Meet CARLO FRATELLI, the popular housemate, chauffeur, chef, bodyguard and friend of MC Shepard Krausse, in The Mammoth Murders, Book 2 of the Minokee Mysteries Series, by Iris Chacon.
Carlo first appeared in the first Minokee mystery novel, Finding Miranda. He plays a much larger role in Book 2, The Mammoth Murders.
Even if you have not read the novels yet, you’ll enjoy meeting this interesting and personable character.
After the interview, you’ll find a sample of Carlo’s dialogue from The Mammoth Murders audiobook coming out in 2020, as well as a brief excerpt of Carlo’s life, from the ebook version of the novel.
Carlo Fratelli’s Character Interview
AUTHOR: Good morning, Mr. Fratelli, and thank you for allowing us to interview you for our blog. Let’s start with your name and where you are from originally. I’m guessing from your accent that you were not born in Florida.
CARLO: Buongiorno, Signorina. I am honored to be invited. I was christened Carlo Antonio Marcello Fratelli, and I was born a little over three decades ago in northern Italy, where my mother still lives.
AUTHOR: Do you have any siblings? If so, what are they like?
CARLO: One brother, and we were twins, so he was exactly like me. But less magnificent, of course. He passed away last year.
AUTHOR: I’m sorry for your loss.
AUTHOR: We’re a long way from northern Italy, here. How long have you lived in Florida, and how did you happen to come here?
CARLO: My brother, Pietro, and I attended boarding school in Switzerland with an American boy, Shepard Krausse. Shepard’s rich mother hired us to be Shepard’s companions and protectors, because he was blind. This was ridiculous, of course, because Shepard could take care of himself, but we were doing everything together anyway. So, if Signora Krausse wanted to pay us good money to do what we were already doing, we took it. Shepard thought it was hilarious.
AUTHOR: You and your brother were Shep’s “protectors”? Is that like bodyguards? You were school-kids. Why did he need bodyguards?
CARLO: He did not need a bodyguard at that time. His mother worried that Shep could be kidnapped for ransom, because the family was wealthy and a little bit famous. He had relatives in politics. It was only later, after we moved back to the United States after graduating, that Shepard began to make dangerous enemies.
AUTHOR: What is the most dangerous situation you have encountered as Shep’s bodyguards?
CARLO: Evil men tried to murder Shepard by blowing up his car. That is how my brother died. It was the worst day of my life, and as a result, I did the worst thing I have ever done.
AUTHOR: What was that?
CARLO: Um. I may or may not have killed the man who ordered the bombing. Hypothetically speaking. Shepard’s mother is a formidable lady. She and I agreed that, hypothetically, killing a man could be acceptable in such circumstances.
AUTHOR: Were you ever arrested? Do you have a criminal record now?
CARLO: Shepard’s mother may or may not have arranged for the dead man’s crooked business partner to be framed for the murder. In any event, I feel justified in saying I am no criminal.
AUTHOR: Okay. Moving right along. Next question: What is your biggest secret?
CARLO: Signorina, I have already — hypothetically — confessed to a murder. I have no secret bigger than that.
AUTHOR: Ah. Right. Okay, let’s go on to the Lightning Round, quick questions with quick answers. Just say the first thing that comes to your mind. Ready?
CARLO: I believe I was born that way, Signorina.
AUTHOR: Okay then. Religious views?
CARLO: Church every Sunday.
AUTHOR: Views on sex?
CARLO: I am in favor of it, but I am saving my best parts for marriage.
AUTHOR: Ever been in love?
CARLO: I have been in love a thousand times, but not the kind of love I hope to find in a wife someday.
AUTHOR: Greatest strength?
CARLO: I am impossible to intimidate. (I believe this is a virtue, but some people mistake it for arrogance.) Also, my cooking. I am an excellent cook. My mother taught Pietro and me.
AUTHOR: Greatest weakness?
CARLO: Probably, speaking before I think.
AUTHOR: Optimist or pessimist?
AUTHOR: Introvert or extrovert?
CARLO: Extrovert. Pietro was the introvert. Shepard is a fearless extrovert. He used to host a talk radio show for conspiracy theorists.
AUTHOR: Organized or messy?
CARLO: I have to be organized for two reasons. First, Shepard is blind, so we are careful to keep things organized consistently around the house. Second, Shepard can get in enough messes for both of us, and I am usually the one to clear things up.
AUTHOR: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
CARLO: Signorina! What kind of question is that? Why would I want to change what is already perfect?
Excerpt from The Mammoth Murders Audiobook
Read by Jenny Hoops
Excerpt from The Mammoth Murders, ebook version
Chapter 4 – The Return
Miranda began to hear voices nearby as she gradually emerged into consciousness. Beneath her, she felt soft settee cushions instead of a hard, tiled kitchen floor. Someone must have carried her out of Shep’s kitchen. Maybe the same someone who was holding her hand, gently stroking her wrist with a thumb.
“This is your fault!” a familiar deep voice resonated off the walls.
“No, no, no, you thoughtless thug! You the one did not tell her what to expect. You could have predicted this reaction and prepared her for my return.”
The second man had an Italian accent that tugged at her heart. Pietro was dead. Murdered in the car bombing that had nearly killed Shep. “My return,” the man had said. His return from the dead?
Yes! That was why she had fainted. She remembered opening Shep’s kitchen door and seeing Pietro, at the stove, in his ridiculous apron, cooking as he had cooked every night for years. Pietro’s ghost? She had not quite completed that thought when her lights winked out.
“Pietro?” Miranda asked the men’s voices, without opening her eyes.
“No, cara,” the Italian man crooned. “It is I, Carlo. Forgive me if I frightened you.”
“I’ll get her a glass of water,” the deeper voice said, and the hand holding Miranda’s began to pull away.
“No! This you fault,” snapped Carlo. “I get the water. You stay here and make this right, pretty boy.” This last was no compliment, judging by Carlo’s tone.
Miranda opened her eyes to see Shepard’s concerned face looming over her and another man, in a silly apron, leaving the room. “What?” she murmured, squeezing Shep’s hand a little desperately in her confusion. “What? Who? How?”
“Typical librarian. Reciting the Five W’s at a time like this.”
“Shepard!” She seriously needed answers, and fast.
“It’s not Pietro,” he soothed. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize what a shock it might be to see Carlo again, under the circumstances. You remember his twin brother, don’t you?”
She shook her head, “You talked about him, but I never actually ….”
“Right, you never really met Carlo. I wish you had seen them together; then Carlo’s return would’ve been less … um … jolting for you.”
She lifted herself to a sitting position, with Shep’s strong arms to help, and Carlo, returning from the kitchen, pressed a water glass into her hand as soon as she was safely vertical.
“Pleased to meet you, cara,” the water bearer said with a Casanova smile. “I am sorry to frighten you. If this brainless oaf had told you ahead of time, instead of playing childish games — ‘Surprise! Your dead friend is making dinner!’ — our first meeting would have been safer and more pleasant for you.”
“I said I was sorry,” Shep insisted.
“No, in fact, you did not,” Carlo responded calmly.
Shep squeezed Miranda’s hand. “I didn’t?”
“I don’t remember hearing it,” she said, “but I can’t be sure I heard everything. I was sort of incommunicado for a little while.”
“Again, your fault,” Carlo nudged Shep.
For a second, Shep half-turned toward Carlo as if to argue, but he caught himself and turned back to face Miranda. He lifted her hand to his lips and placed a warm, soft kiss on her palm. “I am so, so sorry, Bean. I thought you’d be happy and excited to see Carlo. I never thought you’d mistake him for,” he shied away from the name, ” … his brother. I’m a jerk—”
“Yes, you are,” Carlo interjected.
“—and you should make me do penance for scaring you—”
“Yes, you should. A thousand ‘Our Fathers’!” said Carlo.
“—and I’ll understand if you want to skip dinner with me tonight—”
“No! You want to eat here! I, Carlo, have prepared a masterpiece, one of my mother’s greatest recipes. You will dine with us. But, if you do not want to talk to the big, stupid fellow with only muscles between his ears, you can talk to me.”
Miranda looked at the two men kneeling beside the sofa where she sat. One radiated shame and regret, the other pride and self-assurance. From the kitchen, a heavenly aroma wafted through the house, transporting her to a cucina far away where, years before, a small, rotund woman had taught twin boys to cook.
Miranda smiled for Carlo and squeezed Shep’s hand at the same time. “I think I might talk to both of you,” she said, letting her smile fill her voice. “But let’s eat first.”
The trio had nearly finished consuming Carlo’s unforgettable home-cooked Italian dinner, during which no one lost consciousness, when Carlo said something that nearly dropped Shepard right out of his chair.
“So, have you set a date for the wedding?”
Shep’s fork clattered onto his plate as he rocked backward.
Miranda choked on her mouthful of iced tea and quickly covered her mouth with her napkin.
Miranda asked, “How did you know about that?” at the same time Shep said, “What wedding?”
“You better get busy looking at your calendar, my friends. Madam is well into a series of planning meetings.”
“What?” said Miranda, while Shepard said simply, “No.”
“No?” Carlo raised an eyebrow at Miranda and let his voice convey the gesture to Shepard. “Did you ask this lovely lady to marry you?”
“Many times,” Shepard said.
Miranda said, “Nobody knows about that!”
Carlo smiled. Madam’s spies were never wrong.
“And, pretty lady, did you consent to marry this ignorant savage?” Carlo gestured toward Shep.
“Hey …” said Shep.
“Yes,” she said.
“So, have you set a date for the wedding?” Carlo repeated, as if the intervening conversation had never happened.
“Well, no, but—” Miranda began.
“This weekend. We’re going to be married by a ship’s captain,” Shepard announced flatly, picked up his dropped fork, and returned to finishing his dinner calmly. “Simple ceremony. Short and simple. Very simple.”
“This weekend!” Miranda cried. “But it’s already Wednesday! I can’t—”
“Going on a cruise?” Carlo inserted.
“Canoe trip,” Shep reported, between bites. “Semi-annual Audubon Society fossil hunting tour on the Sho-ke-okee River.”
“Canoeing!” Miranda cried. “Fossil hunting? This is a joke, right? Like when you told me you and Aunt Phyllis used to go bird watching?”
Shep chuckled. “Couldn’t believe how long it took you to catch that one. But this one is for real. Phyllis and I went on the Sho-ke-okee canoe trip twice a year.”
“Right. And you, Shepard Montgomery Krausse, … looked … for fossils,” Miranda said, sarcastically.
He shook his head. “I was just the brawn. Phyllis was the brains — which, of course, this year will be you, Castor Bean. Bring a field guide. I have everything else.”
“You can’t get married on a canoe trip,” Carlo advised. “There’s no ship’s captain to marry you.”
“I’m not sure they can really do that, anyway,” Miranda said.
“We’ll have the canoe outfitter marry us.”
“Yes, Bean, I’m kidding. The canoe outfitter can’t marry us.”
“And we’re not getting married this weekend.”
“Right. We’re not getting married this particular weekend. But we are going canoeing. You up for it?”
“Truthfully? I don’t know,” Miranda said, “but I know I’m not letting you go do something like that alone! It could be dangerous!”
“So, what is the real wedding date?” asked Carlo, bringing the conversation back to his original query. “Madam needs to know.”
“No, Madam does not need to know. Madam is not planning the wedding,” Shep said, picking up his place setting and carrying it toward the sink.
“That’s right,” Miranda agreed, taking up her own place setting and following in Shep’s wake. “The bride’s family is supposed to plan the wedding.”
Shep stopped in his tracks, and Miranda ran into him, nearly dropping her dishes.
“You told your parents?” he asked.
“Well, no, but I guess I’ll have to tell them eventually.”
“Perhaps not,” Carlo said in an oddly cautious tone. “I regret to say, I believe Madam may be contacting Doctor and Signorina Ogilvy this week.”
“What?” said Shepard, while Miranda simply said, “No!”
End of Excerpt
The Mammoth Murders, Book 2 of the Minokee Mysteries, is available at: