The Sinister Sitcom Caper by Sally Carpenter
Genre: Humorous Cozy Mystery
Sandy Fairfax, former teen idol and star of the ‘70s hit TV show “Buddy Brave, Boy Sleuth,” is now a middle-aged recovering alcoholic who realizes that making a comeback can be murder. He’s the guest star on “Off-Kelter,” a corny family situation comedy, and the lowest rated TV show of the 1993 fall season. Before rehearsals barely begin one of the actors drops dead at Sandy’s feet. He investigates, enlisting the aid of two of his new cast mates: a dwarf and an animal actor. During his snooping, we meet Sandy’s ex, his parents and his teenage son, all with their own “situations” going on. During rehearsals Sandy also encounters a beautiful choreographer—could this be love? Will Sandy solve the murder before the Friday night taping of “Off-Kelter” or will the elusive killer cancel our hero before the final credits? This book was inspired by the author’s experience working as a tour guide/page at Paramount Pictures in Hollywood.
The culprit had lashed me to a sturdy wooden chair with no armrests and a back of horizontal slats. My wrists were tied together behind the chair back; each ankle was bound to a chair leg and a rope across my chest held me in. I tugged on the ropes but they didn’t give. I tried to scoot across the floor but the chair was too heavy to budge. My fingers couldn’t undo the tight knots on my wrists. Whoever did this knew what he was doing.
I studied my surroundings. I was inside an empty soundstage, dimly lit by a single work light. The cavernous room had no set, which meant nobody was using the stage. I might have to wait hours—or days—before someone found me. Maybe my assailant planned to return to finish me off, in which case I needed to escape immediately.
In the corner something moved; was it a rat? I was so dazed from the conk on the head that I was hearing noises; I thought I heard a dog barking. Wait a minute—I did hear a dog barking. Maybe the dog had a person with him who could help. Or maybe my assailant had a pit bull that would finish me off. I could see the headlines: MANACLED MUSICIAN MAULED BY RABID MUTT.
I shouted, “Hey! Is someone out there? Help me!”
Scruffy trotted into view, dragging his leash on the ground. He must have slipped away from Frances. For the first time this week I was ecstatic to see the mangy cur.
“Scruffy! Come here, boy! Over here!”
The critter sat on his haunches before me, his fat tongue lolling out of his mouth as he panted.
“Scruffy! You remember me, don’t you, boy? The man on the show you like to kiss?”
The canine wagged his tail and gave a couple of friendly yaps. As a trained animal actor, maybe he could carry a message for me.
“Scruffy! Listen to me! Go get help! Fetch Frances! Bring your trainer here! Go on, boy! Go! Get Frances!”
The ditzy dog merely stared at me and barked. I repeated the command but he didn’t move. What rotten luck. Just when I needed Lassie to save the day, I was stuck with Scooby-Doo. Then Scruffy recognized me. He jumped up on my lap and started licking my face. The confused cur thought we were filming the show. With my hands tied I couldn’t push him off. I turned my face away from his slobbering tongue and he slurped my ear with gusto.
“Scruffy! Get off! Bad dog! Get down!”
The dog sat in my lap and barked happily in my face. I nearly died of asphyxiation from his doggie breath.
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She has a master’s degree in theater from Indiana State University. While in school her plays “Star Collector” and “Common Ground” were finalists in the American College Theater Festival One-Act Playwrighting Competition. “Common Ground” also earned a college creative writing award. “Star Collector” was produced in New York City and also the inspiration for the book series.
She also has a master’s degree in theology and a black belt in tae kwon do.
She’s worked as an actress, college writing instructor, theater critic, jail chaplain, and tour guide/page for a major movie studio. She’s now employed at a community newspaper.
She’s a member of Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles. Contact her at Facebook or email her.
Places to find Sally Carpenter: