Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Brim Reaper - Excerpt & Giveaway

When an over-the-top collection of vintage Hollywood costumes comes to Samantha Kidd’s hometown, it brings a hat box full of hype. Close friend Eddie is in charge of the exhibit but when hype turns to homicide, he turns to Samantha for help. Brimming with good intentions, she loops in the cops, but after one too many cloche calls, she’s soon in over her head. If she can tear the lid off the investigation, it might mean a feather in her fedora. And if she can’t? She might get capped.

"How’s the job search going?” he asked.
“How much do you think I could get for a dozen satin cargo pants from the mid nineties?”
“That well, huh?” Eddie flopped down on a pile of Bubble Wrap. A burst of popping sounds shot from under his tush while he rearranged his legs in front of him. He let out an exaggerated sigh.
“The main problem is my recent work history. I was a buyer at Bentley’s for ten years, which was great, but it feels like another lifetime ago. After that I moved here and worked at Tradava for a week. Six months later I worked at Heist for something like that too. So basically my resume makes me look like a flake.”
“I might have a lead for you. That’s why I wanted your help. I can’t pay you, but I thought I could be a reference. Give you something to fill in the gap in your employment until you find a job.” He kicked his feet out in front of him. “But it doesn’t really matter, I guess. This whole project has been trouble from the start. You showing up looking like an extra in a hip-hop video is just the icing on the cake.”
I ignored his dig. “Why would my outfit have anything to do with your project?”
“Because my project could very easily become your project.”
“I’m not following.”
“Your major was the history of fashion, right? This exhibit encompasses that. We’re getting loans from some of the best private collections of clothing in the tri-state area, along with a couple of local hat stores and one designer from Hollywood.”
I leaned forward. “The museum’s putting on an exhibit on the history of fashion? Here, in Ribbon? You’re in charge of it? The whole thing? I would love to be involved with something like this, but my experience is in retail buying, not visual.”
“That’s where the opportunity comes in. I’m in charge of the installation. I’m giving you a foot back inside the door.”
“So why’s my outfit a problem?”
“I need you to be my liaison with the sponsor.”
“Who’s the sponsor?”
Tradava. The local department store that had promised me a job but delivered a homicide investigation—and then sent me a very polite letter that said they were dismantling the very department I’d been hired to work in.
As soon as I heard the name of the store, I tensed. I turned away from Eddie and pushed my fingers into my long brown hair, boosting the roots, while delivering a mental pep talk at the same time. Tradava would be lucky to get me back.
“You’re the curator?”
“Guest curator. More like exhibit merchandiser. Last year the museum sponsored a visual competition between a few different retailers. Tradava won. The prize was the chance to guest curate an exhibit. It took a while for the board of directors to agree on the exhibit concept and for the director to obtain loans from collectors, but once they green-lighted it, I’ve been on an almost impossible deadline. If you’re looking for something to tear you away from your job search, I could use your help coordinating the exhibit.”
“Maybe I should forget about Tradava. Maybe what happened is a sign that I shouldn’t work for them.”
“Sign-schmign. You need a job. They’re hiring. Sounds like a match to me.”
“You don’t believe in signs?”
“I believe in stop signs and sale signs. Everything else is woo-woo.”

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About the Author:
Diane Vallere is living proof that you can redesign your life with a little know how and a lot of determination! After close to two decades working for a top luxury retailer, she traded fashion accessories for accessories to murder, now juggling three different mystery series: Style & Error, featuring former fashion buyer Samantha Kidd; Mad for Mod, featuring Doris Day-loving interior decorator Madison Night; and the upcoming Material Witness series, featuring Polyester Monroe and the fabric shop she inherited. Diane started her own detective agency at age ten and has maintained a passion for shoes, clues, and clothes ever since. Find her at

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