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
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
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
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