Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Wedding to Die for by Heather Haven

A wedding without a groom leaves a lot to be desired. So when the wedding of Lee’s best friend is threatened by the arrest of the groom for murder, thirty-four-year old Lee Alvarez -- a combination of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone and Janet Evanovitch’s Stephanie Plum - heads south of the border in search of the real killer. Not only is this half Latina, half WASP, and 100% detective thrown into the well-organized world of plundered Mesoamerican relics, but she finds herself eating the best tasting tamales ever.

With the help of the rest of the Alvarez Family, Never-Had-A-Bad-Hair-Day blueblood mother, Lila Hamilton Alvarez, brother and computer genius, Richard; favorite uncle, “Tío” Mateo; and Tugger, her energetic orange and white cat, Lee stumbles across the man of her dreams. But is he too good to be true? Probably. She tries to follow her own sage advice, ‘when Cupid’s wings start flapping, take cover.’ Good luck to her.

A Wedding To Die For is the second novel in a series of humorous murder mysteries involving the Alvarez Family, owners of Silicon Valley’s successful Discretionary Inquiries.

 
Excerpt: 
“Allied Arts is renting us the restaurant for the reception, including the outside patios, from five-thirty to eleven-thirty p.m. Do you think ten cases of champagne, plus five cases each of Chardonnay and a Napa cab are enough?”

“That sounds more than sufficient. What else?”

I started counting off items on my fingers. “Bridal shower, next week. Richard is in charge of the bachelor party. The tuxes are ordered. The gowns arrive this afternoon, and I have two seamstresses set up for the fittings. I haven’t seen a picture or rendering of the designs yet, but I’ll bet they’re incredible. Mr. McFadden designed them himself, something he hasn’t done for years. He said he chose a ‘theme,’ which reminds me, I’ll have to get samples of the fabric to the florist. Don’t you own one or two of Warren McFadden’s dresses?”

“No. I find him a little avant-garde, Liana,” Mom said.

“I think they call it cutting-edge now, Mom,” I corrected.

“If you say so.” She smiled and changed the subject. “Did you find a photographer?”

“Yes, finally. I thought I was going to have to buy a camera and take pictures, myself.”

“Who is it?”

“Did you know the reason the wedding got canceled that was supposed to take place at Mem Chu was because the bride came out of the closet and is now living in San Francisco with her lover, Charlene?”

“Get to the point, dear.”

“I thought you might be interested in hearing the lead-in.”

“No.”

“Oh. Well, anyway, this guy was supposed to be their photographer, so he was available. I’ve seen his portfolio. He’s good.”

“That sounds fine,” Lila said, somewhat mollified. “What about the rehearsal dinner? Didn’t John offer to take care of that part of the festivities?”

“Originally, but he had to bow out due to a heavy work schedule.”

“That’s too bad.”

“Yes,” I said and nothing more. My latest love had been pulling back big-time on a lot of things, but I didn’t want to admit it or deal with it yet.

“However, Carlos took over and got us a private room at the new Japanese steakhouse for after we go through our paces.”

I looked at the tattered list again with all the checkmarks indicating completion and would have done cartwheels around the room if I hadn’t been so tired.

“Mom, I think I’ve done it. After I order the flowers and take care of the fittings, I’m done,” I said with pride. “This wedding is completely done and Good-to-Go.”

Five hours later, I stood in front of a mirror, enveloped in what felt like eighty yards of a chartreuse moiré taffeta laughingly called “Whipped Lime.” Between the starched crinoline underskirt, ruffled hem of the overskirt, and tufted bodice, all in a hideous yellow-green, I looked like a New Year’s Eve float depicting baby poo. I ripped open the other boxes to find matching gowns in different odious colors sporting the names of “Pineapple Fizz,” “Mango Madness,” “Orange Frappe,” and “Passion Fruit Frazzle.” Mr. McFadden had created a theme, all right. Jamba Juice Rejects. And in moiré taffeta. When Mom called his work avant-garde, she was being kind.

The phone rang, but I was afraid to move. On top of how I looked, any movement sounded like leaves trapped in a wind tunnel. No wonder no one wore taffeta anymore, I thought. Noise pollution. One of the seamstresses answered the phone and slapped it into my frozen hand.

“Hello?” I said.

“Lee, it’s me. We need your help,” Mira said. Her voice sounded frantic and as if she’d been crying.

“Mira? Are you all right?”

“No, I’m not,” she sobbed. “Carlos is being arrested for murder.”

“What?” I said, sinking straight to the floor, buried in a mound of taffeta. “Carlos is being arrested for murder?”

“Yes, they say he murdered the thief who broke into our apartment last night. They’re taking him away,” she wailed.

“Wait a minute. What thief? What murder? Mira, what’s going on?”

She tried to tell me, but between the hysteria, coughing, and wheezing, I couldn’t understand her.
“Never mind,” I interrupted. “Hold tight. I’ll be right there.”

I struggled to my feet and thought, with the groom arrested for murder maybe this Good-to-Go wedding just Got Up and Went.

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