Murder at the School Musical

Murder at the School Musical

by Bruce Kimmel


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Murder at the School Musical by Bruce Kimmel

Adriana Hofstetter is back and still marching to the beat of her own sixteen-year-old band. When Hollywood High School puts on a production of The Music Man, Adriana is there doing a story for the school paper. But when Bethany Miller, a student and cast member who has an unhealthy addiction to Instagram, doesn’t come home from school and remains missing, Adriana goes on the hunt to find out what happened.
Talking to irritating students, baffled teachers, and doubting detectives, Adriana is having no luck piecing anything together. With each passing day looking worse for Bethany Miller, Adriana must use all her wiles in trying to solve what happened. And then she receives a note, a one-word note: Stop. And then another threatening note is left on her apartment door. Can Adriana find the culprit before the culprit comes after her?
Of course, best friend Billy Feldman is there to lend his support while playing one of the leads in The Music Man, mother Margaret is there to keep her eye on Adriana while listening to her loud, classic rock-and-roll, and Detectives Ramirez and Coyne are there to listen to and question what Adriana discovers.
With colorful depictions of Hollywood, Adriana’s trademark sense of humor, and a crime to be solved, Murder at The Music Man is funny, suspenseful, and a cautionary tale of addiction to social media.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781481748940
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 05/01/2013
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.44(d)

Read an Excerpt


By Bruce Kimmel


Copyright © 2013 Bruce Kimmel
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4817-4894-0



She was excited. Any new adventure was always exciting for sixteen-year-old Adriana Hofstetter, and as she stood there looking into the huge, cavernous room filled with books and dealers and people, she knew this adventure was going to be very interesting and would probably result in a very good story for the school newspaper, not that anyone in her school would read it. No, most of her schoolmates could barely form a sentence that consisted of more than four words and most of them wouldn't be caught dead around a book that wasn't for school. Even if they did read, it wouldn't be an actual book, it would be on their computer or iPhone or iPad or Kindle or Nook or any of those things that, in Adriana's opinion, were robbing the culture of its, well, culture.

It had been her mother's idea to come to the Antiquarian Book Fair. Margaret had read about it in the LA Weekly and suggested that they have an outing, do something they'd never done before. Adriana had immediately seen the potential not only for doing something she hadn't done before, but also for a good story.

She'd then researched the Antiquarian Book Fair on her computer and it did seem interesting, that whole subculture of book collecting. It was a world she knew nothing about and she loved learning about new worlds. Best of all, her best friend Billy Feldman had tagged along, so even if it turned out to be boring, being with Billy was never boring.

They'd left at ten in the morning. The skies were overcast, but it was still nice out and they'd all dressed accordingly: Margaret in her usual jeans and sweatshirt, Billy in a Book of Mormon T-shirt and green corduroy pants, and Adriana in an authentic 1970s lemon-yellow shift dress, which everyone had to admit looked really good on her. Her hair was down and partly in a ponytail.

By the time they'd hit the 101 the sky had turned fifty shades of gray and by the time they were approaching downtown it was pouring. Of course, they hadn't brought umbrellas—why would they? The weather was supposed to be overcast but nice, not yucky and rainy. Luckily, the parking was underground and they went right from there inside to the book fair, which was located in the Pasadena Civic Center building on Green Street.

"Look at this," Adriana said, whispering, looking at the hundreds of people roaming the room, talking to dealers, looking at books. "This is amazing."

"Why are you whispering?" Margaret asked. "This isn't the library."

She didn't know why she was whispering. She'd somehow got it into her head that it would be very quiet, but quiet it wasn't with hundreds of voices yammering away sounding like a bunch of radio stations all playing at the same time.

"Where do we even start?" Adriana asked.

"I choose there," Billy said, pointing to the first booth at the aisle nearest to where they were standing.

"Why?" Adriana said, laughing.

"I don't know, it's close and I like that guy's hair," he said, looking at the older man in the booth with shoulder-length gray hair.

"You're so weird," Adriana said to Billy. "Okay, let's go."

"Well, I guess that's as good a reason as any," Margaret said. "We have to start somewhere."

"Wait," Billy said, pulling out his phone. "I want to take a picture for my Instagram."

Adriana looked at him. "Your what? Never mind, I don't even want to know what that means."

Billy laughed. "You need to know what it means. It's fun. I already put it on your phone."

"You put what on my phone?"

"The Instagram app. You can post pictures and you have followers, like Twitter but with pictures."

"I'm not going to post pictures and have followers. Who are these followers?"

"Your friends."

"I don't have any friends, except you, freak."

"Then I'll follow you and you can post pictures and do hash-tags and you'll love it."

"What language are you speaking? Hashtags? Don't explain it, it's already giving me a headache."

Billy took a picture of the room and typed something into his phone. "There, done—quick, easy, hashtag done. And since I already set up your Instagram to follow me, you can see the photo on your phone right now."

"Why do I have to see a photo? I'm here."

Adriana already had an uneasy relationship with her new phone. Her trusty iPod with its years of service, which she'd used for recording countless interviews with people, had given up the ghost and Margaret had bought them both iPhones. Because the latest and greatest new model iPhone had come out, the previous model was dirt cheap and she got them a family plan for the service.

The best thing about the new iPhone was that she now had what was essentially a phone and iPod in one and she didn't need the stupid external microphone she'd had to use with her ancient iPod. This phone had a built-in voice memo recording thing, although she didn't care for it that much. But Billy had immediately grabbed her phone and found her iRecorder, a recording app that she absolutely loved. He'd also put on a bunch of free apps, none of which she'd looked at or opened, including Instagram.

"Can we go walk around the room now?" Margaret said. "You kids today."

"Hey, I'm not one of those 'You kids today' kids. You moms today."

They walked over to the first dealer booth that Billy had pointed to. It was at the head of a long aisle, both sides of which were filled with dealers selling their books. This booth, like most she could see, had two cases forming a kind of L at the front of the booth. Both cases were filled with books. Then there were several bookshelves filled with books and you could just walk past the cases and peruse.

The three of them looked in the cases. There were some books autographed by the authors and other books that looked old. She didn't really know what any of them were.

They walked back to the bookshelves and looked there. There were so many books, all hardcovers, all nestling neatly next to each other, like cozy friends. Her measly collection of books numbered about thirty, and most of them were paperbacks. But she'd always loved books, from the time she was little and Margaret had introduced her to a book called Nancy and Plum, which had been Margaret's favorite childhood book. From that point on, Adriana Hofstetter had read everything she could.

There were books assigned for high school English, but she'd already read all of them long before she was required to. Unlike most of the kids in her class, for whom reading those classics was sheer drudgery, she'd loved them—To Kill a Mockingbird, Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies—they were amongst her favorite books. She found it funny that the only books that girls her age seemed to like were the Twilight books. She'd tried reading the first book in that series and couldn't even get thirty pages into it. And amusingly, most of the kids her age, if pressed, would probably admit they hadn't actually even read Twilight—they'd seen the movie.

"Can I help you with anything?"

Adriana turned around and there was the man with the long gray hair, smiling at her, Billy, and Margaret.

"We're just looking, thank you," Adriana said. She continued, "Is this your booth?"

"It is." He pointed at the sign, which read: Hobo Books, Orange County, California. "That's us. I'm Paul and that's my wife Ellen."

He pointed to a lady sitting in a chair by one of the cases. The lady looked over, smiled and waved at them.

"Hi. I'm Adriana Hofstetter, this is my mother, Margaret, and this is Billy."

Paul smiled a goofy smile and said, "Welcome to the book fair Adriana, Margaret, and Billy. Are you looking for anything in particular?"

"No, it's our Saturday adventure," Margaret said.

"And I'm doing a story for my school newspaper," Adriana added.

"Ah," said Paul, "a writer. We love writers. Obviously. Well, you let me know if I can help you."

Paul walked away to say hi to some other people.

"He's like an aging hippie, isn't he?" Margaret said.

"Kind of like you, Mommy," Adriana replied, laughing.

"And what's so bad about being an aging hippie? Hippies were fun."

"Okay, Mommy, don't have a seizure."

Adriana noticed there was a copy of The Hunger Games on the shelf. She removed it carefully, wondering why a relatively recent book like The Hunger Games would be at an Antiquarian Book Fair. The dust jacket flap had a price of $17.99. She turned the first page and almost had a heart attack when she saw a penciled-in price of $750. Apparently, Paul saw the look of shock on her face, and was walking back to her, smiling his goofy smile.

"You're a fan of the book?" he asked.

"Not really. But why is it so much money? You can buy it anywhere."

"Ah, but this is a first edition, you see. And this book has become really hard to find in first edition."

"That's a good thing? A first edition? Don't people just want to read it?"

"This is a show for book collectors—a strange and wacky breed. So, this show is all about first editions—the very first printing of a book. Some books go through hundreds of printings, like the Harry Potter books, but collectors really only want the first edition, the first printing of the book. I'd hate to tell you what the first edition of the first Harry Potter book sells for—the true first edition from England."

This was like hearing a whole new language and she was entranced by it. "How much?"

"Well, for a fine copy the asking price would probably be between twenty-five and thirty-five thousand dollars."

Adriana's eyes widened. "For a book? One book?"

Margaret was listening, too, as was Billy, whose eyes were as wide as Adriana's.

"For one book. You have to understand, the first printing on that book was tiny and most of the copies went to libraries in England. Only a couple hundred got out for sale, so it became a hugely rare book right from the beginning."

"And people pay that kind of money?" Adriana asked. "You could live for a whole year on that kind of money."

"We do live for a whole year on that kind of money," Margaret said.

Paul laughed and it was a warm and genuinely friendly laugh and Adriana just liked him immediately.

"Well," he said, "there are some very wealthy book collectors who build incredible libraries, and price is no object for them as long as they are getting beautiful copies of the books they want."

This was so fascinating to Adriana and she wanted to get some of what he was saying recorded. "Can I interview you for my story? I mean, actually record what you have to say?"

"Sure, just come back in a bit and I'll have my wife take care of the booth. Walk around, check out some of the other dealers—if you think our prices are high, wait till you see theirs. Think of questions and then we'll sit down for a few minutes, how's that?"

"That's great," Adriana said.

"That's very sweet of you," Margaret chimed in.

"I'll do anything for writers," Paul said, and there was that goofy grin again.

They spent the next hour walking up and down the aisles, stopping in at the booths, looking at books. Most of the dealers were very friendly and answered any questions Adriana had. Billy was his usual funny self, making comments about the dealers and the collectors, some of whom really were the most peculiar-looking people he'd ever seen. He was taking pictures like mad, especially of the most peculiar of the peculiar-looking people, and, Adriana guessed, was putting them on Instagram for his followers to see.

There was one bookseller who had a copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, which Adriana had read and enjoyed. It was in one of those glass cases and it looked beautiful. She asked the bookseller what the price was and he patiently told her that The Great Gatsby was one of the most sought after books in all of book collecting—a kind of Holy Grail for serious collectors of 20th century literature and was almost impossible to find in a dust jacket, especially a dust jacket as nice as the one his copy had. If the $750 copy of The Hunger Games had almost given her a heart attack, she almost had a stroke when she heard the price of The Great Gatsby. "Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars," the dealer said. Adriana noticed a gleam in his eye, and then he said, chuckling, "We do layaways."

"Do you think you'll sell it?" Adriana asked.

"I don't care, actually. If we do, I can take it easy for a few months. If not, all these other dealers can just be envious. And don't let any of them tell you they aren't."

They continued walking around. They saw amazing books: First editions of Dickens' Oliver Twist (in three volumes—the British dealer pointed out it was the first issue, with the title page author credit to Boz rather than Charles Dickens); The Catcher in the Rye; early editions, beautifully bound, of Jane Austen books. At another booth, she saw an original first English edition of her beloved Animal Farm. It looked so fragile, and the dust jacket was nothing special, but she knew she was holding something truly magical—the very first printing of a book that had gone on to be not only a masterpiece but required reading everywhere. It was priced at $3,500. She thought it was weird that something like the first Harry Potter book, written in the late 1990s, could fetch ten times what an older book and classic like Animal Farm was worth.

It was like being in a candy store filled with enticing goodies, or finding the most beautiful treasure. There were dealers from England and France and Italy and Germany. There were old maps, and engravings, and one dealer even had a case of glass eyeballs for sale—only $5,000.

Adriana and Billy were looking at the books sitting in the glass case of one booth, when they heard Margaret, at the booth next to them, suddenly say, "Oh, my God!" Adriana and Billy hurried over to the next booth where Margaret was actually jumping up and down like a little girl.

"Mommy, stop jumping up and down, it's embarrassing."

"Look! I can't believe it."

Margaret was holding a copy of Nancy and Plum, her favorite childhood book, the one she'd read to Adriana all those years ago.

"Is that a first edition, Mommy?"

"It is. Oh, my God, I want this so bad."

"How much is it?"

"Three hundred dollars."

Adriana took the book from her mother. The dust jacket had several tears, a big chip missing at the top, and was just weathered-looking and old.

"I don't know, Mommy. It looks like it was in a washing machine. I'll bet there's a better copy somewhere, maybe even here today."

"Well, three hundred dollars," Margaret said ruefully. "That's crazy. But I want it anyway."

"Buy it," Adriana said.

"I can't buy it. It's three hundred dollars and it looks like it's been in a washing machine."

"That's what I said."

Margaret reluctantly put the book back on the shelf.

After about two hours of walking around, they'd pretty much traversed the entire room. It was overwhelming, all these dealers and books, but Adriana loved it. Billy was being a good sport, but it wasn't really his kind of thing. He'd been singing the opening number from The Book of Mormon all during the two hours.

"Hello, my name is Elder Price," he'd sing at the oddest moments, and it just made Adriana laugh out loud every time, which only made him do it more.

They took a break and got some soft drinks from the food stand, and sat down.

"This is the best day," Adriana said. "Thank you for suggesting it, Mommy."

"You're welcome."

"And isn't Billy being good for a freak?"

"Watch it, freak," Billy replied, "or I'll start dancing."

After they'd finished their drinks, they went back to the Hobo Books booth. As he'd promised, Paul had his wife Ellen watch things at the booth while he sat down with Adriana to answer her questions. She took out her iPhone, opened the iRecorder app and pressed record.

From him she learned that the glory days of mom-and-pop bookstores were gone. He told her that he and Ellen had once had a beautiful store in West LA and that the entire city had once had hundreds of wonderful used bookstores, sometimes five or six in the same neighborhood.

Now, there were only a handful of mom-and-pop bookstores left because store rents had become prohibitive and the Internet had changed everything and people simply liked shopping from home. For the dealers, it was much cheaper to sell online, where you could reach many more people and have no overhead. But, he said, even the big chains were going the way of the dodo bird and he said he could see a time when there simply were no more bookstores at all. Just hearing that made Adriana sad.

"But for real collectors, it's the hunt," he said, "it's the thrill of the chase, it's holding the book in your hands, feeling it, smelling that book smell, knowing you've just found something extraordinary that you've wanted forever. That doesn't happen online."

Excerpted from MURDER AT THE SCHOOL MUSICAL by Bruce Kimmel. Copyright © 2013 by Bruce Kimmel. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Murder at the School Musical 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't wait for the new Adriana Hofstetter book being a huge fan of this series.  It's been two years since the last book and I was suffering withdrawal symptoms.  But it was worth the wait because this new book has instantly become my favorite in the series.  The setting is a high school production of The Music Man, and the disappearance of one of the actresses who spends way too much time on Instagram.  There is so much to enjoy in this new story .  It may be the funniest of the series, but the mystery is really good, too.  The characters, especially the young characters, are perfectly rendered, and all the wonderful regular characters are back, too.  It's a fast read, it's colorful, and Adriana herself remains one of the great young heroines of mystery fiction.