Authors: Kylie Logan
CHILI CON CARNAGE
“Maxie is an edgy firecracker of a main character, and I can’t wait to see the trouble she gets into on the Showdown tour. I’m also anxious to meet her dad, the infamous Texas Jack Pierce. I’ve always found that chili gets better with time, and I predict that this fun new series is going to continue to get stronger and stronger!”
Mochas, Mysteries, and More
“This is a fun mystery in a unique setting, and Maxie’s dedication to finding her father promises that there will be an enjoyable future for readers in this new series.”
Kings River Life Magazine
“I am always excited when I find a new book by Kylie Logan. To not only find a new book but a new series is heaven. She draws you right into the story and you can’t help but read the book to the very end . . . This is a fun, fast-paced read . . . If you like your mystery hot and spicy then you should be reading
Chili con Carnage
“The mystery aspect of the novel was well thought out and planned. Maxie is a sort of no-nonsense character and her investigation proves that . . . I’m looking forward to the next book in the series as much for the family drama as I am for the mystery . . . A great first effort!”
Debbie’s Book Bag
Berkley Prime Crime titles by Kylie Logan
Button Box Mysteries
League of Literary Ladies Mysteries
MAYHEM AT THE ORIENT EXPRESS
A TALE OF TWO BIDDIES
Chili Cook-off Mysteries
CHILI CON CARNAGE
DEATH BY DEVIL’S BREATH
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
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DEATH BY DEVIL’S BREATH
A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author
Copyright © 2014 by Connie Laux.
Legend of Sleepy Harlow
by Kylie Logan copyright © 2014 by Connie Laux.
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For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
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eBook ISBN: 978-1-101-59275-5
Berkley Prime Crime mass-market edition / August 2014
Cover illustration by Miles Hyman.
Cover design by Diana Kolsky.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
PUBLISHER’S NOTE: The recipes contained in this book are to be followed exactly as written. The publisher is not responsible for your specific health or allergy needs that may require medical supervision. The publisher is not responsible for any adverse reactions to the recipes contained in this book.
For chili lovers everywhere!
Every book has its own story, and
Death by Devil’s Breath
is no exception. The Las Vegas setting? I’ve visited Vegas a couple times, and I know it’s the land of the weird and the wacky where anything can happen. Of course, it seemed like the perfect setting for a crazy hot chili contest and characters straight out of central casting. The spicy chili? Since my husband likes chili with far more heat than I do, discussing the wham-bam impact of one of his recipes is something that happens around here every time he puts a pot of chili on to cook.
As always, my thanks to friends and family, who take the time to listen when I discuss ideas and to help out when I find I’ve written myself into a corner. Thanks to everyone at Berkley Prime Crime and, of course, to David for the recipe at the end of the book. He promises it’s not too hot.
way I figured it, I had about three minutes.
The seconds tick, tick, ticked away, and before I could waste another one of them, I squirmed in my seat, cocked my leg at a funny angle, and stretched the toe of one stiletto toward the evening purse that was on the floor in front of the empty seat to my left.
Success! Or not.
My shoe snagged the sequin-covered purse, but my thigh muscle protested. I winced, morphed the expression into a smile when Jorge LaReyo, the man who ran the tamale stand at the Chili Showdown and who was sitting on my right, happened to glance my way, and counting on that smile to distract him, gave the purse a little nudge. Lucky for me, the floor in the theater of Creosote Cal’s Cactus Casino and Hoedown Hotel was faux hardwood. The purse slipped, skittered, and slid to a stop directly in front of me.
Head up and my gaze never leaving the stage three rows ahead of me, I dipped and grabbed, then sat back, unsnapped the little golden clasp at the top of the purse, and dared a look down. That’s when I grumbled a curse. The stage was brightly lit, but out here in the theater seats, the lights were dimmed. Teeth gritted, I pretended to be interested in the proceedings up there in the spotlight at the same time as I slipped my hand into the purse and felt around.
“It’s an ordinary deck of cards!” Up onstage, the man billed as The Great Osborn! waved a deck of cards still in its box above his head, then showed it to my half sister, Sylvia, who he’d called up from the audience to help with the trick. “I’m going to take the cards out of the box.” He did. “And then I’m going to make one of them magically disappear. But not until my lovely assistant here . . .” He wiggled his eyebrows at Sylvia and got a laugh from the audience. “Not until she chooses five cards and, without looking at them, places them facedown on the table.”
The Great Osborn was middle-aged, and his belly hung over the royal blue cummerbund he wore with a black tux that was a little threadbare at the elbows. When he looked from the brightly painted prop table to Sylvia, his eyes gleamed.
But then, Sylvia is known to have that sort of effect on weak-minded men.
It’s her fairy tale–princess looks that do them in, of course. The honey-colored hair she had pinned into a knot at her nape, the elegant line of her neck, the high cheekbones, and perfectly bowed lips. The pink dress dusted with sequins didn’t hurt, either.
Of course, the sparkly dress was exactly why she’d been invited to help The Great Osborn with this particular trick in the first place. From the magician’s vantage point onstage, it was impossible to miss a woman in the audience who twinkled like a drag queen on steroids.
Lucky for me.
Sylvia’s moment in the spotlight gave me the three minutes I needed.
Three minutes that were quickly slipping away.
I didn’t have to glance to my left to know when Nick Falcone slid into the seat next to mine. But then, the temperature in the auditorium shot up a couple dozen degrees at the same time an army of goose bumps popped up on my arms and a shiver cascaded through my body.
Ex-cop. Now head of Showdown security.
How could a girl have any other reaction?
This girl, it should be noted, kept her cool in spite of it all.
Hand in purse, I cast an oh-so-casual glance in Nick’s direction, biting back my disappointment when all I felt inside the purse were the usual essentials: wallet, tissues, contact case.
“Just looking for my lipstick,” I told Nick, then I pretended to be interested when The Great Osborn looked at each of the cards on the table and asked a man sitting in the front row to write down their names as he called them out. “Ace of diamonds. Three of hearts. Queen of spades. Seven of hearts. Six of clubs.”
Finished, he slipped the cards back in the deck and had Sylvia take the list and search through the deck for the original five cards she’d chosen.
“But there are only . . .” No one could do wide-eyed wonder like Sylvia. How she made herself blush a color that perfectly matched her outfit—and on cue—was anybody’s guess. She went through the entire deck one more time before she surrendered and put a hand to one cheek. “Only four of my cards are in the deck! The six of clubs is missing!” she gasped.
“That’s because . .” With a ta-da sort of motion, The Great Osborn opened the box the cards had come out of and extracted the missing six. “It’s here!” he said, and smiled and bowed when everyone applauded.
Except for me, of course. But then, clapping would have been a little hard since one of my hands was still in the purse.
And Nick. He didn’t clap because he was too busy leaning in nice and close. His hot breath brushed my ear when he whispered, “It might help you find your lipstick if you looked in your own purse.”
He never had a chance to notice the frigid smile I shot his way in response. That’s because the trick was over, and The Great Osborn kissed Sylvia’s hand and shooed her back to her seat.
Nick got up and sidled out of the row. Sylvia waited until he’d exited, and flush from her triumphant stage appearance, she sashayed back to her seat.
That left just enough time for me to replace her evening bag exactly where she’d left it.
“So?” Funny how she could twinkle even when the lights weren’t trained on her. “What did you think? How did I do?”
“Shhh!” I said, even though it didn’t matter. The Great Osborn took his final bows, and Creosote Cal himself strolled to the center of the stage and told everyone it was time for intermission.