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The World's Worst Detective, a paranorml mystery-Book-1

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Darkness and Despair was his life.

Artie Kowalski’s wife returns from the dead with a shocking revelation. She was murdered, and her ghost is determined to make Artie’s life a living hell until he finds her killer. To make matters worse, she brought along her mother who was murdered in the same car crash. In Drop Dead, Gorgeous, readers will find a thrilling and suspenseful mystery with a unique paranormal twist and a dash of humor. 

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Read A Sample.

All right, I admit it. I have this thing for strippers. They seem to gravitate to me. Or maybe I gravitate toward them, I’m not quite sure which way it is. My dead wife, Angela, was a stripper, her mother was a stripper, and my lunch date, Candy, is a stripper. Of course, Candy wasn’t just any stripper, she had been my wife’s best friend back before Angela and her mother got themselves killed in an automobile accident last September.

Truth be told, it wasn’t really a date, date, more like a bump and eat thing. I hadn’t dated anyone since Angela died ten months earlier. I still got an empty feeling in my gut every time I thought of her. Angela would own a corner of my heart for as long as I lived, but when I ran into Candy at the local Walmart and she suggested lunch, I figured who was I to say no.

I know what you’re thinking, right? What’s a stripper doing at Walmart? Blending in. She was wearing ragged shorts, had her hair tied back, no makeup, and could have passed for a stay-at-home mom rushing in for a few things while the kids were at school. And since the Walmart is only half a mile away from the Gentleman’s Club where Candy works, and lives, in an apartment above the club, it kind of makes sense that she’d shop there.

After the hugs and cheek kisses we decided to meet for lunch at noon at the One-Eyed Panda, a Chinese Buffet located half a mile north of her Gentleman’s Club. I guess I didn’t mention it, but Candy owns the club, not so originally named “Candy’s.” At least she owns the club on paper. The way I understand it though, the real owner is a terminator sized jerk named Bruno Picarciello. Bruno’s rumored to be a made man in the mafia who’s into a little bit of everything. Money laundering, hookers, drugs, gambling, even a little gun running. The only reason I know all this is because my wife used to work at Candy’s back before she ever met me, and Candy, her best friend forever, couldn’t seem to keep any secrets from Angela.

The One-Eyed Panda is exactly what you’d expect to find when you walk into a restaurant that offers an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet for $6.99 and a dinner buffet for $9.99. It was four walls filled with cheap Chinese paintings, rows of tables packed too close together, a few booths along the window wall, and four stations each featuring a dozen trays of food including my personal favorites, sweet and sour pork and General Tso’s chicken, along with a ton of other Chinese dishes. Some people might call it junk food, not me. I call it heaven on a plate.

Candy was ten minutes late, and when she walked in it was obvious that she was no longer in her incognito mode. She’d changed out of her old shorts and was wearing a short, tight fitting red skirt, a revealing sleeveless vest top that accentuated her shoulder and stomach muscles, and red pump sandals that more than did the same for her legs. Her purse matched the skirt and shoes and I figured she was either going back to the club to work after lunch, or she had a real date. If that was the case I didn’t envy the guy. Bruno was her on again, off again boyfriend, and I’d heard he didn’t take well to her dating other guys, even in their off again time. More than one of her dates had ended up in the hospital.

We both ordered a beer, then went our separate ways in search for the perfect platter of food. When we met back up at our table I glanced over at Candy’s plate and shook my head. It contained three small shrimp in need of peeling, half-a-dozen green beans, a spoonful of some kind of beef and broccoli mixture, and four small sauteed mushrooms. My plate on the other hand was a heaping heart attack looking for an excuse to ruin my day.

“That’s not much food for a woman who works as hard as you do, Candy,” I said, before diving into my own platter.

“Bruno thinks I’m putting on a little weight and he wants me to be more careful.” She picked up a shrimp and began peeling it. Her long tapered fingers worked carefully, teasing the shell away from the meat, and I swear her eating that shrimp was one of the most sensual things I ever witnessed, and that’s saying a lot considering I was married to a stripper for two years. Right then and there I realized that although I missed Angela with all of my heart, I’d been too long without the companionship of a woman and I was going to have to do something about that.

I glanced at Candy’s abs and shook my head. “Bruno’s eyesight must be going. If you want my honest opinion, Candy, you don’t look like you’ve got an extra ounce of fat anywhere on your body. I think you need to ditch Bruno and find yourself a man who appreciates you.”

She shook her head. “What am I going to do, Artie? Find myself a rich fella to sweep me off my feet and marry me like Angela did? Let’s face it, there aren’t too many guys like you out there that are gonna come along and marry one of us girls. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of rich assholes that’ll stick a Benjamin or two down our G-strings, even take us home for the night. But it’s strictly business with them. Then they’re back at the club looking for the next dancer who doesn’t care who she sleeps with. Lord knows there’s plenty of them around. No, Bruno’s almost sixty now. All I can do is stick around and pray that he kicks the bucket before he takes my name off the title to the club.”

Candy looked like she wanted to cry. Hell, I felt like crying for her. Instead, I reached out and took her hand, looking to comfort her, nothing more. Then the damnedest thing happened. Her plate began to slide toward the edge of the table where Candy was sitting. Neither of us had touched it. I was too startled to do anything and she didn’t seem to notice what was happening. That is until the plate tipped over the edge and landed in her lap.

She jumped up, knocking her chair over in the process and drawing every eye in the place to our table. A young Chinese girl who worked in the restaurant came running up to our table, a towel in one hand and a fearful look on her face. “I’m sorry,” she kept repeating, even though it obviously wasn’t her fault.

She handed the towel to Candy and bent down to pick up the plate and the food that had fallen onto the floor. When she stood up she said, “I’m sorry,” again, and to my surprise Candy waved her away. “It’s not your fault. I’ll be fine,” she said, as she calmly set her chair back up and sat down. I mention that I was surprised that she treated the poor girl kindly because Candy has a temper and it doesn’t take much to set it off. Hell, since I was sitting at the table with her when it happened, I was even more surprised that she wasn’t blaming me.

She must have seen the concerned look on my face because she gave me a wary smile and said, “Things like this have been happening to me a lot lately.”

“What kind of things?” I asked, my food forgotten for the moment.

“Little accidents, like the plate falling into my lap.”

“I don’t know what happened,” I said. “I saw the plate start to move as if someone was pushing it, and before I could grab it the damn thing was sliding over the edge. I’m sorry I was so slow.”

“It’s not your fault, Artie. I think someone’s out to get me. I just don’t know why.”

“That doesn’t make sense, Candy. I saw that plate slide and I swear I didn’t touch it, and I know you didn’t touch it. There’s nobody else here.”

She fiddled with her beer bottle for a moment, then she looked me in the eyes and asked, “Do you believe in ghosts, Artie?”

I thought she was kidding so I laughed and shook my head. “Of course not,” I said. “Everyone knows there’s no such thing as ghosts.”

“I used to think that,” she said. “Not anymore.”

“What, you think something is haunting you?”

“Not something, Artie. Someone.”

I shrugged. “Who the hell would want to haunt you? And why?”

She raised her beer bottle to her lips, chugged down the rest of her beer, and slammed the empty bottle back onto the table. “I don’t have the slightest idea why,” she said. She looked me in the eyes as if daring me to call her a liar as she added, “But I’m pretty damn sure the who is Angela.”

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