Confessions of a Red Herring (A Red Herring Mystery)
by Dana Dratch
About the Book
Confessions of a Red Herring (A Red Herring 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.
Character Guest Post
Hi, I’m Alex Vlodnachek. 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 sociopathic slime ball. Big public row with boss. Framed for boss’s murder.
So it was actually kind of a nice surprise when Nick and Gabrielle (my brother and his new bride), showed up at my tiny bungalow and wanted to stay for a while. Of course, they didn’t tell me about their dog: a puppy named Lucy.
Then my story hit the news – with a little help from an unethical gossip columnist named Mira Myles. By 4:30 Saturday afternoon, the sidewalk in front of my house looked like a movie set, with klieg lights, camera guys, and cables running God-knows-where. Satellite trucks lined the street, one from as far away as Manhattan.
Luckily, the news crews have a short attention span. The next morning, they had vanished. Except for dead grass, candy wrappers, and a couple of Styrofoam cups, it was as if they’d never existed.
Here’s what happened next:
Suddenly, there was a loud pounding on my door.
Nick got up and checked the peephole. “It looks like a kid,” he hissed.. “All I can see is the top of his head.”
“Oh please,” I said. “Nobody’s going to let their kids within a half-mile of this nuthouse.”
Bang! Bang! Bang! “Alexandra Edwardovna!” Nick and I looked at each other and froze.
“It’s Baba,” I whispered.
Oh God, how could I have forgotten Baba?
Baba is a tornado packaged in a deceptively small, deceptively sweet-looking human form. But the minute you lower your guard, you’re finished.
If scientists were studying her, they’d call that “the Baba effect.”
Seriously, if Allied forces had come to their senses and air-dropped Baba behind enemy lines, World War II would have been over in an hour. Baba would have strangled Hitler with a wooden spoon and used it to cook lunch for the liberating armies.
She’s the toughest woman I’ve ever met. Half of me wants to be exactly like her when I reach her age—whatever that is. The other half is just glad she’s on my side. Most of the time.
She is, in the words of my father, “very Old World.” According to family lore, Dad didn’t take Mom home to meet her until just before the wedding. And it did not go well. My mother, who’s been known to airbrush a few uncomfortable truths, claims that’s total hogwash.
But I’ve seen the wedding album. Baba’s the only one wearing black. Head to toe.
I opened the door. Baba looked up at me with wide, worried eyes. “What they mean, this ‘Vlod the Impaler’? How can they say these things? Lies! All lies!”
Trip was wrong about one thing: Baba understood English as well as any native. But when she got emotional, her normally thick accent got even thicker. At this point, I practically needed sub-titles.
I folded my arms around her. She was such a force of nature, I forgot how small she was—not quite five feet tall. The top of her head, covered with a black watch cap that matched her sweater, smelled like violets.
“Nichevo,” I murmured in Russian. “Nichevo. It’s fine. I’m fine. It’s all just a big misunderstanding. It’s gonna be OK.”
“Da, da,” she said, hugging me.
When we parted, I noticed Baba had on her traveling clothes: a brightly flowered house-dress that came well below her knees, stockings, socks, black sweater and watch cap set, and a new pair of Asics running shoes that Annie and I had helped her pick out.
Behind her on the porch I also spied two very large suitcases. Uh-oh. “Here, let me,” I said, reaching for both bags. I hefted one easily enough. The other felt like it was weighted with rocks. Or bricks. Or a body.
“Uh, what’s in here?”
“Pots. Pans. Potatoes. Carrots. Onions. I cook. You need good meal. Good food.”
Double uh-oh. Baba’s cooking is in a class by itself. She starts with the finest ingredients. Then she scrubs, peels, pounds, and boils them beyond all recognition.
My father used to joke that he actually gained five pounds in the army because mess hall chow had more flavor.
But Baba had packed her pots and pans (and potatoes), and left her home in Baltimore to come and cook for me. Because she loved me.
So I guess I could stand to lose five pounds.
“How did you get here?” I asked.
I had a momentary vision of Baba driving a dog sled through the streets of urban D.C.
“Greyhound bus?” The station was at least five miles from my house.
I set the lighter bag inside the door and went back for the other one. I threw my back into it and managed to lift it ankle-high. I’m guessing Baba brought the cast-iron stuff.
Baba motored over, took the bag from my hand, dropped it, and yanked it up quick. Four black rubber wheels popped out of the bottom. “Vheels!” she said triumphantly.
Wheeling her suitcase into the kitchen, I realized that the house was quiet. Too quiet.
Then I heard Nick’s car engine in the driveway. I beat it to the front porch just in time to see taillights and a cloud of exhaust.
Want to read more? Check out CONFESSIONS OF A RED HERRING.
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.
Review of Confessions of a Red Herring
Review (4 Stars): Confessions of a Red Herring is a fun, clever whodunnit with a sassy heroine whose investigative skills can solve any mystery. I loved Alex and I instantly connected with her delightful personality as she navigated her way through her first murder mystery and her family coming to visit. This mystery was entertaining and I loved the fact that I had a hard time figuring out who the killer was until the very end.
Confessions of a Red Herring is the first book in the Red Herring mystery series and I definitely think that this was a great start to the series. I can’t wait to read the second book and get to know more about Alex and her quirky family in the very near future.
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