Whiskey on the Rocks: A Whiskey Mattimoe Mystery

Overview

A grieving widow, an uninvited corpse, and a felonious Afghan hound who bears a grudge. . .
Magnet Springs is a quiet little Michigan resort town enjoying leaf-peeping season, at least until a dead body turns up on a massage table and thirty-something realtor Whiskey Mattimoe finds one of her properties has become a murder scene. As her attempts to adjust to a new life as a widow are complicated by a kleptomaniac Afghan hound and her neglected eight-year-old neighbor, Chester, ...
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Overview

A grieving widow, an uninvited corpse, and a felonious Afghan hound who bears a grudge. . .
Magnet Springs is a quiet little Michigan resort town enjoying leaf-peeping season, at least until a dead body turns up on a massage table and thirty-something realtor Whiskey Mattimoe finds one of her properties has become a murder scene. As her attempts to adjust to a new life as a widow are complicated by a kleptomaniac Afghan hound and her neglected eight-year-old neighbor, Chester, Whiskey becomes ensnared in a complex web of murder, identity fraud, dognapping, and art forgery. An unwitting sleuth in an unlikely scenario of mayhem, Whiskey must find a determined killer before the culprit drives property values in Magnet Springs down for good.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in the small resort town of Magnet Springs, Mich., Wright's diverting debut introduces Whiskey Mattimoe, a recently widowed 30-something real estate broker. Things are pretty slow in Magnet Springs, until an out-of-towner drops dead at a local massage parlor. Pricklier still, the mystery man's wife shows up in Magnet Springs to tie up loose ends-and is bludgeoned to death in the house she just happens to be renting from Whiskey. Throw in dognapping and art forgery, and it's quite a caper. Unfortunately, the denouement is so complicated and depends on so many coincidences that readers will need to take notes to keep track of all the details. Still, this is a fun read, and if Wright can simplify things a bit, she'll have a cozy series as satisfying as a fine single malt. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781937070243
  • Publisher: Martin Brown Publishers, LLC
  • Publication date: 8/1/2012
  • Pages: 228
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.48 (d)

Meet the Author

Nina Wright is an award-winning playwright and novelist. She is the author of the Whiskey Mattimoe mystery series (Midnight Ink), Homefree (Flux), and other fiction for adults and younger readers. When not at her keyboard, Nina leads workshops in writing and the creative process.
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Read an Excerpt

"He was lying there like you are now. Only he was dead."

I stared at Noonan as she worked the muscle in my left calf.

"You were massaging a corpse?" I asked.

"For a minute. Jenx thinks he couldn't have been dead very long before I noticed."

I shuddered. Noonan's strong hands stopped their magic.

"I'm sorry," she said. "You've had enough death in your life lately. You didn't need to hear that."

"Life is full of death. Either we keep moving, or we . . . stop moving." I hoped the words sounded wiser to her ears than they did to mine. Spouting New Age aphorisms is the safe conversational choice in this resort town. It's not my style, however.

"That is so wise," Noonan agreed, moving on to my ankle. I moved to the next topic.

"Did Jenx call the county coroner?"

Noonan nodded, shooting me an uneasy glance. "Do you want to go there? I only brought it up because you asked what was new, and a dead guy on this table two hours ago is about as new as it gets."

Before I could jackknife into an upright position, she added, "I changed the sheets."

"Don't you always? I mean, between live clients?"

"Sure, sure. Health Department code."

Noonan repositioned herself at the foot of the table to get a better grip on my sole. As she pressed her thumbs into the ball of my left foot, I flashed on Jenx and the coroner.

"Those two in this studio. Whew. They hate each other!"

"They have trust issues," Noonan corrected me. "Jenx thinks Crouch is political."

"He is. He's elected. But he's also a forensic pathologist."

"And Crouch thinks Jenx is a dyke."

"She is—and proud to be one. But she's also the Deputy Chief of Police."

"And Crouch is a Fundie."

Fundie is local-talk for Fundamentalist. What we used to call "Born-Again," only I've concluded that most of our Fundies grew up that way. They're not redeemed. They're not much fun, either.

"So Jenx and Crouch got into it?" I said as Noonan rolled me onto my stomach again with more grace than I could manage on my own. Lucky me. A bonus round. I love it when she stretches the massage to fit the conversation.

Noonan said, "No name-calling, but you could feel the negative energy. It poisoned my space. After they left, I had to do a spiritual cleansing."

I hoped she'd done a chemical cleansing, too. After all, there'd been a corpse on this table. And not a corpse we knew.

"Did Crouch say what killed him?"

"It looked like a heart attack except for his age. Thirty-four, according to his driver's license. He was in great shape. Fantastic muscle tone." I detected a hint of sexual arousal in Noonan's voice. She went on quickly, "Crouch will do an autopsy."

"What's the dead guy's name?"

Noonan massaged my shoulders with renewed energy.

"That part ... is weird. He told me his name was Dan, and he was from Grand Rapids. Passing through on his way to Chicago. Business trip. He said he stopped in Magnet Springs for lunch and saw my shingle. Thought a massage would do him good."

"What's the weird part?"

"When Jenx checked his driver's license, it gave his name as Gordon Santy. And—get this—he's Canadian. From New Brunswick. Isn't that on one of the coasts?"

"Atlantic. Maybe Dan was his nickname, and he had business in Grand Rapids."

"Maybe. What I wonder is if he was Canadian, why did he sound just like us?"

That made me laugh, which made my ribs hurt. They're almost healed from the accident, but when I'm lying on my stomach and I laugh—which I don't think I've tried in five and a half months—I realize I'm not completely recovered yet.

Noonan sounded defensive. "Canadians have an accent. They say oot' for out.' And they say eh' a lot. Haven't you noticed?"

"I guess I don't watch enough CBC."

She sighed. "Have you ever known anyone named Gordon who was called Dan?"

"I don't think I've known anyone named Gordon. And the men I knew named Dan never told me their real names. I assumed they were Daniels, but I didn't check their IDs."

In silence Noonan kneaded my back, my buttocks, and my thighs. Neither of us spoke for several minutes. By the time she had finished, I was blissed out. Her voice jarred me back to reality.

"You're funny, Whiskey. And that's cool because humor can heal. But humor can also deflect. I'm telling you this because I think you're still in pain."

I struggled to sit up, clutching the sheet to my chest.

"My ribs still hurt a little, but only when I laugh, and only when I'm getting a massage."

"See what I mean. You're being funny, and I'm talking about Leo."

"Yeah, you are. Haven't you had enough death in this room for one day?"

"You should talk about Leo. You'd feel better if you did."

"I feel fine! If you're suggesting I get a dose of New Age mood therapy, no thank you. I get that every day talking to almost anyone in Magnet Springs."

Noonan regarded me solemnly. "Okay, Whiskey, but please don't wear your armor all the time. It will smother your soul."

The lingo again. Before I could summon an appropriately trite response, she added, "And deaden your heart."

I thought of a punch line about the dead heart that had been on Noonan's table but decided not to use it.

My name is Whiskey Mattimoe, and I own the hottest real estate agency on the West Coast. The West Coast of Michigan, that is. Right across the Big Water from Chi-Town. Sunsets R Us. We got dunes, we got beaches, we got nice clean air. In short, we got The Good Life. And compared to The Good Life on the other West Coast, this one's affordable, mostly. Sure, the value of lakefront property soared like a bottle rocket in the '90s. But it's stabilized, for now. You'd be amazed what a million dollars can buy. And Michigan property taxes aren't bad. You'd pay less in Arkansas or Oklahoma, but what would be the point? Our taxes are bargains next to California's or New Jersey's. And who in their right mind moves to New Jersey?

Six years ago, I married Leo Mattimoe, founder of Mattimoe Realty. Before that I was an agent—real estate, not secret or IRS—and a part-time refurbisher of old properties for investment purposes. I know how to use power tools.

Leo and I were electric together. We had plans. We bought, we sold, we rented, we resold. We made money. We made love. And then suddenly Leo was dead. Leo is dead. I'm still grappling with that one. It wasn't in our plans.

Leo was fifteen years older than me, which made him all of forty-eight the night his heart exploded. I think of it as a cardiac "blow-out" because he was driving when it happened, when his aorta burst without warning.

We were coming back from Chicago following an ill-fated attempt to breed Abra, Leo's Afghan hound, a stunning, high-strung creature with exquisite bloodlines and exasperating manners. I still call her Leo's dog because she has too much self-esteem to belong to anyone else. Least of all me. Every time I gaze into those chocolate eyes, I have an attack of survivor guilt. She'll never forgive me for failing to die in Leo's place. Sometimes I have trouble forgiving myself.

Nesbitt, the young Chicago stud Leo chose as Abra's mate, was a handsome dude, but he couldn't put a round peg in a round hole. Two whole days, and he never grasped the geometry, even with the help of human hands. Or maybe he didn't like his blind date. If a blonde bimbo exists in canine form, it's Abra.

We were heading home to Magnet Springs on that balmy late-April night, the rear windows of our Saab rolled down and the lush air rushing in. Leo was disappointed. Back in his first marriage he'd bred Irish Setters, and he longed to raise more big glossy show dogs. Abra seemed relieved to be rid of that putz Nesbitt. I'm sure she didn't want his spatially-impaired genes mixed up with hers even though he was a hunk.

The last thing I remember was Leo changing CDs to play our favorite song, "Once in a Lifetime" by the Talking Heads. I squeezed his hand. He squeezed mine back. Then I must have fallen asleep.

I don't remember the impact or the paramedics or the ambulance ride. Or anything that happened in the ER. But I can still hear Abra's agonized wail close to my head. She wasn't hurt. She was mourning Leo before I knew he was gone.

I learned the rest of the story by reading the police report. We were within five miles of home on a rural two-lane highway when the Saab sailed off the road and wedged itself deep in a ditch. Abra wriggled out a back window to wait in the road like a pale apparition. The guy who came along told the 9-1-1 dispatcher he thought at first she was an aggressive long-haired goat. He tried to drive around her, but she kept lunging at his car. She wouldn't let him leave the scene. When she set up a howl and pointed to the side of the road, he got out to investigate. I had a concussion, a broken collarbone, a broken arm, and three broken ribs. Abra played Lassie and saved my life. I don't think she meant to. She meant to protect Leo's remains. Now that he's gone, she lives to humiliate me.

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Table of Contents

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 18 of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2005

    I'll have another!

    Like any great TV series featuring small town America (think Northern Exposure meets Twin Peaks), Whisky on the Rocks' strongest points are its people and its place. Magnet Springs is a quiet country town where all is not as it would appear in Whisky's realty brochures. Smart, funny, and full of life, this book's mystery is mearly one of the reasons to return over and over to the world Ms. Wright has created. These characters have legs, meaning it feels like a world we will definitely want to visit in future books to come. Bartender, give me another.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2005

    Pass it on to a friend

    Abra steals the show - among other things! What a great read. The characters truly take form and play it out for me in my mind like a little movie. A great mix of characters - those you love, and those you love to hate. I have passed this on to no less than four people since I bought in in September, and I always get it back quickly with rave reviews!! I highly recommend this series to a broad range of readers.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2005

    Another Whiskey for Ms. Wright!

    Set in dark, cold and sometimes forbidding northern country, one small town seems to be a magnet for trouble and with a cast of quirky, sometimes bungling, characters the resulting complications seem insoluble until Whiskey Mattimoe arrives on the scene. Her late husband's Afghan hound Abra adds a further round of diversion to a plot that seems lost to the light of day until Whiskey and her law-abetting cronies get a grip on it. Warning: this is one for stetching the gray matter beyond the normal even-keeled suspense. But it's well worth the stretch.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2005

    Laugh-out-loud madness!

    Wright's years of experience as actor, director and playwright enable her to write believable, witty dialogue informed by her unique, comic sensibility.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2007

    A Delightful Find

    I stumbled on this series at my local library and then bought my own copies. For anyone who's a fan of dog mysteries, this is a witty, laugh-out-loud romp. Wright's playwriting background is evident in her flare for dialogue and pacing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2006

    Wright gets the characters right!

    Characters in the Whiskey Mattimoe series (including the dogs) stay with readers after we close the books. Chester reminds me of my nephew, who was also a 'preemie,' and Abra is a little too much like my own beloved dog. And Noonan the massage therapist is a lot like my cousin! I don't know the author, so she couldn't have based her characters on the ones I know, but hers seem just as real. This is a good mystery, too, not just a fun character study. I really enjoyed the suspense and the plot twists.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2006

    A Toast to Whiskey

    What a fun, fast, paced read. The characters are true characters and one cannot help but become involved with each one. Makes me wish all books of this size had as much content as this one. As for the setting, I am now inspired to visit Western Michigan.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2005

    Like Evanovich--only funnier and darker

    I like the idea of a young widow named Whiskey with a dead husband hangover. To continue the liquor metaphor, the 'hair of the dog' is the Afghan hound Whiskey inherited, and this dog's a hilarious headache. Wright neatly walks the line between cartoonish humor and dark humor. The dialogue is so sharp, I'd like to hear this book on tape!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2005

    Funny mystery

    If you like humor mixed in with a mystery, this book is for you. Where else can you find a blond, bimbo dog with a fetish all her own? The people are fun and the plot will keep you guessing up until the very end!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2005

    Quick, witty, entertaining!

    I just finished reading 'Whiskey On The Rocks' and what a fun adventure it was! Ms Wright has a way of intertwining interesrting characters and mystery and mayhem in such a way that you really care about the people involved and get a few good laughs along the way. I can't wait to revisit Magnet Springs and its interesting citizens (especially Whiskey Mattimoe and her dog Abra) in future books. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to get involved with a good mystery, very interesting and likable characters and have a few good laughs thrown in.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2005

    A new Whiskey Mattimoe Mystery fan

    Whiskey on the Rocks pulls you in from the first line and keeps you hooked until the end. Using the charm of living in a small town with endearing and eccentric characters, the book takes readers on a fascinating journey as Whiskey navigates through her new life and the deceit brewing around her. Wright's writing talent breathes life into each character. By the last page I not only enjoyed the story, but love the characters. The book's a great blend of witty lines and fascinating intrigue. I finished the last page satisfied and smiling. The only question this reader has is - when's the next Whiskey Mattimoe Mystery novel going to hit the bookstores?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2005

    Highly entertaining mystery!

    Meet Whiskey Mattimoe: realtor, amateur sleuth, and owner-by-default of an imperious Afghan hound. Throw in a lost love, an intriguing mystery, a cast of memorable characters, and a healthy dose of witty dialogue, and you've got the recipe for Whiskey on the Rocks. I would highly recommend this novel--the first in a series by newcomer Nina Wright--to any chick lit or mystery connoisseur as well as to anyone looking for an enormously entertaining read. Move over Janet Evanovich and Jennifer Crusie!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2005

    Very fun mystery for dog lovers!

    Whiskey Mattimoe is in over her head. She's trying to deal with being single again, running a real estate business, and managing an unmanageable Afghan hound. Then one of her clients gets murdered, and her dog steals a vital clue. I adored all three canine characters. You've got to love K9 Officer Roscoe and Mooney the Rott hound--a Rottweiler-bloodhound mix. As the real-life owner of a bloodhound, I can appreciate the need for a 'drool bucket.' Great suspense, great humor. I'll keep reading this series. It will make a good Christmas gift for my dog-owning friends who like mysteries!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2005

    Whiskey on the Rocks (A Whiskey Mattimoe Mystery)

    If you've ever had a dog you couldn't control, this book is for you. Abra may be an Afghan hound, but she reminds me of a border collie I used to have. What a hoot! Fun characters, a fast-paced plot and lots of laughs. Good mystery, too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2005

    Whiskey on the Rocks (A Whiskey Mattimoe Mystery)

    I'm a fan of slightly wacky humor, well-plotted mysteries and stories featuring dogs. So Whiskey on the Rocks is my kind of book. I love the eccentric characters, especially Odette, Jenx and Cassina. Whiskey (yup, that's a person--not the dog) is fun, too, mainly because she's flawed in ways I can understand. Her husband died suddenly and left her in a world of hurt and confusion. Some days she can hardly make coffee let alone run a real estate business and solve murders. But with a little help from some friends, she does it all. A fun mystery. I plan to follow this series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2005

    Funny and a fast read

    I love mysteries, and I love books that feature dogs, especially funny dogs. Whiskey Mattimoe can't handle her Afghan hound, who keeps stealing purses, including one with a vital clue inside. This book is what I would call a chick lit mystery--fast, fun and intriguing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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