"A sense of danger and menace pervades the entire novel, but it is lightened by Mad's genuine likability and strength. Vallere has crafted an extremely unique mystery series with an intelligent heroine whose appeal will never go out of style." - Kings River Life Magazine
"If you love Doris Day, you'll love Madison Night, decorator extraordinaire. She specializes in restoring mid-century homes and designs, and her latest project involves abductions, murder and vengeance!" - Books for Avid Readers
"This is a very good book...While there were plenty of viable suspects, when the final scenes arrived, the ending was as scary as it was believable in the fact that knowing how people think in the real world, it could have been factual. Highly recommended, and I look forward to the next installment in this mystery series." - Any Good Book
"The story kept me entertained and interested...The characters were likable and fit into the story very well. I would definitely recommend!" - Deb Krenzer, Booklikes
"Vallere has added another successful mystery to the Mad for Mod series. In With Vics You Get Eggroll she delivers her most suspenseful story yet...It was very hard to turn the last page in this book. I absolutely loved it, as I did the two books that came before it." - Loralee Peterson, Librarian
"This is the second book in this series that I've read and I loved it...This story twists and turns and I was kept guessing until the end. I highly recommend this book, this series. Five stars." - Rott-i-Tude Book Reviews
"A well-constructed tale with solid characters and page after page of interesting, intelligent dialogue. Diane Vallere delivers a cunning plot as well as humor and romance." - ReadertoReader
Business as usual for mid-century modern interior decorator Madison Night involves a rundown ranch restoration and endorsing a set of retro paint colors. But when an investigation into a string of recent abductions turns up a murder vic, and evidence at the scene links the flirtatious Lt. Tex Allen to the crime, Madison's priorities shift faster than she can say "Doris Day."
Voluntary suspension keeps Tex off the case, and pesky reporters force him to live in his car. Madison's own life is complicated by the return of her hunky handyman and her new demanding client. She immerses herself in routine, but suspects come out of the freshly-painted woodwork. When seemingly unrelated events lead back to the abductions, she exposes a secondary agenda, a copycat crime, and a vengeful plot to destroy someone she loves.
Related subjects include: cozy mysteries, women sleuths, murder mystery series, whodunit mysteries (whodunnit), humorous murder mysteries, book club recommendations, amateur sleuth books, southern humor, Doris Day, chick lit.
Books in the Mad for Mod Humorous Mystery Series:
MIDNIGHT INK (prequel novella in OTHER PEOPLE'S BAGGAGE)
PILLOW STALK (#1)
THAT TOUCH OF INK (#2)
WITH VICS YOU GET EGGROLL (#3)
Part of the Henery Press Mystery Series Collection, if you like one, you'll probably like them all...
Author Bio: After two decades working for a top luxury retailer, Diane Vallere traded fashion accessories for accessories to murder. She is a Lefty Best Humorous Mystery Nominee and, in addition to the Mad for Mod Series, writes the Material Witness and Style & Error Mysteries. Diane started her own detective agency at age ten and has maintained a passion for shoes, clues, and clothes ever since.
Read an Excerpt
The flashing red and blue lights remained visible in my rearview mirror far longer than I would have liked. I accelerated through the twists and turns of Gaston Avenue's residential streets, almost lost control and swung wide when the road cut to the right, but kept going. If the police officer behind me wanted to catch up with my zippy Alfa Romeo, he was going to have to put pedal to the metal.
He'd been pursuing me for over a mile. Up ahead, the tall parking lot lights of the Whole Foods grocery store loomed. It was after ten and the neighboring businesses had long since been closed. I put on my signal, turned into the vacant lot, and parked under a row of streetlamps by the store's east-facing exit.
The royal blue Dallas police car pulled up behind me. The glass of the car's windows were tinted, telling me nothing. I double- checked that my doors were locked and kept my engine running. My heart sped like a leaky faucet with a rapid drip.
A gloved hand tapped the window. I cranked the lever until there was a two-inch opening and looked up at the officer. He shone a flashlight into my car. His expression changed from serious to concerned, probably as he noted the smudges of concrete and dirt from the construction site I'd been at all day. His eyes dropped to the navy blue coveralls I wore, and then moved to the yellow hardhat that had fallen from the passenger side seat onto the floor.
"License and Registration, ma'am," the officer said.
"May I see your identification first, officer?" I asked.
He held what looked like a small black wallet in front of the window. One side displayed his police badge. The other had a photo identification. I cranked the window down another turn so I could read his credentials more clearly.
Officer Brian Iverson. Lakewood Police Department. That was Lt. Tex Allen's precinct. I reached into my bag and pulled out my wallet. My hands shook. I fumbled while trying to get the license out of the plastic sleeve. When I finally did, I handed it to him.
"Madison Night," he read. "Wait here."
He strode back to his car. I waited until he was seated before reaching for my phone, flipping it over twice before making the call.
"Lt. Allen? This is Madison. I just got pulled over."
"Where are you?" he asked, a trace of panic in his voice.
"The Whole Foods parking lot by the Lakewood Theater."
"Did you get a badge number?"
"I saw his badge. Officer Iverson. Blond, fit. Looks to be in his forties or fifties."
"Brian Iverson. He turned thirty last month. Lives a hard life. Not sure what the job is going to do to him in the long run, but he's a good cop. You're safe with him."
I tipped my head back against the head rest and closed my eyes, imagining the tension leaving my body. It was okay. Tex knew the police officer who had pulled me over. He wasn't the Lakewood Abductor.
"What did he get you on?" he asked, the tone of his voice shifting from concern to flirtation.
"I don't know yet."
"You should have told him you know me. Might have saved you from a ticket."
"I don't like using our relationship like that."
"It's not like you're using it for anything else. One of these days you'll see me for the prince I am."
"And until then I'll see you as a frog."
"It's not easy being green. Remember that."
Officer Iverson returned to my window. "I have to go," I said to Tex.
"Call me when you're home." We hung up.
I took the paperwork from Officer Iverson, slid my license back into my wallet, put the registration inside the front cover of the Alfa Romeo car manual, and put the manual back into the glove box.
"Do you know why I pulled you over?" Iverson asked.
"Broken tail light." He tapped the end of his pen against a metal clipboard that held a form I sincerely hoped wasn't a citation.
"Doesn't Lt. Allen work in your precinct?" I asked.
He tipped his head to the side and smiled. "That's how I knew your name. Madison Night. You were there when Lt. Allen got shot."
He tapped his pen a few more times and looked at the form in front of him. "I sure wish you'd told me that when I first pulled you over. I already wrote up this ticket." He looked torn between protocol and doing me a favor. "Tell you what. I'll make this a warning. Get the tail light fixed in the next five days and take this paperwork to the courthouse." He pulled a piece of the multi- layered form off and handed it to me. "I couldn't help noticing that you gave me a little chase before you pulled over."
I took the form. "The only thing on the news these days is about the missing women and the Lakewood Abductor. The reports say we shouldn't pull over for anybody unless we're in a public parking space or a crowded area."
"That's right. Glad you're paying attention. Are you headed home now?"
"Your address says Gaston Avenue. Home's close?"
"A couple of blocks."
"Good. Be careful, Ms. Night."
I waited until Officer Iverson was back in his car before I backed out of my space. It was true that I was only a couple of blocks from my apartment, but I'd lied when I called it home. There was a time when it had been the place where I felt most comfortable, but I hadn't been staying there lately. Nobody had.
I drove down Gaston Avenue, past my apartment building, and then took a side street to Greenville, double-checking the rearview and side mirrors frequently. My heart still raced.
From Greenville I turned left on Monticello and slowed when I reached the house I'd inherited a few months ago. I parked the car in the detached garage, hustled past the tomato plants to the porch and let myself in. This was where Rocky waited for me, and in my book, home is where you keep your puppy.
Now two years old, his hyper nature came and went in spurts. Anybody entering the house was cause for an outburst. He bounced around my feet and stood on his hind legs, paws on the back of mine, while I set a plastic milk crate filled with files on the dining room table. I put the hardhat next to the files and stepped out of the dirty blue coveralls.
Ah, the glamorous life.
I scooped Rocky up. "Hey there, cutie! Are you happy that I'm home?" He licked my cheek and nuzzled his face into the side of my neck. I locked the front door behind me and locked the door between the front door and the kitchen. After turning on the TV in the living room, I carried Rocky upstairs. I set him on his dog bed, a custom-made, heavily padded circle with a one-foot high border. The whole thing was covered in turquoise bar cloth printed with black radials and white squigglies, all reminiscent of the atomic era I specialized in with Mad for Mod Decorating. The dog bed had arrived as a very large package delivered to my studio a few weeks ago. To Rock, From Hudson. It was the only gift to mark the occasion of my forty-eighth birthday, and even though it was clearly for my Shih Tzu, I found the timing pleasantly suspicious.
The bedroom was hot. I kept a window AC unit ready to roll at bedtime, but otherwise preferred to spend my time on the first floor of the house. Under the coveralls I'd worn a belted light blue tunic and matching blue cotton trousers from my latest estate sale bid. I made a habit of making offers on estates of people I learned about from the obituaries, and while most of the time it was the wife who outlived the husband, in this case, the husband had been the one to maintain their mid-century modern ranch after his wife had passed away. Her closet had been filled with clothes from the late sixties — a large portion still with the tags on them. They were slightly groovier than my usual early to mid sixties wardrobe, but I wasn't one to look a gift horse — in this case, in the form of forty-five-year-old new-with-tags merchandise — in the mouth. The dirty clothes went into the wicker hamper in the corner. I showered and dressed in a paisley caftan and went downstairs. Rocky followed. I made a salad from the lettuce in the crisper and the half chicken breast leftover from last night, and carried it to the living room, and then doubled back to the kitchen for a glass of white wine.
"We have breaking news on the identity of the Lakewood Abductor," a female reporter said as I took my seat on the sofa. She stood at the end of a parking lot, an empty field behind her. I speared a chunk of iceberg and crunched on it. The photo of a woman flashed onto the upper right-hand side of the screen.
"The body of Kate Morrow was found by two Lakewood residents who were hiking by Lockwood Park earlier this evening. Kate, a pre-med student at Loyola University, was in town visiting family. Her family reported her missing, and the police have been looking for leads. A witness from the Organic Foods Market in the Casa Linda shopping center said he saw a woman matching Ms. Morrow's description get into a black sedan last week. According to the police, evidence found near her body confirms that the abductor was impersonating a police officer. She has been dead for several hours."
The report was chilling. Kate's rental car was found abandoned in the parking lot of the Casa Linda shopping center last month, only a few miles from where I lived. Her handbag and keys were on the passenger side floor. The two security cameras in the parking lot of the organic food store had malfunctioned so no video had been recorded.
I knew the Casa Linda shopping center well. It was so named because of the old theater that occupied one of the corners of the lot. After closing its doors in the early nineties, the theater had passed through a number of hands, eventually falling into a state of disrepair. A group of movie historians invested in it, renaming it The Mummy Theater, where I was a regular volunteer. We put together a calendar of events featuring classic movies to be shown on the big screen. Even though the theater had been renamed, the shopping center had kept the Casa Linda marquis, and residents of the Lakewood area continued to refer to it as such.
In addition to the theater and the organic foods market, there was a comic book store, a pet store, a paint store, and a takeout Chinese restaurant.
Images of three other women joined that of Kate Morrow on the TV screen. Below each image was the victim's name. "We are still on the search for the two other women who have been reported missing in the past two weeks. The Dallas Police have reason to suspect that the perpetrator being referred to as the 'Lakewood Abductor' may be driving what appears to be an unmarked police car." The blond reporter turned to the police chief. "Chief Washington, what can you tell us about your findings today?"
Chief Washington looked like a linebacker in a black made-to- measure business suit. He leaned toward the microphone, but didn't take it from the reporter. "Initial reports from the medical examiner state that Ms. Morrow has been dead for less than a day. We found ligature marks on her wrists that were consistent with marks made by handcuffs. The recent rain washed away any evidence of footprints, but we're still combing the immediate area for something that will give us a lead on the guy behind this."
"Are you any closer to revealing a profile of her attacker?"
"Since the first abductions, we suspected he was impersonating a security officer or a law enforcement officer. New evidence supports this theory."
"What is this evidence?"
"We're not releasing that information yet. Maybe this man met her before she was abducted or maybe they had a previous relationship. We have identified a person of interest and are in the process of finding out what his connection to her — to all of the women — is."
A sixty-something woman in jeans and a white button down shirt screamed behind the police chief. "I want him locked up! I want him arrested! He killed my girl!" she yelled hysterically. "He was a cop. He was supposed to protect her and you let him kill her!"
The reporter kept the microphone in front of the chief. "Is that true? Is your suspect a member of the police force?"
The chief looked uncomfortable. "Right now he is not a suspect, but until we have a chance to understand the nature of his relationship to Kate Morrow, he is a person of interest. We are pursuing this lead with all of our resources. If one of our officers is involved in the abduction and murder of Lakewood residents, we will show no leniency."
I thought about how Tex's world would change if one of his fellow officers was responsible for these heinous crimes. It would be an uphill battle that would severely damage the reputation of the Lakewood Police Department, possibly long term.
The mother of the victim stood off to the side of the crowd, her hysterics subdued by her sobs. The reporter raised the microphone and spoke directly to the camera.
"Tonight, a murder victim provides a clue to the possible identity of the man terrorizing the Lakewood/White Rock Lake area. What that means to the residents of Lakewood is unclear. Chief Washington is still urging everyone to be careful. Chief?"
This time the chief took the microphone. "We encourage everyone to follow these safety tips: If you see a police vehicle behind you, do not pull over until you reach a crowded or well-lit parking lot. Do not turn off your engine. Ask to see his badge. If he is a legitimate officer, he will be aware of these safety issues and will act accordingly. If he does not, call 911 and head to the nearest police station. You will be safe there."
Suddenly the hysterical woman broke away from the crowd and charged the police chief. She grabbed the microphone from him. "You don't protect the citizens of Lakewood, you protect your own! I know you found a badge by my daughter's body and I know whose it is. I want Lt. Tex Allen arrested for murder!"CHAPTER 2
I dropped my glass and wine splashed onto the throw rug. Instead of cleaning it up, I grabbed the remote and turned up the volume. The reporter, initially stunned, regained her composure and took the microphone from the hysterical woman. She thrust it at Chief Washington. "Is there any truth to her accusation, Chief? Do you have evidence linking one of your homicide detectives to the murder of Kate Morrow?"
Chief Washington's face colored. "This interview is over," he said to the reporter. He turned away and walked past a row of uniformed officers. The camera followed them to a parking lot filled with royal blue police vehicles. The officers surrounded their chief, but the audio was a recap by the reporter who had conducted the interview moments before.
"Possible new evidence in the abduction and murder of Kate Morrow points to the Lakewood Police Department. Can any of us feel safe? The hunt for the Lakewood Abductor continues. Anyone with information on Kate Morrow, or any of the missing women, is urged to call the number on the screen." A phone number appeared.
The abductions had started about a month ago. Kate Morrow had been in Dallas visiting her family. She'd rented a car at the airport and driven herself to their house. The visit had been cut short when Kate went out for groceries and didn't return. Her mother called the police after four hours, but she wasn't treated as a missing person until twenty more had passed. It took the police a while to connect her to a rental car found abandoned in the Casa Linda Shopping Center, but once they did, there'd been a heightened sense of concern. A store employee came forward and said he'd seen a woman matching Kate's description leaving the parking lot with a man in uniform. He hadn't thought much about it until reports of a second missing woman came in, and then a third. Employees of local businesses had been questioned, but no one had seen anything out of the ordinary.
Like other residents of Lakewood, I'd held out hope that the women were alive, though the longer they were missing, the scarier that hope became. If they were alive, where were they? And what was someone doing to them to keep them detained?
Warnings had been issued, general advice to people heading out alone, but the victims had been out-of-towners, people who may not have been tuned to our local news. Kate Morrow's car was a rental. The next two bore out-of-state plates. They'd found the vehicles abandoned in public parking lots around town, the occupants missing. Nobody knew how the women were being targeted or what was happening to them.
Kate Morrow had been wearing the clothes she was last seen in, and according to the police, she'd been dead for less than a day. Marks on her wrists and ankles indicated that she'd been physically restrained wherever it was she'd been held, but her cause of death had been a slit throat.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "With Vics You Get Eggroll"
Copyright © 2014 Diane Vallere.
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.
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