Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Crook Salad

It's murder-with-a-smile, danger with some playfulness. It's Crook Salad, part clever mystery, part observational comedy.

A conman. A travel writer. A gold mine.

The Story

If there were a sacred order of conmen, the first rule might be: when you stumble across a vulnerable gold mine, you better make one strong wheedle for it. When Fox comes across his gold mine, he plays for it so hard that he winds up drugged, naked, dumped into a freezing river, and asked questions that will get him killed. 

During his escape from his interrogators, Fox accidentally drags some uninvolved tourists, Angie and Ben, into their own version of hot water. Everyone who has an interest in this mysterious gold mine seems to think he hid contracts and deeds in the motor home the young couple borrowed for their trip to Yellowstone National Park. Angie and Ben don’t know why their vacation becomes unpleasant so fast. They’re chatted up by increasingly strange, hostile nutjobs, find their belongings searched and vandalized, discover their tires slashed and their stuff stolen outright. Finally the secret one-sided battle ends with an arsonist rendering the RV into a burned hulk, leaving behind just the corpse of an FBI agent. Playing the patsies in a tussle over a gold mine? That’s no good way to vacation. 

Crook Salad is a little mystery, danger, humor, love, and greed, all the things that make living fun.

Read a Sample of Crook Salad on Amazon. 

The paperback edition is available.

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A Short Sample:

Fox burped and the smell pried open his eyes. The chain reaction continued with the light clubbing its way inside his head. He’d lost, or never known, the words to describe how much light could burn. Then the cycle continued with a fresh round of horrible gasses emerging from somewhere, like a besieging army of fragile colons fed exclusively on vats of pickled vegetables and unlimited cheap booze.

“Why is the room moving?” Fox asked no one in particular. He was alone in his hotel room, thank god. He wouldn’t want anyone else to see him or smell him now.

His eyes opened again. The room really was moving, wasn’t it?

A bad smell wafted up to him, this one not a burp but a worse-smelling gas he’d released without his knowledge. His body was a factory for foul odors.

It had to be a nightmare. He was asleep in a bed in an expensive, terrible lodge in Yellowstone Park. But his eyes, when he could pry them open, could see out a window. The world was moving. Everything was moving.

He was pretty sure last night’s drinking was about to fountain a second appearance.

He dared another look out the window. He finally realized he wasn’t laying on a bed. He was — what? — in a chair. He sat upright and the world rushed past him, eager to get away from his birthing of noxious horrors.

“I’m going to puke if things don’t stop moving.”

A man laughed.

Fox should be alone in his room. Had they stripped the sound insulation during the night? The man had to be in the hallway, but he sounded two feet away.

“Your room is five miles back there,” someone responded.

Fox cranked his head about thirty degrees and squinted. A shape the general dimension and mass of Claude Portis sat behind the wheel of a car.

“What are you doing in my room?”

The shape laughed.

Fox realized he wasn’t only sick, very sick, but the sickness stemmed from drunkenness. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been this drunk. Then again, thinking in his present condition wasn’t his strength. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had a shower, either.

“It’s a car, not a room, Arthur. Try to wake up if you can. I’ll turn on the air conditioner before you poison us both. Holy crap.”

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