Worse yet was the complete lack of professional pride with the editing...no, I take that back. It was the lack of character development. Everyone stays exactly the same. It was too ridiculous to be fun. I only finished reading it because I had paid for it. Book 3 is waiting as a sample on my Nook for Android. At this point I am far from convinced that whatever comes next will be worth my $3.
I don't expect much with 'light' novels like this. I read these to escape and just have some fun. I took both books in this series with me on a cruise last month. I found a few problems in the first book - a few misspelled words and grammatical errors... but I let it go. Then I started the 2nd book.. and within the first 10 pages, there were so many errors that it made it hard to read. I don't know if these books are transferred directly from their 'hard copy' form onto the nook or are retyped to move them onto the nook. Clearly there was a problem in editing somewhere. The amount of misspelled words was astounding to me... I have never read a book with so many errors. It made trying to read it difficult.. you go along and suddenly your eyes stop because the word is incorrect. Save your money and find a higher quality 'beach read' to spend your money on!
All the books in the series live up to the first one I read. Great series I hope there are more.
What a thriller you have romance, mistery,and human connection if you know what I mean. Great book great story line do not miss it.
This was a chance, random pick for me and I really enjoyed it!! It was a read I started and kept interrupting but was able to pick it up at any given point and recalling the place where I left off. So the characters are memorable, to say the least! I've already gotten another in the series and intend to read them all! Very enjoyable read and I didn't figure out the killer! Had me stumped all the way through!
I really enjoyed the first and second book of this series. Now I think I'm addicted! I have to read the rest of the series.
Easy read. Keeps your attention throughout.
I like this author's writing style, but after reading the first and now this second book in the series I will not continue. The plot in book 1 was pretty solid, but the choices made by the main character in this one are just too much past realistic (read - no common sense) for me to continue reading. I'd love to see what happens between Maggie and Ramirez, but won't be reading more to find out. Overall a nice beach read, if you don't mind overlooking the numerous dumb, self-justification choices made by the main character.
Ok, so Ms Halliday can write, but can someone PLEASE edit her??? I cannot recommend this series to anyone with the typos and grammatical mistakes in it. I realize she's her own editor, but please! It has to be her editing, because no self-respecting editor would ever put their name on something this horribly edited. Ugh. And let's let go of the Stephanie-wannabe-isms, okay? There's only one Janet Evanovich/Stephanie Plum and this just doesn't compare.
Maddie gets a mysterious phone call from someone claiming to be her father and before the call is disconnected she hears what she thinks is a gunshot. Determined to finally get some answers from her mother about her runaway father, Maddie confronts her Mom who still will only say that he ran away to Las Vegas with Lola. So Maddie enlists the help and company of her BF Dana and the receptionist at her stepfather's hair salon, Marco (typical gay man stereotype) and they head off to Las Vegas to find Larry. What they find had me rolling in my chair laughing and crying from sheer enjoyment. Okay, it wasn't the great American novel, but it was sheer fun!
I enjoyed the first book, editing mistakes aside, and look forward to reading more of Gemma Hallidays work. While somewhat silly, and Maddie certainly gets her share of mistakes, I enjoyed the overall story. Nice light hearted reading.
I started reading Killer in High Heels by Gemma Halliday because I was looking for something light and funny. By the end of the first chapter, I knew I had found it. I went out and bought the rest of the series before I was even done with the first book because I didn't want it to end! Maddie, an L.A. fashionista, is looking for her missing boyfriend, but finds dead bodies instead. Rather than being scared off, she is determined to find the killer (and her boyfriend, assuming they aren't one and the same). With the help of her friends, family, and the dark and dangerous detective leading the case, Maddie's search for answers keeps getting her further in trouble. I would highly recommend the whole High Heels mystery series to anyone who likes hilarious antics, zany characters (psychics in mumus, crossdressing dancers, Hollywood Starlets, and tabloid reporters, oh my!), and really hot leading men. Fans of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series will adore Gemma Halliday's Maddie Springer.
This was a fun read! I have already gotten the next one!
I ordered the book for my mother. She has already read it. Took about 1.5 weeks and she was done. She is a reader if the books are eye catching.
Decent read but Maddie is a real dits. Can't believe she is still alive. And her best friend doesn't help any. Editing was bad as well as grammer errors. I don't plan to continue the series because she is such an airhead and stupid.
I read book one and found it very amusing and I suppose it was enjoyable. Getting to book two ( killer in high heels ) however, I realised the author is just using sex to sell her very annoying main character, Maddie. I will not waste money on book three. I was given a four chapter sample of book three and Maddie is every bit as thoughtless to her 'boyfriend's' requests for her to stay away from his investigation as ever. I really don't care much for the slutty friend, Dana either.
These books are like sitting down for drinks with that one crazy friend who always has the best stories to tell. I usually mix up my reading, but Gemma Halliday is such a wonderful story teller I am reading straight through her entire body of work.
Sorry i meant Dec. 14 not 11