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PW #315: Young Adult Historical Mystery: THE BOY IN THE RED DRESS

Thursday, 2 November 2017  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: McKelle George and Heather Cashman

Mentee Name: Kristin Walters


Category: Young Adult

Genre: Historical Mystery

Word Count: 65,000


When her drag queen best friend is accused of murder, a Jazz Age Veronica Mars must use her sharp wits and sharper tongue to search for the real killer in the seedy underbelly and glittering upper crust of 1931 New Orleans.


Before that night, murder didn’t scare me. Even in the Quarter, where somebody got shot or stabbed or drowned every other week, I didn’t give it much thought. This was home. The buildings were crooked, and so were the people. I liked it that way.

Crooked made the Cloak and Dagger club possible. Made a person like me blend right in, like I’d never done in all those small towns Mama dragged me around to before she ditched me with Aunt Cal.

For once, though, I didn’t want to blend in. It was supposed to be my night. But like most things had in my seventeen years, “supposed to” flew the coop pretty quick.

As soon as Aunt Cal left for the bus station that evening, I put on fresh-pressed duds and combed my hair down, slick as glass. I found a tube of stage lipstick in the flotsam on her dresser and swiped that on too.

A two-note whistle sailed up through the open window, my best friend Marion’s signal he was waiting downstairs. I rubbed the lipstick back off with a handkerchief. It felt too waxy, too red, and false as a three-dollar bill.

Not that I minded a good lie. It just had to be one that suited me. And red lipstick didn’t. That was Marion’s affair.

What suited me was my newsboy cap, which I jammed down over my bobbed hair, and my nine-inch pearl-handled switchblade, which I flicked open and shut, twirled, and stuffed into my trousers pocket.

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