Some days are just weird city.
Take today. Jane Kelly, thirtysomething ex-bartender, current process server, and owner of The Binkster, a pug, is dutifully putting in slave-labor hours working for Dwayne Durbin, local "information specialist" (i.e., private investigator), and on the road to becoming a P.I. herself. Next thing she knows she's socializing with the Purcells, a rich, eccentric rich family with a penchant for going crazy and/or dying in spectacularly mysterious ways.
From what Jane can tell, the Purcells all want Orchid Purcell's money. And when Orchid turns up in a pool of blood, the free-for-all has just begun. Then when Jane finds a second body, it seems weird city is about to get even weirder...and a lot more deadly...
In her second smash outing, Nancy Bush's wickedly funny heroine, Jane Kelly, proves herself a worthy successor to Stephanie Plum, but with a wit, style, and dog that are definitely all her own.
The shrewd, sassy protagonist of Bush's Jane Kelly series gets tangled in dangerous family politics in her lively second outing (after 2005's Candy Apple Red). The members of the wealthy, eccentric Purcell clan of Lake Chinook, Ore., are all crazy, warns Jane's rakish mentor Dwayne Durbin, but Jane, a PI in training, agrees to work for the handsome Jasper "Jazz" Purcell anyway. Jazz wants Jane to help assess the mental faculties of his aging grandmother, Orchid, who holds the family purse strings. With various kooky Purcells vying for an inheritance, Jane and her beloved pug, the Binkster, are embraced by Orchid. But the family's fishy history motivates Jane to investigate the long-ago death of Jazz's mother, Lily, who perished at a sanitarium. Meanwhile, Jane wrestles with ambivalence about her blossoming romance with Jazz--and her flirtatious relationship with Dwayne. Bush dials up the suspense when one of the Purcells is found dead. With her clever ability to handle the zaniest of life's circumstances, Jane won't disappoint readers. (Oct.)
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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August 28, 2007
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Excerpt from Electric Blue by Nancy Bush
Mental illness runs in the Purcell family. I'd diligently typed this conclusion at the top of the report written on my word-processing program. I'd been so full of myself, so pleased with my thorough research and keen detecting skills that I'd smiled a Cheshire Cat smile for weeks on end. That smug grin hung around just like the cat's. It was on my face when I woke in the morning and it was there on my lips as I closed my eyes at night.
I spent hours in self-congratulation:
Oh, Jane Kelly, private investigator extraordinaire. How easy it is for you to be a detective. How good you are at your job. How exceptional you are in your field!
I wasn't smiling now.
Directly in front of me was a knife-wielding, delusional, growling, schizophrenic--the situation a direct result of my investigation into the Purcells. In disbelief I danced left and right, frantic to avoid serious injury. I looked into the rolling eyes of my attacker and felt doomed. Doomed and downright FURIOUS at Dwayne Durbin. It was his fault I was here! It was his ridiculous belief in my abilities that had put me in harm's way! Hadn't I told him I'm no good at confrontation? Hadn't I made it clear that I'm damn near a chicken-heart? Doesn't he ever listen to me?
His fervent belief in me was going to get me killed!
Gritting my teeth, I thought: I hope I live long enough to kill Dwayne first....
I was deep into the grunt work necessary to earn my license as a private investigator. Dwayne Durbin, my mentor, had finally convinced me I would be good at the job. His cheerleading on my behalf was not entirely altruistic: he wanted me to come and work for him.
I'd resisted for a while but circumstances had arisen over the summer that had persuaded me Dwayne just might be right. So, in September I became Dwayne Durbin's apprentice--and then I became his slave, spending my time putting in the hours, digging through records, doing all his dog work--which really irritates me, more at myself than him, because I'd known this was going to happen.
And though I resented all the crap-work thrown my way, Dwayne wasn't really around enough for me to work up a head of steam and vent my feelings. He was embroiled in a messy divorce case for Camellia "Cammie" Purcell Denton. His association with the Purcell family was why I'd delved into the Purcell family history in the first place. I admit this was more for my own edification than any true need on Dwayne's part, but I figured it couldn't hurt.
That particular September afternoon--the afternoon I wrote my conclusion on the report--was sunny and warm and lazy. It was a pleasure to sit on Dwayne's couch, a piece of furniture I'd angled toward his sliding glass door for a view of the shining waters of Lake Chinook. I could look over the top of my laptop as I wirelessly searched databases and historical archives and catch a glimpse of sunlight bouncing like diamonds against green water.
Resentment faded. Contentment returned. After all, it's difficult to hold a grudge when, apart from some tedium, life was pretty darn good. My rent was paid, my mother's impending visit had yet to materialize, my brother was too involved with his fiancee to pay me much attention, and I had a dog who thought I was... well . . . the cat's meow.
I finished the report and typed my name on the first page, mentally patting myself on the back for a job well done. Reluctantly, I climbed to my feet and went to check out Dwayne's refrigerator. If he possessed anything more than beer and a suspect jar of half- eaten, orange-colored chili con queso dip, life would pass from pretty darn good to sublime. My gaze settled on a lone can of diet A&W root beer. Not bad. Popping the top, I returned to the couch and my laptop.
Intending to concentrate, my eyes kept wandering to the scene outside the sliding glass door. Dwayne, who'd been lounging in a deck chair, was now making desultory calls on his cell phone. He stepped in and out of my line of vision as I hit the print button, wirelessly sending information to Dwayne's printer. Nirvana. I'm technologically challenged, but Dwayne has a knack for keeping things running smoothly and efficiently despite my best efforts. Since I'd acquired my newest laptop--a gift from an ex-boyfriend--I'd slowly weaned myself from my old grinder of a desktop. This new, eager slimmed-down version had leapfrogged me into a new era of computers. It fired up and slammed me onto the Internet faster than you can say, "Olly olly Oxenfree." (I have no idea what this means but it was a favorite taunt from my brother Booth who was always crowing it when we were kids, gloating and laughing and skipping away, delighted that he'd somehow "got" me. Which, when I think about it, still has the power to piss me off.)
The new laptop untethered me from my old computer's roosting spot on the desk in my bedroom. Now, I'm mobile. I bring my work over to Dwayne's, which he highly encourages. I'm fairly certain Dwayne hopes I'll suddenly whirl into a female frenzy of cleaning and make his place spotlessly clean. Like, oh, sure, that's going to happen.