Chutes and Ladder
A Silicon Valley Mystery Book 2
by Marc Jedel
Genre: Cozy Mystery
When a camping trip uncovers a murder, this amateur sleuth is stuck putting out the fire …
Marty Golden enjoys time with his nieces, but he wanted to spend the weekend with his new girlfriend — not chaperone a Girl Scout camping trip. Once he stumbles upon the corpse of a friend in the woods, the outdoors adventure becomes an open-air disaster. When the police label it an accidental death, the meticulous Marty vows to investigate the murder. After all, it’s poor manners to let your friend’s death go unsolved.
On the hunt for clues the cops ignored, Marty uncovers a disturbing connection to himself. And as he digs deeper, a misbehaving pup, a kooky cousin, and a maniacal ninja put his survival skills to the test.
Will Marty unravel the mystery before the killer, or his imagination, gets to him? Chutes and Ladder is the side-splitting second novel in the Silicon Valley cozy mystery series. If you like quirky sleuths, wacky side characters, and laugh-out-loud moments, you’ll love this offbeat whodunit.
Buy Chutes and Ladder to decode a great mystery today!
After a few minutes, I felt someone staring at me but noticed no one nearby looking at me. I’ve never understood how you could feel a stare. Was that some remnant of powers from long-ago human evolution that had faded? What other superpowers had we lost? Were we ever able to fly? I got excited about this possibility and almost mentioned it to Meghan until I felt the stare again.
Wary, I glanced to the side. A person painted all in gold was staring at me while he stood like a statue outside a store named Southern Treasures. I stared back, careful not to blink. Performers like him entertain the crowds by freezing long enough for a new fool to walk by before scaring them with a sudden movement. I was not going to be that fool. Not today, at least.
I couldn’t hold it any longer. I blinked. This guy was good. He hadn’t moved or blinked in over a minute, unless he timed his blink for right when I did.
“Why are you staring at that mannequin?” Meghan leaned over me to get a better look.
Startled, I double-checked that she was looking at the same thing. “Are you sure that’s a mannequin? It looks like a real person painted in gold.”
Meghan scoffed. “It’s missing ears.”
Uncle and Ants
A Silicon Valley Mystery Book 1
Mysterious attacks. Mischievous nieces.Can a clueless uncle catch a tech-savvy killer … and be home before bedtime?
When a freak accident hospitalizes Marty Golden’s sister and condemns him to babysitter duty, he thinks it’s just another case of hardwired bad luck in Silicon Valley. Until a suspicious murder suggests the mishap was no mere coincidence. Something must be done.
Too bad this quirky, fashion-backward uncle isn’t exactly hero material.
Convinced his sister is in mortal danger, this amateur sleuth follows clues to an oddball array of suspects. Armed with nothing but an eye for detail and powers of self-delusion, Marty tangles with gangsters, a cantankerous school secretary, and a perplexing woman he can’t help but fall for. Glitches in his investigation seem like a piece of cake compared to dinner-prep and bedtime stories with his two precocious, pre-teen nieces.
Can Marty catch the culprit, save his sister, and get his life back in order before he gets unplugged? Uncle and Ants is the first novel in a refreshingly modern mystery series set in Silicon Valley. If you like clever humor, sassy side characters, and average Joes facing extraordinary circumstances, then you’ll love this twisty mystery.
Buy Uncle and Ants to login to a fresh, funny mystery today!
I raised a hand to stop the waitress. “Excuse me. I was wondering if you know someone named Fernando Hernandez?”
She froze, her smile immediately disappearing as her eyes widened and her mouth opened. “I’m sorry. I have to go.” She bolted back to the kitchen.
Skye looked at me. I could feel the eye roll getting queued up. “Why did you scare away the waitress?”
“I just asked her if she knew someone who your mom was going to talk to on Monday.”
Before Skye could reply, a stocky, older lady stalked out of the kitchen carrying an industrial-sized, wooden stirring spoon in her hand like a sword. She advanced on our table. In what felt like an instant, she stood in front of me with a stern look on her face and her weapon pointed right at my face.
“Why you talk about Señor Hernandez? You scare Gabriela.” She spoke with a thick accent.
Surprised, I was more than a little concerned that her stirring spoon might have a hidden sword blade ready to flick open. “I’m sorry. My sister, their mother, was going to meet Fernando Hernandez but she wasn’t able to keep her appointment because she got hurt.”
“She hurt? You should learn not to talk about him here.” She leaned in closer until I could smell the garlic on her breath. She lowered her voice as she spoke again in a voice roughened by smoking or, perhaps swordplay. “Do you want girls to get hurt, too?”
At this threat, the girls paled and huddled together. None of us had expected to be accosted by an intimidating chef wielding a scary wooden spoon with unknown, possibly dangerous properties that could hurt us.
I tried to keep my voice from squeaking. “I only wanted to find out if he was a frequent customer here or, maybe, owned the restaurant?”
“Stop foolish questions. You leave now and don’t come back.” Even though she spoke in a low voice, her command struck me like a blow.
Megan overcame her fear. “What? But, Uncle Marty … I like the black bean volcano.” Her voice came out with an odd combination of anger and whimper.
The chef calmed a bit as she glanced at the girls. “Girls. You come back another time. Maybe when your mother is better. Do not bring him.” She thrust the spoon at me to make sure everyone understood who she meant. But, I liked the black bean volcano too.
Marc Jedel writes humorous murder mysteries. In his high-tech marketing roles, he's also written fiction. These are just called emails, ads, and marketing collateral.
In his family, Marc was born first — a fact his sister never lets him forget, no matter what milestone age she hits. For most of Marc’s life, he’s been inventing stories. Some, especially when he was young, involved his sister as the villain. As his sister’s brother for her entire life, he feels highly qualified to tell tales of the evolving, quirky sibling relationship in the Silicon Valley Mystery series.
Family and friends would tell you that the protagonist in his stories, Marty Golden, isn't much of a stretch of the imagination for Marc, but he proudly resembles that remark.
Like Marty, Marc lives in San Jose, the heart of Silicon Valley, where he writes within earshot of the doppler effect of the local ice cream truck. Unlike Marty, Marc has a wonderful wife and a neurotic but sweet, small dog, who much prefers the walks resulting from writer’s block than his writing.
Visit his website, marcjedel.com, for free chapters of upcoming novels, news and more.
Q: Tell us about your novel and series. Marc:Chutes and Ladder is the second book in the Silicon Valley Mystery series, but can be read standalone. Marty Golden is not your typical, cozy mystery protagonist. As a male sleuth who doesn’t own a bakery, bookstore, or bed & breakfast, or live by the beach, he stands out from the crowd of cozy protagonists. Marty does bumble his way through the investigations, armed with nothing but an eye for detail and powers of self-delusion.
In Chutes and Ladder, Marty discovers the dead body of his friend while failing as chaperone for a Girl Scouts camping trip. After the police rule it an accidental death, he disagrees and decides to investigate because friends don’t let their friend’s death go unsolved.
One reviewer called it “a gem with its great plotting and unusual cast.”
Q: Where do you get your ideas for your stories? Marc: I tend to pay attention to the strange stories in the newspaper, especially about unusual deaths or bizarre situations. This became a lot more socially acceptable once I become a published mystery author. Almost like a puzzle, I enjoy trying to merge together multiple situations into a coherent plot and trick the reader.
Q: Is there a theme in your story? Marc: In a rare moment of introspection, I decided that the book should be about more than just humor wrapped in a mystery. A literary scholar, if one ever were foolish enough to select my novels for their dissertation, might say they’re about a search for family life, friends and happiness. However, Marty typically doesn’t realize this is what he wants out of life, so he tries hard to return to the quiet, simple and peaceful life that he had before his sister and his nieces moved to town.
Marty frequently mentions advice and etiquette lessons that his parents gave him when he was young. He’s often dismayed that their lessons didn’t cover the unusual predicaments that he finds himself in.
Q: How do you create your characters and do you have a favorite? Marc: I’m obviously partial to the protagonist, Marty, since the novel is told in first person. My friends and family believe this fashion-backward, self-absorbed software engineer is not exactly a huge stretch of the imagination for me to write. But it’s fiction. I mean, I’m not a software engineer. I enjoy writing Marty’s nieces, especially young Megan. They’re loosely based on my own nieces and kids, exaggerated and merged with other kids that I’ve known. Perhaps my favorite side character is Mrs. Quarles, the school secretary. Marty struggles mightily to deal with her, and I always laugh as I’m writing her scenes. A surprising number of readers tell me she’s one of their favorite characters too. I’d love to hear from your readers which characters or scenes they like best.
Q: How do you bring to life the place you are writing about? Marc: I’ve lived a long time in Silicon Valley, working in high-tech, marketing roles. A lot of interesting characters work in big, high-tech companies. While I haven’t based any character directly off someone I’ve known, let’s just say that certain people influenced some of my characters more than others—especially the nuttier or more villainous characters.
If Silicon Valley is portrayed in fiction, it tends to be a very one-sided and biased view. I wanted to highlight more of the diversity and unusual personalities that I’ve encountered in my novels.
Q: What research do you do? Marc: I’ve found that writing has made me more willing to talk to strangers in different situations and more observant and patient in lines and crowded situations, as I’m looking for material. I’m normally more of an introvert. Who’d have thought that the solitary occupation of being an author would make me more socially outgoing?
Most of my detailed mystery research is done via the internet. I’m hopeful that no law enforcement agencies are watching my searches and wondering what I may be up to. Not to be paranoid or anything, but I’ll use this space to remind them: “Marc Jedel is a fiction writer of humorous murder mysteries. Fiction!”
Q: Anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book? Marc: I’ll quote a reviewer: “I enjoyed this fast-paced humorous mystery just as much as Uncle and Ants. His writing is clever, and the plotting is meticulous and exceptionally well-executed.” And I swear that reviewer wasn’t related or a friend. Chutes and Ladder, book 2 in the Silicon Valley Mystery series, can be read standalone. It and Uncle and Ants are free to Kindle Unlimited readers. Serf and Turf, book 3 in the series, will be released in mid-October 2019 so this is a perfect time to catch up. Buy them on Amazon at: amazon.com/gp/product/B07PHNT7XM. For more about my books or me, please visit www.marcjedel.com.
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