Thursday, September 19, 2019

Murder: Double or Nothing by Lida Sideris | Blog Tour with Excerpt, Guest Post, Review, Giveaway

Murder: Double or Nothing:
A Southern California Mystery
by Lida Sideris

The Blurb

Murder: Double or Nothing: A Southern California Mystery
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Level Best Books (July 22, 2019)
Print Length: 285 pages
Digital ASIN: B07VMB2DSN
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Corrie Locke, newbie lawyer and daughter of a late, great PI, is learning the ropes at the Hollywood movie studio where she works—and where things are never what they seem. Life imitates art when a fictional murder attempt turns real—right before her very eyes. With more than a little help from friends and a crazy movie legend, Corrie trips down a trail littered with wisecracks, mysterious messages, and marginally legal maneuvers to track down the killer. Meanwhile, clues keep disappearing and Corrie makes an enemy whose deadly tactics keep escalating. Will her impromptu sleuthing skills be enough to catch the mysterious assailant before he takes her down?

The Excerpt

Chapter 1
Dead Serious

He pedaled the bicycle hard and fast down the narrow, deserted alley, stealing glances behind him. It was a late, warm Friday afternoon somewhere on the eastside of Los Angeles where police protection was scarce and hoodlums plentiful. Two- and three-story buildings huddled together on both sides of the rider. Graffiti stained the walls.

Hunched over the handlebars, the cyclist whizzed past a dented metal dumpster, unsettling newspapers and milk cartons pressed against a doorway. The collar of a gingham dress shirt stuck up beneath his red pullover and a backpack flopped behind him. Chuck Taylors clinched his nerdiness, as did the argyle socks. He looked fresh out of a computer lab, on his way to the library. There was nothing unusual about him, if you didn’t count the bulging eyes, gritted teeth and heavy panting. His expression belonged on a trapped animal.

A black sedan barreled around the corner, tires grinding and coughing up pieces of asphalt. Leaning his torso out of the passenger window, a muscular guy in a white T-shirt clutched a revolver. He aimed at the cyclist, fired three times and missed.

The rider angled around a corner and skidded to a stop. Dropping the bicycle on its side, he stumbled over the upturned wheel moments before the car crushed the bike beneath its fat tires, spitting out a tangle of metal and chrome. The car parked, and two thugs spilled out. They raced after the cyclist, guns drawn. The nerd careened toward the side of a brick building and jumped up, arms outstretched above his head. The silver cuff around his wrist glinted as he grabbed the bottom rung of a fire escape ladder, legs flailing wildly. The ladder creaked and swayed. He’d barely started the climb when the hoodlums fired. And missed again.

“Oh, brother,” I whispered.

The nerd scrambled onto a landing and dove through an open window.

“Cut,” a gruff voice rang out.

“No one’s going to believe this,” I muttered.

“Do you mind?”

I stood apart from the assorted movie crew and onlookers, but one lanky guy hovered behind my shoulder, his arms crossed against his chest. His sun-baked face turned a shade of red that complimented the brick building behind me. The guy lowered his shades along the bridge of his nose to get a better look at me.

“Do you have any idea what ‘quiet on the set’ means?” His words tumbled out through clenched teeth.

“I spoke after you yelled, ‘cut’. And I was talking to myself.” It didn’t add to my credibility, but it was the truth.

“You were mumbling the whole time.”

“Well, I couldn’t help it. The scene wasn’t realistic,” I told him.

“We’re not shooting a documentary here,” he said. "It's a movie, for Christ's sake. An edge-of-your-seat whodunit."

“But there’ll be people like me watching who’ll know. You just can’t squeeze out bullets like a squirt gun.” I was new to my lawyer gig at the movie studio, but not so new to PI work and guns. Thanks to my father. “It’s hard to miss at such close range.”

“How would you know?” He glared my way. “Did I hire you? Do you even work here?” He gave me a slow once over and squinted at the badge on my chest.

My tailored, sea green sheath dress and three-inch pumps had to give me some status. Even my usual tangle of hair had cooperated into a French twist. That was a first. I was a female force to be recognized.

“Carrie what?” His squint still pinned to my badge.

“Corrie. Corrie Locke. I work on the business side of the studio.”

“Is that so?” His lips turned inward. “Well, mind your own business. You should not be judging the fake shooting ability of my actors. This wasn’t even the final take.” He lifted his manicured chin and his voice. “I want her removed from the set.” His finger pointed to my head.

“Is this a comedy?” I asked. “Because that scene might work if it is.”

“It’s dead serious. As in police drama serious. Viewers are going to flock to this film. Know why? Because it’s going to be a highly watchable murder mystery.”

“Maybe the cyclist could be wounded. Even a surface wound would do.”

He looked around and yelled, “Why is she still here?”

I was now working on the main lot of Ameripictures Studios in Culver City, a town steeped in Southern California movie-making history. I’d been relocated nearly a month ago from a production arm in Newport Beach. A trouble-free month, I might add. Unlike the stint in Newport, I’d avoided private investigation work completely on the main lot. My trouble-free streak was going strong. Until now.

A tall guy in a loose shirt and baggy shorts hustled in my direction. I turned on my heel and was about to vacate the fictional city street when a long scream froze me in place. All eyes aimed for the brick building. White shades covered every window, except one. The fire escape had led the nerd to the only open window. A woman with inky black hair poked her head out of it. “Help, help!” she said. “He’s been stabbed.”

The Character Guest Post

I’m not sure why Jane asked me to do a guest post today. My name is Corrie Locke and I’m just an ordinary, twenty-six-year-old female living in a cozy little bootleg unit near the beach in Southern California. I get up every morning like the rest of you, dress in office attire, and battle freeway traffic to get to my job on time. My regular job, that is. The one where I’m a lawyer working in a Hollywood movie studio with actors and directors that are household names. It’s really not all that glamorous, and I get sidetracked by my other job… all the time.

Take yesterday, for instance. I’d finished writing up a few contracts in my office and was on my way to a meeting when I noticed a movie being filmed on the backlot. It looked like a mystery. I watched a chase scene in an alley. Well, being the daughter of a late, great PI and having been part of a few chase scenes in real life got me to stop and watch. I couldn’t believe how fake the shooting scenes were. I know all about weapons and more, thanks to Dad. I got into a little discussion with the director over the shooting scene when, all of a sudden, the fictional murder turned real, practically right in front of my eyes.

I tried to get close to the crime scene, but I couldn’t, so I left. I was on my way back to the office when this guy raced past me. Naturally, I ran after him. Why was he running? Boy, was I surprised when I discovered who it was. This was where my other job kicked in. The job where something happens and I have to step up to the plate. My “somethings” are usually homicides.

Don’t worry, Jane, I know what I’m doing and even when I don’t, I’ve got three pairs of sharp eyes watching my back: There’s Michael – my best friend slash almost a boyfriend. He’s got sweet computer and cooking skills, which come in handy. There’s my legal assistant Veera, a former security guard who attends long-distance law school at night. She harbors a not so secret ambition for us to open our own PI agency. And there's assistant DA James Zachary. He's Michael's other best friend and my one-time schoolgirl crush. He's the only person I know who's skilled with weapons and fearless. Besides me, that is.

Do you see why I work two jobs? When the day job gets dull, I get plenty of action from my other gig.

The Review

I just read a really good book, y'all — Murder: Double or Nothing by Lida Sideris, Book Three in the Southern California Mystery series. The previous books in the series are Murder and Other Unnatural Disasters, Book One, and Murder Gone Missing, Book Two, reviewed hereLet me tell you a little about it.

Murder: Double or Nothing is a delightful romp, chock-full of LOL moments. The witty, exciting plot is lively and engrossing, with many comedic scenes.

Our sleuth, main character Corrie Locke, is aided, as she was in her previous endeavors, by her best friend Michael, his other best friend James, and her legal assistant Veera. Corrie gets a new sleuthing assistant in Murder: Double or Nothing, one who pleasantly surprised me (and Corrie!).  Lacy Halloway, an old-time actress at the movie studio, hires Corrie to solve a crime. Lacy, the crazy movie legend, is truly a force to be reckoned with. Corrie has her hands full with Lacy.

As usual, Author Lida Sideris includes an abundance of witty banter and vivid word pictures. Here are a few examples.

First, the banter. 
Corrie and Veera:
"Corrie Locke's office," my legal assistant Veera answered the call.
"Marshall, I'm on the backlot. There's an emergency situation."
"Is that code for I should stall Marshall 'cause you can't get back to the office right away?" Veera spoke quietly into the phone.
"You heard about it? Already?" I shot a look at the guard. His stiff brows didn't budge. "I tried, but this security guard..." I peered at his badge, "...Ward Vanderpat... won't cooperate."
"Security guard?" Veera raised her voice. "You want me to come down and handle him? You know I know how the security guard mind works. I'll shake some sense into him right away."
Veera Bankhead had worked as a security guard before she'd talked her way into becoming my legal assistant a few months ago. Nearly six feet tall and built to last, she could probably shake a whole lot of sense into him, as well as the entire studio security team.

Corrie and Lacy:
She pursed her lips. "Do you dance?"
Her career had started out in Hollywood musicals. "Before dinner?"
Her thin reddish brows dropped. Her lips tightened. If I waved a red handkerchief, she'd charge at me. 
"Well, let's say I can move my... limbs in a way that loosely resembles the concept of dance. I'm sure there's a sub-Saharan tribe that would appreciate." I chuckled. Why was I talking so much?

More Corrie and Lacy:
"Overrated. You can't really be alive if you don't take risks now and then."
"Driving the 405 freeway is enough of a risk for me."
"Oh, spare me. Taking risks isn't just a necessary part of life, it helps us find out what we're made of. What are you made of? Silk? Or steel?"
I felt like I'd been waiting my whole life for that question. I'm a fan of silk, but I'm a bigger fan of people of steel, like Superman and Wonder Woman.

More Corrie and Veera:
"... let's get the rules straight before you meet with her."
"What rules?"
Veera held up her index finger. "The Rules of Proper Private Investigation. Learned during my on-the-job training."
"Since when are we proper?"
"Rule number one." Veera walked a small circle around my office. "Don't agree to investigate anything until after you collect the facts."
"Rule number two." She reached into a pocket and pulled out a sucker. She removed the wrapper. "Investigate to determine if the facts are what the client said they are."
"Veera, you are on a roll. Any more?"
"Number three. No lawbreaking." She sucked on the pop. 
"Oh boy."
"Then there's rule number three, subsection A, which says if you should break a law accidentally or on account of an emergency situation, run like hell."
"That's the only way to run," I agreed.

Now, a few word pictures:

My motivation dragged around my ankles like a pair of sweatpants without an elastic waistband.

Miss Trudy became a flight attendant not long after Orville and Wilbur invented the first flying machine. The travel bug hadn't just bitten her, it had roosted on her shoulder and built a sturdy nest.

She stepped into my living room, one of three rooms in a place small enough to fold up and carry in a knapsack.

Well, I hope I've convinced you that Murder: Double or Nothing is a great read, one that you shouldn't miss. I think you'll really enjoy reading about Corrie and company. I hope there will be more entries in the Southern California Mysteries because I am eager to see what Corrie gets into next!

I recommend Murder: Double or Nothing by Lida Sideris, and bestow upon it a rating of Four Kitties. I really enjoyed it!

Four out of five kitties
Note: I received a complimentary copy of Murder: Double or Nothing, and voluntarily reviewed it. 
All opinions shared are 100% my own.

About the Author

Lida Sideris is an author, lawyer, and all-around book enthusiast. She writes soft-boiled mysteries and was a recipient of the Helen McCloy Mystery Writers of America scholarship award. Murder: Double or Nothing is #3 in her Southern California Mystery series, published by Level Best Books. Lida is also the author of The Cookie Eating Fire Dog, a picture book for ages 4-8.

She lives in the northern tip of SoCal with her family, rescue dogs and a flock of uppity chickens. To learn more, please visit:

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