This week I’m delighted to host an extract from Caroline James‘ new mystery, Hattie Goes To Hollywood.
Hattie is nursing a hangover when she’s joined by her neighbour and handyman. The three prepare to set off for the country & western themed village fete.
An hour later, Hattie, fully dressed, sat in the kitchen and drank from a mug of strong coffee while Marjorie fussed about, making breakfast. ‘You’ll feel much better when you’ve got something in your stomach,’ she said, spreading butter and jam onto a slice of toast. ‘Here, eat this.’
‘Well, you’d know all about hangovers,’ Hattie said sulkily but she took the toast and began to tuck in.
‘Oh, my word.’ Marjorie paused by the sink. She stared out at the garden and shook her head. ‘What in Heaven’s name have we got here?’
Hattie stood and, wiping crumbs from her mouth, looked out too. ‘Bleedin’ hell,’ she said, it’s the Rhinestone Cowboy.’
Alf, strutted down the steps, heading for the kitchen. He wore a long-sleeved, button-down shirt in a plaid pattern. Gone were his regulation moleskin trousers, replaced by blue jeans with a wide belt and shiny gold buckle. A gun holster hung from the belt. His cowboy boots had a Cuban heel and appeared to be made from alligator skin. On his head, he wore a Stetson. Ness and Drake followed, with colourful bandanas matching Alf’s shirt, knotted jauntily around their necks.
Hattie and Marjorie turned wide-eyed as the dog, duck and cowboy entered the kitchen. Flattened against the sink, the women struggled to contain their giggles.
‘Are you off to a star-spangled rodeo?’ Hattie asked.
‘Piss off.’ Alf stumbled towards the table to pull out a chair. As he sat down, he raised a boot. ‘These spurs don’t half make me walk oddly.’
‘You look very nice.’ Hattie patted the top of Ness’s head. ‘With matching animals too.’
‘Aye, Judy made the ‘neckerchiefs and my outfit.’ He ran his calloused hands along the yoke of his shirt and snapped a pocket open to dig deep for his tobacco and papers. ‘You’ll be giving Dolly Parton a run for her money.’ Alf raised his bushy eyebrows as he rolled a smoke and nodded towards Hattie’s blouse.
‘Do you like it?’ Hattie asked, giving a twirl. ‘We’ve Marjorie to thank for this lot.’ She thrust out her chest and patted her hair. ‘She came up with our outfits.’ Dressed in a short denim skirt and tight-fitting blouse, embellished with sequins and pretty embroidery, Hattie’s hair was skilfully styled into a titian halo. Heavily back combed, it bounced on her shoulders. Like Alf, she wore cowboy boots but with a pattern etched into the soft leather.
‘I’d drop the spurs,’ Hattie said. ‘You’ll do yourself a mischief.’
‘Good thinking.’ Alf reached down and unclipped the offending objects. Old and worn, he’d found them in a junk shop, rusted with age.
‘We need to be making a move, the fete starts at two and we have to set everything up,’ Marjorie said. Wearing a soft suede tunic and white plimsols, her hair was braided in two plaits, tied with red ribbon. She took a beaded bag from the table. ‘I’ll start packing the car.’
‘I’d best be off.’ Alf stood up. ‘I’m helping Reggie set up the saloon.’
‘Saloon?’ Hattie asked.
‘Aye, Reggie’s named his beer tent The Best Little Whorehouse in Hollywood.’
‘Very appropriate.’ Hattie carefully picked up Alf’s spurs from the table and dropped them in the bin.
‘I’ll take some of your parcels, she’ll never get them all in her Noddy car.’ Alf stuck his roll-up behind his ear and strode away to find Marjorie. Ness scampered behind, but Drake raised his head towards Hattie and quaked.
‘Alright, I’m coming too.’ Hattie reached into her cleavage and produced a lipstick. She painted a coat of bright red gloss over her lips and pouted. Straightening Drake’s bandana, she gave his beak a fond stroke. ‘Nashville here we come!’
About Hattie Goes to Hollywood
Introducing a new mysteries series from best-selling author Caroline James
Join life-loving, gin-swigging Hattie, as she steps into her new role as private investigator. The super sleuth (and her companion, Drake the duck) makes her debut in the Cumbrian village of Hollywood.
Hattie Goes to Hollywood is the first in a series of stand-alone mysteries.
When recently bereaved Hattie Mulberry inherits her aunt’s dilapidated cottage in the village of Hollywood in Cumbria, she envisages a quiet life. But retired hotelier Hattie is bored and when her neighbour asks her to investigate a suspicious suicide, Hattie’s career takes a new direction and H&H Investigations is born. During the hottest summer on record, Hattie discovers there have been three recent suicides in Hollywood and she determines to find out why. Temperatures rise as she throws herself into village life and, with mischief and shenanigans aplenty, Hattie has her work cut out. But will she establish the truth?
If the extract above has made you want more, you can buy the book with this link –
About Caroline James
Hattie Goes to Hollywood is the first in a new series of cosy crime from best-selling author Caroline James. Caroline has previously written novels in the romantic comedy genre, including the popular Best Boomerville Hotel. Her new novel is based in the beautiful county of Cumbria, where Caroline lived for many years, and introduces the madcap but loveable character and super sleuth, Hattie Mulberry.
Caroline carefully balances fun and humour with mystery and intrigue and says, ‘I am really thrilled with the forward reviews of Hattie Goes to Hollywood and it was huge fun to write. Cumbria is a beautiful setting for the book and the perfect place to plot a murder!’
Best-selling author of women’s fiction, Caroline James has owned and run businesses encompassing all aspects of the hospitality industry, a subject that often features in her novels. She is based in the UK but has a great fondness for travel and escapes whenever she can. A public speaker, which includes talks and lectures on cruise ships world-wide, Caroline is also a consultant and food writer. She is a member of the Romantic Novelist’s Association, the Society of Women’s Writer’s & Journalists and the Society of Authors and writes articles and short stories, contributing to many publications. Caroline also runs writing workshops. In her spare time, Caroline can be found trekking up a mountain with her two westies, sipping gin and supporting Blackburn Rovers.
To keep in touch with Caroline you can use the following links:
Website – www.carolinejamesauthor.co.uk
FaceBook: Caroline James Author
Thank you for featuring on my blog, Caroline x
Watch out for Angela Barton next week…
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