Title: The Genuine Fake
Word count: 75K
Here's my proposition. I'll give you $2,000 in cash -- and you will recover a spear that has been stolen from me. Not a real spear -- a digital one, from a video game. I realize that you're not a detective, and probably not much of a gamer. No problem. I've just a got a hunch that you're the right gal for the job.
Suspicious? So was Dahlia Moss, heroine of the geek mystery "The Genuine Fake" (75,030 words). Dahlia, an unemployed millennial with more student loans than friends, takes the job anyway. Two thousand dollars buys a lot of Ramen. She certainly didn't think that the job would change her routine. But when her client is murdered by a real-world copy of the spear she'd been looking for, everything is upended.
Now's she's fending off suspicious policemen and sleuthing around St. Louis. Gamers are showing up at her doorstep, cute botanists are asking her out to dinner, and a syringe-wielding woman in a treant costume wants her dead. Everything she can think of has gone completely wrong-- so why can't she stop smiling?
"The Genuine Fake" is a comic mystery that will appeal to readers of Donna Andrews and Alan Bradley, as well as to fans of geek humorists like Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett.
First 250 words:
The only time I ever met Jonah Long he was wearing a fake beard, a blue pinstripe captain's outfit and a toy pipe that blew soap bubbles. He did not seem like someone that was about to change my life.
"I have a proposition for you," he had told me. Typing that out I realize that it does look like the kind of thing a life changing person might say. It's right up there with "it's dangerous to go alone-- take this!" and "you are the chosen one." But a plastic bubble pipe really takes the edge off this sort of thing.
It was a nautical themed party, which partly explained his ridiculous outfit. I had thought he was hitting on me. “I’m in a non-dating phase," I had told him. Not entirely true, but I repeat: bubble pipe.
"A financial proposition, Dahlia."
I had no idea who he was. I was irked that he knew my name but it was clear from the way Charice was hovering over him that my roommate was involved. She was wearing a over-sized mermaid's outfit that made her look faintly seal-like-- especially with her mugging at me as Jonah spoke. Eh? Eh? I felt like I should throw a fish at her.
But really: what could I do? I had seventeen dollars and twenty three cents in my bank account at the time of this exchange, with less in savings. I could only use ATMs that dispensed tens. Despite my correct sense that Jonah was 1) ridiculous and 2) trouble, at the phrase "financial proposition" my actions were effectively bound.