It's A Mod, Mod, Mod, Mod Murder (A Murder A-Go-Go Mystery Book 1)
Now that the Beatles are topping the charts, Bebe's boss has signed up the British group Philip Royal and the Beefeaters for his record label. But when Bebe and Darlene go to the Legends Hotel to meet two members of the band for a fab night out, they find Philip dead--electrocuted with his own guitar. Even worse, the fuzz suspect Darlene and ground her from flying. So, it's up to Bebe to abandon her Jackie Kennedy-inspired suits and venture into the smoky nightclubs of Greenwich Village, delving into the dark side of the swinging city to expose a killer...
--New York Post
...a clever mystery that's also a trip back to a time when things were groovier.
I never dreamed when I met Darlene, a stewardess on my flight to New York City, that her showing me around town would include our finding a dead body. Although it was hardly Darlene's fault, no matter what the police suspect. It just doesn't make sense. Why would Darlene want to kill pop star Philip Royal? After all, on a flight over from London, she and Philip had joined the Mile-High Club.
"You mean you got together with a group of people who'd all been to Denver, the Mile-High City?" I had asked. Darlene looked at me funny, then whispered in my ear. My eyes grew wide. Frankly, I was shocked. Then skeptical. To tell the truth, I still don't believe Darlene would do that. I think she's exaggerating. In the month I've been her roommate, she's often tried to amaze me with the details of a stewardess's fast life. But I'm not buying it. I'm sure Darlene's a nice girl, like me. Besides, some of her stories just don't ring true. Really, how could two people fit into an airplane lavatory?
We stood in the groovy plush gold-and-brown lobby of the Legends Hotel on Sixty-eighth Street near the park. I was thrilled to be there. To tell the truth, I'd been in a perpetual state of excitement and optimism since I'd arrived last month in the city of my dreams.
Looking around eagerly, I remembered that the hotel boasted a clientele that included political bigwigs, pop stars, and even movie stars. I'd read once in a movie magazine that Burton and Taylor had trysted at the Legends! The snobby desk clerk kept glancing our way and turning up his nose, as if he knew we couldn't afford the hotel's prices. I turned my back on him. Nothing was going to spoil my fun.
"Bebe, you look so boss in that Jackie Kennedy suit."
"Do I, Darlene? I mean, this is my first date since moving to New York. I'm worried that I look like a fuddy-duddy in this lavender outfit, especially when I'm supposed to be going out with the lead guitarist of Philip Royal and the Beefeaters!" I almost squealed, I was so excited.
"You're putting me on, Bebe. You look like you could be Mario Thomas's cousin. Keith will take one look at those big brown eyes and fall at your feet. Believe me, I know men."
"That's what you're always telling me," I said. Darlene pulled out a compact. She patted her short, teased red curls and examined her face. Darlene had freckles, but she carefully covered them up with foundation and Erace. She said men liked a flawless complexion on a woman. Frankly, I didn't see why any man would object to Darlene's freckles when she had the most fabulous figure, all curves, not like me with my flat chest and narrow hips.
The first night I moved into her apartment on East Sixty-fifth Street, we talked late into the night about the beauty tips Darlene learned in stew school. I picked up a lot from her, especially how to keep false eyelashes from crawling down into your eye. And how women who favored the beehive could wrap their hair in toilet paper at night to protect their coif. Darlene claimed to be an expert with Dippity-Do. She showed me how to use the gel to keep the ends of my hair flipped up.
We chattered away until we both fell asleep, exhausted, around three in the morning. I was so happy to have met someone with such a cheerful, friendly personality who needed a roommate. Luckily Darlene had a late flight out the next day. She kept an odd schedule with the airline. And my job as secretary at Rip-City Records didn't make it cool for me to stay up until the wee hours.
"Bebe, put on a little more lip gloss. Philip and Keith will be down here any minute. In fact," she said, tapping one red pump impatiently on the floor, "they are late."
I pulled out my own compact and a black daisy pot of pearlescent pale pink Mary Quant lip gloss. Darlene had brought one for each of us on her last flight to London— the trip where she met Philip. I touched up my lips and checked that my thick black eyeliner wasn't crooked. My false eyelashes were glued in place, just the way Darlene taught me. My bangs were straight; my dark hair was teased back and fell to my shoulders, where the ends flipped up. I was ready for Keith. My heart took a tumble at the thought of going out with an English guy. Of course, he wouldn't be John, my favorite Beatle, but he'd be the same clean-cut type with a cute accent.
"Listen, Bebe," Darlene said, looking at her watch, "I'm going down the hall to the house phone and calling Philip's room to see what's taking so long."
"How do you know what room he's in?"
"You don't have to know the room number. You just ask for the person's room. Anyway, I told you. We're a couple. I saw him to the hotel this morning when we flew in." She winked at me. "I stayed long enough to see him settled in."
"Whatever you say, Darlene."
Darlene giggled and patted my hand. "Stay here, and I'll be right back."
"Do you think I have time to go to the coffee shop and get a Tang? I'm thirsty." Looking around, I encountered the nasty glare of the desk clerk. I noticed he had a large brown mole on his right earlobe. I held back a snicker. The mole looked like an earring. The thought of a man wearing an earring made me want to laugh out loud.
Darlene said, "Better not go for a drink. With any luck we'll be on our way to the Peppermint Lounge within five minutes. We'll have a great time there doing the twist and having cocktails with the guys."
I chewed my bottom lip. I wasn't much of a drinker. Okay, back home in Richmond, Virginia, I'd had wine occasionally, but cocktails were a different story. I'd had a couple of highballs at the Christmas party for Philip Morris, where I worked in a boring job at the time. They made me feel all fuzzy.
I straightened my shoulders. This was in New York! Everything would be different here. People in New York didn't behave like they did in Richmond. Not that I didn't like my hometown, but the idea of being a single woman in the big city was ten times more exciting.
I walked with Darlene as far as the elevators, then watched her go down the long hall, past the coffee shop, and around a corner. A man coughing next to me caught my attention. He was an older gentleman dressed in the uniform of an elevator operator. I dug in my lavender purse once again.
"Here, sir, would you like a Smith Brothers cough drop? I keep them in my purse because my work requires me to answer the phone. If my voice gets scratchy, I use one of these."
The man looked at me suspiciously. "You're not from around here, are you?"
I smiled. "I'm always surprised by the number of people who say that to me. My boss, Br—I mean, Mr. Williams, says it's because I have a slight Southern accent. If you don't want the cough drop, I have a roll of those new Fancy Fruit Life Savers in here somewhere.”
"No, the cough drop will do me fine. Thank you, miss." He accepted the lozenge and popped it into his mouth. "You want me to take you upstairs?"
"No, I'm waiting for a friend."
"We're meeting dates for the evening, and they're late, so my friend went to call and find out where they are."
"Stood up, huh?"
"Oh, no! I'm sure it's nothing like that. The guys are probably adjusting to the time change. They're from England." I chatted with the elevator operator, who turned out to be a Mr. Duncan, about his family (wife, three children, and seven grandchildren) until finally Darlene came back around the corner. She looked flustered but gorgeous in her red A-line dress.
"There was a lady ahead of me at the house phone. She wouldn't stop talking. I had to wait forever. Then Philip didn't answer his phone. Let's go up there."
"Darlene!" I put a restraining gloved hand on her arm. "We can't just go up to a man's hotel room. It wouldn't be proper."
"Bebe, you're being prudish, living up to your real name," Darlene said, just like an older sister. She was twenty-five to my twenty-two. You see, my mother, a true Jane Austen fan, had taken advantage of marrying a man with the last name of Bennett and had named me Elizabeth after the main character in Pride and Prejudice. Being a thoroughly modern woman, I had gone by Bebe since I turned twelve.
"There is nothing wrong with what we're doing," Darlene went on, "Besides, I'm from Texas. Where I come from we don't put up with men not doing what they say they're gonna do. We take action!"
"I don't know. . . ."
Darlene sneezed. Oh, no. Darlene always sneezed when she got nervous or upset. In another minute her mascara would run. Maybe one of her false eyelashes would droop despite the glue.
I gave in. "You're right. I'm sure this is the way they do things in New York." I hesitated. "As long as we stand outside the door and don't go into the room, I'm game for anything."
"Sure, Bebe, sure," Darlene said. With Mr. Duncan frowning, we stepped into the elevator car. Darlene said, "Fifteenth floor."
We stopped on the fifth floor. Puzzled, Darlene and I turned as one to the elderly man. He said, "Aren't you getting out?"
Realizing he had a hearing problem in addition to his cold, I raised my voice loud enough for him to hear, but not enough for him to think I was shouting at him, and said, "I'm afraid there was a misunderstanding, Mr. Duncan. We wanted the fifteenth floor."
He closed the doors and punched the number fifteen. I exchanged a look with Darlene, one that pleaded for her not to say anything. She was quiet, and a few seconds later we reached our destination.
"Take care of that cough now," I said as we exited the elevator.
"Come on, Bebe!" I followed Darlene down the hall, where the faint sounds of Betty Everett telling us "It's in His Kiss" seeped out from one of the rooms, until we came to stand in front of room 1514.
"Darlene, the door is open a crack," I whispered. Darlene's hand hung suspended alongside the door where she was about to knock. Slowly she lowered it to the knob.
"Well, so it is." Before I could protest, she swung the door wide open and marched inside. "Philip Royal, you'd better tell me right this minute why you've been keeping us waiting!" I had just crossed the threshold behind her when Darlene screamed.