Advisory reader age for this book is 17+
Lola Hussey Mysteries, Book 1
Lola Hussey, 24 years old, no boyfriend, still living with her mum on a London housing estate and stuck in a going nowhere job in a third rate Private Investigation Agency. Life had to get better surely? When Derek Lewis, rich Australian playboy, is found dead after falling from the roof of his office in salacious circumstances, Lola's opportunity to flex her investigative muscles had begun.
But it wasn't only Lola's professional career that was about to take off. Little did she know it, her love life was too.
Between her new boss, Julian, who was an uptight Adonis, and Joe the office Romeo, Lola was having a hard time to keep her professional integrity intact and her sassy comments to herself. Still, a job was a job, and if it involved working with two handsome men then who else would be up for the challenge?
What was my mum thinking when she gave me the name Lola? It wouldn't be so bad if my surname wasn't Hussey - but it was - and a name like Lola Hussey was not great to grow up with. A name like mine destined me to be a streetwalker or burlesque artist, not a piss poor private investigator, which is what I actually did for a living. I needed a name that would blend in, not raise smiles or worse terrible jokes that weren't even funny.
Actually, mum once told me that she had named me after my great-grandmother who was Spanish. Although I find this suspect as there seems to be no trace of Spanish ancestry in my family. I suspect she named me after the showgirl in Barry Manilow's song and was too ashamed to admit it. As for the surname I couldn't blame her for that as I inherited it from my dad. I did, however, blame her for coupling an already embarrassing surname with a name made famous by Barry Manilow.
Regardless of the reasons my mum thought to name her daughter Lola, it gave a girl a complex growing up on a tough council estate in west London with a name like that. My best friend, Emma Rogers, would console me by telling me that with a name like mine I was bound to become an adult movie star and they made loads of money. That's why I loved Emma - she always looked on the bright side even if it wasn't quite what I wanted to hear.
Thankfully Emma's prediction did not come true. I had managed to avoid a destiny as a **** star and I was the first of my family to ever make it to university. After three years I left with a reasonable grade in Art History, lost virginity (which I was saving for some special occasion) and a huge student loan debt. OK, so the virginity wasn't really being saved for a special occasion it was more that I was terrified of getting pregnant and becoming another single mother statistic. Plus, I guess, I wasn't the most attractive girl on the block. Mostly I was too tall (5 feet 10 inches), had half a ton of metal braces on my teeth and was as skinny as a rake no matter how much my mum attempted to fatten me up with chips and sausages.
Emma hadn't managed to escape the statistics and, at just sixteen, she had become pregnant by a no good guy who happened to be my brother, and who promptly skipped the neighbourhood. Men in our neighbourhood were good at doing that. My own dad had disappeared when I was two, never to be seen or heard of again. So, I guess in mitigation of my brother's awful behaviour he could blame his genes.
Eventually nature took pity on me, my figure filled out, the braces were removed but nothing improved on the hair front. My hair was a riot of black curls a heritage from African ancestors on my dad's side. My complexion, when it finally shrugged off teenage pimples, was a milky tea colour with a dusting of freckles across a small wide nose. My eyes were my best feature, an evil green colour. Well actually I didn't think they were evil, more of a dull khaki with a speckling of hazel, but apparently they got greener when I got mad, the hazel speckles disappeared and that earned me the nickname of Evil Eyes in the family. On a very good day I pretended I was a curly haired Sade and on a bad day, well I guess I was Evil Eyes. After finishing university I applied for jobs at various galleries and museums but somehow, despite my hard earned degree, I had managed to coincide my graduation with a lean period of gallery and museum hirings. I suspect that it also had to do with the fact that my name was Lola Hussey -because after all it's hardly a high class, art gallery type of name is it?
After three months on benefits I was getting desperate. I couldn't take much more lounging around at home; circling jobs in the newspaper that I wasn't even going to get an interview for; getting under my mum's feet and her hinting about why I wasted my time studying at university given that I couldn't get a job afterwards. She had this way of muttering negative vibes under her breath that was really irritating and I swear was driving me to thoughts of matricide. Plus she looked after Emma's little boy Barney who was just turning eight, while Emma was working at her waitress job nearby making me clearly in the way in our tiny apartment.
Things were getting bad when Emma told me her cousin, Pete Rogers, was looking for an office assistant. That was how it all started. Pete owned an investigation agency. It was mainly insurance claims and following suspected unfaithful spouses. Not that I got to do anything remotely interesting as investigating cheating spouses, or even checking up on bogus whiplash claims. My job was mostly filing, some typing with some occasional phone answering and being teased by Pete - especially with regards to my name. Jeez, he could use some imagination making fun of my name is not the most original idea - like I hadn't already heard all the jokes possible. Still a job is a job and I had been doing it now for two years. I was 24, no boyfriend, a dead end job and still living with my nutty mother. Surely life had to get better?