Trailer Trash (Neely Kate Mystery Book 1)

By: Denise Grover Swank

Dear Reader:

When I decided to give you a peek inside Neely Kate’s past, I had planned on making it a novella. I love giving you insights into the other characters’ pasts, and I was dying to tell Neely Kate’s story. But soon after I started writing, I realized her story was an actual book, not a novella.

So then began a new dilemma: I was releasing this book under the series title Rose Gardner Exposed Novellas, since my original plan had been to tell my readers about the other characters’ “secrets.” But then I started to realize this wasn’t the end of Neely Kate’s voice. She’s a strong, interesting character who deserves a voice of her own. So, after a short discussion with my editor, Angela, we decided to give Neely Kate her own series—the Neely Kate Mystery series.

Here’s what you don’t have to worry about: Neely Kate is not leaving Rose’s world. They are too perfect together, and I couldn’t imagine splitting them up. (I would mourn that breakup.) But I could let Neely Kate have adventures of her own.

I can tell you that there will be a future Neely Kate book. I can not tell you when it will be. It might follow For the Birds, or it might follow the third Rose Gardner Investigation book, In High Cotton. Just know that I have a semi-plot of Neely Kate’s second book in my head—I just need to figure out where it fits in the Rose Gardner world.

When you finish Trailer Trash, please read the Jed bonus material after the last chapter. (There’s another note about that at the end, because apparently I’m really chatty with this book.)

Chapter 1

My worst nightmare had just shown up at my front door. Well, the front door of RBW Landscaping, to be precise. Miss Dorie had brought it in with the morning mail.

I wasn’t alone, but I was the only employee present. While RBW Landscaping now had six employees, everyone else was out working. Besides me, the person who spent the most time in the office was Rose. She was technically my boss, but if you ranked the complexities of our relationship, it would be:

Best friends



Co-investigators (although I suspect she wouldn’t include this one)

Rose was out this morning, but my brother Joe, the chief deputy sheriff of Fenton County, had stopped by on his day off to bring over my current favorite drink (vanilla caramel latte with almond milk, sprinkled with nutmeg), using the drink delivery as a pretense for a chat. He’d been doing that a lot lately, ever since we found out the truth about my soon-to-be ex-husband. That he wasn’t dead. That he’d turned tail and run off with some other woman.

But Joe knew me better than to up and mention that. He’d settled in on the edge of my desk, sipping his coffee while talking about his plans for his kitchen. He’d been remodeling a rental farmhouse, exchanging labor for rent. I’d seen Joe’s work; his landlord was getting the better deal, but the more I got to know my newly discovered half brother, the more I realized the work he was doing was helping him with his demons.

I had plenty of my own demons, most of which Joe had no inkling of, and as soon as I saw the look on my mail lady’s face, I knew one of them was about to claw to the surface.

The bell on the door chimed as Miss Dorie came in, carrying a stack of envelopes, but her eyes were wide with excitement. “Neely Kate, I have another one of your mystery envelopes.”

Crap. Sometimes I hated being right.

Miss Dorie saw Joe on my desk and did a double take. “Deputy Simmons. I heard you were taking a day off.”

I had to hand it to observant postal workers. Sometimes they knew more about what was going on in Henryetta than I did, and I made it my business to know things.

“It is,” he said in his easy, laid-back tone, offering no other information.

Miss Dorie approached, handing me the stack of mail as she took stock of Joe’s jeans and T-shirt, realizing he was lazing around my office, draped on my desk in a casual manner while we drank our coffees together. Alone. Her eyes flew wide open. “Are you two secretly married?”

Oh, my stars and garters. It would have been funny if it weren’t so disturbing.

Joe spat out his coffee and started to cough.

I dropped the stack on my desk, jumping out of my chair to pat his back.

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