FEATURED CHARACTER: DANA DRATCH'S ALEX VLODNACHEK
ABOUT THE BOOKAs 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.
Title: Confessions of a Red Herring
Author: Dana Dratch
Series: A Red Herring Mystery, book 1
Publisher:Kensington (May 29, 2018)
Page count:336 pages
On tour with: Great Escapes Book Tours
CHARACTER POST FROM DANA DRATCH'S ALEX VLODNACHEK
Hi, I’m Alex Vlodnachek. My friends call me “Red.” I’m what’s politely known as a strawberry blonde. Heavy on the strawberry.
And 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.
Right after that, my brother and his new bride blew into town. They needed a place to stay for a few weeks, while they got settled. I needed help making the mortgage while I found a new job. Win-win.
They “forgot” to mention their dog. Still a puppy, navigating a house in the ’burbs was pretty new to former street-stray Lucy.
Here’s what happened the first time I took her out for a walk:
I grabbed the leash and opened the front door.
Lucy sprang off the porch, rounded the corner of the house, and darted behind a big azalea bush. When I peeked over, she shot me a dirty look, and turned her back. I did an about-face.
Who knew dogs had a sense of modesty?
Presumably refreshed, Lucy came bounding out and raced around the lawn in wide circles. For a puppy, she was fast. No way I was taking her out of the yard without a leash. I snapped it on, and she trotted over to the daffodils that were blooming around the mailbox.
I’d put an extra blanket of pine straw over them two weeks ago. It was the last normal, home improvement thing I’d done before my life blew up.
She approached them slowly, staring. She bent and sniffed one. Ditto a second one. The third one she also licked. Then she cocked her head and sniffed the air.
What a weird little dog.
“You want to go for a walk? Lots of flowers for you to see.” She looked up at me and blinked. I swear those liquid brown eyes looked hopeful.
I led her down the sidewalk. “OK,” I said softly, “this is where we live. Our yard. Now, we’re going to go past some other yards. But we have to be on our best behavior. No pooping or piddling. Flower sniffing is OK, though.”
What was I, nuts? After umpteen calls, I couldn’t even make my insurance company understand I’d never canceled my coverage. Did I really think I could talk to a dog?
But Lucy appeared to think this over. Then she trotted down the sidewalk. Two doors down, in front of Mr. and Mrs. Clancy’s giant pine, she stopped.
Uh-oh, I thought. Now we’re in for it.
Stock-still, she stared up, mesmerized.
I followed her gaze to see what she saw. Branches, blowing in the light breeze, and fluffy white clouds in the sky. She was entranced.
Two houses down, Lucy spotted something across the street. She raced to the curb, pulling at the leash.
“No, no, no! No street for little puppies. The street is bad. Cars are bad.”
She looked at me like I’d lost my mind, then continued her assault on the curb.
“Just what is over there that’s so fascinating?” I cautiously looked both ways and told her to heel. She kind of obeyed. Almost.
The tension in the leash was so tight, she was practically dragging me across the street.
Once on the other side, I gave her some slack and she went running pell-mell for a patch of daffodils at the corner of one driveway. When she got within a couple of feet, she suddenly stopped. She crouched, frozen in space and time. She shifted slightly to one side. Then the other.
The crazy pup was stalking something. Then I saw it.
“That’s a butterfly, you nutty little dog.”
She inched closer, watching it intently. Unaware it had an audience, the butterfly danced from flower to flower. Lucy followed its every move with her eyes. Apparently, this was the puppy equivalent of March Madness.
“Oh, hello again,” said a deep British voice behind me.
Startled, I jumped. Of course, it was Ian Sterling. Why did I always run into this guy when me and mine were at our weirdest? Then again, my life was fresh out of normal at the moment.
“Uh, hi,” I managed.
“How’s the little dog this morning?” He cast a curious glance at my obviously crazy canine.
“Enjoying a nature walk,” I said brightly. “And right now, she’s doing a little butterfly watching.” Hell, give me a walking stick and a solid pair of brogues, and I could be a character straight out of an Agatha Christie novel.
“Fancy that, she really is. How charming.”
Is “charming” British for “odd”? I wondered.
Wearing a spotless white oxford-cloth shirt with the sleeves casually rolled up to reveal strong, tanned forearms, Sterling looked more like a polo-playing aristocrat than the owner of a decrepit B&B. Up close, he smelled like a blend of exotic spices and sawdust. And when he pushed a lock of dark hair out of his eyes, my stomach actually did a little flip.
Oh, please, I chided myself.
Lucy’s butterfly fluttered off, and she flopped dejectedly on the grass.
“Lost a friend, eh?” he said, scratching her head. Her tail began to wag slowly.
“I’ve got some biscuits that might cheer you up,” he said, as the wagging tail gained speed.
Lucy may not know “heel,” but “biscuit” she gets.
“And some tea for you, if you’ve got time,” he added, looking up at me.
Want to read more? Check out Confessions of a Red Herring.
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