It’s Cinco de Mayo in Broken Boot, Texas, and tourists are pouring into town faster than free beer at a bull roping! Senora Marisol Martinez, my feisty abuela, the staff at Milagro–our family restaurant–and even my spunky Chihuahua Lenny are prepping for the best fiesta yet. Not to mention, we’re polishing our folklórico dances for Saturday’s big Cinco de Mayo parade.
This year my uncle, Eddie Martinez, is adding his own spicy event to the fiesta menu: Broken Boot’s First Annual Charity Chili Cook-off. But his hopes of impressing the town council will soon go up in smoke when a cantankerous contestant is found dead in his tent. And when my beloved uncle is accused of fatal negligence, Lenny, Detective Quint Lightfoot, and I must uncover who ended the ambitious chilihead’s life–before another cook kicks the bucket.
What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor?
Funny you should ask because I’m always asking myself the very same thing! Truth is, ever since I was laid off from my job at the Austin Gazette, I’ve been trying to prove myself as a reporter. We only have one newspaper in our county, The Broken Boot Bugle. When I arrived back home after being laid off and abandoned at the altar by my fiasco of a fiancé, I just knew the Bugle’s editor would be glad to offer me a job. Boy was I wrong. I’ve had to prove myself as a crime reporter at every turn. And honestly, I feel it’s my civic and professional duty to investigate a murder on my turf. Of course, that’s a sticking point between me and the Big Bend County Sheriff’s Department.
Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?
Nah. I pictured myself living in Austin in a trendy apartment in Travis Heights, working at the Gazette, and settling down with a handsome musician.
Who would you say is the least pleased about your additional career choice of amateur sleuthing? Or is detective work your only career?
You’ve heard of the old boy network, right? If I had to guess, I’d say the Big Bend County Sheriff’s Department invented it. And the least pleased about my detective work would be Sheriff Mack Wallace, who’s as smooth as sweet tea until you wriggle your way into his investigation.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Hm. I’m not too big on self-analysis; but I’ll give her a shot. I’m curious, stubborn, and big-hearted when it comes to digging my family and friends out of trouble. My weaknesses…and this is embarrassing…Tex-Mex, margaritas, and trying to dig my family and friends out of trouble!
Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.
That’s easy. Don’t hate yourself when your two-timing fiancé dumps you for a new life in Australia. His loss! Do be thankful for your family, even if they do smother you a bit and chomp at your Wranglers for you to find a better job. And don’t give up on your career dreams even if your editor thinks you’re better suited to working in classifieds and obituaries.
What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?
Take pride in who you are: your family, your talents, and the challenges you’ve overcome and those you have left to conquer. And go easy on criticizing your looks. As they say somewhere in the good book, God doesn’t make mistakes. Finally, I’d end with this: There’s only one life and one of you. Grab the reins and enjoy the ride!
What was one lesson you learned during this challenging time in your life?
Challenges knock you down, pick you up, wear you out, and make you strong; but if you embrace the challenges of life, one day you’ll look in the mirror and recognize yourself as not only a get-her-done and don’t-take-no-for-an-answer kind of woman, but a beautiful creation with a unique purpose on this earth.
If your story or life had a theme song, what would it be?
“I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack. Enough said!
Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat?
Even though I’ve developed an uncanny knack for solving crimes, I still don’t know what’s coming around the corner. If you enjoy a margarita of murder with a sweet, humorous sugar rim, check out my other investigations like Here Today, Gone Tamale—my first outing as a small-town sleuth, and The Good, the Bad, and the Guacamole—my second attempt at righting injustice in small town Texas.