The lesbians on the loose in this collection are an entertaining mix of protagonists: cops, amateur sleuths, a PI, a judge, a bounty hunter, and one very insightful dog. There's even an intrepid high schooler and a mystery writer.
Despite greed and grief, rage and revenge, secrets and lies, many of the stories feature humor from a variety of characters trying to find their way in a difficult world--cops who've seen too much, revenge seekers, and women who want justice for themselves and others.
You won't regret going on the lam with these terrific writers: Elizabeth Sims, Carsen Taite, SY Thompson, Andi Marquette, Linda M. Vogt, VK Powell, Kate McLachlan, Lori L. Lake, Lynn Ames, Sandra de Helen, Jen Wright, Sue Hardesty, Jessie Chandler, J.M. Redmann, and Katherine V. Forrest
Excerpt from The Falcone Matese by Andi Marquette
“Did you hear? One of Mrs. Falcone’s show dogs is missing.” Fred lowered his voice to sound like he was all conspiratorial or something. “Big city problems come to a small town. Next thing you know, we’ll be the center of a missing dog black market.” He was currently going through a Duran Duran phase, as evidenced by his mass of messy hair streaked with blue, black Simon LeBon pants, as he called them, and modish black boots. He wore a deep red button-down shirt and a black skinny tie. The Union Jack took up the bottom half of the tie. His book bag also had a Union Jack on it, along with several pins of bands he liked.
“That’s majorly bogus. Which dog?” Nattie took her biology book and notebook out of her locker. She feigned only passing interest but she thought immediately of Jo, Mrs. Falcone’s daughter, and one of Nattie’s classmates. And also her current crush. She glanced at the lockers next to her to make sure nobody was listening to their conversation. The locker to her right was open and the inside of the door was plastered with various sheets of paper that said “Seniors Kick Ass” and “Class of ’85” in different colors though this was the juniors’ hall. The locker’s owner had a crush on a senior boy.
“Giorgio. But they call him Gigi. The paper said if you see him running around, try calling him with both names.”
“How did it happen?” Nattie asked.
“Cops said somebody broke in.”
Nattie closed the locker door with her foot. “So the dog was stolen.”
“Way.” He twirled his sunglasses in one hand.
Nattie shoved a pen into her back pocket next to her comb. “Who would steal a dog out of somebody’s house?” And in this town, where everybody knew everybody else?
“Therein lies the mystery.” He leaned in, like he was about to share a major secret. “You should totally take the case. Nattie Brew, Detective at Large.”
She laughed. “Oh, right. Because I didn’t get in enough trouble the last time.”
“Since when has that ever stopped you?”
“Since I was totally grounded for a month.”
“This is different. You probably wouldn’t have to break into anything. Plus,” he added with a smirk, “I’m sure you’ll have Jo Falcone’s undying gratitude.” He pretended to swoon.
Nattie’s cheeks flared with heat. “Shut up.”
“Undying gratitude,” he repeated, grinning.
“Hey, fag. This hall is now for seniors. Not butt ugly faggy juniors.”
Nattie’s stomach clenched. Josh Jacobs was a major dickweed. And always with a few other dickweeds from the football team. Three, today, and they all guffawed at the insult.
Fred gave him an “oh, please” look. “Really? That’s the best you can do?”
Josh’s fake smile disappeared. “Flamer.” He shoved Fred hard, knocking him into the locker next to Nattie’s.
Several other students stopped to watch.
“Takes one to know one,” Fred said..
The crowd uttered a collective “ohhh” in acknowledgement of a good comeback.
Josh reached for him. “Piece of—”
“Leave him alone,” Nattie said. Her voice didn’t sound as scared as she felt. Her knees were shaking.
Josh turned, puzzled, as if it never occurred to him that anybody would say anything. “What?”
“Leave him alone. Go waste somebody else’s time.” Her heart pounded in her ears and she forced herself not to run down the hall.
He glared, his hands clenched into fists. “You a fag, too?”
“Not likely, since ‘fag’ is an insult most often applied to guys. Or, in England, a term used for cigarettes.”
Several students snickered. Josh shifted his glare to the small crowd. The giggles died immediately.
“Is there a problem here?”
Nattie’s knees almost buckled in relief as Mr. Grafton approached from his classroom down the hall.
“No,” Josh said.
Mr. Grafton looked at Nattie.
“Not anymore,” she said.
Fred shook his head.
“All right,” Mr. Grafton said. “Everybody get to class.”
Josh gave Nattie a final glare before he walked away, his posse of teammates right behind him.
Nattie looked at Fred and they stared for a moment before bursting into nervous laughter.
“Major dickweed.” Fred adjusted his bag and smoothed the front of his shirt.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah. You’re so big and strong,” he teased. “Jo will totally appreciate it.”
Nattie rolled her eyes. “Be careful, okay?”
“I’ll just run and find you. Nobody messes with you ’cause of your dad.” He batted his eyes.
“If that’s what it takes.” She gave his arm a gentle squeeze. Nattie rarely talked about her dad at school, but everybody knew he was with the sheriff’s department. She never talked about her mom, either, who had died when she was a toddler.
“Gotta go,” Fred said. “Catch you later.”
She watched him, since Josh was right down the hall leaning against a locker. But he was busy hanging all over—Nattie stared a few more moments—Pam Howard? Pam was back with that jerkoff? Gag. She checked to make sure Fred had gotten past Josh then went to class.
“Hey, Nattie,” Jo said as Nattie approached the door to the biology classroom. She was leaning against the wall, holding her books in front, flat against her waist. She wore her basic Jo uniform, as Nattie categorized it. Loose jeans pegged at the ankles above her black high top Chucks and a light blue T-shirt rolled up at the sleeves. She also wore a men’s black vest over her shirt, which added to her boyish look but in a good way. She’d started streaking her dark hair blonde in the front, which only made her cuter.
“Hi.” Nattie hoped she sounded calm and cool.
“Got a sec?” Jo pushed off the wall.
Jo stepped away from the doorway and the students filing in. She moved closer and lowered her voice. “My mom’s best show dog was stolen.”
“I know. I heard. I’m really sorry.”
“Um. So, do you think you could help find him? I mean, if you want to. I wouldn’t want you to get in trouble or anything.”
Nattie stared at her.
“I mean, after the last time you solved something, I wasn’t sure I should ask, but you’re really good at finding stuff, so—”
“Yes,” she said, and immediately regretted it, but only a little. Her dad didn’t have to know.
Jo grinned. “Really? Awesome. Could you come over after school today?”
“Uh—” Nattie had never been inside Jo’s house and the thought made her nervous, but giddy, too.
“To see where it happened. The scene of the crime.”
“Awesome. Meet me after school by the parking lot.”
Nattie followed her in and took a seat on the opposite side of the room. Jo sat nearer the back, and Nattie wished the order was reversed so she could see her during class. She opened her notebook and started listing potential suspects in Giorgio’s dognapping and possible motives. Jo would have some ideas, too. She shoved the other thoughts she had of Jo out of her mind. This was an investigation, after all.
LORI L. LAKE's mystery stories have appeared in many anthologies including Women of the Mean Streets: Lesbian Noir; The Silence of the Loons; Fifteen Tales of Murder, Mayhem, and Malice; Once Upon a Crime; and Writes of Spring. She has edited three other anthologies including the Lambda Literary Award Finalist, The Milk of Human Kindness. Her novel-length fiction has received Golden Crown Literary "Goldies," Rainbow Awards, the Ann Bannon Popular Choice Award, and multiple StoneWall Society Awards. Her body of work has also received the prestigious Alice B Medal. Lori lives in Portland, Oregon.
JESSIE CHANDLER's short stories have appeared in Why Did Santa Leave a Body; Women in Uniform; and Writes of Spring. Her popular Shay O'Hanlon Caper Series has received many awards including the 2014 USA Book Award for LGBT Fiction, Golden Crown "Goldies," the Ann Bannon Popular Choice Award, and an IPPY for Best LGBT Fiction from the Independent Publisher Book Awards. This is Jessie's first foray into editing an anthology. She lives in a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota.