Fur Ball Fever

(Originally published June 20, 2007).

I’m on a roll. Last week, I managed to get a couple of chapters of Fur Ball Fever written. This week, I wrote another chapter, and today, I hope to wrap the next, bringing the grand total to six.

I describe Fur Ball Fever as a combination of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert meets Best in Show, and headed up by Stephanie Plum (those of you who read Janet Evanovich — and I highly recommend that you do — will recognize the name).

Fur Ball Fever, a comic romantic suspense, represents the first salvo in the Condo Capers Mystery Series. Whirlwind action alternates between the seamiest side of Atlantic City and an upscale Jersey Shore condominium complex called Saltwater Village, proud sponsor of a hoity-toity charity extravaganza called The Fur Ball.

Sporting a dwindling bank account, an overwhelming debt load, and her family’s censure for a lifetime of impetuous mistakes, renegade Grace Donnelly faces catastrophe. Her family poodle, last year’s Fur Ball winner, disappears, the apparent victim of a dastardly dog-napping. How can she launch her new career as private investigator if word of her incompetence spreads? Unless she nails the perp, Grace faces not only the loss of her furry companion, but also the humiliation of failure and bankruptcy when yet another career bites the dust.

Grace’s suspicions focus on several candidates: a neighbour’s trophy wife, a slick televangelist, and her former flame, Nick Jackson, finest PI east of the Rockies. Her persistent investigation nearly blows his cover in his quest to nail the phoney preacher whose corruption resulted in the death of Nick’s twin during Desert Storm. To salvage his case, his sanity, and Grace’s skin, Nick sees no choice but to join forces with the sassy crusader who rubs him the wrong way — and so many of the right ways.

Their joint investigation leads the reluctant couple into unexpected romance against a wacky backdrop of animal politics, drag queens, a dominatrix or two, the swinging scene, and a fascinating underworld of fetishism and bondage. The two cases converge in a zany roller-coaster ride of murder and mayhem, culminating in a Fur Ball extravaganza the locals will never forget.