Diane Kelly and Extra-Hold Hairspray
Posted by Nancy Northcott Jul 2 2012, 12:24 am
Today we revisit the unlikely subject of humor in the IRS. Really. Diane Kelly’s award-winning Tara Holloway mysteries actually manage to make tax collection funny, and I’m delighted Diane is here to talk about Tara’s latest outing, Death, Taxes, and Extra-Hold Hairspray.
Welcome, Diane! For readers who’re haven’t met IRS Special Agent Tara Holloway yet, can you give us a quick intro to the series?
I’d love to! Tara left her job at a CPA firm when the cubicle walls began closing in on her. Now she’s a rookie investigator for IRS Criminal Investigations. Her job entails going after white-collar criminals who haven’t paid their fair share to Uncle Sam. In the debut novel (DEATH, TAXES, AND A FRENCH MANICURE), she teamed up with a female DEA agent to go after an ice cream man who was dealing drugs off his truck and failing to report his profits.
She also pursued a con artist running a foreign currency investment scam. In book #2 (DEATH, TAXES, AND A SKINNY NO-WHIP LATTE), Tara went after a dangerous man running an international loan shark, gambling, and credit card counterfeiting scheme.
Tara’s romance isn’t going as smoothly as it was. Please tell us about the men in her life.
Wouldn’t it be nice if dating and love were easy? Tara has two men in her life. The first is her boyfriend Brett, who seems just about as perfect as they come. The only big problem in their relationship is that her job prevents them from seeing as much of each other as they’d like and also causes Brett to worry about Tara’s safety.
The second is Nick Pratt, a fellow special agent. While Nick is not nearly as easy-going as Brett, Tara can’t help but be attracted to a man who’s as tough and intense and formidable as Nick. The two seem to understand each other on an almost primal level.
What are Tara and her colleagues tackling in this outing?
In DEATH, TAXES, AND EXTRA-HOLD HAIRSPRAY, Tara and her fellow agents are working on two big cases. In the first, they’re going after the president of the Lone Star Nation, a militant secessionist group that purports to be operating its own sovereign country within the Texas borders.
The other case involves a popular charismatic preacher with a television ministry. The reverend may not worship a golden calf, but he treats the church like his personal cash cow and milks it for all it’s worth. He’s pulled the wool over the eyes of his sheep, who seem to overlook the fact that their beloved pastor is using church funds to finance his lavish lifestyle.
Here’s an excerpt:
This is what Happens When Rednecks have too Much Time on Their Hands
“Damn.” I dropped the phone back into its cradle on my desk. I needed help on a case, but it seemed no one was available this afternoon. I’d called every special agent in the Dallas IRS Criminal Investigations office.
Make that every special agent but one.
That one sat directly across the hall, his cowboy boots propped on his desk, his right hand rhythmically squeezing a blue stress ball as he eyed me. I sat at my desk, pretending not to notice.
Why didn’t I want Nick Pratt working on this case with me? Because the guy had whiskey-colored eyes that drank a girl in, an ass you could bounce a quarter off of, and more sex appeal than George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Johnny Depp combined.
I realize these factors might all sounds like reasons to want to work with him. Problem was, I was in a committed relationship with a wonderful guy and, despite that fact, wasn’t entirely sure I could resist temptation.
Better not put myself to the test, right?
My usual partner, Eddie Bardin, had received an unexpected temporary promotion to Acting Director three weeks ago when doctors found a spot on the right lung of our boss, Lu Lobozinski. Lu had taken time off for her chemotherapy treatments and recovery, appointing Eddie to take her place until she was able to return.
Eddie’s temporary promotion left me to handle a buttload of cases all on my own. And not just any old buttload, but cases that had been purposely put on the back burner for years because each case was guaranteed to be a major pain in the ass.
One of the biggest of these cases involved an eighty-three-year old chicken rancher who’d served seven consecutive terms as president of a radical secessionist group. Another involved a popular, charismatic preacher who financed a lavish lifestyle via his congregants’ tax-deductible donations to his mega-church. It was almost enough to send me back to my boring old job at the CPA firm.
But not quite.
The phone on my desk rang. The caller ID readout displayed the name N PRATT.
Dang. No way I could ignore the guy now. It would be too obvious.
I looked across the hall as I picked up the phone. Nick looked back at me, one thick brown brow raised. How the guy could look so damn sexy in a plain white dress shirt and basic tan slacks was beyond me. Maybe it was the oversized gold horseshoe-shaped belt buckle that did it, drawing attention to his nether regions like a flashing neon sign that said wanna get lucky?
“Big Bob’s Bait Bucket,” I said in my best southern twang. “We got whatcha need if whatcha need is worms.”
You got me. I’m a bit of a smart ass. But I had spent two summers in high school working for Big Bob. Minimum wage plus all the free nightcrawlers I wanted. Which was none.
Nick shot me a pointed look across the hall. “Why haven’t you asked me up to help you?”
Because you make my girlie parts quiver in a very unprofessional manner. But I couldn’t very well tell him that now, could I? Better think quick, Tara.
“You looked . . . um . . . ” Gorgeous? Sexy as hell? Absolutely boinkable? I went with “busy.”
He grinned, flashing his chipped tooth, an imperfection that somehow only added to his primal appeal. “I fake it pretty good, don’t I? That’s how I got fast-tracked to senior special agent.”
Nick’s career as a special agent with the IRS had indeed been meteoric, at least until three years ago when he’d been forced to flee the country or die at the hands of Marcos Mendoza, a violent, money-laundering tax cheat.
Lucky for Nick, Lu had later assigned me and Eddie to renew the case against Mendoza.
After the creep threatened Eddie and his family, I’d smuggled Nick back into the U.S. and the two of us had brought Mendoza to his knees. Literally. Hard for the man to stay standing after I’d shot off his left testicle. I’d considered taking the gonad to a taxidermist for mounting, but I doubted my mother would let me hang it over the fireplace back home next to Dad’s sixteen-point trophy buck.
Nick sat up at his desk, his expression serious now. “You gave me my life back, Tara. I’ll never be too busy for you.”
Nick was directly offering to help me out. No girl in her right mind could say no to that, even if she had been avoiding him. There’s only so much willpower to go around.
I hung up the phone. “Saddle up, cowboy,” I called across the hall as I stood and grabbed my purse. “We’ve got a chicken farmer to check in on.”
Cool! I love it. How did you come up with the hilarious hair contest on your website, and how’s it going?
Tara’s boss, Lu “The Lobo” Lobozinksi, wears her strawberry-blond hair in a classic sixties-style beehive. In DEATH, TAXES, AND EXTRA-HOLD HAIRSPRAY, Tara finds herself running all over Dallas trying to find Lu a wig to replace the hair she’s losing to chemotherapy treatments. Having grown up in Texas, the land of Big Hair, it seemed only fitting to have a character with our state’s trademark tresses. With Lu’s beehive playing a prominent role in the book, I figured a Big Hair contest would be fun!
I’ve received some really great entries – some natural, some wigs. But there’s always room for more! If any of your blog visitors would like to enter, they can find details on my website, www.dianekelly.com. Prizes will include free books, hair accessories, and bookstore gift cards!
What’s next for you and Tara?
Tara and I were recently contracted for 3 more full-length books plus an electronic novella, so the two of us will get to spend lots more time together! The novella, DEATH, TAXES, AND A SEQUINED CLUTCH, will be released on October 30th. It’s a fun ride with Tara returning to the CPA firm where she used to work and confronting a partner who led her on years ago. She learns revenge is a dish best served hot.
The next full-length book, DEATH, TAXES, AND PEACH SANGRIA, will be released on January 29, 2013. In that book, Tara pursues a slew of unscrupulous and wacky tax preparers as well as a ring of terrorists. Two more full-length books will follow in 2013.
For more information about Diane and her work, or to enter the “Big Hair” contest, visit her website, www.dianekelly.com. Diane is giving away not one but three copies of the first Tara Holloway mystery, Death, Taxes, and a French Manicure, to winners chosen from today’s commenters. So tell us, have have you ever had a hairstyle you now regret? If so, did it involve extra-hold hairspray?
Or, for fun, write a sentence or two (no more than three) using a French manicure, a skinny no-whip latte, extra-hold hairspray, a sequined clutch, and peach sangria. For extra fun, you can toss in the IRS and your choice of weaponry–but still use no more than three sentences.
Posted in Death, Diane Kelly, Tara Holloway, Taxes & Extra-Hold Hairspray