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Too Big To Miss

Too big to miss--that's Odelia Grey. A never-married, middle-aged, plus-sized woman who makes no excuses for her weight, she's not super woman--just a mere mortal standing on the precipice of menopause, trying to cruise in an ill-fitting bra. She struggles with her relationships, her crazy family, and her crazier boss. And then there's her knack for being in close proximity to dead people .... When her close friend Sophie London commits suicide in front of an online web-cam by putting a gun in her mouth and pulling the trigger, Odelia's life is changed forever. Sophie, a plus-sized activist and inspiration to imperfect women, is the last person anyone would ever have expected to end her own life. Suspecting foul play, Odelia is determined to get to the bottom of her friend's death. Odelia's search for the truth takes her from southern California strip malls to the world of live web-cam porn to the ritzy enclave of Corona del Mar. This humorous, snappy mystery is the first in a series featuring unforgettable amateur sleuth Odelia Grey.

A Hard Shell Word Factory Release


Sue Ann Jaffarian

Like the character Odelia Grey, Sue Ann Jaffarian is middle-aged and plus-sized. She lives in Los Angeles and writes mysteries and general fiction, as well as short stories. In addition to writing, Sue Ann is sought after as a motivational and humorous speaker, and through Fat Chance Promotions, provides editing services and marketing and promotional coaching for writers of all genres. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America and the current president of the Los Angeles Chapter of Sisters In Crime, an international non-profit organization dedicated to the mystery genre.

Reviews

"...set your sights on this Odelia Grey mystery for a tightly coiled intrigue that targets a sexy shocker."

Brian M. Wiprud -- author of Pipsqueak and Stuffed


"...a fun-filled romp that introduces the delightful 'Odelia Grey' and leaves you anxious for more of her."

Robert S. Levinson -- author of Ask a Dead Man and Hot Paint


"...a classic, fast-paced mystery ... a passport into a world ... we rarely see in popular fiction."

Harley Jane Kozak -- author of Dating Dead Men and Dating is Murder
Excerpt


Chapter One

MY WEEKEND WAS DOA…dead on arrival.

Two o'clock on a bright Sunday afternoon, and I was already counting the hours until I could go back to work. Now that's sad.

Stopped at the corner of Newport Boulevard and Seventeenth Street in Costa Mesa, I waited to complete a right turn. It was a busy intersection, even on a Sunday. I tapped my fingers impatiently on the steering wheel and looked around.

SIZE DOES MATTER!

The giant advertisement caught my eye like a hook in a trout's lip.

Behind me, someone honked. I dragged my attention away from the billboard and saw that the traffic light was green. I hit the gas and turned the wheel of the car sharply, causing the vehicle to swerve as it rounded the corner.

"Careful, Odelia," I cautioned in a low tone. "No need to season your foul mood with a crunched fender."

There it was again. This time on a billboard overlooking the grocery store that was my destination.

SIZE DOES MATTER!

It was all the sign said. Just three words emblazoned across a gargantuan advertisement for a new model sports utility vehicle; as if the damn gas guzzlers couldn't get any bigger.

Without much trouble, I found a parking spot near the front door of the market. Turning off the engine, I smoothed the fabric of my sun dress across my ample lap, and sat quietly in the car to think. Not about the groceries waiting to be bought, but about the three words now burned forever into my brain.

SIZE DOES MATTER!

You bet your sweet ass size matters. It matters a lot. Though how and to what it is applied is ambiguous. Size seems to matter in random chaos. No hard and fast rules, just whatever fits your needs at the moment. Jumbo burgers, super-sized fries, and biggie drinks were a good thing. Small paychecks were bad. Big houses were good. Small diamonds bad.

From the first time Adam noticed shrinkage and explained it to Eve, men have been trying to tell women that size didn't matter when it came to their manhood. Small penis. Big penis. Made no difference. Both were good. The same men have been telling women that size does matter when it comes to breasts, butts and hips. To add to the confusion, big and small could also be good and bad at the same time. Big smile good. Big ass bad. Small waist good. Small tits bad.

It was a puzzle. A girl needed a scorecard or, at the very least, a seminar with a syllabus to make any sense of it.

I was feeling sorry for myself. On top of licking wounds from a particularly confusing date the night before, I had just come from visiting my father. Poor sweet Dad, I thought, shaking my head. That recent memory alone was enough to entice me into restarting my engine, and driving my old but dependable car right through the plate glass window of the grocery store.

Giving a deep sigh, I took a minute to think about it. I wasn't the type to look at life through rose-colored glasses, but neither was I a doom and gloom sort. Yet I'd been on edge all weekend. And it wasn't PMS. I'd ridden that roller coaster last week. No, it was something else. Disenchantment maybe, possibly disgruntlement. Rut was written all over my life. R-U-T in big bold letters, outlined in neon tube lighting. It competed for attention with the now important Size Does Matter. For better or for worse, I definitely needed a change. Standing still wasn't an option any longer.

Stuffed in my wallet were two one-dollar-off coupons for my favorite comfort food, Stouffer's Macaroni and Cheese. Later, I was going to throw myself a pity party—a big one—catered by Sara Lee and all her friends from the frozen food section.

"Odeliaaaaa," I scolded audibly, drawing out the last syllable in a menacing tone. "Eating this stuff is not going to help matters."

No it wouldn't, but change could start tomorrow. It seemed natural, new beginnings on a Monday. Diets always began on Monday, so why couldn't other improvements? You never hear of anyone starting anything of importance on a Tuesday or a Wednesday.

By the way, Odelia is not my imaginary friend. I am Odelia, Odelia Patience Grey, and I tend to talk to myself when alone, though why is beyond me since I never listen. I am hardly a scintillating conversationalist at the best of times, and can be a real nag when my mood is less than sunny. Like now.

Turning the usual deaf ear to my own lecture, I hoisted myself out of the car and wandered into the store. The brightly-lit aisles of the market beckoned me with specials, and new and improved items. I strolled down each one, gripping a red plastic basket in one hand. It was my misguided opinion, and denial of choice, that if I used a smaller, hand-carried basket rather than a full-size cart, I would be less apt to load up on junk food. Sometimes the theory worked. Most of the time I just experienced shoulder pain from lugging a too full and too heavy basket.

Meandering the well-stocked aisles, I plucked items from my list off the shelves. Tea bags, two bars of bath soap, and several cans of cat food for starters. I also picked up an assortment of things not on the list—E.L. Fudge cookies, the vanilla ones with the chocolate centers, and the much sought-after, large size macaroni and cheese in the red rectangle box. Out of guilt, and with a bow to nutrition, along the way I tossed in a bag of pre-washed salad mix, a few tomatoes, and a small bunch of bananas. The next stop was the frozen dessert section, where I debated between a carton of Cherry Garcia ice cream and cheesecake, with the latter already in my hand. Using one leg to support the now heavy basket, I deliberated my choice.

"Put down the Sara Lee, and nobody gets hurt."

I gave a little jump at the unexpected but familiar voice. Turning around, I held the chilly box in front of me like a hostage in a shoot-out.

"You'll never take me alive!" I declared.