Confessions of a Red Herring (A Red Herring Mystery) by Dana Dratch
Cozy Mystery 1st in Series
Kensington (May 29, 2018)
Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
Digital ASIN: B075C8FDT5
As a reporter, she’s used to covering the news. Now she’s the headline.Alex Vlodnachek has been a reporter for 12 years, a P.R. rep for three months, and a murder suspect for all of 24 hours. When her agency's double-dealing CEO is stabbed, scheming co-workers cast the new redhead as a compelling red herring. The story is media catnip—especially her salacious nickname: Vlod the Impaler.Even Alex has to admit she looks guilty.Out of a job and under suspicion, Alex is running low on cash, when she’s visited by a second disaster: her family. Soon her tiny bungalow is bursting with her nearest and not-so-dearest. To keep herself out of jail—and save what’s left of her sanity—Alex returns to her reporting roots. She goes undercover to reclaim her life, break the story, and unmask a murderer. Pretty much in that order.What she doesn’t know: The killer also has a to-do list. And Alex is on it.
Hi, I’m Alex Vlodnachek. Former-reporter. Short-term P.R. rep. Current murder suspect.
For some reason, that last one is all hiring managers remember.
I’m not your typical cozy heroine. But then, my story isn’t really a cozy. More of a chick lit murder mystery.
I was a reporter for a D.C. metro daily for a dozen years. Then I followed a higher paycheck to a boutique P.R. firm. Big mistake.
The short version: Boss is a double-dealing sociopath. Big public row with boss. Framed for boss’s murder. So that was my weekend.
On Monday, I was questioned by the police. On Tuesday, I met my best friend, Trip, for breakfast. Here’s what happened next:
At seven the next morning, I was sharing a pot of coffee with my very best friend, Trip Cabot, in a greasy spoon two blocks from my house. Right off the town square and across from the county courthouse, Simon’s was a local institution.
Across the dining room, I spotted Lydia Stewart, who owns the 250-year-old Colonial at the end of my block.
As she pointed in my direction, everyone at her table turned to look. I smiled and waved. They all turned quickly around.
Then it hit my sleep-deprived brain. News of the murder was all over town.
Despite serving as a bedroom community for D.C., Fordham, Virginia—where I’d bought my tiny, hundred-year-old bungalow—is a small town on steroids. The two D.C. metro papers are delivered daily in Fordham. There’s also a local weekly and a half-dozen blogs that chronicle all the gossip and goings-on.
But news still travels quickest through the town grapevine. And Lydia Stewart, whose old-money family stole their land straight from the natives, is the head sour grape.
“Who am I? Job? Which cosmic deity did I inadvertently piss off?”
“Hey, as bad as it gets, you’re still doing better than your late boss,” Trip said.
“They think I did it,” I countered.
“The police. My co-workers. My neighbors. You’re having breakfast with one of America’s Most Wanted. You might even want to get a taster for your food.”
“Nah, I heard Coleman was stabbed, not poisoned,” he said, dumping sugar into his coffee. “But I could confiscate the butter knives, just to be on the safe side. Hey, if you kill the boss, can you claim it as a business expense on your taxes?”
In a newsroom where staffers are judged by their dark humor almost as much as their ability to run down a story, Chase Wentworth Cabot III, better known as “Trip,” can more than hold his own.
I let out a long breath I didn’t even know I’d been holding. At least one sane, rational person realized I didn’t do it. And apparently the newsroom crew hadn’t heard I was on the suspect list.
So I spent the next few minutes filling Trip in on what happened yesterday before I came home and found Nick on my porch.
He listened so intently he didn’t even pick up a fork when Mrs. Simon slid two breakfast specials onto our table. When I finished the tale of woe that was the last twenty-four hours of my life, he exhaled one hushed syllable, stretching it into three: “Shiiii-iiii-iiit.”
“That pretty much sums it up from my side,” I said, reaching for the catsup.
Suddenly, for the first time since the police knocked on my door yesterday, I was hungry. Really hungry.
“The police told Billy Bob they had a strong suspect but weren’t going to release the name until they had one more thing nailed down,” Trip said.
“Yeah, the lid on my coffin.”
Billy Bob Lopez is the paper’s lead crime reporter. He’s folksy, charming, and totally tenacious. A shark in sneakers. If the police really believed I’d done it, it wouldn’t be long before someone leaked that to Billy Bob.
“That’s not the worst of it,” I said.
“It gets worse?”
I nodded. “The cops found strands of my hair on his shirt. I mean, they haven’t had time to test the DNA yet, but it’s the same color, texture, and length as mine. And there aren’t any other strawberry blondes in that office. At this point, even I’d bet money it’s mine.”
“How’d it get there?”
“No idea.” Man, was that ever true. The last time I’d seen Coleman, he was duded up in one of his Savile Row suits at the client dinner Friday night. After our little argument, I went straight home and stayed there pretty much all weekend. Except for a quick trip to the bookstore Saturday morning.
But somehow, on Sunday afternoon my not-so-beloved boss died wearing golf pants and a lime green Polo shirt with my hair all over it.
“I’d be more convinced if they’d found him covered in cookie crumbs and potato chip dust,” Trip said.
Want to read more? Check out CONFESSIONS OF A RED HERRING.
About the book:
CONFESSIONS OF A RED HERRING
As a reporter, she’s used to covering the news.
Now she’s the headline.
Alex Vlodnachek has been a reporter for 12 years, a P.R. rep for three months, and a murder suspect for all of 24 hours. When her agency's double-dealing CEO is stabbed, scheming co-workers cast the new redhead as a compelling red herring. The story is media catnip—especially her salacious nickname: Vlod the Impaler.
Even Alex has to admit she looks guilty.
Out of a job and under suspicion, Alex is running low on cash, when she’s visited by a second disaster: her family. Soon her tiny bungalow is bursting with her nearest and not-so-dearest. To keep herself out of jail—and save what’s left of her sanity—Alex returns to her reporting roots. She goes undercover to reclaim her life, break the story
And unmask a murderer. Pretty much in that order.
What she doesn’t know: The killer also has a to-do list. And Alex is on it.
Dana Dratch is the author of CONFESSIONS OF A RED HERRING. A former newspaper reporter and current personal finance writer, she’s now finishing the sequel, SEEING RED, which has Alex, Trip, rescue-pup Lucy, and the whole crazy Vlodnachek family going up against spies, art thieves and a very determined killer.
Keep in touch:
Blog: “Red Herring Confessions” at ConfessionsofaRedHerring.com/red-herring-confessions
Goodreads author page (with blog): https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17143743.Dana_Dratch
Amazon Author Page: https://amazon.com/author/danadratch
About the Author
Dana Dratch is a former newspaper reporter and current personal finance writer. When she's not finishing Seeing Red—the next Alex Vlodnachek mystery—you'll spot her byline on a host of top news sites. You can learn more about her mysteries at ConfessionsofaRedHerring.com.
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