A British silver fox has moved into the Belle Court Retirement Center, and octogenarian amateur sleuth Viv Kennedy is crushing on him hard. Unfortunately, he appears singularly unimpressed with Viv’s overnight adoption of every British phrase she knows (and a few she’s, admittedly, unclear on.) Maybe if she and Salem Grimes can solve the murder of the hotshot TV reporter Peter Browning, she can catch his eye. The fact that Peter’s death has not been ruled a murder is a minor consideration.
Salem is certainly willing to help Viv land Nigel the Brit. After all, it will make her best friend happy. It will also make her husband happy — Tony is under the impression that if Viv finds a man and settles down, Salem will stop chasing bad guys down dark alleys with her. But Salem doesn’t know if that will make her happy. She knows she isn’t really a private detective. Shoot, she isn’t even any good at the chasing bad guys down dark alleys part. But after a lifetime of floundering, she’s finally found something that makes her feel like she’s contributing to the world.
As Salem and Viv do their durndest to tighten a noose around a killer who may or may not exist, along with working “crikey” into every conceivable conversation, Salem finds herself wondering where her gifts are and what God’s plan for her life could possibly be.
Knickers in a Twist Excerpt
“Okay, now I want you to lift up tall… breathe in… aaaand…lift up tall tall tall.”
I lifted up tall in my triangle pose. Or rather, as tall as I could, given that I am only of medium height and that I was also trying to keep one hand wrapped around my ankle. I shifted my feet on my yoga mat and tried to find my center of balance. Where was that crazy thing?
I glanced over at Viv, her lean legs in bright pink and yellow tie-dyed leggings, her bare feet planted solidly on her own mat beside me.
I couldn’t decide what was worse: the fact that I, a young, healthy woman in the prime of her life, was bad at yoga, or the fact that my best friend, Viv, who was somewhere in her eighth decade of life, was so good at it.
Sweat poured out of every cell of my body, and I felt like my face was about to catch fire.
“Mmmm…this pose is a fantastic stress reliever,” the instructor purred.
“Fantastic,” I grunted under my breath. My feet were sweaty and felt like they were going to shoot out from under me, sending me into involuntary splits. I struggled to keep them on the mat.
“Just relax and focus on your breath. In… and out. In… and out.”
I prayed for it to be over.
“Okay, now, one more breath. That’s it. Relax into it.”
For the life of me, I could not understand how anyone could relax into this. I felt like my ribs were breaking. Was I supposed to feel like my ribs were breaking? This couldn’t be right.
I ducked my head and looked at the other people in the class. No one else seemed to be on the verge of cardiac arrest. I must be doing it wrong.
I checked Viv again. She had never looked more serene.
“Okay, now we’re going to go down to our mat, on our shins.”
I silently said a prayer of gratitude and dropped to my knees on the mat.
“We’re going to go gently down to our mats,” the instructor said with a pointed look at me. “On our shins and then down to our forearms.”
I cringed, but did as I was told and tried not to imagine how wide my posterior must look to the row behind me. Note to self: always claim the back row in yoga – and everything else, if possible.
“Now, I want you to just relax your heart into your forearms–”
What? Relax my heart into my forearms? How did that…what?
“And breathe into your kidneys.”
I started to draw in a breath but stopped. Breathe into my kidneys?
I thought about that for a moment, then noticed that the rest of the class was moving on to a different position. I hadn’t even figured out how to breathe into my kidneys yet! Wait!
Everyone else seemed to be lifting in that triangle thing, with their palms and feet on the floor, their booties in the air. I floundered around and finally got my hips up, rocking precariously back and forth before I caught my balance, spread my feet a little further apart, and then tried my best to maintain the pose. The backs of my thighs screamed.
“If you want, you can bring your legs in a little bit closer to your body, and drop the backs of your feet closer to the ground for a deeper stretch.”
I was on the balls of my feet, and I felt like the stretch was quite deep enough, thank you. The blood was rushing to my head. My lungs felt buried under every other organ in my body.
My head hung between my shoulders. I tilted it just a bit. Viv’s bony feet were flat on the ground. She turned her head and smiled sweetly at me.
I gave her a flat smile in return. “I will not forget this,” I promised her.
After the class ended and I could summon the strength to stand, I rolled up my yoga mat and slung it over my shoulder. I could feel that my face was red as a clown nose and dripping sweat. Sweat rolled down my neck and the small of my back. I had been thoroughly disabused of my assumption that yoga was going to be relaxing and easy, kind of like stretching be-fore you get out of bed.
Viv, on the other hand, looked positively dewy as she pulled her jacket on over her form-fitting yoga outfit.
“This is going to get easier, right?” I mumbled as we followed the other students to the parking lot.
“Oh, sure,” Viv said with a wave of her hand. “In a couple of weeks, you’ll really get the hang of it and love it.” She stretched her bony arms over her head and did a tree pose.
“Mmmhmmm,” I said, because I was fairly sure that, even with my recent weight loss, my body would never be as limber and flexible as Viv’s. It seemed patently unfair that she had that willowy, lithe body at 80-something years old while I was stuck with my basic fireplug structure. But it was what it was, and I didn’t have enough energy left to do anything but accept it.
“I wonder why Tri-Patrice didn’t make it.”
Tri-Patrice was my childhood friend Trisha, who had decided to change her name to Patrice when she became a high-falutin’ anchor on the local NBC affiliate, KBST. I’d tried to make the change, but my mouth always said, “Tri-” before it remembered she was Patrice now. So, I gave up and went with it. To me, she was either Trisha or Tri-Patrice, and we’d both come to accept it. Much as I’d accepted my fireplug body.
I opened the passenger door on the Monster Carlo and tossed my yoga mat and gym bag inside. As soon as the bag hit the seat, my phone beeped.
“Sorry,” I said. I took the phone out of the bag. “She just sent me a text. She probably got stuck at work.”
Trisha did the six and ten o’clock news, which was a pretty demanding job. To some people, it looked like she worked for an hour and a half every day, but I knew she put in some in-tense time at the station.
“Sorry, can’t make it (obv). I think they found Peter. Not good.”
I flipped the phone around and showed Viv.
She peered at it, then said, “Crikey.”
“It’s a word. I wonder what’s not good.”
Peter Browning was a hotshot reporter on KBST. He was pretty high profile, even for a big fish in a small pond like Lubbock. He had a reputation for hard-hitting investigative interviews, like the one a few months prior about the collapse of an elementary school following an earthquake that might have been caused by fracking for oil in the area. Or something like that—to be honest, I hadn’t paid much attention. I knew there was a little girl who’d been crippled; Browning had gone after the guy who designed the building; and, not long after that the guy had been found dead. Browning was soon show-ing up in interviews with major networks as some kind of ex-pert on damages caused by fracking-related earthquakes.
Then a few days ago, he’d disappeared. Half the town had been out looking for him. His wife, a pretty young thing with an eight-months-pregnant belly, was on the news several times a day, pleading tearfully for information.
_I think they found Peter. Not good._
“It could be anything,” I said. “Maybe they found him in Las Vegas, drunk out of his mind and blowing all his money on show girls.”
“I saw a story about a woman whose car had gone off a bridge, and she was trapped in the bottom of a ravine for three days before anyone found her. It could be something like that.”
“Exactly. Or maybe he got mixed up with the mob and he decided to go incognito—dyed his hair, grew a moustache, changed his name.”
“Clearly, we need more information. Let’s go up to the station to see what Patrice knows.”
I wasn’t surprised. Viv lived at Belle Court Retirement Home, and on Tuesday nights she usually found a reason to be gone because of Taco Tuesday. “You can’t imagine what they consider a taco there,” she said once, and shuddered. “I’d rather eat my own hair.”
“I need to check with Tony first. He has Stump tonight.”
“You have shared custody of your dog now?”
“No,” I said, rolling my eyes at her and pulling on my own jacket now that the early-November chill was starting to hit my sweat. Viv knew about Stump’s separation anxiety and why I could never leave her alone at our place in Trailertopia. “Frank is out of town and I didn’t want to miss this class—which you promised would be fun –” I slapped her lightly on the arm with the back of my hand. “So, I took her over to Tony’s.”
“Well, he might as well get used to her if you’re all eventually going to be one big happy. Listen, there’s no sense in taking two cars. Let’s take yours.”
“Sure, but only if you’ll drive.”
“Oh, okay,” Viv said, pretending (badly) to be a little put out by the idea. Viv was seriously envious of my 1974 Monte Carlo. Apparently, forty-years-ago Viv had wanted a Monte Carlo like Sue Ellen Ewing drove on Dallas and had been de-prived of that experience. She was the one who had talked me into buying the ancient metal monstrosity in the first place, and I expected any day now she was going to offer to buy it from me. She just had to come to grips with the idea that the Cadillac she bought around the same time I bought the Mon-ster Carlo was a lemon, at over twenty times the price I’d paid for her dream car. She appeared to still be in the denial phase of her grieving process.
About Author Kim Hunt Harris
Kim Hunt Harris is the award-winning author of the Trailer Park Princess comic mystery series.
Kim knew she wanted to be a writer before she even knew how to write. When her parents read bedtime stories to her, she knew she wanted to be a part of the story world. She started out writing children’s stories, and her stories grew as she did. She discovered a gift for humor and a love for making people laugh with her tales, and the Trailer Park Princess series was born.
Kim loves to not only make her readers laugh and entertain them with a good mystery, but also to examine the issues the everyday people face…well, every day. Issues like faith and forgiveness, perseverance and tolerance. Set in Lubbock, Texas, the fun books feature a cast of quirky characters, outrageous situations, a drama queen of a dog, and from time to time, a tear or two.
Kim lives with her husband of more than thirty years and two teenage kids in Texas.