A Painting to Die For
Book 3 Jenna Scali Mystery Series
Jenna’s quiet weekend turns upside down when her house is ransacked and a body is found with her name and number in its possession. Meanwhile her long-lost cousins show up with stories about international art theft dating back to World War II.
While Jenna questions the motives of her dead father in his connection to stolen art, the police find a second body with Jenna’s name in its possession and she becomes the primary link in two murder inquiries. Sidestepping the police and dodging the mob, she and her best friend, Quentin, embark on their own investigation to save themselves and Jenna’s cousins from untimely deaths.
Offset by the quiet university town where faculty and students mill about, minding their own business, Jenna is kidnapped and held at gunpoint while her double-crossing, lying cousins chase after the missing painting worth millions.
A Painting to Die For forms a web of deceit that leaves Jenna doubting everything she believes about her father and his Italian heritage.
Read an excerpt-
A few minutes later, my co-worker and second best friend in the world came
thundering in like a woman possessed. Starr carried a cloth bag, full of potions,
brushes, curling irons and who knew what else. She placed the bag at my feet and
plopped down next to me, her usually wild curly hair more frizzled than ever and
her large blue eyes bulging.
“Jenna, what the devil is going on? All those police cars all over the place, and
I thought, well, my little mind couldn’t help itself, imagining something terrible had
happened to you. And, my Lord! Look at this place.”
“I forgot all about you highlighting my hair today, Starr. I’m sorry. I should
have called you. This has been a crazy weekend. First my cousins—”
“Slow down and tell me why your house is full of cops and looks as if a
hurricane struck inside. Then you can jabber on about your cousins. Lordy, I’m not
believing this place.”
“But, my cousins may be why the police are here.”
Her eyes widened more, if that were possible.
“They showed up on my doorstep on Saturday afternoon with some cock-
and-bull story about somebody stealing my daddy’s painting.”
Starr was shaking her head. “You’re not making any sense. Your daddy? I
thought he was dead, sweet pea. How’s he gonna paint a picture if he’s dead?”
I gave Starr a quick rundown of the weekend with my cousins and the stolen
“That sounds like a story in my hometown newspaper and equally hard to
follow. Are you saying some low-life stole your daddy’s painting? But why? Was he
famous or something?”
Before I could answer, Rich returned with Sergeant Lewis beside him.
When Starr saw Rich, she jumped up and gave him a bear hug. “Thank the
good Lord you’re here. What has our girl gone and gotten her little self mixed up in
Rich grinned. “We’re not sure. It could be kids looking for amphetamines or
“Jenna doesn’t take any of that stuff.”
“We’ve had a lot of break-ins lately,” Lewis interjected, “in and around Five
Points, likely college kids. They case the area, and if they spot someone living alone,
they watch until the person leaves, then they do their handiwork. That’s probably
what’s going on here. It has nothing to do with what Miss Scali takes or doesn’t
“But to leave this place like this. It looks as if she’d been entertaining General
Sherman’s troops in her living room. What a Gawd-awful mess.” She’d begun picking
up papers and books off the floor. “Those kids need the hide beaten right off of
“Yeah, we’d love to do that. Trust me. It’s like this because they were
apparently in a hurry,” Lewis said. “I’m a little curious, though. Usually the kids
break a window. They don’t care about the mess or the noise. But, this time no
windows are broken. It looks as if someone jimmied the lock on the backdoor. That’s
“Maybe they’ve gotten smarter,” I suggested.
Just then Quentin flew in the door and ran over to me. “Jenna, love, what in
the world happened here?”
By now tears flowed down my face, rendering me speechless and unable to
answer any more questions.
“Could this have anything to do with the missing—”
I gave him a hard kick in the shin.
“Ouch! What the devil?”
I shook my head at him. On cue, Rich pulled Sergeant Lewis aside.
While the two policemen conferred, I whispered to Quentin, “We don’t want
to alert Sergeant Lewis to my cousins just yet.”
“Oh, okay, sorry, love. I’m just flabbergasted. Last night you had everything so
“C’mon, let’s get out of here,” Starr said. “My little heart can’t take this chaos.”
The three of us exited the front door with Quentin busy on his phone. “I’ll just
text Rosaria to pop over. And, maybe Lucille. You’re gonna need the troops to get
your place sorted.”
Rich ran us down. “Where are you going?”
“We thought it would be best for Jenna to get out of the way,” Starr answered.
“She’s pretty shook up,” Quentin added.
Clearly no one thought I could talk for myself.
“Okay, but I’ll text you when they’re done. I’m not real comfortable with you
staying here by yourself tonight.”
“Does that mean you’ll stay over?”
“I can’t. I’ve got a meeting at seven a.m. tomorrow. But—”
“No worries. Steve’s visiting his no-good brother in Americus. She’s going
home with me, and I’ll even make a bed for the darn cats,” Starr said.
With that, we piled into Starr’s minivan and headed for parts unknown.
Dr. Joan Curtis is an award winning writer who has published 8 books and numerous stories.
The e-Murderer: Book 1 Jenna Scali mystery series won the GOLD in the Global eBook Awards for 2016 for Mystery.
The Clock Strikes Midnight has won three major awards. FINALIST in the prestigious Eric Hoffer Book Awards 2016, FIRST PLACE Royal Palm Literary Award for mainstream/literary 2015 and the Silver in the Global eBook Awards for 2015 for Fiction/Suspense
Murder on Moonshine Hill won the SILVER in the Global eBook Awards for 2017 Mystery and the BRONZE 2017 for Southern fiction Reader’s Favorite.