In this award-winning prequel to GETTING OFF ON FRANK SINATRA, it’s Christmastime in Sin City. Aspiring journalist Copper Black meets Victoria McKimber, an outspoken prostitute at one of Nevada’s legal brothels. She’s offered Copper the exclusive right to tell her story. Not only will the Las Vegas Light’s “calendar girl” get a byline, but she can also impress her boyfriend and parents when they arrive for the holidays.
Copper is busy with work, Christmas shopping, and fantasizing about a whole week with her long-distance boyfriend. She’s also helping her brother, a civic-minded pastor who is spearheading plans for a new center to serve the homeless. Things are hectic but under control when shocking news breaks. Victoria McKimber has turned up dead.
As she investigates the violent death, Copper evades enemies, juggles boyfriend, work, and family, and races against time to save her brother from a sinister plot. Unless she can expose the truth about Victoria McKimber, somebody just might get away with murder.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Friday, December 9
I carry business cards that read “Copper Black, Assistant Editor.” To my parents, they’re reassuring proof I’m a bona fide journalist, but what my title really means is that I update show listings and bring caffe lattes to Chris Farr, the arts and entertainment editor. But my parents are in Connecticut, where it’s far more satisfying to imagine me interviewing celebrities.
“Copper,” my mother will say on the phone, “I read that Bill Clinton was in Las Vegas last week. Did you meet him?”
No, Mom. I was standing in line at Starbucks.
Not that I haven’t learned a lot in my nearly eight months in Las Vegas. I know about high pollen counts and flash floods, the shortage of obstetricians, and the abundance of Mormon churches. I’m an expert at giving and following directions using casinos as landmarks. I know that when real Nevadans said “Nevada,” the VAD rhymes with MAD. Only newscasters broadcasting from Rockefeller Center say Ne-VAH-da. Well, I used to, too, but I’ve acclimatized.
Even so, I still have a lot to learn, even about subjects as ordinary as the good old-fashioned Yellow Pages. Remember those big fat books we used to use as booster seats and doorstops? I thought they had died out along with phone booths, but there’s a whole bookcase full of them at The Light. They’ve been relegated to the far side of the lunchroom, probably their last stop on the road to extinction, but there they are. I was eating lunch alone that Friday, so out of curiosity, I pulled one out to keep me and my ramen noodles company. I had just returned to my table when a familiar but unwelcome raspy voice fell on my ears.
“Hey, blondie, help me out and turn to ‘Entertainers’ in the Yellow Pages you’ve got there.”
I looked up to see Ed Bramlett leering at me from his usual spot near the windows. He covers business at The Light. Next to him, wearing a similar expression, was J.C. Dillon, who has the local government beat. They both have at least thirty years on me, and they liked nothing better than to see me blush. When I first arrived, they could turn me crimson in a matter of moments, but I’ve toughened up.
“It’s Copper,” I said, looking back down. “Do you need some entertainment, Ed?” I hoped I sounded sufficiently sarcastic.
“Not when I have you, sweetie,” Ed said. J.C. emitted a snort that was supposed to pass for a laugh.
I should have ignored them, but I flipped to the “E” section. I know now that I should not have been expecting discreet ads for piano players, but I was still a Vegas newbie.
“FULL SERVICE BLONDES,” read the three-inch headline staring me in the face. I looked up, and Ed smiled triumphantly as I felt my cheeks warming. I am the world’s fastest blusher, and I was glad I had worn my hair long that day. It covered my ears, which always heat up even more violently than my face. But I wasn’t embarrassed. I was angry. Ed had succeeded in turning me red again.
“It means they bring you coffee,” Ed said, and J.C. snorted again. I slapped the phone book shut. Clutching it in one hand and my cup of noodles in the other, I stalked out of the lunchroom.