Tuesday, March 26, 2019

"An Au Pair to Remember" by Stephen Kaminski

An Au Pair to Remember
(Male Housekeeper Mystery Book 1)
by Stephen Kaminski

An Au Pair to Remember (Male Housekeeper Mystery Book 1) by Stephen Kaminski

An Au Pair to Remember by Stephen Kaminski is currently on tour with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

From the author of the award-winning Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective Mystery series comes the Male Housekeeper Mystery series, focusing on charming characters, snappy dialogue, eclectic murders, and cunning confidence schemes. To his mind, Cam Reddick has failed - as a husband, as a father, and as a professional. After recognizing that his vanilla credentials didn’t stack up in a big city brimming with overachievers and toiling in drudgery for half of a decade, an emotionally raw Cam returns to his childhood hometown - the quaint and quirky village of Rusted Bonnet, Michigan. He’s determined to resuscitate relationships marred by youthful immaturity, most importantly those with his ex-wife Kacey Gingerfield (who doubles as the village’s Deputy Chief of Police) and their first grader, Emma. Armed with striking looks and an endearing proclivity for mixing metaphors, but saddled by “momma’s boy” tendencies, Cam takes the helm of his mother’s housekeeping business - Peachy Kleen. Access to homes across the village facilitates Cam’s penchant for amateur sleuthing as Kacey’s aide-de-camp. Surrounded by Kacey, his sophisticated mother Darby, garrulous senior housekeeper Samantha, and recuse fish cum confidant Bait, Cam’s circuitous journeys to solving murders and unravelling complex cons hasten his struggle down the path of self-healing to self-respect. And there’s hope that - just maybe - he can rekindle the romance he once had with Kacey.
In An Au Pair to Remember, Cam’s plan for a quiet return to Rusted Bonnet is dashed when a beautiful German au pair, Greta Astor, is found dead in Dutch McRae’s foyer with all signs pointing to a hastily disassembled trip wire at the top of the stairs. When Kacey learns that Cam was cleaning the McRae home the previous afternoon, she confides to him that Chief Bernie Leftwich is set on arresting Dutch for the murder - either alone or in tandem with Greta’s bartender boyfriend. But she worries that Bernie’s been duped. And later, when his mother Darby becomes a suspect, Cam inserts himself into the investigation and stumbles through a series of ostensible incongruities - a thief swallowing a cache of stolen diamonds, a snack food distributor laundering money, and a Cash-for-Gold scam. Meanwhile, Peachy Kleen’s young African housekeeper has disappeared with one of the company vans. All the while, Cam finds himself flirting with his new neighbor and struggling with his complicated feelings for Kacey.

At two o’clock, Cam ventured into Grady’s Pawn in Madison Heights. Jabs of stale cigar smoke scuffled with the murmur of buzzing flies for Cam’s sensory attention. A gray-skinned man flipped through a stamp album on a metal desk near the front door under a comically large security camera. A younger man leaned against a stack of audio equipment forming a pylon on one side of the counter at the center of the shop.
The young man introduced himself as “Lucky.” His Fresh Prince high-tops matched the shop’s dated d├ęcor. “Need to sell your wedding ring for cash?” he asked.
Cam shook his head. “I’m not a seller, but I am looking for jewelry.”
A toothy smile crossed Lucky’s lips. “Best selection anywhere’s right here.” He pointed toward a display case to his left.
Cam didn’t turn his head. Instead, he said, “Do you do business with Yulian Barkov?”
Lucky’s grin disappeared, and he cinched his lips together.
“Did I strike a nerve?” Cam asked.
“You could say that,” he said through clenched teeth.
“Is he a regular?”
“Not lately, man. He doesn’t mess with us anymore.”
“Why’s that?” Cam cracked his knuckles.
“You a cop?” Lucky asked.
Cam shook his head. “Just a guy trying to find out if Yulian sold any diamonds.”
The counterman drew a pack of cigarettes out from under the counter and rapped it against his palm. “Never seen Yulian with diamonds. Gold coins is what he’s after. And the man be buying, not selling.”
“But you don’t sell to him now?”
“Nope. The boss put him on the naughty list some six months ago.”
“Why’s that?” Cam asked. The man flipping stamp album pages stopped to listen.
“Boss says his money’s dirty. Only a matter of time before the cops start asking questions.”
Cam’s muscles tensed in anticipation. “Dirty?” he repeated with an air of indifference.
Lucky slid a cigarette from the pack and rolled it between his thumb and middle finger, waiting. Can took the hint, pulled a twenty dollar bill from his wallet, and pushed it across the counter.
Like a living statue on a beachfront boardwalk, Lucky sprang into action as soon as the bill hit his hand. “Grady—he’s the owner of this joint—found out good ’ol Yulian was buying gold coins from us, then going to the Cash-for-Gold place on Eleven Mile to sell them.”
“Now how did Grady find that out?” The stamp collector chimed in. “Barkov ain’t so bad—I gave him directions one day and the man bought me an 1857 one-center. That baby’s worth thirty bucks.”
“Mind yo’ own damn business,” Lucky snapped at the older man. “No one cares about yo’ stamps.” Then he smiled. “I’m surprised you can hear us all the way over there, deaf as you are.”
“I’m not as old as you are rude, son,” the man shot back.
Lucky waived a hand at him, then turned his attention back to Cam. “Grady and Johnny Chiu at the Cash-for-Gold place are friendly-like. They got to talking one day over some beers. Johnny told him he had a Russian guy—a regular seller—who brought him a fat stack of Maple Leafs.”
“Those are gold coins from Canada,” The older man chimed in.
Lucky ignored him and said, “Grady sold Yulian a heap that very morning. So the two of them compared notes, then checked their books. Eight times in eight months, your man Yulian bought gold here at Grady’s then turned around and sold it to Johnny. Same day every time. No reason to do that ’cept taking out some laundry and getting himself some fresh bills. Clean as a virgin’s honeypot.”
Cam smothered a laugh. “So Grady cut him off?”
“You better believe it, friend. Next time Yulian came in I told him his bills wasn’t no good here anymore.”
“And what happened to the money he paid the shop from the other purchases?”
Lucky snapped his fingers. “Gone. This here’s a cash business. Comes in, goes out. Besides, we sold him good gold. Why should Grady get the short end of the stick?”
“But he does make a profit.”
“A little surcharge, sure. Same with Johnny no doubt. It’s only right—have to earn a living. But for Yulian, I expect eighty percent of clean money’s better than a hundred percent of the dirty stuff.”
“So you told Yulian to get lost. Didn’t want to wreck your reputation.”
“Man, I don’t need anybody else wreckin’ it. I can do that on my own.” He smiled, teeth gleaming. “You sure you’re not a cop and just forgot? You sure sound like one.”
Cam laid a second twenty on the counter. “I’m not, but I know one pretty well. Police up in Rusted Bonnet have been looking at Yulian Barkov for laundering. I suspect they’ll want to hear what you and Mr. Grady have to say.”
“Mr. Jones,” Lucky said, then answered Cam’s quizzical look. “Grady Jones.”
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Praise for the Book
“The mystery is a twisted one with plenty of theories but not a lot of actual evidence making it difficult to solve. The subplot featuring one of Peachy Kleen’s employees was very interesting and I was anxious to see how that played out and how and if it had anything to do with the au pair’s death.” ~ Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book
“This new series starter takes the cozy ‘norm’ and turns it upside down ... The mystery is well written and I have to say that while I didn’t guess the killer...” ~ Storeybook Reviews
An Au Pair To Remember is a good clean Cozy ... Mama might even like this one!” ~ The Journey Back
“I admit I didn't figure out who did it before the book told me. The book is well written and I fully enjoyed it.” ~ Stephanie
“I really enjoyed this book. It kept me intrigued until the end. I was not able to determine the killer. Well played. I will definitely read more from this author.” ~ Karen

About the Author
Stephen Kaminski
Stephen Kaminski is the author of An Au Pair to Remember, the first installment of the Male Housekeeper Mystery series. He also writes the award-winning Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective Mystery books. Stephen is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Law School and serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the trade association representing the United States’ poison control system and its fifty-five centers. He lives with his daughter and rescue kitty in the Washington, DC area.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of eight Kindle copies of An Au Pair to Remember by Stephen Kaminski.


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