Gerry Porter put down her glue gun and slid her phone open. The ringtone stopped and she greeted her friend, the only college math professor she knew.
“Hey, Sophie. Meant to call you. Congratulations on the new book. How are the sales?”
“Thanks, but who knows how The Quotient of Murder is doing? They never give you actual figures.”
“I know that bothers you, being a numbers person and all.”
“It’s not just that, look at how hard we work for Ada Madison.”
“You mean Margaret Grace.”
“Yeah, yeah, and Camille Minichino. Whoever. Wonder who she is this month?”
Gerry heard a sniffle. Was Sophie crying? “What’s wrong, Soph?”
“All my work, and I think she’s going to dump me. Four books and I’m out.”
“What? What makes you think that?”
“I heard her talking on the phone with her New York editor. She didn’t know she’d opened up the .doc for the last book featuring”— sniff—”me, so I could hear everything.”
Gerry wasn’t prepared for this. She wasn’t much good with personal relationships. She was okay in a crisis if a murder was involved, but otherwise not. “Let’s get Gloria Lamerino on the line,” she suggested.
Another sniff. “Okay,” Sophie said. “She’ll know how I feel. She was dumped a long time ago and she’s doing okay.”
Gerry was the least techie of the three women friends, so she had to enlist her granddaughter, Maddie, to work out the details of getting Gloria on the line for a three-way.
“Hello, everyone. What’s up?” Gloria asked. “I’ve been napping for a few years.”
“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about,” Sophie said. “What happens when your series gets dumped?”
“They don’t call it ‘dumping’,” Gloria said. “They just avoid mentioning another contract, and move on.”
“But I have unfinished plot threads,” Sophie said. “I have puzzles ready to submit to magazines, and Bruce and I aren’t even engaged yet. There’s so much more life in us.”
Gloria clicked her tongue. “I know how you feel. There were more than 100 elements to go in the periodic table. I was all geared up for The Neon Murder, where a motel manager was going to be murdered over his tacky neon orange sign. But in the end, it’s the sales numbers that matter and there’s nothing you can do.”
Gerry took a sip of her iced tea and a bite of her famous ginger cookies. She was the lucky one, since Margaret Grace, her author, found another publisher for her. Gerry was still thriving and having great adventures in New York City in the 8th book of the series.
“I wasn’t as lucky as Gerry,” Gloria admitted. “Camille took me out for a ride in a short story, The Fluorine Murder, and promised my fans she’d write more stories based on the elements, but so far, she hasn’t come through.”
“She was busy with me and Gerry,” Sophie said. “But now I’m history.”
“She did put The Hydrogen Murder online as an e-book and I have fun watching new people read about that first adventure,” Gloria offered.
“So that’s what it might come to?” Sophie asked. “Like watching Law & Order reruns on TV.”
“Or, worse, Monk reruns,” Gloria said.
“Shh, wait,” Gerry said. “Do I hear clicking noises on the line? Is someone else trying to join us?”
“Hello? Hello?” A woman’s voice, soft and hesitant came through.
“Is that someone new?” Gerry asked.
“Are there four of us now?” Sophie asked.
“Don’t tell me,” Gloria said. “A fourth series is on the way?”
“Hello?” the strange new woman said. “My name is—”
Gloria, Gerry, and Sophie strained to hear.
But the line clicked off.
You can read more about Sophie in The Quotient of Murder, the second book in the “Professor Sophie Knowles” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first book in the series is The Square Root of Murder. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.
Thanks to Penguin, I have one (1) copy of “The Quotient of Murder” to give away. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. Contest ends November 14; US entries only per publisher’s request.
Meet the author
Camille Minichino is the author of 18 mysteries in three series: The Periodic Table Mysteries, The Miniature Mysteries (as Margaret Grace) and the Professor Sophie Knowles Mysteries (as Ada Madison). The Quotient of Murder is due from Berkley Prime Crime November 5, 2013. Visit her website: minichino.com.