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«Murder Is A Girl’s Best Friend», Amanda Matetsky

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The second book in the Paige Turner Mysteries series, 2004


Song lyrics on page ix are from “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”.

Music by Jule Styne. Words by Leo Robin. Copyright В© 1949 (Renewed)

by Music Sales Corporation (ASCAP). International Copyright Secured.

For Molly, because a sister is a girl’s best friend



I have the best group of cheerleaders in the world, and I heartily thank them all: Harry Matetsky [?], Molly Murrah, Liza, Tim, Tara and Kate Clancy, Ira Matetsky, Matthew Greitzer, Rae and Joel Frank, Sylvia Cohen, Mary Lou and Dick Clancy, Ann Waldron, Nelson DeMille, Dianne Francis, Art Scott, Betsy Thornton, Santa and Tom De Haven, Nikki and Bert Miller, Herta Puleo, Marte Cameron, Cameron Joy, Sandra Thompson and Chris Sherman, Donna and Michael Steinhorn, Gayle Rawlings and Debbie Marshall, Regina Grassia, Joan Unice, Judy Capriglione, Martha Cevasco, Betty Fitzsimmons, Nancy Francese, Jane Gudapati, Carleen Kierce, April Margolin, Margaret Ray, Doris Schweitzer, Carol Smith, Roberta Waugh and her saintly sidekick, Joseph.

I send heaps of gratitude and good wishes to my dear friends at Literacy Volunteers of America-Nassau County, Inc., and my fellow mystery writers and readers at Sisters in Crime-Central Jersey. And to my wonderful co-agents, Annelise Robey and Meg Ruley of the Jane Rotrosen Agency, and my superlative editor at Penguin Group, Martha Bushko, I shout THANK YOU at the top of my lungs.

“Men grow cold when girls grow old, And we all lose our charms in the end. But square-cut, or pear-shaped, These rocks don’t lose their shape- Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.”

– as sung by Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes



IT ISN’T EASY BEING ME. MY NAME IS Paige Turner, which is laughable enough all by itself, but when you couple the silly name with the fact that I’m a writer, my entire identity takes on an aura of absurdity. To put it more succinctly, I’m a living joke. People start giggling the minute they meet me. And then, when they learn that I’m a mystery novelist and a staff writer for Daring Detective magazine, the giggles turn into great big snorts and belly laughs. It’s so embarrassing and annoying I’m thinking of leaving my job to become a switchboard operator, or a stenographer, or a teacher, or a nurse-like every single other (okay, every other single) woman working in Manhattan.

There I go, lying again (I’ve been doing a lot of that lately). I’m not really thinking about leaving my job. I’ve always wanted to be a crime and mystery writer-ever since I was a skinny midwestern teenager, eating potato chips in bed and reading Raymond Chandler’s Farewell, My Lovely for the first time-and now that I finally am one, at the grand old age of twenty-eight, I’m not about to quit. I’d change my name before I’d change my job.

But I’m not going to do that, either. I was deeply in love with my late husband Bob Turner, and even though he’s been gone for three years now (Bob was killed in Korea in late 1951), and even though we lived together as man and wife for only one short, glorious, rapturous month, I will keep my married name until the day I die-or get hitched again, whichever comes first. And the way things have been going for me in the last few months, I’m sure to be pushing up pansies long before my new boyfriend, NYPD Homicide Detective Sergeant Dan Street, ever dreams of popping the question.

You probably think I’m kidding, but I’m not. Dan’s so mad at me right now he’d rather kill me than marry me. Plus, I keep getting myself into so damn much trouble-serious, scary, life-threatening trouble-it’ll be a flat-out miracle if some overexcited homicidal maniac doesn’t beat him to the punch.

Eight months ago, when I started working on my first story for Daring Detective-investigating and writing about the rape and murder of a pretty blonde waitress/mother/call girl named Babs Comstock-I learned just how dangerous my line of work can be: extremely dangerous, if you must know. I came this close to meeting the same awful fate as the pitiful young victim I was writing about. And by the time I finished investigating this story-my sixth for the magazine, and the one I’m preparing to tell you now-I was a mangled and bloody mess.

I’m not complaining, though. At least I’m still alive, which is more than I can say for some other people who made the mistake-or simply had the misfortune-of playing a part in this lurid and tragic tale. And even though I’m sitting here in my aqua chenille bathrobe at my yellow Formica kitchen table in my grubby little Greenwich Village apartment on a forced eight-week convalescent leave from work-my shattered leg in a plaster cast and my wounded shoulder strapped tight in five layers of gauze and adhesive tape-I can still inhale, and exhale, and think, and talk, and move all of my fingers.

Which means I can still type-as I’m doing right now-and put all of my dreadful experiences down on paper. Which means I can now try, once again (with the help of my trusty baby blue Royal portable and about a thousand packs of L &M filter tips), to live up to my corny name and turn my most recent Daring Detective story of sex, greed, deception, and murder into the shocking, thrilling, full-length page-turner it was born to be.

My best friend and next door neighbor, Abby Moscowitz, is pushing me into this. She’s so bossy it’s cruel! My first and only novel-the extended, true-but-slightly-fictionalized account I wrote about the Babs Comstock murder-hasn’t even been published yet, and already she’s badgering me to write another one. She says I’ve got to strike while the story’s hot. And while the details are still fresh in my brain. Ha! That’s another cause for big snorts and belly laughs. Abby refuses to acknowledge it, but my brain is as broken as the bones in my leg and shoulder.

Still, I’m going to be out of work for eight long, lonely, desperately boring weeks. And I can’t walk without crutches. And I can’t use crutches because it hurts my shoulder too much. So I’m kind of stuck here in my dingy, dwarf-sized, fifty-dollar-a-month duplex with nothing to do but eat, and drink, and sleep, and smoke, and gobble aspirin, and hope that Abby will come over with a pitcher (or two) of martinis, and that Dan will forgive my latest “misconduct” (that’s his word, not mine!), and stop by for a quick make-up smooch between homicide expeditions.

So I might as well get to work on my second novel, right? It’s either that or go crazy. Well, crazier, I guess I should say. And even though it’ll be really stressful for me to relive the pain and horror of the past few weeks-and to put all the loathsome and sorrowful details into a hundred-or-so thousand words-it’ll be better than just sitting here in my small, dark kitchen, listening to one awful radio soap opera after another, agonizing over what I’m going to have for supper tonight (Campbell’s Cream of Tomato soup again?), or what bathrobe I’m going to wear tomorrow (a moronic concern since I only have one), or how the heck I’m going to drag my plastered (sic) and bandaged body up the incredibly narrow and precariously steep flight of steps to the bathroom.

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