Sunday, January 20, 2008

Murder For Hire: The Peruvian Pigeon virtual book tour

So those of you who like the Maltese Falcon or not, I'm introducing a new author who is doing a blog tour. Check out Murder for Hire: The Peruvian Pigeon by Dana Fredsti.

Here is Dana's bio:

Dana Fredsti is an ex B-movie actress with a background in theatrical sword-fighting. Through seven plus years of volunteering at EFBC/FCC (Exotic Feline Breeding Facility/Feline Conservation Center), Dana's had a full-grown leopard sit on her feet, kissed by tigers, held baby jaguars and had her thumb sucked by an ocelot with nursing issues. She's addicted to bad movies and any book or film, good or bad, which include zombies. Her other hobbies include surfing (badly), collecting beach glass (obsessively), and wine tasting (happily).

Dana was co-producer/writer/director for a mystery-oriented theatrical troupe based in San Diego. These experiences were the basis for her mystery novel MURDER FOR HIRE: The Peruvian Pigeon (James A. Rock & Company Publishers, Yellowback Mysteries Imprint, Oct. 2007) While no actual murders occurred during their performances, there were times when the actors and clients made the idea very tempting.

She's written numerous published articles, essays and shorts, including stories in Cat Fantastic IV, an anthology series edited by Andre Norton (Daw, 1997), Danger City (Contemporary Press, 2005), and Mondo Zombie (Cemetery Dance, 2006). Her essays can be seen in Morbid Curiosity, Issues 2-7. Additionally she's written several produced low-budget screenplays and currently has another script under option. Dana was also co-writer/associate producer on Urban Rescuers, a documentary on feral cats and TNR (Trap/Neuter/Return), which won Best Documentary at the 2003 Valley Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Dana’s currently working on the second book in the Murder for Hire series, The Big Snooze.

An excerpt to tease you -

Dana Fredsti

The sun was setting as he pulled into his usual spot at the back of the Emerald Cove Library parking lot. He turned off the engine and tried to ignore the shooting pains in his hip and back as he slowly got out of the car. It was an older model Cadillac, the kind of vehicle referred to as a boat, especially by those unlucky enough to get stuck behind it in single lane traffic. He knew he drove too cautiously, but his reflexes seemed to get duller every year and it was either err on the side of caution or give up driving altogether. And he wasn't ready to make that inevitable concession to age quite yet.
Too many pleasures were things of the past because of the heart attack. He was determined to enjoy the things that were still available to him -- a few not on his doctor's approved list -- as long as he could. Thank God his taste buds were still strong and he could enjoy the fruits of years of wine collecting. He'd once sworn that some of those bottles would never be opened, but if there was one thing a near death experience had taught him, it was that you really couldn't take it with you.
It was also a blessing that he had always enjoyed swimming because it was the one form of exercise officially sanctioned by his doctor that didn't bore him to death. Of course, the good doctor had no idea that his patient did the prescribed laps in the ocean rather than a heated indoor pool.
Opening the Cadillac's trunk, he detached the ignition key from the ring and tucked it in the little Velcroed pocket of a wristband he'd bought at a surf shop. He secreted the other keys under the spare tire. A gust of chill wind blew through the parking lot as he took out his towel and slammed the trunk shut. Summer had definitely passed the torch on to Autumn and he knew that soon the evening swims would have to be curtailed for a while. He was a strong swimmer, always had been, but he wasn't going to risk hypothermia or pneumonia and the winter currents were harsh and unpredictable.
The side gate of the library was unlocked. The head librarian knew that he liked his evening swim and left the beach access open for him, trusting him to lock it after he was finished. He paused to strip down to his bathing trunks, leaving his clothes in a neatly folded pile on the side porch.
He carefully picked his way down the wooden stairs that led to the semi-private beach. He always anticipated the moment after entering the water when the initial cold shock of it wore off, the moment when his aches, pains and daily frustrations were forgotten in the buoyant salt water. The years always dropped away as he dived through the waves like a kid before finally reaching the calm beyond the break.
He paused at the bottom of the stairs for a moment to enjoy the last hint of fire as the sun dipped below the sun. Then without further hesitation, he strode down into the water and plunged in.
When he emerged, exhausted yet rejuvenated a half hour later, the beach was dark. Between that and the water in his eyes, he never saw the blow to his back that dropped him to his knees or the person who delivered it. A second blow sent him sprawling face down in the surf. Salt water filled his mouth and nostrils as a wave curled up and broke over him. He tried to lift his head out of the water, but something sharp pressed down on his neck, grinding his face into the sand until he lost consciousness.

Chapter One

“Hand it over, Club! We know you got it.” Scarface Tony’s face twisted into a snarl as he pointed his ’45 at Carl Club. “Hold out on us and you’ll be leaking tomato sauce all over your nice, shiny floor.”
“Yeah,” grunted the other gorilla, towering over Club in a stance meant to intimidate.
“I don’t know what you punks are talking about.” Unintimidated, Club stared coolly at the two thugs.
“C’mon Club,” Scarface barked. “We want the goods! You know, the loot, the dough, the clams, the hot ice, the moola, the do-re-mi!”
Club looked at them contemptuously. “I don’t got what you scum are looking for. And I ain’t no stoolie. And you can tell that to your sauerkraut sucking, Nazi boss.”
“Take him, Tiny!” Scarface shouted as the big gorilla lunged, catching Club in a choke hold. “You had your chance, Club. Now you’ll be dripping arterial ketchup all over your office...”

The seamy world of Carl Club evaporated back into our living room as Brad, aka 'Carl Club' took a real punch to the gut from Chris 'Scarface' Galante. Everyone immediately broke character as Brad doubled over. Chris stood to one side, looking sheepish.
"Oh, jeez!" I jumped to my feet. "Brad, are you okay?"
Brad wheezed in reply. Further inquiries as to his condition were forestalled by the piercing ring of our phone.
Glancing at my friend and business partner, Daphne Graves, as she watched the action from a comfortable vantage point on the couch, I pointed towards the ringing phone. “I’ve got to run the fight choreography,” I said reasonably. "Besides," I couldn't resist adding, "It's probably Guido." Guido, an Italian sculptor, was current in the long line of neurotics that made up Daphne's boyfriends.
Daphne gave me a dirty look, but hauled herself up from the couch, which had been pushed against the wall to make room for rehearsal. She headed for the extension in the kitchen, muttering, “I need a drink. Something hot, cheap, and strong.”
“Make enough for everyone!” I called after her, knowing Daphne's idea of a stiff drink was a few shots of hot chocolate in her gut. She hates the taste of alcohol as much as she loves the hard-boiled prose of Dashiell Hammett and Mickey Spillane. “We’re going to need it.”
“We’re gonna need more than cocoa,” muttered Brad, eyeing ‘Scarface’ with justifiable apprehension.
Shaun, otherwise known as ‘Tiny’, nodded in agreement, also giving Chris a rather dubious look.
Chris was a handsome, muscular ex-Marine who bore a slight resemblance to Sly Stallone. Getting him to throw a punch without lethal impact was not without its difficulties. Although Chris had been out of the military for about six months, he still took his combat training very seriously. I take my fighting seriously as well, but my training was in theatrical combat, not in how to kill the enemy in a variety of messy ways. Chris and I had been at loggerheads over the fights ever since he joined Murder for Hire two months ago and I was beginning to suspect that we needed a drill sergeant, not a director, in order to get him to cooperate. Damn good thing he didn’t have a problem taking orders from a woman or I’d have killed him by now.
“Okay! Let’s try that part from ‘Take him, Tiny’, okay?” I smiled encouragingly at Brad, who clutched his stomach protectively and nodded.
“Take him, Tiny!” Scarface shouted as the big gorilla lunged...
“Wait a moment!”
The three actors stopped in mid-action.
“We haven’t even done anything yet,” protested Shaun.
“That’s my point. I’ve told you guys before that you have to be a lot quicker on that first punch!” I stood up and paced as I talked. “Shaun, you have to lunge the second Chris says ‘Take him, Tiny!’ ”
“Okay.” Shaun was not one for wasting words.
“Try it again.”
They did so. This time Shaun lunged immediately, but Chris mixed up the order of his punches and blocks and clipped Brad sharply on the jaw.
“Shit!” Brad grabbed his chin and stumbled back a few paces.
“Oh, jeez, I’m sorry!”
“Chris,” I said very carefully, “it’s duck, block, then hit, not duck, hit, then block. We’ve been over this section before.”
“I know, Connie! I’m sorry! But in the Marines they trained us to always be on the offensive so these moves just aren’t natural!”
I took a deep breath, trying to ignore the voice in my head chanting that line from the song Alice’s Restaurant, 'Why do you want to be a Marine, young man? Because I wanna killlllll!'
“It’s not supposed to be natural,” I finally said as patiently as was possible, given the circumstances and my temperament. "It’s supposed to be stylized."
"Yeah, but realistically stylized," Chris said insistently. If his brow lowered any further, we'd be able to use it for shelf space. "It shouldn't be unnatural."
"Hey, that would make our fight an unnatural act," Shaun said helpfully. "Isn't that illegal in California?"
Brad rubbed his jaw. "It should be."
I massaged my temples, feeling the first stirrings of a headache. Great, and we'd only been rehearsing for a half hour.
"Guys, let's take a break, okay?"
No arm twisting was necessary to convince them. All three immediately headed for the kitchen, drawn, no doubt, by the wafting odor of brewing cocoa and recently baked chocolate chip cookies. I'd join them, but not quite yet.
Collapsing on an over-stuffed sofa next to JD (short for Jack Daniels), a large black, spherical feline of sanguine temperament, I enjoyed a few minutes of solitude. I shut my eyes, willing my headache to fade back into oblivion, and listened to the comforting sounds of the clink of crockery as Daphne filled mugs with her latest variety of hot cocoa. I idly wondered what she'd added this time. Grated orange peel? Mint? Perhaps cinnamon. Daphne's creativity knew no bounds when it came to two things: bad forties dialogue and cocoa.
Both talents are a definite asset to Murder For Hire, of which Daphne and I are the owners, producers, writers and directors. MFH is a theatrical group dedicated to parodying various genres in the mystery field. Our floating troupe of actors can and have done just about everything in the way of mystery-oriented entertainment. We've done full-out murder mystery weekends, staged kidnappings at parties, and pastiched, parodied and lampooned everything from gothics to Sherlock Holmes. No author, however revered, is safe from our heavy-handed pen and sometimes sledgehammer humor.


quilly said...

I was hooked by the prologue and chapter one kept my attention. Now I want the rest of the story -- preferably with an easier to read back ground. This blog is lovely, but I think my browser -- Firefox -- rearranges the borders. The words on the pink and behind the blue were a struggle to read.

zhadi said...

Thank you, Quilly! I'd suggest reading the rest of MFH with a copy of the book - and since you commented, you are now entered to win one!

Other Lisa said...

Hey, can I enter the win a book contest?!

This blog tour is a great idea, btw. Thanks Elysabeth!

zhadi said...

Yes, Other lisa, you are now officiallyentered, along with Quilly! Thanks for stopping by!

Elizabeth said...

I also use Firefox and I'm also getting kind of a scrambled layout. But I want to put my two cents in because I'm a MFH: TPP groupie!

Where's the champagne? Do I get to be entered for the book prize? Don't mind the sling, I can still hold a wineglass.


zhadi said...

elizabeth you're totally in there for the drawing! And come out to visit and you'll have all the wine you want!

Carol said...

I love cats, too, but I'm not sure that I would want a full-grown leopard sitting on my feet or be kissed by a tiger! lol I would, however, love to read Murder for Hire! I enjoyed the excerpt!

Kilt said...

Thanks Elysabeth - you have a great blog and I love the exerpt from Murder for Hire! What's the next book in the series?

zhadi said...

Carol, being kissed by a tiger is VERY cool as long as you don't mind a little tiger spit. And as long as it likes you and isn't just checking out the flavor...

Kilt, the next book is MURDER FOR HIRE: The Big Snooze. Thanks for stopping by and checking out the excerpt and Elysabeth's lovely blog!