I start Posed for Murder with an art opening for Lydia McKenzie at the Bulan Gallery in Williamsburg. This is kind of funny because I just had the book launch equivalent last night at Partners & Crime in New York city. Luckily, there was wine and food, there were great people, and there were no murders. I even sold some books, which is better than poor Lydia with her murder recreation photographs.
Because I lost my voice talking with so many dear friends last night, I will let my own book speak for me today.
Here’s how my book begins:
She had never killed so many people in so many ways.
Lydia McKenzie stepped back and surveyed her work. Each corpse had been laid out gently and artistically, and if it weren’t for their wounds or twisted limbs they would look as if they were peacefully asleep. The light and shadows on each photograph were well defined and the contrast was crisp. Each black-and-white print was twenty by thirty inches, the largest size she had ever done, and bordered by expensive sleek black frames.
On the opening night of her show, Lydia felt like a genius. But that didn’t stop her from being nervous.
“What if no one wants to buy them?” Lydia found herself expressing her deepest darkest fear out loud. “What if no one wants a picture of a dead body on his wall?”
Georgia Rae, Lydia’s best friend, considered the question. “Sugar, they can’t help but be intrigued.”
But Lydia could only worry. Her first New York solo show was set up at the Bulan Gallery in the ultra hip art community of Williamsburg, and she was savvy enough to know she had to sell in order to get another show. For five years, she had sweated over the pictures, researching the cold cases, scouting the locations, finding the right outfits, convincing friends to lie in uncomfortable poses for hours, pretending they had been strangled, shot, or stabbed, and here was the end result of her efforts in black and white on the gallery walls. While her prints lay safe and warm in her portfolio case, she could only dream of this moment, but now she was here, exposed and open for criticism.
Her palms felt damp. She smoothed her hands over her vintage suit, wondering if she looked okay. She needed a drink.
Lydia looked around the room. There wasn’t a wine bottle in sight, and Jacques Bulan, the owner of the Bulan Gallery, had vanished. “I guess Jacques hasn’t set up the bar yet.”
“It’s still early. We’ll toast your success later.” A few well-dressed people wandered in and scanned the room. Their cheeks red from the cold, they looked like they had traveled all the way from Manhattan and were disappointed to be the first to arrive. Georgia, seeing an opportunity to exercise her southern debutante roots, glided across the room in her red sparkly stilettos to greet them.
Jacques, sensing potential customers, emerged from the back. He was just a little taller than Lydia, who at five seven was tall for a woman but short for a man. He had dealt with his early balding by shaving his head completely, which fooled no one. He dressed all in black and liked his clothes tailored.
“Lydia,” he said, squeezing her arm, “the work looks amazing, don’t you think?” With his French accent, the word amazing took on a brand-new zing.
Lydia tried not to cough when the fumes from his cologne hit the back of her throat. He had drenched himself in the stuff, probably to mask the scent of alcohol. Lydia had never deluded herself that Jacques loved her work. He merely hoped it was just controversial enough to make some waves in a neighborhood with galleries on every block. Competition was fierce–and he calculated that her photo re-creations of cold-case murder victims shot in a film noir style would garner lots of publicity for his gallery.
“Jacques, what happened to the drinks?”
Jacques looked around vaguely. “Drinks? I thought you were taking care of that.”
Lydia’s stomach dropped down into her Doc Martens and refused to come back up again. If Jacques had told her earlier, she could have figured out what to do about it in advance. But right now, she was left with two very bad choices. She could either have no wine at her opening, thereby ensuring that the droves of people arriving would turn and scurry out as quickly as they had come, or she could dip into her meager checking account and take care of it. Her credit-card balance currently hovered somewhere near astronomical.
Before Lydia could manage to mutter anything to Jacques to show him her fury, he flitted away to greet some new arrivals. Lydia looked across the room and caught Georgia’s eye. Georgia instantly recognized the pained expression on her face and came over.
“What’s the matter?”
“You can hold me back before I murder Jacques Bulan with my bare hands.”
Thanks for stopping by to celebrate with me!