Craks in a Marriage Book 1

Dumped from the lead role on her detective show, snubbed by Hollywood and hurting for cash, TV star Marla Dane sees only one way out: running home to Minnesota. There she can lick her wounds, eat ice cream and check up on her seemingly capricious sister. Bonus: She’ll never again have to think about catching killers.

But that’s before a resident in her sister’s condo building is found dead on the front lawn. There’s just something about Marla that makes the neighbors and overworked cops think she can help solve the case, no matter how many times she tells them she was just a pretend sleuth who never worked off-script. 

Trusting that Marla can get an insider’s take on the suspects, the police chief pairs her with Rex Alcorn, an ex-cop who lives in the same condo complex. Rex is less than enthusiastic about working with a lay person who’s also a celebrity, but he owes the chief from way back, and doing this favor should get the guy off his back. And even Marla has to admit he’s not bad to look at. 

But Marla’s scripted takedowns didn’t prepare her for murky clues, quirky condo residents and the cagey methods of her new partner. Can she and Rex solve the crime before an all-too-real killer puts them in danger, too?

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Curtains for the Condo Casanova

The Unscripted Detective Book 1

By Barbara Barrett

Kitty let the next two days pass without pushing Marla to join her in more of her current activities, sparing her learning the tango at a ballroom dance class and painting a pitcher in Kitty’s ceramics class. She hadn’t gone far because the community room at Rambling Meadows accommodated a myriad of offerings. Other undertakings like horticulture were offered in the greenhouse and other outbuildings behind the complex owned by the Rambling Family that condo residents were allowed to use.

Marla used Kitty’s absences to settle into her room, order out for her special comfort food – seedless white grapes, chips and French onion dip – and schedule a massage at a nearby spa. 

The quiet time was a godsend. Many diverse and difficult thoughts had bombarded her lately. To get past licking her wounds, she needed to sort them out and rid herself of as many nonessentials as she could. In a way, the book club encounter had served as a diversion, which she needed right then. But now she had to focus on where she was headed the rest of her life. 

She also checked in with both her manager, Jayne Yarmouth, and her agent, Deidre Mansfield. Jayne was the one who’d counseled her to get away from the LA scene for a while. Deidre, who should’ve been busy finding her new projects the last few months, had conveniently gone AWOL. She probably should be fired, but Marla sensed that’s what Deidre wanted, and she didn’t plan to give in to her. She half suspected Deidre knew about the producers’ plan to replace her long before she knew. 

Kitty returned a little after two. “Why are the police here? A van marked Crime Scene Unit, which I saw when I left, is still parked out front. The army of technicians in blue onesies is gone, but they left behind that telltale yellow tape.”

“What? Police were on the premises? I had no idea.” She hadn’t gone near the balcony all day or she might have seen what was happening.

“Sounds like I need to do some reconnaissance around the building,” Kitty said, heading for the door. “I’ll start next door with Tom Casey.”

Her hand barely touched the doorknob when knocking sounded on the other side. 

Must be someone who lived in the building; an outsider would’ve had to ring for entrance. 

Marla opened the door, and Scottie rushed in. “They think I did it,” she announced dramatically as she flounced around the room. “Me. I’d never hurt a fly.” 

“Come sit down and tell us what has you so worked up,” Marla said, gently guiding the woman to the sofa. 

Though she sat, Scottie shook her head back and forth as if that action would make whatever had happened go away. “It’s Drake,” she managed to get out, her voice more a cry. 

“Drake?” Marla asked, trying to recall if she’d met someone by that name yet. 

“Elliot,” Scottie mumbled. “Drake Elliot. He’s dead.”

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