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Strapped For Cash

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Strapped For Cash
Historic art thefts and forgeries. Blackmail capable of bringing down a government. Slap and tickle that could prove fatal. Will Brenda ever make a living that doesn’t involve crusty old men?

Since puberty, Brenda has never had any issues with money. She’s always been more than well cared for by the old guys she’s latched onto. She provides the company and kudos; they provide the cash. Since puberty, Brenda has never had any issues with money. She’s always been more than well cared for by the old guys she’s latched onto. She provides the company and kudos; they provide the cash.

Set in London at the end of the seventies, when the country was grappling with the iron rule of Margaret Thatcher, and the economy was in serious need of some CPR, we see Brenda struggling to sort out her own finances.

The irony that she’s being screwed out of her recently acquired nest egg by a bloke isn’t lost on her. Not keen on a day job, Brenda opens a school for girls, teaching the gentle art of screwing old chaps out of their spare change. She hopes it pans out, because apart from the financial implications, she doesn’t fancy a love life that’s destined to be littered with dodgy prostates and emergency CPR.

Strapped for Cash is the third in Andrene Low’s seventies-based Excess Baggage Series with humour that takes no prisoners—unless that’s what they’re paying for.

Originally published as "Screwed for Money".

What others are saying:

“Loved the whole series - could not put them down! Awesome characters, fantastic storyline. Can't wait for the next one to come out!

“Loved it. Couldn't wait to get to the end. HAD to know what was going to happen. Felt that all three books had finally 'tied' everything up - literally and metaphorically... This would make an amusing television series. The little nods to things from the Seventies was a great touch, there were just enough to make you cast your mind back fondly without overwhelming you with cheesy nostalgia. Not chick lit. Not pure comedy. Not romance. Not crime. But a delicious mixture of all those genres.”

“Loved this series and this book tied up everything nicely. The humor and wit throughout the book was delightful and I was laughing out loud a few times. This writer gets better and better!”


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THE PAWNSHOP IS an easy find with its ubiquitous three balls hanging out front as proud as any dog. The interior is hidden behind barred and grimy windows; the accumulation of road dust and old rain on the surface as effective as any frosting or pattern.

Luckily, the small antique shop next door gleams in the half-arsed spring sunlight. Packed to the gunnels with furniture, crockery and paintings, Antique Alley has more than a few animal heads hanging from the walls like a high-flying suburban zoo.

“Kirsten?” says Brenda, to the woman seated behind a glass cabinet crammed with jewellery and small pickpocket-sized knick-knacks, who’s engrossed in a doorstop-sized book.

Her head snaps up in response and she slams the book shut. “That’s me.”

Brenda is all set to flog the ugly jewellery, when the woman says, “Blasted buzzer must be on the blink again.”

She clambers off her tall stool, lifts a section in the counter and joins Brenda. “Be with you in a tick, need to tweak it so no one sneaks up on me.”

There’s no look of censure with this statement, so Brenda doesn’t feel the need to apologise for being the sneakee. Not that she would anyway, not when she’s about to negotiate with the woman.

After fiddling with a few exposed wires and swiping her hand backwards and forwards in front of it, Kirsten is rewarded with a no-nonsense buzz.

“You must be Brenda,” she says, her hand coming up into a shake position as she slips between a roll top desk and a tea trolley.

“I am.” Brenda grips the woman’s hand and recognises the firm shake of a formidable opponent. “I take it Eadie’s phoned.”

“She did. She’s been dealing with the family for at least thirty years.”

At Brenda’s look of confusion, she continues, “Dad started the place, my brother and I inherited it when he passed.”

This explains the woman’s casual dress. It’s not that she’s untidy; more that she doesn’t exude that poker-up-ya-bum edge that a paid employee might. On the plus side, it means there’ll be no mucking about when it comes to doing a deal.

“Can I interest you in a cuppa? I’m having one.”

“Yeah. Sure. Why not?”

On her first visit to London, Brenda had been gobsmacked at how many gallons of mostly stewed tea the average English person could put away. On that trip, she’d gone from refusing cup after cup, to being the one offering to put the kettle on. Now she’s as big a leaf junkie as the most hardened Prisoner of Mother England as the English were known in the colonies. POMS for short.

Brenda is astonished when the owner selects an ornate, flowery set from one of the laden shelves and uses this for their tea break.

Kirsten spots the look. “I sold the last set I was using. Woman wouldn’t take no for an answer. The pot still had bloody tea leaves in it when I wrapped it.”

Brenda joins in with Kirsten’s laughter. “What do you suppose she thought when she went to make her first pot?”

“With the bargain she drove, she probably used them.”

 

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