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by Cindy Brown


by Cindy Brown




"The setting is irresistible, the mystery is twisty, and Ivy is as beguiling as ever, but what I really loved was the depth and complexity of painful human relationships right there in the middle of a sparkly caper. Roll on Ivy #3!" - Catriona McPherson, Anthony, Agatha and Macavity Award-Winning Author of The Day She Died

"It is not easy to combine humor and murder, but Cindy Brown does it effortlessly. Who else would think of combining The Sound of Music with Cabaret with a serial killer? The result is such fun." - Rhys Bowen, New York Times Bestselling Author of Malice at the Palace

"Ivy is a delight! She's sweet, smart, and a little zany. You'll find yourself laughing out loud as you race through the pages." - April Henry, New York Times Bestselling Author of Lethal Beauty

"The mystery kept me glued to the pages and I enjoyed all facets as each clue got me closer to the killer's identity...had me roaring with laughter...A delightful read and I can't wait to see what happens next in this amusingly entertaining series." - Dru's Book Musings

"Ivy Meadows is a likable, funny, hapless narrator. She goes too far, says too much, sticks her nose in where it doesn't belong...But the mysteries are only part of the fun in Cindy Brown's Ivy Meadows Mystery series...Brown's books are well-designed cotton candy, page turners sprinkled with genuine character-based humor and delightfully bad jokes. I greatly enjoyed both Macdeath and The Sound of Murder, and I look forward to the next one." - Show Showdown

"The author blends theater lore with a deeper psychological layer, and always on stage is her delightful sense of humor. The concept of a mash-up of The Sound of Music and Cabaret is as brilliant as it is ripe for absurdity, and readers will thoroughly enjoy this extremely fun mystery that entertains until the final curtain call." - Kings River Life Magazine

All Ivy Meadows wants is to be an actor. And a private investigator. Plus she'd really like a pair of clean underwear, a place to stay since her apartment caught fire, and to overcome her fear of singing in public. Minor inconveniences aside, Ivy might be on a roll. She's just landed her first real PI case, a seeming suicide in a retirement community. Not only that, but a big New York producer is coming to Arizona to see Ivy in the world premiere of The Sound of Cabaret (singing nuns AND Berlin burlesque).

But all is not raindrops on roses. A creep in a convertible is tailing Ivy, a local posse member is way too interested in her investigation, and something is seriously wrong with one of her castmates. And that suicide-could it be murder? As the curtain rises, Ivy finds herself smack in the sights of a serial killer.

Related subjects include: cozy mysteries, women sleuths, murder mystery series, whodunit mysteries (whodunnit), amateur sleuth books, book club recommendations, humorous murder mytsteries, private investigator mystery series.

Books in the Ivy Meadows Humorous Mystery Series:

• OLIVER TWISTED (#3) July 2016

Part of the Henery Press Mystery Series Collection, if you like one, you'll probably like them all...

Author Bio:

Cindy Brown has been a theater geek (musician, actor, director, producer, and playwright) since her first professional gig at age 14. Now a full-time writer, she's lucky enough to have garnered several awards (including 3rd place in the 2013 international Words With Jam First Page Competition, judged by Sue Grafton!) and is an alumnus of the Squaw Valley Writers Workshop. Though Cindy and her husband now live in Portland, Oregon, she made her home in Phoenix, Arizona, for more than 25 years and knows all the good places to hide dead bodies in both cities.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781943390014
Publisher: Henery Press
Publication date: 10/06/2015
Pages: 268
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.56(d)

Read an Excerpt


I should never do anything pre-coffee.

"It was only a teeny fire," I told my uncle over the phone. I sat outside on the steps of my apartment complex, watching the Phoenix Fire Department carry equipment out of my second-floor apartment. Black smoke trailed behind them. The air smelled awful, like the time I'd fallen asleep in front of a campfire and melted the bottom of my sneakers. Except this smelled like an entire Nike factory.

"Teeny fire?" Uncle Bob said. "Isn't that an oxymoron or something?"

"Nah," I said. "That's firefighter language for no one got hurt. Right?" I asked an especially cute guy carrying a heavy-looking hose.

"Yep," he said over his shoulder as he passed me. "Teeny. No one hurt."

I smiled at him again and watched him descend the stairs. On the back of his firefighter's helmet was a sticker that said, "Be Nice."

"Olive," said my uncle with a sigh. "Stop flirting with firemen and tell me what happened."

"I'm not entirely sure." I was not a morning person. "I got up early to go to that meeting you put on my calendar."

Since acting didn't always pay the bills (okay, rarely paid the bills), I worked part-time at my uncle's private investigation business. Right now I was mostly filing and writing reports, but Uncle Bob promised he was going to give me some real detective work soon.

"You got up early?" I could hear the skepticism in my uncle's voice. "What time?"

"Eight." There was a pause on the other end. "Ish," I finished.

"To go to this meeting that starts in ..." I could almost see him squint at the old clock on the office wall. "Twenty minutes?"

"Uh huh."

"Right. Go on."

"I put the kettle on the stove." When my old coffeemaker bit the dust, I had replaced it with a French press, a much better fit for my minuscule galley kitchen. "Then I got in the shower."

Another pause. Then, "You usually do that? Turn on the stove and get in the shower?"

"Sometimes. Then when I get out, the kettle's boiling and I make coffee. No waiting." Not only was I not a morning person, I was not a patient person. Especially in the morning. "Since the water was running, I didn't hear the smoke alarm."

"That's why you didn't hear the alarm? You were in the shower?" said the cute fireman, who was going back up the stairs. I nodded, though it did seem sort of obvious. I was wearing only a towel.

"So you turned on a gas stove, left the room, and put yourself in a situation where you couldn't see or smell smoke or hear an alarm," said Uncle Bob. I could tell he was trying to make a point. "And what happened when you got out of the shower?"

"The apartment was full of black smoke. Really nasty. I could taste it." I scraped the top of my tongue with my front teeth. I knew I probably looked like a dog that just ate peanut butter, but I really wanted the greasy bitter smoke taste out of my mouth.

"Here," the cute fireman came back and sat down next to me on the stairs, pulling a Day-Glo green bottle of Gatorade from a pocket in his voluminous fireman's coat. "Helps with that awful taste," he said, opening the bottle for me. Not only was he chivalrous, he was even better looking up close, with light brown eyes and the longest lashes I'd ever seen. I was wowed and envious at the same time.

"Thanks." I hiked up my towel, grateful I'd sprung for the large bath sheet. I twisted open the Gatorade. It was lukewarm, but it did make my mouth taste better. Like pleasant, lemony-limey smoke. The fireman shrugged out of his heavy firefighter's coat. The t-shirt he wore underneath showed off strong muscled arms. I tried not to stare.

"Olive?" Uncle Bob was still on the line. "Was it really a teeny fire?"

I looked at the big fire truck and the half dozen firefighters going in and out of my apartment. "Yeah," I replied, sticking with my definition of "no one got hurt."

"Good. I want you at this meeting. Can you make it?"

"I think I need to talk to the firefighters now."

The fireman, whose name was Jeremy (it was stenciled on his t-shirt), nodded.

"I'll be there," I said. "A little late, but I'll make it."

"Glad you're all right. See you soon."

Uncle Bob hung up, which was good because I was having a hard time holding my cellphone, the Gatorade, and my towel, which I thought I'd secured pretty well. I was in an awkward position. The stairs outside my apartment were shallow, which was nice for carrying groceries, but not for sitting in a ladylike position wearing a towel and nothing underneath. I made sure to keep my legs together.

Jeremy smiled at me. He had dimples.

"Is this," I held up the Gatorade, "part of 'Be Nice?'"

"Sort of," he said. "It's part of the Phoenix Fire Department motto."

I tried to figure out what Gatorade had to do with fires. I figured it wasn't flammable, but that seemed like a stretch.

"'Prevent Harm, Survive, Be Nice.' The Phoenix Fire Department motto," he explained. "Now, Miss ..."

"Meadows," I said brightly, "but you can call me Ivy." The green Astroturf covering the stairs tickled my hiney. I tried not to think about it.

"Ivy Meadows?" The smile stayed on his face but his eyes narrowed a fraction.

"That's my stage name." Not sure if it was the good-looking fireman or the lack of coffee, but I wasn't at my sharpest. "My legal name is Olive Ziegwart."

Jeremy laughed, one of those snort laughs that can make milk come out your nose if you're not careful. I didn't laugh.

"Really," I said. "That's why I changed it."

He looked properly chastened. "How do you spell that?"

"It's 'Olive' like in a martini," I said. "And Ziegwart is spelled Z- I-E-G ... wart."

Another snort laugh escaped his lips. I laughed with him. I was trying for that one.

Two other firemen came out of my apartment and began the trek downstairs. Sweat trickled down their faces, courtesy of the eighty-degree spring morning. One of them, an older guy with a big gray mustache, punched Jeremy good-naturedly on the shoulder as he passed. "Watch out for this one," he said to me. "He's crazy about blondes."

I smiled and nodded, glad my roots weren't showing.

My phone chimed. A text from Uncle Bob: "Client here early."

"Any chance I could make a meeting pretty soon?" I asked Jeremy.

"I only have a few questions. But you might want to get dressed too."

There was that. I wondered if all my clothes smelled like burnt Nikes.

"So I overheard what you said on the phone about turning on the stove. We know the fire started there. Maybe you turned on the wrong burner? One that had something lying across it?"

"Maybe." I wasn't sure. That was before coffee and a shower.

"After that I'm guessing the grease trap in the vent caught fire," said Jeremy. "When was the last time you'd cleaned it?"

"A while back," I said, fidgeting. Boy, that Astroturf was tickly.

"Well, the rest is history," said Jeremy. "And so is your kitchen."

"Really?" I hadn't thought it was that serious.

My phone chimed again: "ETA?"

"And you've got a lot of smoke damage to the rest of the place," Jeremy continued. "Have you called your land —"

He didn't need to finish. Mae the manager stormed up the stairs dragging her little poodle on a leash behind her.

"Olive, what the hell? I take Sugar out for a walk and when I come back you've burned the place down. This is the last straw."

To be honest, there had been a few other straws. Like the time I overfilled the communal washing machine with detergent. Who knew it could make so many bubbles?

"You're out," said Mae, her gray head bobbing with each word.

"Your lease is terminated as of now."

"I believe that's illegal," said Jeremy.

Mae finally noticed the large, handsome fireman right next to me. "Oh. Right. Just kidding." She waved the air around her like it could blow away her words.

Another text from my uncle: "Olive?"

"Also," continued Jeremy, "although we're not sure what started the fire," he slid a glance at me, "we did notice that the wiring in the apartment isn't up to code."

Mae had an ear cocked toward Jeremy, but she was glaring at me. "Really," she said as she turned and stomped down the stairs, pulling Sugar along like a wheelie toy. "Send me the report." She stalked into her apartment at the bottom of the stairs and slammed the door.

"Thanks," I said to Jeremy. "I'm not crazy about Mae, but I do love my apartment."

It was just off Central Avenue, cheap and cute in a kitschy way. Built in the 1940s, the two-story complex had the same layout as the motels we used to stay in on road trips, U-shaped with a swimming pool in the middle. The pool deck was covered in the same patchy green Astroturf as the stairs, and all of it harbored an icky drought-proof mold.

Uh-oh. A thought was beginning to percolate in my coffee-less brain. Astroturf ... mold ...

"You okay?" said Jeremy.

"Sure," I said. "Thanks again for the Gatorade."

Astroturf ... mold ... tickling ... why was the Astroturf tickling me if I was sitting on my towel? Yikes! My bare ass was sitting on the skuzzy fake grass. I jumped up, trying to grab the railing while holding my towel in one hand and my Gatorade in the other. One of them had to go. I instinctively tossed the drink to Jeremy. The cap-less drink.

"Dang," I said to the now sticky-wet fireman. "I'm so sorry, I was trying to ..."

I trailed off, not wanting to explain about the ass-troturf.

"It's okay," he said, standing up and wringing out the hem of his t-shirt. "Somebody threw up on me yesterday." He grinned at me and my heart thumped under my bath sheet.

"Can I get you a paper towel? I've got some ..." I wrinkled my nose at the thought of my burned-out kitchen. "I think my paper towels may be, um, gone."

"How about dinner tonight instead?"

Wow. I should wear a towel more often. Not only was Jeremy the best-looking guy I'd ever seen, but he seemed like the poster boy for the Phoenix Fire Department. Definitely nice.

"I'd love to, but I've got rehearsal out in Surprise." The most startling thing about the westside suburb of Surprise was how long it took to drive there from central Phoenix. "I'm in The Sound of Cabaret." Jeremy gave me a blank look. "It's a world premiere, a combination of The Sound of Music and Cabaret. I'm an actor," I said helpfully.

"How about another night?"

I hesitated. We were ten days from opening our show, and all of us non-union actors were rehearsing every night until then.

"Never mind."

The really nice, best-looking guy I'd ever seen shrugged and started down the stairs.

My phone chimed again: "Client left."

"Jeremy, wait."

He turned and gave me a small smile. Phew, I hadn't blown it. "Let me make a quick call." I called my uncle. "Wasn't the meeting supposed to start in five minutes?"

"Yeah. But it was ..." My uncle blew a breath into the phone, a horse-type noise. "Let's just say it wasn't important after all."

"So I can come in late?"

"Late-er," Uncle Bob said. "Yeah, okay." He hung up.

"Maybe we could grab a bite right now?" I asked Jeremy. "I haven't had anything to eat, and I could really use a cup of coffee."

He looked at his watch.

"I could do that," he said, showing me his dimples again, "as long as you don't mind a slightly funky-smelling fireman."

"Give me a few minutes to figure out my no-clothes dilemma." I scooted up the stairs to my neighbor's apartment. Tiffany was already at work, but I knew where she kept a key. She was about my size and I was sure she wouldn't mind if I borrowed some clothes, given the situation. As I padded in my bare feet to her apartment, I thought again about sitting on old moldy fake grass sans underwear. I felt all creepy-crawly, like when you see a spider and your skin crawls with imagined bugs.

If I hadn't been thinking about Astroturf and spiders and dimples, I might have given more thought to the meeting I'd missed. The meeting my uncle misdiagnosed as unimportant. The meeting that could have saved a man's life.


I had that sort of euphoria you get from a narrow escape, plus a nice breakfast with a very nice fireman (eggs and pancakes with a side of dimples). So I was caffeinated and sated and generally happy when I finally made it to my uncle's office downtown. It wasn't noon yet, but I could tell Uncle Bob had eaten his lunch because the smell of liverwurst and onions hung in the air like a bad belch. Something else was in the air too.

"What the hell?" My typically easygoing uncle slapped his big hands down on his metal desk. "Thank God you missed that meeting, or I would have had to explain that ... what you're ..." His words tangled up with his anger, he nodded at my chest.

I'd rummaged through my neighbor Tiffany's drawers and found just one clean pair of jeans and one t-shirt. Both black. The shirt was emblazoned with a skull that shone like it was wet. Snakes (or worms?) writhed out of its eyeholes. Its open mouth said, "Suicide Rocks!" Tiff was in a Goth phase.

Uncle Bob stood up from behind his desk. "What in the Sam Hill were you thinking?"

"This was the only ..."

"Olive!" Uncle Bob was never this cranky. Maybe his liverwurst had turned. He poked the air with a finger. "Go. Change. Now."

"Into what? My clothes all smell like smoke and chemicals."

"So do you," he mumbled, turning away.

I went to him, squeezing behind his desk so I could see him face to face. "Listen, I'm sorry about the meeting. I tried to make it, but ..." I stopped. Uncle Bob's face matched his fuchsia Hawaiian shirt and his lips were pressed tightly together, like he was holding something in. He caught my eyes for a moment, turned away again and cleared his throat. I sat down in his wheelie chair and reached for his hand. "Is something wrong?"

"Other than the fact that I'm pissed as hell at my niece whose stupidity nearly got herself killed today? Nope. Nothin' wrong."

"But you weren't mad when I talked to you this morn ..." I stopped. Maybe he'd been hiding his anger earlier. Maybe he'd been in shock. Maybe he'd had time to understand what almost happened. It didn't matter. I held his hand tighter. I wanted to say,

"I love you. I love you for worrying about me, and even for getting mad when you're scared." But we don't say that in our family. What I said instead was, "I'm sorry."

"It was stupid, Olive. All because you couldn't wait for a goddamn cup of coffee."

"I know. I wasn't thinking."

"And from now on?" he said, his voice slightly calmer.

"I'll think, I promise. Scout's honor." I held up three fingers. "Even in the morning."

"Okay," he said, blowing out a pent-up breath. "Now, go change."

My cellphone rang. Tiffany. Perfect timing. Maybe she had a clean shirt hidden somewhere. I hopped out of Uncle Bob's wheelie chair, and walked to the corner of the office to take the call. It was more a matter of courtesy than privacy, since the office was only about ninety square feet.

"Hi Tiff," I said. "I was just going to call —"

"Omigod, Ivy, there was a fire!"

"I know."

"And I think it was arson."

"What?" Tiffany's pronouncement didn't worry me. I may have been the actress, but she was the drama queen. Still, I wanted to make sure there wasn't something to her theory. "Why do you think that?"

"Because someone broke into my apartment. I think they set the fire as cover. I called the police, and they're coming over and —"

"Whoa. Tiff —"

"They stole some of my clothes, and even went through my underwear drawer. Pervs."

"Uh, Tiff," I said, "that was me." I had gone through her underwear drawer, but didn't take anything. All she had were thongs. They tickle my butt, and I'd had enough of that for one day.

"You took my Suicide Rocks concert shirt!"

"I really needed some clothes. All my stuff is in my apartment, and I can't get —"

"I need that shirt now. Damien's picking me up in a half an hour."

"Do you have something else I can —"

"And bring my black jeans too!" She hung up.

Dang. I had planned to offer to do her laundry in exchange for a clean outfit. And I'd hoped to sleep on her couch for a day or two.

My uncle, the eavesdropping PI, said, "Sheesh. Don't think you got to finish one sentence. Reminds me of that interrupting cow joke."


"Your phone conversation. Reminds me of that joke. You know, knock knock ..."

I did know, but I played along, glad Uncle Bob was in a better mood. "Who's there?"

"Interrupting cow."

"Interrupting cow wh —"

"Moo!" Uncle Bob laughed at his own joke, then tossed me his keys. "Go to my house, and see if you can find something that'll fit you."


Excerpted from "The Sound Of Murder"
by .
Copyright © 2015 Cindy Brown.
Excerpted by permission of Henery Press.
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.

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