Uncle and Ants
A Silicon Valley Mystery Book 1
by Marc Jedel Genre: Cozy Mystery
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.
Chutes and Ladder
A Silicon Valley Mystery Book 2
Can super-agent (in his own mind) Uncle Marty solve not one, but two mysteries without becoming a victim himself? Will he ever be forgiven for bringing Buddy, the Labrador, into his sister’s house?
All your favorite characters from Uncle and Ants are back in a crazy, new adventure. Plus, introducing a new member of Marty’s family!
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.
How did you come up with the idea forUncle and Ants?
I’ve wanted to write a book forever. For the longest time, it seemed I couldn’t come up with a good plot. My writing research had clearly demonstrated that having a plot is critical for a successful book. One day, I received this awesome birthday drawing from my nieces. And my kids, or nieces, or one of our friends’ kids had done some crazy things. Probably all of the above. One thing led to another and the idea formed to loosely base a mystery with a self-absorbed, fashion-backward software engineer, his sister, and his nieces on my life.
It’s clearly fiction. I mean, I’m not a software engineer. Check out the drawing on my blog (www.marcjedel.com/blog)
What was your writing process for your book?
Much dog walking was involved. Well, the dog doesn’t seem to contribute much dialogue but my wife is amazing. We talk through ideas and then she tells me which of my jokes aren’t as funny as I think. Skye’s eye rolls may well be based on her. But you didn’t hear that from me. Oh yeah, and I do a lot of outlining.
Are the anecdotes in the book autobiographical?
Probably more than you’d think and less than my friends think. I will say that the ice cream truck story that finishes chapter two is completely true, believe it or not. As for the rest, It’s based on reality except where I’ve exaggerated, made it up or falsified my memories to fit the story.
Do you tell a lot of dad jokes?
Well I’ve been a dad myself for a long time so I’ll plead the fifth. Also, it’s not my fault that I did grow up with a master joke teller. But, don’t worry about too many stupid jokes in the book. That’s the best part about editors — they keep writers honest. Mine kept saying “that’s funny, but keep the focus on the mystery.” Hearing that she felt my writing was funny sure felt good. After the warm and fuzzy feeling wore off, I listened to her advice and made sure the story balanced humor with a crisp pace.
What’s different about your book from other cozies?
Besides the author? Well, my book doesn’t take place in a small, seaside town where the main protagonist runs a bakery, bookshop, or bed & breakfast. While I like those cozies as much as the next reader, I find myself getting bored by the frequent, similar settings and characters. Setting my novel in Silicon Valley allowed me to show a little more of its unique people and environment without delving into boring techno-babble. I hope readers like Marty, the protagonist, as well as his nieces, sister, and suspect/love interest, Meghan, not to mention the wacky side characters.
What got you interested in writing?
Like most authors, I’ve always loved to read. As a child, I had a special notebook for my stories. When I was young, I even got in trouble for my writing. I carved my name into a wood side-table. I tried to pin the blame on my sister, who clearly had tried to get me in trouble AGAIN. This felt like a winning argument until my mother pointed out that my sister couldn’t write yet.
What genres do you write in?
My first book, Uncle and Ants, is a cozy mystery. My second book, Chutes and Ladder (coming soon), is also a cozy. By process of elimination, I’ve concluded I’m a cozy mystery writer.
What drew you to writing in these specific genres?
On a vacation, I picked up my wife’s copy of a Janet Evanovich novel. She got mad when I didn’t return it until I’d finished. My wife that is, not Janet. Janet would be happy that I’ve purchased a number of her other books and even consulted her How I Write book when I started writing.
How did you break into the field?
I feel like my entire professional life in marketing has been about writing fiction. We just called them ads and emails. After wanting to write a book for many years, I finally focused on it. Lots of work, walks with the wife and dog, and drafts have led me to having my first novel published.
What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?
I want them to laugh and enjoy spending time with my characters. There may be some deep, meaningful themes incorporated in my stories, but they got there by accident. It’s a fun, light story about a good guy, who thinks he wants his sister safe and his firecracker, eye-rolling nieces out of his apartment so he can get back to normal. He doesn’t realize it, but he really wants more out of life — more ties to family, more friends, and perhaps a new relationship.
What do you find most rewarding about writing?
Hearing crazy stories from readers about their own dogs, cats, dads, uncles, siblings, etc. I love that readers find something in my stories that makes them laugh, or remember something, and then share that with me.
Is there anything else besides writing you think people would find interesting about you?
I like to think I’m endlessly fascinating. However, normal people might enjoy learning that the ice cream truck story that finishes chapter two is completely true. The rest is only loosely based on reality except where I’ve exaggerated, made it up or falsified memories to fit the story.
Any last comments?
Now’s a great time to read Uncle and Ants (available on Amazon and free via Kindle Unlimited) because Chutes and Ladder, book 2 in the Silicon Valley Mystery series, will be released soon. Read the first chapter of either book free, learn more about the author or books, and find out about special offers at www.marcjedel.com.
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