Chutes and Ladder
A Silicon Valley Mystery Book 2
by Marc Jedel
Genre: Cozy Mystery
When a camping trip uncovers a murder, this amateur sleuth is stuck putting out the fire …
Marty Golden, protagonist in the Silicon Valley Mystery series, is known for his outstanding attention to detail, but sometimes his powers of self-delusion overwhelm even him. Get the first chapter free for any of my novels by signing up for my mailing list at www.marcjedel.com.
Chutes and Ladder is a fun, light story about a good guy, who wants a nice, quiet life and to spend more time with his new girlfriend. When he stumbles across his friend’s dead body, his life begins to spin out of control as a misbehaving pup, a kooky cousin, and a maniacal ninja put his survival skills to the test. After a few minutes, I felt someone staring at me but noticed no one nearby looking at me. I’ve never understood how you could feel a stare. Was that some remnant of powers from long-ago human evolution that had faded? What other superpowers had we lost? Were we ever able to fly? I got excited about this possibility and almost mentioned it to Meghan until I felt the stare again.
Wary, I glanced to the side. A person painted all in gold was staring at me while he stood like a statue outside a store named Southern Treasures. I stared back, careful not to blink. Performers like him entertain the crowds by freezing long enough for a new fool to walk by before scaring them with a sudden movement. I was not going to be that fool. Not today, at least. I couldn’t hold it any longer. I blinked. This guy was good. He hadn’t moved or blinked in over a minute, unless he timed his blink for right when I did. “Why are you staring at that mannequin?” Meghan leaned over me to get a better look. Startled, I double-checked that she was looking at the same thing. “Are you sure that’s a mannequin? It looks like a real person painted in gold.” Meghan scoffed. “It’s missing ears.”
Uncle and Ants
A Silicon Valley Mystery Book 1
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!
**Only .99 cents!!**
I realized I hadn’t updated my own, college-aged kids, Amanda and Eli, on their Aunt Laney’s status in the hospital.
GROUP TEXT TO AMANDA, ELI MARTY: Girls at my place. Laney will be fine soon. Ice cream truck driver ok but truck totaled
AMANDA: Glad she’ll be ok
ELI: Yea. Good that both will be ok. Truck got what it deserved.
AMANDA: You used to like ice cream trucks :) Best prank ever! #EPIC
ELI: Childhood trauma
AMANDA: Never saw you run so fast
ELI: Thought truck had finally stopped at our stop sign and I could catch it
MARTY: She really got you
ELI: Who knew I had such an evil sibling
AMANDA: *insert evil laugh here*
Amanda had burned Eli with an impressive prank in middle school. Every day that summer, the ice cream truck raced past the house after lunch with the loud, iconic music creating an almost Doppler-like effect as the truck roared past. Ten years old at the time, Eli desired nothing more than to have the experience of buying an ice cream cone from the truck all by himself. He’d rush out the door, cash in hand, whenever he heard the truck, but never managed to flag the guy down. The driver must have used his truck to practice for Nascar. One July weekend afternoon, Amanda found the ice cream truck music online, then set her speaker in the hallway outside the bathroom door while Eli showered. She hit play just as the shower turned off. He raced out the front door with his towel barely hanging on, only to discover no truck in sight and his sister’s riotous laughter thundering from the doorway. She’d pulled a world-class prank on him. Eli got over it, but not the disappointment of his futile endeavors to score an over-priced, freezer-burned Drumstick. Although his mother and I would never have let him, Eli would have succeeded if he’d stood in the middle of the street waiting as the truck raced toward him. The truck’s automatic emergency braking system would have stopped it without hitting him … Like Laney’s car should have stopped on its own without hitting the truck. How could Laney have broadsided a truck? Today’s cars all have automatic braking with advanced radar systems, not like the early versions when I grew up. And, for that matter, didn’t delivery drones also have autonomous controls to steer them away from collisions? Laney’s accident was starting not to feel very accidental. I scrambled to locate Sergeant Jackson’s card and call him. It went straight to voicemail. I left him a rambling message asking him to check out what went wrong with the drone’s collision prevention system. I also suggested the ice cream truck driver could be a possible suspect, although this only made sense if Laney was part of a bizarre conspiracy/thriller movie. In the real world, ice cream trucks didn’t target people or have problems driving. Unless they were on a Rocky Road. Heh heh.
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.
Character Post from Megan Tran, niece of protagonist Marty Golden, in Chutes and Ladder.
Recently I caught up with Megan, the young niece of Marty Golden. Although Marty is the protagonist in my new humorous, cozy mystery book, Chutes and Ladder: A Silicon Valley Mystery, I thought Megan’s perspective might be interesting.
Marc (author): Hi, Megan. Thanks for talking to me.
Megan: [looking at phone] Yup.
Marc (author): What do you want to be when you grow up?
Megan: I keep changing my mind. Before, I wanted to be a race car driver. They can drive their cars as fast as they want and don’t get tickets on the highway like my mom. Last month, I thought I wanted to be a nurse because they help people get better and they can tell visitors what to do. I’m good at telling people what to do.
Marc (author): So, have you changed your mind?
Megan: Yes. [looking up]. Now I want to be a doctor. I saw this woman doctor help some boy on an airplane. That was really cool. And, she got to stand up and walk around even though the flight attendant told me I had to sit down. Doctors get to be in charge. That’s more me.
Marc (author): I understand your Uncle Marty had a crazy week. Have you talked to him?
Megan: Why does everyone want to know about him? He went on a Girl Scout camping trip, found some dead guy, and then rushed around all week trying to figure out what happened. Big deal! Everything is always super crazy for me. Try being a little sister around here, why don’t you? Last week was Halloween and Uncle Marty kept messing up our plans. This Saturday is my birthday party. I can’t decide if I want it to be a Herbie the Love Bug party like ‘Sunshine’, my mom’s old car, or Frankenstein Monsters. My mom’s getting angry that I can’t decide. What do you think?
Marc (author): Oh yeah. Marty mentioned that to me. Happy Birthday. So, how old will you be?
Megan: Did he tell you to ask me that? He doesn’t remember how old I am and he’s always asking me. Ooo, it makes me mad. Uncles should remember how old their nieces are, shouldn’t they?
Marc (author): Yes they should. But your Uncle Marty isn’t all bad, right? Didn’t he get you this new puppy, Buddy?
Megan: [squeals and hugs Buddy] Yes! That was so amazing. I love Buddy. He’s our new Labrador puppy, but he already weighs like sixty pounds. I told Uncle Marty Buddy would be my best friend. [Hugs Buddy]. But, my mom doesn’t always like him. Buddy can be a troublemaker.
Marc (author): What’s he done this time?
Megan: Well, nothing today. That I know of. So far. But last week, he escaped out of his dog crate, jumped on the stove and turned on the gas. The firefighters had to come to the house. Three fire trucks! Buddy was unconscious on the floor. Mom says we’re lucky there wasn’t an explosion. And our neighbor won’t walk near our house now. It’s super funny. She parks her car down the street and she’s sniffing the air when she rushes out of her house.
Marc (author): Have you read my new book, Chutes and Ladder? It’s about your uncle and you’re even in it.
Megan: [looks up from her phone] What?
Marc (author): My books. Have you read them?
Megan: Nah, I like to watch YouTube videos. Your covers are cool, though. Maybe I’ll read them later. Is it about me? You know it would be funny if it’s about me.
Marc (author): Yes, it sure would be funny. But they’re more about Uncle Marty and how he solves the mysteries while juggling his work, his family, his girlfriend, and not getting killed.
Megan: Ok, never mind then. Hey, Buddy, come back here. [Runs off after dog.]
Marc (author): Well, I guess that’s all we’ll get from Megan today.
My books, Chutes and Ladder and Uncle and Ants, are humorous murder mysteries. Silicon Valley is not your typical cozy mystery locale and Marty Golden doesn’t fit the normal profile of a mystery protagonist. Despite finding himself thrust into challenging situations, Marty isn’t exactly hero material. He has a wonderful combination of wit, irreverent humor and sarcasm mixed in with nerdy insecurities, absent-mindedness, and fumbling but effective amateur sleuthing skills. With an active inner voice and not a lot of advanced planning, he throws himself into solving problems. Sometimes, he even succeeds.
Chutes and Ladder, book 2 in the Silicon Valley Mystery series, can be read standalone. It and Uncle and Ants are free to Kindle Unlimited readers. Serf and Turf, book 3 in the series, will be released in mid-October 2019 so this is a perfect time to catch up. Buy them on Amazon at: amazon.com/gp/product/B07PHNT7XM. For more about my books or me, please visit www.marcjedel.com.
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