This is the first novel in the FRAMES quartet.
When rookie private eye Nica takes on a mysterious case, she enters a world of multiple dimensions called Frames, where buildings and lawn chairs can be sentient, a stray cat has great powers, books can be killers, and clouds can be spies. At home, Nica tackles missing person cases, while in the larger reality of the Frames she is swept into an escalating battle with stakes that could not be higher...
Nica Sheridan Taggart Ambrose Taggart Ickovic (Nica S.T.A.T.Ic.) craves action and change, which leaves her life as stable as old dynamite; and though she’s had more than her share of tragedy, she maintains an unquenchable spirit. Her restless nature has led her into several marriages and countless jobs. Now she appoints herself as a private detective, and her shingle is barely dry when she gets not 1 but 3 pairs of clients demanding her attention.
First comes a noxious couple that Nica dubs Mathead and Scabman, who claim to seek a duffel bag; repelled, Nica declines their money but they won’t go away. Then the Garcias hire her to find a missing, 15-year-old goddaughter; Nica doesn’t trust them, but decides she can help the girl in spite of them. Both cases pale beside the third demand for her services.
I became aware that the air had changed. My office smelled like a forest just after a flash flood, when everything is power-washed and tree trunks are smeared with riverbed mud. Fresh and wild.
It took much strength to gently lower that window, but the stranger's arms - all sinew and muscle - showed no strain. I took a step back to get a fuller look and to get farther away. He was a wolf. I don't mean a predatory flirt, I mean he was long and lean and fast and dangerous: coarse black hair, ice-gray eyes and smile full of teeth, supreme confidence backed with survival instinct.
"Please sit down," I suggested or pleaded as I retreated behind my desk. As he complied, muscles flexed inside his garments, a loose cotton tunic and drawstring pants that were as gray as February.
She sat down, too. My other visitor was a princess: not as in daddy's spoiled girl, as in future queen of the fairies. She was as ethereal as he was earthy, exotic but I couldn't place the ethnic background. Cornsilk hair, slanted eyes like unpolished silver, her skin like the penny you've always kept in your pocket for luck. Her tunic was white as a desert sunrise. "We are in need of your detective arts," she said.
"That tends to be why people come to this office." The joke was stillborn. "I'm good with accents but I can't place yours. Where are you from?"
"Knowledge of our ancestry provides no value. We have need of your assistance," he said, in a voice that never needed help from anybody.
"The fate of the free worlds is at stake," she added, in a voice like the first spring breeze on snow.
"Oh-kay." Note to self, cancel ad in NUTJOB QUARTERLY.
Despite this bizarre introduction, Nica trusts these two, Anwyl and Anya, who draw her into adventures beyond imagining - and she's got a crazy imagination. They travel into other dimensions called Frames, often with the Watts Towers - which are folk art sculptures in Nica’s Frame, but sentient, animate beings elsewhere. There is danger everywhere in the Frames, but also a mind-boggling expansion of reality. Nica feels challenged, engrossed, and strangely at home.
In this first book of the FRAMES quartet, a band of allies that includes structures, landforms, and creatures sets out to stop Warty Sebaceous Cysts, a repulsive trio who casually commit genocide to free their imprisoned leader, Maelstrom, who would bring cruelty and horror to all the Frames. Nica joins the allies’ cause without hesitation, though her efforts get her in trouble with the law at home, and in danger of mind control, pain, and death in other Frames. As she sees it, she was born to travel the Frames.
Concert stage, dark except for a deep blue spotlight. Singer drops to one knee and his narration evolves from murmur to rant. "This is the story of a man who got what he wanted but he lost what he had. He got what he wanted but he lost what he had. He got –"
It goes on forever. It's mesmerizing. Uncomfortable. Confessional.
Pretty sure this memory is from the time I saw James Brown, decades ago, but the lost identity of the singer isn't the point.
I've spent my life gazing across some fence or other, admiring greener grass over yonder. I've acted on so many impulses to jump the fence. No complaints, but it has sure taken me a long time to appreciate where I'm standing right now. And nowadays that blue spotlight chant fills my head whenever I contemplate a new jump.
Sometimes I jump back.
I was a low–budget television producer until I wrote a psychological thriller, Was It A Rat I Saw, which Bantam–Doubleday–Dell published in hardcover in 1992. Soon after that I became the mother of twins, jumped into graduate school, and became a disaster scientist. I dabbled in academia, government research, and consulting.
I stopped writing fiction for nearly two decades, until I noticed how much I missed it. I resumed writing novels with the literary fiction Scar Jewelry about a family with secrets that start in the era of Los Angeles punk and persist for decades; then began the speculative detective quartet FRAMES, with Nica of Los Angeles and Nica of the New Yorks. Also in progress is a 9-novella, young adult paranormal horror romance, DDsE.
Funny. Back in the day, I had a single book idea at a time. Now I'm flooded with them, can't keep up with them, though I write just about every day.
I live in southern California. I had to leave for five years to confirm this is where I belong. I live with multiple cats, comfortably close to my twins and granddaughter. Like my life paths, my friends and family are all over the damn place. I like to visit them, spend time at the ocean, explore cities, and go out to hear live music.
This novel has a Spotify playlist. Follow scperryz or go to: http://open.spotify.com/user/scperryz/playlist/61...
Kirkus Reviews says:
... Like any good noir story, the narrative is told from a first-person perspective, and Nica is a chatty narrator with an irreverent, self-deprecating sense of humor. Having a female detective in this genre is a refreshing change from the usual, and the conversational tone of the writing makes it all easily digestible... Perry also has a flair for detailed, unique similes.
A fun, fast-paced novel suitable for readers who appreciate grit, sarcasm, mystery, and dimension-hopping.
A few excerpts from reader reviews:
I love a book that defies genres and this is one that defies splendidly. Part pulp detective, part fantasy, part chick lit, with a dash of comedy to tie it all together, Nica of Los Angeles is an adventure from the very first page.
This is a fantastic book. The characters are interesting, the dialog witty and the story straddles the line between strange and believable perfectly. If Neil Gaiman and Douglas Adams got together to write a Raymond Chandler-style private eye story, this is what would come out.
Nica of Los Angeles is a fantasy wrapped around a gritty detective story...Inventive, exciting, and a non stop thrill ride...
I loved the premise for this book before I even started reading it and it didn't disappoint me. I was captivated but at the same time dreading getting to the end because I knew when I did the book would be over. I am really glad there is going to be a book two and can't wait for it...
... Nica's sarcastic, occasional stream-of-conscious narration felt very sincere (and was quite humorous!) Her ability to accept the unknown and frightening was courageous and inspiring. I really appreciated the strong female lead who was never defined by her looks nor limited by her gender.
Nica is easy to relate to, funny, smart and utterly human.
How to even describe this book...? An intriguing detective thriller, with a fantasy backdrop, sprinkled with humor and unmatched wit is how I would START to explain it.