Released December 2011
BLUE MARTINAS a novel by Brenda Limpert
Read the back cover:
Murder. One olive at a time.
Julia Stethersford took her new last name from an L.A. Times’ article about a woman who robbed a liquor store with nothing more than a clothespin under a handkerchief and severe blind luck. New to L.A. after burning her bridges in Iowa City, Julia quickly makes enemies, including none other than legendary actress Rita Featherson - a woman with a penchant to drink and a vitriolic tongue. During a birthday party filled with Hollywood’s “Who’s Who”, Julia stages Rita’s greatest death scene by poisoning the woman’s martini olives. She’s just that kind of problem solver.
But the other party-goers aren’t about to let a murder slow them down and even as LAPD’s grizzled Captain Maly and his trusted, if not star-struck, Lieutenant Dooley conduct their investigation the party plays on. After all, there are movie deals to strike, clandestine affairs to arrange and secrets to cover up. But why was Rita murdered in the first place? The real reason may surprise everyone – even the killer herself.
Excerpt (First Pages):
25 YEARS AGO somewhere along the coast of Northern California
They had been up in the little Piper just over an hour when the pilot swallowed a handful of amphetamines he affectionately called “copilots” with some bourbon he kept in a flask under his seat. Remonstrations from both of his passengers, his wife and their eighteen year old son, went unheeded. It wasn’t the first time he’d taken the family out on a bourbon fueled excursion but it would be his last.
Mitch Reynolds was a Hollywood man but not of the leading kind. Instead, he sat hunched over an old Smith Corona dreaming up dialogue with a bottled muse and a heaping ashtray always close at hand. His first screenplay “At the Rumsford” garnered critical acclaim and even a little statuette for Best Original Script from one of the larger film associations. A feat he never again duplicated in the following decades though he never stopped trying.
Unfortunately, his ability to write beautiful dialogue never seemed to translate into his personal life. In fact, he had an uncanny ability to sabotage any potentially satisfying relationship whenever it looked like it might last. Remarkably, he hadn’t sabotaged his marriage. That is, his wife hadn’t left him yet. Everyone referred to her as Saint Betty, a teetotaler and leading lady of the silver screen with an apparent endless supply of patience and understanding. Mitch repaid this loyalty and dedication by drinking his weight in liquor nearly every day of their marriage. She, in fact, loved the schmuck for better or worse.
At nine thousand feet, they were somewhere north of San Francisco but before Fort Bragg when the story that would become his greatest tale unfolded.
Dusk gave way to a clear night sky as the little Piper shuddered under the drunken pilot’s control. A lone satellite tracked across the sky. His son sitting behind him stared at the back of his head. He seemed to be contemplating a confrontation but chose instead to play things cool. A few more minutes and it would all be over.
“Dad, did you hear me?”
“Why not UCLA? They’ve got a great engineering program,” he said.
“I wouldn’t have to live on campus.”
“But I want to be an engineer. Stella got to choose where she went,” he sighed. “Mom, tell him.”
His mother had been staring out the window in a dreamy haze. “I’m staying out of this. When your father makes up his mind…it’s final.”
“Don’t I have a say in this? Don’t you?”
She shook her head and returned her focus to the window and the fast moving landscape below. His father took another pull from the flask.
“Haven’t you had enough of that?” She said without turning to face him.
“No.” The pilot shook the flask at her.
“You’re going to kill us all one day,” she said.
And that was the second to last thing he remembered her saying.
Darkness obscured the coastline and he could see his father no longer understood what was going on and the little control he had of the aircraft was gone. It was now or never.
When the boy grabbed for the parachutes he read the bumper sticker above the bin, “Chute Happens” then dug around for them. One. Two. Left the third one behind.
He put one on and handed the other to his mother who, after precious seconds, managed to fasten it.
“Turn on the autopilot Dad,” he shouted. “Push the heading button.”
But the pilot did nothing. He had passed out; his mouth gaped open and his head nodded like a bobble-head.
The plane pitched and knocked the boy off his feet.
“I’m so sorry baby.” His mother fumbled with the door handle but the plane lurched again into a steep descent.
The stall horn sounded.
BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.
Nose down, then nose up, then nose down again.
BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.
“Hang on mother.” The boy managed to scramble to his knees and grasped her hand. She had passed out. It was too late to make a jump for it.
Through the windshield of the plane he saw a buoy, then the satellite, then the buoy again. Then nothing.
BLUE MARTINAS - BRENDA LIMPERT
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