Resolutions, Pledges, and Promises

Call them what you will—most of us make them at the start of a New Year.  And then many of us sweep them under a mat before the end of a New Year we’d hoped would be different, better, calmer, different.

It’s Linda, authoring the first official post of 2019 for The Boss, who’s managed to catch someone’s nasty cough and cold.  T’is the season!

It seemed fitting to reflect on something we focus on once the spectacular, celebratory fireworks show has ended.  We’ve all made resolutions at one time or another—those qualities, habits and manners that need improving (as we perceive).  In terms of the Triple Threat Investigation Agency trio, we haven’t made them in years, but I asked Rey and JJ, as well as The Boss, to each provide three resolutions they’d like to adopt for 2019.  My BFF only agreed when I offered to provide mine as well, so here we go:

Rey:

♦   Resist learning and open my mind more.  ♦   Be less melodramatic or devil-may-care (Linda suggested that one).  ♦   Expand the agency.

JJ:

♦   Become a better marksperson.  ♦   Be less “waffley” when it comes to boyfriends/lovers.  ♦   Learn to surf (because I so hate the water).

Me:

♦   Become skilled at a martial art.  ♦   Do more volunteering.  ♦   Eat healthier again (private eyeing often means eating/snacking on the run, which results in grabbing/scarfing fast food).

The Boss:

♦   Not allow negativity/depression to re-gain the upper hand.  ♦   Re-embrace faith and hope.  ♦   Learn, learn . . . and learn some more (so that blogging and all the technical knowledge that it requires no longer daunts).

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All these are certainly achievable.  The big question, though, with any resolutions/pledges/promises is: just how much effort will be invested to make them actually happen?   <LOL>   Time will tell, dear friends, time will definitely tell.

Have an awesome 2019, everyone—may your dreams and desires come to fruition this year.  God bless.

Something I Said . . . ?

<LOL>  Taking another breath(er).

A Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie? feature that was to take place yesterday didn’t happen.

Something I said?  I won’t take it personally.  . . . We-ell, maybe a teeny-weeny bit (given Rey’s not stopped yammering about it for the last [long] while and hasn’t taken a “chill pill” as Linda’s suggested).  <ROFL>

As the saying goes, onwards and upwards . . . or . . . forwards and frontwards . . . or something like that.

From JJ, Rey and Linda [and yours truly, of course]—have an awesome day!

Tour Day 1 (Dec 1): thebookwormdrinketh.com

Not only do I adore the name of Nicole Campbell’s blog—thebookwormdrinketh—I love her opening statement: “I am Nicole, and I am an avid reader and an alcohol connoisseur . . . which is totally different from an alcoholic.”  Too funny!

Yesterday, Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie? (the second Triple Threat Investigation Agency series featuring private eyes JJ, Rey and Linda) is featured on:

www.thebookwormdrinketh.com

Firstly, I must say thank you (!!!) to Nicole for having me—and the TTIA gals—visit.  Secondly, a huge thank you for the review . . . and the constructive criticism (you’ve opened my eyes about a few things and I’ll have a talk with Jill, or JJ as she prefers, about her beau woes).  Lastly, I love the Mai-Tai recipe (which I’ll definitely give a go)!

Please check out visit Nicole’s fun blog and see what she’s up to.

Seriously Silly

Hi there.  Linda here.  The Boss is suffering from a bout of super-stress coupled with the blues.  We’re hoping she gets better and soon.  In the meanwhile, the three of us from The Triple Threat Investigation Agency put our heads together and thought we’d have a bit of fun (hopefully, that’ll bring a smile to her face).

Hey-ho.  It’s Rey.  We considered doing something fun—but couldn’t come up with anything.  <LMAO>

Howzit?  JJ’s on-line, too.  That’s not entirely true.  We couldn’t think of anything original that was fun.  But maybe “originality” is overblown?

That’s right, Cous, so after some silly chitter-chatter, we thought we’d play word games where each of us would use three words to describe the other as a person and as a P.I.  So JJ and Linda will start off re yours truly.

Describing Rey as Person

Linda:  histrionic, brash, kind-hearted  ♦   JJ:  melodramatic, impetuous, fun

Describing Rey as a P.I.

Linda:  histrionic, brash, determined  ♦   JJ:  melodramatic, impetuous, dogged

Describing Linda as Person

Rey:  smart, focused, sunny  ♦   JJ:  intelligent, sympathetic, agreeable

Describing Linda as a P.I.

Rey:  dedicated, watchful, mindful  ♦   JJ:  attentive, wary, sensible

Describing JJ as Person

Rey:  stubborn, persistent, persevering  ♦   Linda:  stubborn, resolute, considerate

Describing JJ as a P.I.

Rey:  committed, careful, proper  ♦   Linda:  attentive, fixed, thorough

. . . Yeah, we probably played it safe.  Like, I didn’t make a point of saying how bitchy my cousin JJ can be when she’s sleep-deprived or how weird (as in creepy weird) my BFF Linda can get when she thinks someone’s done her wrong.

. . . And I didn’t refer to my cousin Rey’s over-the-top diva-like theatrics or Linda’s strange (unnerving) bah-hah-hah laugh when she finds something or someone super strange.

Hey, I didn’t mention that my BFF Rey likes everything to be solely about her or that JJ’s “Ms. Indecisive” (otherwise known as “dense”) when it comes to the men in her life.  Nor did I—

Maybe the three of us need to reconvene—as in now!!!

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The Boss’ Blog Tour

Hey, it’s Rey.  (I am so lovin’ writing these posts.  What happened?!  LMAO)

The Boss is doing a blog tour re our second adventure—Can You Hula Like Hilo Hattie?—which has been organized by Jina S. Bazzar.  A huge thank you to Jina!  (There’ll be more about Jina, her blog, and writing in a future post.)

Here’s a rundown on what the three of us from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency—JJ, Linda, and yours truly—experienced during the Hula adventure, as detailed by The Boss.

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Can you Hula Like Hilo Hattie, the sequel to The Connecticut Corpse Caper, finds the three amateur sleuths—Jill (JJ), Rey, and Linda—serving as bona-fide detectives.  The owners of the newfound Triple Threat Investigation Agency even have a paying assignment, courtesy of their first client, WP Howell: discover the secret of his young, pretty wife, Carmie.  Millions, and a much-desired divorce, rest on it.

What seems straightforward enough quickly evolves into complicated when Carmie’s battered body is found in the sapphire waters of the Hawaiian Pacific.  It soon becomes evident that Carmie was not the only one with a secret, nor the only one to die an untimely death.  Who among a cast of curious, unconventional characters is tenacious (or crazy) enough to eliminate all living liabilities?  JJ, Rey and Linda determine to find out. 

In their quest for answers, the women encounter a plethora of suspects.  It appears there is no lack of people who have a dislike for, or hold a grudge against, Carmelita Sangita Howell.

Their P.I. travels lead them along a few side roads and detours, where drug dealers and informants, treachery and blackmail, abound.  Benny Pohaku, working both sides of the drug-pushing fence, is young and brash, and his arrogance ticks off the wrong people.  Bullets soon silence those boastful lips.  Dealer Cash Layton Jones is as galling as he is attractive, and his habit of entering Jill’s condo uninvited results in a few heated encounters.  He also has JJ wondering if there’s more to the enigmatic man than a penchant for loud Aloha shirts and a proclivity for being “conveniently” close by.

Carmie’s intriguing if not odd, ‘tini friends serve as pieces to an expanding puzzle.  A few have reasons to want her dead.  Jon Jonson, a currently down-and-out musician, has been blackballed by Carmie from playing the local music circuit.  He is definitely no fan of hers.  Stacy Kapu, Carmie’s trainer and former lover, may not have cared to be unceremoniously dumped.  Restaurant co-manager, Benoit Paillisson, has always had a hate-hate relationship with the rich young woman; he has had no qualms about telling people how happy he would be if she fell off the panoramic Pali Lookout.

And there is no love lost when it comes to hubby WP Howell.  What had Carmie “known” that could have proven detrimental?  Was it damaging enough to prompt the man to kill?  Salv Smith, a young Trango gang member, and his affiliation with Carmie is not immediately evident.  Because she sports the same black widow tattoo as her stepson, it appears Lee Smith has a connection to the gang as well . . . and it could be more ominous than anything Salv may be caught up in.

Gino Carpella, Carmie’s twin brother, has been rumored to associate with “questionable sorts”.  It has even been suggested that he had had his sister’s fiancé executed.  Is the rift in the twins’ once caring, close-knit relationship to blame for Carmie’s death?  If so, how?  Or has one of Gino’s enemies retaliated by striking out at his closest family member?

As the women detect, they find relations between people and happenings as clear as the contaminated waters of the Ala Wai Canal.  Fortunately, in addition to perseverance, they receive assistance now and again.  Composed, thorough, and discerning Detective Gerald Ives works closely enough with JJ, Rey and Linda to provide guidance, but not so much as to have them tramp on his toes . . . too much.  A seasoned private investigator residing on Big Island, Petey May, serves invaluable to the women.  His P.I. experience helps in bringing new facts—and evidence—to light.  He also provides JJ with unpleasant news regarding a personal matter.  Their bond will transcend many cases to come.

As the body count increases and the suspect list decreases, the women confirm the murderer’s identity, but proving it will not be easy.  Resolve and help from pretty pink Tasers bring the evasive murderer, and cohort, to their knees.  Literally. 

While major incidents are explained, a few loose ends (and cannons) remain.  These will be addressed, but not necessarily [yet] tied up, in the third novel, Coco’s Nuts.  JJ, Rey and Linda are budding detectives, after all, but they do still have lessons to learn and skills to hone.

♦  ♦  ♦

So there you have it, the Boss’ take on the case.  Not bad.  A bit wordy for my liking (too bad she wouldn’t let me tackle it, LOL).

Again, a big thank-you to Jina.  Please check out her site and work at: https://authorsinspirations.wordpress.com.

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Sleuths United

Because The Boss wants to take off a few days from posting, she asked us if we’d each post about our favorite detective—be he or she from books, TV, or films.  (Writing about Nancy Drew got her to thinking about sleuths and private investigators.)

Rey, JJ and I took turns playing rock-paper-scissors to see who’d post first, second and third.  I won—“I” being Linda, of course.  For me, it has to be the ever-brilliant “consulting detective” Sherlock Holmes, created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Although I enjoyed reading classic literature in my teens, I was never into mysteries or detectives, but once I began working as a screenwriting assistant, I hung around with film people who were into classic films.  Through them, I was introduced to a wonderful world of B&W movies . . . and Basil Rathbone.

A bit of trivia: Rathbone, along with Nigel Bruce as sidekick Dr. Watson, played in 14 films between 1939 and 1946.  The first, The Hound of the Baskervilles, was my favorite.  Rathbone’s exploits, coupled with Bruce’s wit, prompted me to pick up the stories with—yes—The Hound being the first.  I was hooked immediately.  For a short spell, I was even a bit of a Sherlockian.  There’s a cool site, by the by, called Sherlockian.net (“The Portal About the Great Detective”).

I took a quick gander and based on a 2009 CNN Entertainment piece, Sherlock “The Game is Afoot” Holmes has been played by 75 actors in 211 films.  Wikipedia claims 254 times as at 2012.  That’s pretty damn impressive. WPshusetoo

The quintessential Sherlock Holmes for yours truly, however, was Jeremy Brett, who played him in 41 episodes from 1984 through 1994 (when Brett passed from heart failure).  I thought the series seemed like the real deal in terms of how I imagined 221B Baker Street and Victorian England to look and feel.  Others did as well apparently; praise was provided in spades re adhering to original concepts and Brett received accolades for his portrayal.

As an FYI, Brett once stated that “Holmes is the hardest part I have ever played—harder than Hamlet or Macbeth”.  Additional minutiae: Brett was the only actor who played both Holmes and Watson.  <LOL>  Rey’s usually the film enthusiast.  Hmm, speaking of, I wonder who she’ll pick as her favorite.  She wouldn’t tell us and simply said we’d have to read her post.

With that, I leave you with one of my favorite Sherlock Holmes quotes (from The Man with the Twisted Lip): “I confess that I have been blind as a mole, but it is better to learn wisdom late than never to learn it at all.”  Linda1

Forever Poi, Forever Hopeful

It’s Linda on post patrol today.  The Boss is still under the weather, but then the weather in her neck of the woods is under-whelming.  <LSMH>  (Winter’s on its way and she’s not overly excited about it.)

Given I’m a food and wine blogger when I’m not a P.I., I thought I’d post about poi—firstly, by explaining the significance of “Forever Poi”, the fourth Triple Threat Investigation Agency case and, secondly, providing a little background about poi (with recipes).

The Boss explained it quite nicely, succinctly, in her new Smashwords interview: “In terms of me: it’s an homage to Hawaii.  Poi is a Hawaiian staple, a delicious food made from taro.  Hawaii [a hope, a dream] is in my heart and soul and always will be; hence, forever poi.”

In terms of the case, there’s mention of “Forever Poi” as associated with a comment from an intriguing [if not dangerous] individual who shall remain nameless.  (Alternatively said: please read our new adventure.)

The three of us enjoy poi different ways.  I love poi as “cereal”, sprinkled with raw sugar and cinnamon.  Rey prefers taro in the form of chips.  And JJ likes it in the form of soft-serve ice-cream or mooncakes.

For those not in the know about poi, it’s an essential Hawaiian staple, made from the underground plant stem of a root vegetable known as taro.  There’s a lot of fascinating information re its origins and where and how it’s used, but I’ll leave that for another time.  Feel free, however, to go Googling.

A quick note, though: traditional poi is made by mashing the cooked corm (plant stem) of the taro.  The time-honored method is performed on a wooden board with a pestle (pounding implement) while the modern method involves a food processor (I’ll opt for traditional anytime, thank you).  You can enjoy it fresh or allow it to ferment.

There’s an intriguing way of measuring consistency: “one finger”, “two finger”, and “three finger” poi relates to how many fingers are necessary to scoop a mouthful of the delicious mashed product.  The thicker the poi, the fewer the fingers.  Thickness or runniness is a purely personal preference.

Now that I’ve condensed a plethora of info into a pint-sized post, let me share some easy-peasy recipes: Simple Poi (a fav of mine), Simple Poi Mochi (a fav of JJ’s), and Simple Poi-Nut Bread (a fav of Rey’s).  . . . Can you tell the three of us really like “simple”?  <LOL>

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Simple Poi

♥ 4 lbs taro root 2 ½ tbsp coconut oil   ♥ 2 ½ tbsp butter   ♥ 2 tsp sea salt or pink Himalayan salt   ♥ 6-8 tbsp celery or asparagus juice   ♥ water

⇒ Preheat the oven to 300°F.     ⇒ Wash the taro root and pierce consistently all over.     ⇒ Bake for about 2 hours (until soft all the way through).     ⇒ Cut open the taro root and spoon out the taro into a large bowl. Throw away the skin.     ⇒ Add the salt and juice.     ⇒ Mix well.     ⇒ Cover with a cloth and leave to ferment for a minimum of 24 hours.     ⇒ Once fermented, melt the butter in a saucepan.     ⇒ If you’re going traditional and mashing the taro with a wooden board and pestle, do so, and then add to a bowl.  If you’re going modern, add the taro to a food processor and “mash”.     ⇒ Add the oil and butter.     ⇒ Add the water and blend to the desired consistency.

(You can add various “flavors” or serve it as is.  As mentioned, I like sugar and cinnamon, but anything’s doable.  Feel free to experiment.)

Simple Poi Mochi

♥   1 lb poi, ready-made/bought or homemade (see “Simple Poi” recipe above)   ♥ 2 cups water, give or take   ♥ 2 10-ounce packages Asian sweet rice flour   ♥ 1 ½ cups sugar   ♥ 1 quart canola oil for deep frying

⇒ Combine everything except the oil.     ⇒ Add water slowly (you want a thick batter).      ⇒ Drop by the teaspoon into the heated oil and deep fry until slightly crisp.     ⇒ Drain.     ⇒ Makes about three dozen pieces.     ⇒ Feel free to dust with sugar or a sugar-spice combination.

(You can add various “flavors” to the mixture before frying.  JJ likes red-bean paste.)

Simple Poi Nut Bread

♥ 1 lb poi, ready-made/bought or homemade (see “Simple Poi” recipe above)   ♥ ¾ cup water   ♥ 2 cups flour   ♥ ¾ cups brown sugar   ♥ 1 tsp cinnamon   ♥ 1 tsp nutmeg   ♥ 2 tsp baking powder   ♥ 1 tsp sea salt   ♥ 3 eggs, beaten   ♥ 1 cup oil   ♥ 2 tsp vanilla   ♥ 1 ½ cups macadamia nuts (or substitute your favorite nut, or a combination thereof)   ♥ ½ cup currants (or dried fruit of preference)

⇒ Mix the poi and water together.  Let stand in a bowl.     ⇒ In a second bowl, mix the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and salt.     ⇒ Combine both mixtures.     ⇒ Add the remaining ingredients.     ⇒ Add to an oiled/buttered pan and bake at 350°F for about 45 minutes.

Hope you enjoyed the post about poi.  It’s a bit of a departure from the usual, but what’s wrong with digressing now and again?

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Happy Halloween from Honolulu Hawaii

The Boss would have been real proud to come up with that heading—she’s into illiteration.  . . . Huh?  Oh.  JJ says it’s “alliteration”.  <LMAO>

Anyway, the three of us are here to share what we’re planning for Halloween, which is always a majorly fun to-do time on Oahu.  There’s a costume party with a bunch of HPD pals, so we’ll pop over around midnight, but during the day and evening, we’re gonna explore what Oahu has to offer, something we’ve talked about in past, but never much done.  Each of us has come up with a Halloweeny event to pursue, so Linda, you start.  What have you got planned for us?

Ever since I watched It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown as a kid, I’ve wanted to visit a pumpkin patch.  So I’m driving us to Waimanalo Country Farms where they’ve got pumpkin picking, hayrides, and a country market, among other things.  The little girl in me can’t wait!  It’ll be a hoot, I’m sure.  What about you, JJ?

I’m sorry to say I got the dates mixed up re the annual Chinatown “Hallowbaloo”—a costume street festival with music/entertainment, art and food—so it’s at the top of the list for next year.  We’re heading over to Haunted Plantation, reputed to be the “scariest haunted attraction”.  Sixty-plus actors haunt a village with what sounds like—ahem—ghoulishly frightening results.  <LOL>  Linda, your face is paler than that of a cartoon ghost!

Yeah, it looks like it did last night, when we did the “Zombie Apocalypse” at Coral Crater.  What a blast!  For those who haven’t experienced it, you gear up and wipe out zombies overrunning a village.  Then, you zip-line to safety.  Like, how cool is that?

I’m just not as huge a fan of zombies and zip-lining as you, Rey.  But once my heart stopped thumping like a snare drum being struck by an eager marching band drummer, I have to admit, I did enjoy the adrenalin rush.  . . . So, are you finally going to tell us what you have planned?

I am indeedy-do, Lindy-Loo.  Given I’m an actress when I’m not P.I.ing, I had to go for something “theatrical”.  I got tickets for—ooh, this is so-o much fun!—a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show hosted by Tita Titsling, who’s touted as the “Premiere Moustache Queen of Chinatown, Honolulu”.  How exciting is that, I ask?  . . . And on that note, everyone, the three of us from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency wish you an absolootely hairy-scary Halloween! WPUSEtoo

Who’s Laughing Now?

Not us gals at the Triple Threat Investigation Agency—we’re embarking on our next big case: HA-HA-HA-HA.

Now, it may take some time to solve (given The Boss has those time constraints), but we’re keeping the faith it’ll get done sooner than later.

It’s Rey by the way.  Hope you’re all doing well.  We certainly are.  In fact, JJ and Linda and me are super stoked—and, as that once popular saying used to go, we’re are so-o ready to rock’n’roll!

Here’s how it all begins . . .

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“What an f’g jackass.”  Shoving her thumbs in her ears, melodramatic Cousin Reynalda thrust out her tongue and wiggled long, slender fingers.

Standing alongside a looming, leafy shrub that served as target practice for strident feathery friends gliding and bounding nearby, Detective Sammie Sallo chose to turn just then.

Out came the thumbs and in went the tongue.  With a Hollywood [dazzling] smile, Rey waved with both hands, then tucked them into the pockets of daisy-imprinted cut-off shorts.

“Next time, sister, that tongue better mean business.”  With a buffalo snort, he pulled out a mouth-to-lung e-cigarette bundle.  Sallo resembled Stacy Keach’s Mike Hammer, right down to the mustache and fedora, an odd hat to be wearing on Oahu.  It arrived with him when he moved here two months ago from NYC to replace Devoy Hunt, a detective we’d just gotten to know.  He’d opted to move to “quieter, calmer” Kauai, the Garden Isle.

“Jackass,” she muttered, turning sideways.  “Why’d he have to choose the same time as us to come and check out the murder scene?”

“Timing’s everything,” Linda said gaily, giving him the finger when he turned back to view the canal.

The three of us—private eyes from The Triple Threat Investigation Agency (Rey’s choice of name)—hadn’t been officially hired for any particular case.  We had, however, received an odd email at 8:30 p.m. two nights ago that read: The game’s started, ladies.  Check out the area on Laau around the Ala Wai Canal.  I suggest you head there now.  HA-HA-HA-HA  Your loving GrimReaperPeeper.

Tourists, joggers, and strollers with frolicsome dogs utilized the sidewalk on the maiki (south) side of the canal.  On the mauka (mountain) side was a golf course, community garden and park, and boating facilities, among other things.  Sadly, people didn’t—couldn’t—swim in the Ala Wai anymore.  To do so could prove hazardous, because the 1.5-mile-long canal was a breeding channel for bacteria, heavy metals, and pesticides—never mind garbage.  Kayakers and canoe paddlers, however, seemed fearless, overlooking the fact that getting canal water on your skin or in your mouth could result in rashes and gastro-intestinal issues.  Hazards aside, it was a lovely stretch . . . although we might never quite few it the same way again.

GrimReaperPeeper had sent a message at the completion of our last major case, the third in the agency’s short history that involved bad-ass murderers.  Curious, we drove to Laau Street and checked cautiously around.  Given the vague directions, there’d been considerable ground to cover and as we were about to give up, Linda had stumbled upon four bodies stretched out before the canal by the Fisheries Management area—four bedraggled, bruised, blotched bodies with loose puckered skin as white as the underbelly of a perch and as translucent as a jellyfish. 

Forty-eight hours in the canal, which served as both drainage ditch and tidal estuary, would have contributed to multi-hued patterns on regions still resembling human parts after aquatic inhabitants had feasted.  Would have, but didn’t.  These four souls had taken their initial swim elsewhere, before necrophagous insects came to feast and spawn.

The two couples had been missing since March twenty-fourth and had been dead since March twenty-sixth, Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianoaole Day.  That had been the initial determination and it hadn’t, yet, changed.

Detective Sammie Sallo drew on an e-cig and exhaled at length.  Fumes twirled upward like coolant smoke flowing from a tailpipe.  Strolling back to join us, he eyed Rey’s face with obvious interest.  “Looked kinda like beached whales, didn’t they?”

An image of the humpback whales that migrated to Hawaii this time of year came to mind.  The migration was comparable to an Oregon cattle drive of yesteryear, a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, or even a run of the grunion, marine fish related to the mullet that spawned from March to August on the first four nights after the highest tide of each full or new moon.  They were so predictable the California State Fisheries Laboratory published a timetable indicating when they’d appear.

Well, these four grunion had made it to shore all right, but they’d not completed their quest.  There’d been no dissolved oxygen to fan their blood, no sand to begin the regeneration process from, no purpose or hope to keep them alive.  And this ending was far from predictable . . .  although there had been a full moon that night.  Given that unusual things were reported to occur during one, was that significant? 

It had been two days since the discovery of the bodies.  We’d returned this breezy afternoon to take daytime photos, poke around, and get a feel for what might have happened; Sallo, unfortunately, had had similar thoughts. 

The fifty-year-old believed that the four had partied hardy, so he’d stated a few times that night.  Given his next words, he was still of the same mind.  “There was probably a group of them.  They got caught up in too much booze, maybe drugs too, and started playing weird cult games.  Maybe they were paying homage to the great god of Ecstasy and/or praying to Mr. Full Moon.  I’ve seen shit like this before.  Booze and drugs make people do bizarre things.”  He picked up a large coffee perched alongside a small plumeria tree, noisily gulped back what was left, and belched. 

When it came to class, Sallo had as much elegance as Archie Bunker, a character that retro television wouldn’t let anyone forget.  Rey, Linda and I had met him three times in the last few weeks and while Detective Ald Ives (or “Hives” as Rey mockingly called him) seemed to get along well enough with his colleague, we found Sallo as abrasive as steel wool.

Linda smirked, tossing raspberry-red, shoulder-length waves.  “You really think a group of them got into ‘cult games’?”

“It sure looks that way, Royale.  Remember the marks on their chests?  In their fucked-up states, they’d probably thought it was a fun, freaky thing to do.  Matches the tatts on their arms and probably other body parts we’ve yet to see.”  He eyed her with dark amusement, like a deranged despot might his lackey. 

“So friends just left them there after moon-and-drug worshipping, and what?  Went home to sleep it off?”

“Why not?  Come the morning, they realized how carried away they’d gotten.  They’re either now having issues coming to terms with it or they don’t give a rat’s ass.” 

They’d been found facing the canal with arms folded neatly over chests.  Four black fabric roses, glossy and delicate, had been pinned to tops and shirts and all four had had floral designs incised into chests, possibly with a roulette—not the gambling game, but a small toothed disk of tempered steel attached to a hilt and used to make a series or rows of dots, slits, or perforations.

I kicked pebbles as I eyed the crime scene ahead, thinking it was time to visit an upset-irate client whose wayward hubby we’d finally caught being wayward—with her sister.  We’d promised to arrive around 4:15 to provide background, a report and invoice, but given Mrs. Starzeneiss’ “high strung” personality, we’d probably have to stick around to soothe ruffled feathers.

“Isn’t it possible they were murdered by a sadistic killer?”

He scowled, threw the coffee cup onto the concrete pathway, and popped a Tic-Tac. 

With a sigh, I swallowed a rebuke.  Pulling a warm bottle of water from a Hawaiian print backpack, I took a long swallow and eyed fluttering, ripped police tape wrapped around several trees and shrubs.  A yellow ribbon tied around an old oak tree it wasn’t.  What it was, was jarring.  A reminder that something terrible had occurred.

There were often obvious if not improbable gaps in Sallo’s hypotheses, but he wasn’t the sort you could argue with—not without wanting to bang your head against a wall or three.

I nodded to my Jeep parked several yards down, under a bright lemon-colored sun.  Thankfully, the sunroof and windows were open (I didn’t much care for A/C).

“Catch ya later, Detective S,” Rey purred.

“Whatever.”

She blew a raspberry and the three of us moseyed to the car.

“Can you spell jerk?” Linda asked, pulling an apple banana from a large crocheted tote.

“Yeah.  S-a-l-l-o,” I replied wryly, opening the passenger door.

“What’s up, buttercup?” a baritone voice boomed from behind.

Rey spun, ready to pounce. 

Linda and I exchanged amused glances. 

“You always pop out from behind parked SUVs like that?” I asked.

Jimmy Carcanetta, a freelance writer and blogger Linda had gotten to know in the last couple months, grinned like a toddler who’d just be given a huge slice of cake.  His pumpkin-shaped head bobbled like a fishing bobber.  “Nothing like the element of surprise.”

“What brings you here?” 

“The same thing that brought you guys here: a need to piece things together and get a feel for what happened.”

“Your article on the murders was good.”

“For a food and wine reviewer,” he chuckled, pulling a new Canon camera from a faux-leather bag.  “Thought I’d take a few more pics, for context.”

“Any new findings or thoughts?” Linda asked, leaning into the passenger door and taking a chomp from the apple banana.

“Not yet.  Just mulling over facts.  They’d been missing two days and died on the twenty-sixth, or thereabouts.  They’d been meticulously mutilated—and please don’t attribute it to cult games or weird rites.  I heard that from the ass back there the other day.”  With a glower, he jerked a thumb rearward.  “What crap.  . . . Any thoughts about the fact they’d been so neatly arranged, with roses yet?  That seems very specific, as if the killer were leaving a calling card.” 

“Maybe it’s the creep’s way of saying goodbye, a ceremonial or funereal kind of thing,” Rey offered. 

“Who says the roses came from the killer?” Linda added.  “They might have been a club or party signature thing.  The four may have been wearing them before they were done in.”

“Yeah, but the incisions resembled flowery embroidery.”  He scanned the end of the street.  “I’m thinking there was a connection between the two, even if Sallo won’t admit it.  Why though?”

“Why won’t he admit it?  Or what’s the connection?”  I smiled drily.  “I have a feeling the detective’s going to prove a thorn in many people’s sides.”

“Thorn?” Rey asked sarcastically.  “How about spike?”

WPWedHA1

What’s in an Interview . . . except Your Soul?

Hello.  This is Detective Gerald Ives—Ald for short and Hives instead of Ives, if you’re headstrong (bolshie) Reynalda Fonne-Werde.  I’m sure I’ll hear about that one.  <LMAO>  Anyway, the gals from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency are enjoying a spa day (another one, must be nice) and asked, begged, me—given I ask a lot of questions for a living—to conduct an interview with The Boss today.  Evidently, their big B would like some practice.  I’m happy to oblige and it will only cost the threesome a dinner at a five-star restaurant, with a great bottle of wine.

Why do you write mysteries?  Genre of preference?

Very much so.  I’ve mentioned this previously, but I was a huge fan of Nancy Drew when I was kid.  I loved solving mysteries, putting together puzzles.  Hence, the desire to write them—my genre of definite and delightful preference.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

When I was probably six or seven.  As an only child, I had to entertain myself.  Writing and drawing were two regular means.  I loved creating stories as much as I enjoyed crayoning and painting.  When I was around twelve, the “writing bug” really grabbed hold . . . and never let go.

 What was your first book-length story and was it published?

The first manuscript was a historical romance with a western theme set in Texas.  Beautiful feisty heroine meets—clashes with—hunky aggressive hero.  It was never published, but I do believe I still have it in a storage box somewhere.  Maybe, one day, I’ll dig it out.  It would be interesting to compare my writing style back then to present day, and see how I’ve developed.

Describe your present-day writing style.

In a word: narrative.  I tell a story and provide descriptions and details that convey conflict and tension, action, humor, a beginning and an end.  Do I have a distinctive or unique voice?  I believe so, but I’d never be able to “describe” it.  It’s simply . . . me.

It’s said some writers have muses.  Do you? WPmuseA1

Wouldn’t know a muse if it bit me on the butt—but power to those that have a guiding spirit or source of inspiration.  Maybe I could borrow one for a day or two . . . ?

Do you draft a plot and outline before you write a book or let an idea take you where it may?

I always have an idea re a Triple Threat Investigation Agency case—for example, have P.I.s JJ, Rey, and Linda find a body by the canal (which is how the fifth book starts).  I’ll have determined who placed the body there, but not necessarily why.  In fact, the “reason” doesn’t usually present itself until a good 200+ pages have been written.  You could unequivocally say, I go with the flow.

What sort of research do you do for your books?

I do a lot—anything from local food to drinks, weapons to wounds.  But it’s on an on-going, what-do-I-need-to-know basis.  More than half the research isn’t used, but it’s quite helpful for painting pictures and assembling puzzle pieces, and providing a knowledge base.

As a writer, what is success to you?  How do you measure it?

One type of success is the accomplishment of having completed a project (in my case a book).  It’s an awesome feeling.  The second is the traditional type, if we could call it that, the one most people would claim is having a fruitful and/or prosperous career.  Fellow writers might say: success is having achieved substantial sales and/or become a recognizable name.  Ultimately, however, it’s being able to do what you love . . . and if it pays well, too, that’s doubly fantastic.

So you’re feeling good about having finished “Forever Poi”?

It’s taken forever to complete, so it feels amazing that it’s finally done.  The marketing and promotional components come into play now, as do getting the front and back covers done, the e-book actually uploaded, and all those little [but numerous] “tasks” that go with the completion of a project.  This part of the project tends to lean towards stressful for me, but it’s all—ultimately—good.

If any of your books were to be adapted into a movie, which one would it be?

The Connecticut Corpse Caper was initially written as a one-off, and is near and dear to my heart, so I’d like to see that made into a movie.  An homage to B&W mysteries, it’s campy enough—I believe—to transcend well onto the screen.  In all honesty, though, I confess that I’d love to see the Triple Threat Investigation Agency books developed into a weekly mystery series.  <LOL>  Hey, we’re entitled to our dreams, and that’s [one of] mine.

What are your other dreams?

To move to Hawaii, of course.  To [finally] find contentment and tranquility.  To give back.  To become a better person/Christian.  To become an American, which I’ve wanted with all my heart and soul since I was five; I cry when I hear the anthem . . . cried when I heard it last night.  Allow me to share an astounding YouTube vid featuring seven-year-old Malea.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Despite what may sometimes seem like insurmountable odds, never give up, and constantly keep the faith.  It’s not always easy.  In fact, it can be incredibly [excruciatingly] difficult, but it can be done.  Just believe.

And there you have it, folks.  My first un-work-related interview with the Triple Threat Investigation Agency private eyes’ boss.  You know?  I could get to like this.  . . . Maybe I’ll set up a blog of my own.

Cheers.