In the second installment of Susan McBride’s Debutante Dropout mystery series, Dallas heiress Andrea Kendricks must expose a high-society assassin … before she becomes the killer’s next target.
Website designer and high-society rebel Andrea Kendricks would never have gotten involved with ego-in-pumps lifestyle hostess Marilee Mabry if it weren’t for the underhanded machinations of Andy’s upper-crust mama. But thanks to Mother Cissy, Andy’s donning designer duds to attend a launch party at the intolerable domestic diva’s new Dallas TV studio—and she’s on hand to witness the celebration site go up in flames!
Then Andy finds Marilee’s daughter, seemingly lifeless. Even though iron-willed Cissy isn’t about to let her social calendar be upset by minor inconveniences like arson and possibly murder, her sometime-sleuthing daughter’s got a more pressing engagement—namely, hunting down the culprit behind some very foul play.
But there are more than a few nasty messes tucked away in the Mabry closet—and a craven assassin who has the Big D elite quaking in their cowboy boots may soon be burying Andy in hers!
About the Author
Susan McBride is the USA Today bestselling author of Blue Blood and the Debutante Dropout Mysteries that include The Good Girl's Guide to Murder, The Lone Star Lonely Hearts Club, Night of the Living Deb, Too Pretty to Die, and Say Yes to the Death. She also writes the bestselling River Road Mysteries and has penned three women’s fiction titles: The Truth About Love and Lightning, Little Black Dress, and The Cougar Club. She chronicled her bout with breast cancer in the short memoir, In the Pink: How I Met the Perfect (Younger) Man, Survived Breast Cancer, and Found True Happiness After Forty. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with her husband and daughter.
Read an Excerpt
The Good Girl's Guide to MurderA Debutante Dropout Mystery
By McBride, Susan
Avon BooksISBN: 0060563907
"Put it down, or I'll kill you."
Marilee Mabry didn't even have to raise her voice, and the huge vase of flowers was hastily lowered. The elaborate arrangement from one of Dallas's premier floral designers, Dr. Delphinium, nearly hid the woman behind it, until she deposited the bouquet on the coffee table with a clunk and backed away.
"I'm sorry, ma'am. I was just trying to help with the party preparations."
Marilee scowled at the unadorned face and wild dark hair hanging down to where boobs should have been. What was it with these New Age flower children? Hadn't they heard of straightening wands, padded bras, or Bobbi Brown?
She flicked be-ringed fingers, motioning the girl away. "Please, do me a favor and go help somewhere else," she instructed, indifferent to the chill in her drawl, and watched the bewildered expression turn to dismay.
"I can't believe that you ... you're not anything like I'd imagined ... oh, forget it," the young woman stammered, then ducked her head and scurried off like a frightened rabbit.
Was she an intern?
A friend of Kendall's?
Though she looked at least a decade older than Kendall's eighteen.
Was she someone from Twinkle Productions?
Ah, one of The Sweet Life's newer production assistants. She had to be.
There seemed to be bushels ofthose lately.
Marilee tapped a finger to her lips, thinking something about the shape of the hazel eyes and set of the mouth seemed familiar.
Hmm, a name was on the tip of her tongue, really.
Something with an R, wasn't it? Randa, Retha, Renée?
Heavens to Betsy, she couldn't expect to remember everyone!
There were always so many people wandering around her offices and The Sweet Life set these days, half of them unfamiliar. Her staff had grown so fast in the past six weeks -- thanks to an infusion of crew from Twinkle -- that she'd long since given up memorizing names and faces. Thank God this was Texas and calling everyone "hon" worked in a pinch.
Still it was disconcerting to feel that she had strangers among her inner circle. When they'd started out years ago, taping locally at one of the downtown stations, she'd had only a small crew, operating on a shoestring. She trusted department heads to do the hiring now, while she focused on hosting the show, on writing books, making videotapes, and developing related projects. Even if she wanted to -- and she didn't -- she simply couldn't be all things to all people. She wasn't an octopus; she only had two hands, for God's sake.
Though that was the price of fame, wasn't it?
Never mind, she told herself and fiddled with the vase overflowing with artfully arranged Oriental lilies and green bamboo until it looked absolutely perfect. She stepped back to admire her handiwork, clicking tongue against teeth.
If she wanted anything done right, she still had to do it herself.
Wasn't that always the way?
Even married to Gilbert, she'd had to do everything: take care of the house, pay the bills, set up doctors' appointments, arrange vacations, and -- perhaps trickiest of all -- rear their daughter.
Dear, troubled Kendall, she mused with a shake of her head.
The girl had been a fussy baby and a demanding toddler; ripening into a needy teenager who required far more attention than Marilee could possibly give. Though it wasn't all Marilee's fault. Half that responsibility fell on Gil. Kendall had never received the affection she'd wanted from her father -- or so the therapists had concurred -- and, for that matter, neither had Marilee.
Kendall had been getting on her nerves all morning, whining about not being allowed to borrow any of Mari's best jewelry, complaining that her new pair of Jimmy Choos pinched her toes, and begging Mari to open the bottle of reserve stock Dom Perignon she'd been hoarding for tonight's big event "so I can have a little taste."
It was enough to give her an ulcer, if she didn't have one already.
Instinctively, Marilee reached for her third left finger, but it was bare. No wedding band to twist, not for six years, and still sometimes she tried out of habit.
Would things have been different for Kendall if there'd been no divorce? Was that at the root of her lack of selfworth?
Not that the divorce had been Mari's idea to begin with.
Still, would she be where she was if it hadn't happened?
When she thought about it -- really, truly, deeply -- it seemed a wonder she and Gil had lasted as long as they did. More amazing that she hadn't smothered him with a pillow along the way, much as she'd been tempted. Always leaving his dirty clothes on the floor, mussing up the bathroom, pretending to slave away at the office, then disappearing for days on "business trips" when he was really off boinking his assistant, a former nurse's aide who looked like the love child of Pamela Anderson and Carrot Top.
She realized she was gritting her teeth and made herself relax.
That was then, Marilee.
This was now, and everything was different. Her life was her own, and she'd taken the reins in a big way.
No, a colossal way.
She let her gaze dance over the cadre of people -- a mingling of staff and additional hired help -- who moved purposefully within the cavernous surroundings, readying the place for tonight's big premiere ... Continues...
Excerpted from The Good Girl's Guide to Murder by McBride, Susan Excerpted by permission.
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