This blog is dedicated to featuring mystery books and authors. Each month we host an Amazon e-gift card giveaway.
Izzy by Greg Jolley
Book Four of the Maison de Danse Quartet
Date Published: 12-01-2022
Publisher: Épouvantail Books
What do you do when the legal system refuses to deliver justice?
Conducting her own investigations and trials, she’s out on the hunt, righting wrongs in honor of the victims and their surviving families.
Outlaw revenge has its perils and she’s soon in the fight of her life.
Sometimes a killer’s own survivors also go on the hunt.
Having kicked their hornet’s nest, Izzy is desperate to take them out.
Does she have what it takes to battle off her own demons?
Can she stop those who want her dead?
About the Author
Greg Jolley earned a Master of Arts in Writing from the University of San Francisco and lives in the very small town of Ormond Beach, Florida. When not writing, he researches historical crime, primarily those of the 1800s. Or goes surfing.
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Three Small Bones by Jennifer Chase
About the Book
When firefighters tackling a blazing house in a quiet suburb of Pine Valley,
California discover human remains, Detective Katie Scott races to 717 Maple
Street. She calls a halt to the excavations the moment she sees the full number
and size of the bones; someone has buried a whole family down here.
Working night and day, it’s up to Katie to prove her theory that the fire was no accident, that someone wanted to expose the secret in the basement. Tiny traces of explosives residue found at the scene is all the proof she needs. But the Cross family have been missing for months––leaving friends and loved ones in agonizing pain––what twisted soul would do this now? And why?
The case takes another heart-shattering turn when Katie’s suspicions over recent renovation work on the house leads to the discovery of more bodies in the back yard: two little girls, buried years apart. What other devastating secrets are hidden in this perfect family home?
It’s a dead end at every turn as Katie tracks down anyone who knew the family. Just when it looks like all hope is lost, reports of the Cross’s landlord harassing the family before they went missing gives Katie a crucial lead. With a menacing grey sedan following her every move, how many more innocent lives will be lost before Katie can dig up the truth?
“Edge-of-your-seat suspense to the very end! … Clear your schedule… you will not want to put it down!” Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars
“Love, love, LOVE… I absolutely adore this series!!” Goodreads reviewer, 5
“Grabbed me from the very first page! It was so intense, and enthralling. I stayed up until 11pm two nights in a row so I could finish it.” NetGalley reviewer
Available on Amazon.
Four Years Ago
The heat was even more scorching than usual. It wasn’t a surprise to the special army team whose mission it was to find bombs and insurgents in Afghanistan while keeping civilians safe. It was late afternoon, barely 1700 hours. Still, the temperature raged at one hundred ten degrees and wasn’t showing any remorse.
The assignment was to enter a small village, search it, and maintain a presence while waiting for further orders. They had intelligence information that the enemy had possibly used the village for storing bomb-making paraphernalia. The inhabitants were not known hostiles, merely farmers, and would not pose any type of danger.
Katie Scott took point, which meant she was holding the most exposed position leading her unit. She trudged forward, feeling every muscle ache in her body. Her gear seemed heavier than it had only two hours ago. She adjusted her helmet and, keeping her weapon poised and ready, watched the black German shepherd pad along the roadway. The dog’s posture was almost regal and he was on high alert, ears perked forward as his head moved from side to side catching scents from the open area. Cisco was Katie’s constant companion and partner, one who had alerted her team to danger on several occasions. The dog was invaluable in so many ways, thwarting multiple potential dangers and keeping the team safe.
They finally entered the village. A couple of elderly townspeople acknowledged the American soldiers with a subtle nod but stopped what they were doing immediately to take refuge in their small, makeshift homes. There were supposed to be families with children in the village, but now Katie could only see two young men out and about.
It seemed strange.
Something was out of place.
Katie slowed her pace and her sergeant caught up with her.
“What’s up, Scotty?” he said quietly, still keeping his eyes on any movement around the village.
“I don’t know…” she said softly. “But something is wrong.”
The rest of the team spread out and kept a watchful eye around them.
Cisco stopped too. He stood completely still, taking in the sights and sounds as the hot breeze ruffled his black fur. He growled and turned his attention ahead toward a group of buildings.
“He senses something,” she whispered to her sergeant.
The sergeant gestured for the rest to follow in that direction.
The company moved out. Each soldier had their position, watching for any movement as they covered each other’s backs.
Katie could feel her heart beating hard. She shivered even though the temperature was blistering. Moving cautiously in the direction that Cisco had headed, she brought the dog close by her side. She was ready to return fire or take cover. She took a deep breath to steady her nerves and keep focus. They continued to advance.
A building made of mud bricks and concrete with blocked up windows sat silent. It didn’t appear to be the same structure type as the family homes around it. On one side of the dwelling the windows were crumbling, appearing more ancient than the rest.
Katie watched Cisco slow his pace. His fur bristled down his spine.
The team stopped just before the entrance. There was no visibility as to what was inside.
Under the direction of the sergeant, two team members opened the door and then cleared the entrance, heading farther inside.
Katie heard gasps from her group. She cautiously entered behind them, directing her weapon in front of her. The musty stench hit her first—it was an unmistakable odor. As her vision slowly became accustomed to the dim, dusty lighting, she saw what her teammates had seen. Death.
At first, it appeared to be a large pile of clothes. Katie saw shoes and various materials, but she then realized that the clothes were covering bodies that were by now mostly bones but there were some that were in the first stages of decomposition. There were smaller bones that had been children.
She gulped and took a few steps back. Her mouth went dry and her heart hammered. Her team searched and cleared the building before moving out in formation.
Cisco kept close to her side as Katie tried hard to erase the horrific spectacle from her mind. It had been a massacre. Parents had still had their arms wrapped around their children. She had seen tiny shoes and part of a toy.
Without warning, gunfire bombarded them, peppering off the old clay walls. Smoke filled the air. The team took their positions and returned fire. Katie tucked into a safe place with Cisco next to her. She began to help hold off the ambush attack by firing in the direction of the threat.
Later on, Katie realized that it had been the longest gun battle she had been in, lasting nearly thirty minutes. But the worst part wasn’t the shooting. It was that now she could never forget the image of the town whose inhabitants had been systematically murdered just to keep the enemy’s weapons safe. Something had changed in her perspective that day. The incident fused into her soul, and she would always now carry it with her.
About the Author
Her latest book is the crime thriller, Three Small Bones.
You can visit her website at www.AuthorJenniferChase.com or connect with her on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.
The Murder Before Christmas by Michele PW
EXCEPT when it comes to love. She does NOT do love potions.
Not even for Courtney, her pregnant new client who showed up three weeks before Christmas seeking a love potion because her husband was cheating on her.
So, Courtney asked about poison, instead.
She said she was joking. That's what happens between wives and husbands. They get angry and talk about killing each other. They don't really mean it.
It seems to make sense ... until Courtney’s husband turns up dead on Christmas Eve.
He was poisoned, of course.
And who is the number one suspect? Courtney. Of course.
But did she actually do it? Or is she being set up?
It's up to Charlie to sort through all the twists and turns in a case that gets more complicated the deeper she digs.
Murder at the Christmas Carols by Izzie Harper
All Ellie Blix wants is to make it to New Year without any more disasters.
She's juggling jobs and looking after a sick daughter. Then her mother-in-law
moves in and won’t stop interfering.
It’s the week before Christmas in the snowy village of Lower Wootton. When Andrea Burdett, Ellie's estranged schoolfriend, collapses at the village carols, it quickly becomes clear she’s been murdered. Feeling guilty about the recent row she and Andrea had, and under suspicion herself, Ellie teams up with her daughter and mother-in-law to follow the clues and solve the mystery - much to the annoyance of Ellie's detective inspector ex-husband.
Then a second villager is found dead. Can the three Blix women find the killer and return the community to safety?
Available on Amazon.
The Mystery of Mistletoe Hall by Benedict Brown
England, 1925. When Lord Edgington receives an invitation to spend the Christmas holiday with an old colleague from the police, he expects fine food, good conversation and the warmth of a roaring fire. But on arriving at Mistletoe Hall with his family, they discover the house deserted and no explanation for where their host or his servants could be.
As more guests appear, the master detective begins to question what could connect the disparate group of newcomers. A teacher, a comedian, a thief, a sportsman, a singer, a policeman and a racing driver will all have their roles to play when a killer crashes the party. Cut off from the outside world by the worsening weather, and with bodies piling up, Lord Edgington must rely on his wits, his years of experience, and the help of his bumbling grandson Christopher in order to solve "The Mystery of Mistletoe Hall".
Available on Amazon.
This week's Saturday quote is from The Lost Great Dane by B. L. Blair available on Amazon.
Roast Date by Heather Day Gilbert
About the Book
Welcome to the Barks & Beans Cafe, a quaint place where folks pet shelter dogs while enjoying a cup of java…and where murder sometimes pays a visit.
After much cajoling, Macy gives in to her neighbor, Vera, and agrees to come to her book club’s Christmas party so she can share about the cafe. While public speaking isn’t Macy’s thing, she wants to brighten Vera’s lonely holiday season…and she can sell a little house blend on the side.
When a lively book discussion spirals into a public roast of the mayor—who happens to be sitting in their midst—things get uncomfortable. Soon afterward, the mayor shows up dead in Vera’s bathroom, and no amount of gingerbread cookies or eggnog can restore Vera to the club’s good graces. ‘Tis the season for Macy to find the murderer, or else Vera might be taking a long winter’s nap in a jail cell.
Join siblings Macy and Bo Hatfield as they sniff out crimes in their hometown…with plenty of dogs along for the ride! The Barks & Beans Cafe cozy mystery series features a small town, an amateur sleuth, and no swearing or graphic scenes.
The Barks & Beans Cafe cozy mystery series in order:
Book 1: No Filter
Book 2: Iced Over
Book 3: Fair Trade
Book 4: Spilled Milk
Book 5: Trouble Brewing
Book 6: Cold Drip
Book 7: Roast Date
About the Author
Award-winning novelist Heather Day Gilbert enjoys writing mysteries and Viking historicals. She brings authentic family relationships to the page, and she particularly delights in heroines who take a stand to protect those they love. Avid readers say Heather’s realistic characters—no matter what century—feel like best friends. When she’s not plotting stories, this native West Virginian can often be found hanging out with her husband and four children, playing video games, or reading Agatha Christie novels.
Website ~~ Facebook ~~ Twitter ~~ Bookbub ~~ Goodreads
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Her Sister's Death by K. L. Murphy
Her Sister's Death
by K. L. Murphy
November 28 - December 23, 2022 Virtual Book Tour
She wanted the truth. She should have known better.
When her sister is found dead in a Baltimore hotel room, reporter Val Ritter’s world is turned upside down. An empty pill bottle at the scene leads the police to believe the cause of death is suicide. With little more than her own conviction, Val teams up with Terry Martin, a retired detective who has his own personal interest in the case, to prove that something more sinister is possible.
In 1921, Bridget Wallace, a guest on the brink of womanhood, is getting ready to marry an eligible older man. But what seems like a comfortable match soon takes a dark turn. Does the illustrious history of the stately Franklin hotel hide another, lesser known history of death?
Published by: CamCat Books
Publication Date: December 2022
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 9780744307399 (ISBN10: 0744307392)
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | CamCat Books
Read an excerpt:
Monday, 9:17 a.m.
Once, when I was nine or maybe ten, I spent weeks researching a three-paragraph paper on polar bears. I don’t remember much about the report or polar bears, but that assignment marked the beginning of my lifelong love affair with research. As I got older, I came to believe that if I did the research, I could solve any problem. It didn’t matter what it was. School. Work. Relationships. In college, when I suspected a boyfriend was about to give me the brush-off, I researched what to say before he could break up with me. Surprisingly, there are dozens of pages about this stuff. Even more surprising, some of it actually works. We stayed together another couple of months, until I realized I was better off without him. He never saw it coming.
When I got married, I researched everything from whether or not we were compatible (we were) to our average life expectancy based on our medical histories (only two years different). Some couples swear they’re soul mates or some other crap, but I considered myself a little more practical than that. I wanted the facts before I walked down the aisle. The thing is, research doesn’t tell you that your perfect-on-paper husband is going to
prefer the ditzy receptionist on the third floor before you’ve hit your five-year anniversary. It also doesn’t tell you that your initial anger will turn into something close to relief, or that all that perfection was too much work and maybe the whole soul-mate thing isn’t as crazy as it sounds. If you doubt me, look it up.
My love of research isn’t as odd as one might think. My father is a retired history professor, and my mother is a bibliophile. It doesn’t matter the genre. She usually has three or more books going at once. She also gets two major newspapers every day and a half dozen magazines each month. Some people collect cute little china creatures or rare coins or something. My mother collects words. When I decided to become a journalist, both my parents were overjoyed.
“It’s perfect,” my father said. “We need more people to record what’s going on in the world. How can we expect to learn if we don’t recognize that everything that happens impacts our future?” I fought the urge to roll my eyes. I knew what was coming, but how many times can a person hear about the rise and fall of Caesar? The man was stabbed to death, and it isn’t as though anyone learned their lesson. Ask Napoleon. Or Hitler. My dad was right about one thing though. History can’t help but repeat itself.
“Honey,” my mother interrupted. “Val will only write about important topics. You know very well she is a young lady of principle.” Again, I wanted to roll my eyes.
Of course, for all their worldliness, neither of my parents understands how the world of journalism works. You don’t walk into a newsroom as an inexperienced reporter and declare you will be writing about the environment, or the European financial market, or the latest domestic policy. The newspaper business is not so different from any other—even right down to the way technology is forcing it to go digital. Either way, the newbies are given the jobs no one else wants.
Naturally, I was assigned to obituaries.
After a year, I got moved to covering the local city council meetings, but the truth was, I missed the death notices. I couldn’t stop myself from wondering how each of the people died. Some were obvious. When the obituary asks you to donate to the cancer society or the heart association, you don’t have to think too hard to figure it out. Also, people like to add that the deceased “fought a brave battle with (fill in the blank).” I’ve no doubt those people were brave, but they weren’t the ones that interested me. It was the ones that seemed to die unexpectedly and under unusual circumstances. I started looking them up for more information. The murder victims held particular fascination for me. From there, it was only a short hop to my true interest: crime reporting.
The job isn’t for everyone. Crime scenes are not pretty. Have you ever rushed out at three in the morning to a nightclub shooting? Or sat through a murder trial, forced to view photo after photo of a brutally beaten young mother plastered across a giant screen?
My sister once told me I must have a twisted soul to do what I do. Maybe. I find myself wondering about the killer, curious about what makes them do it. That sniper—the one that picked off the poor folks as they came out of the state fair—that was my story. Even now, I still can’t get my head around that guy’s motives.
So, I research and research, trying to get things right as well as find some measure of understanding. It doesn’t always work, but knowing as much as I can is its own kind of answer.
Asking questions has always worked for me. It’s the way I do my job. It’s the way I’ve solved every problem in my life. Until now. Not that I’m not trying. I’m at the library. I’m in my favorite corner in the cushy chair with the view of the pond. I don’t know how long I’ve been here.
How many hours.
My laptop is on, the screen filled with text and pictures. Flicking through the tabs, I swallow the bile that reminds me I have no answer. I’ve asked the question in every way I can think of, but for the first time in my life, Google is no help.
Why did my sister—my gorgeous sister with her two beautiful children and everything to live for—kill herself? Why?
Sylvia has been dead for four days now. Actually, I don’t know how long she’s been dead. I’ve been told there’s a backlog at the ME’s office. Apparently, suicides are not high priority when you live in a city with one of the country’s highest murder rates. I don’t care what the cause of death is. I want the truth. While we wait for the official autopsy, I find myself reevaluating what I do know.
Her body was discovered on Thursday at the Franklin, a Do not Disturb sign hanging from the door of her room. The hotel claims my sister called the front desk after only one day and asked not to be disturbed unless the sign was removed. This little detail could not have been more surprising. My sister doesn’t have trouble sleeping. Sylvia went to bed at ten every night and was up like clockwork by six sharp. I have hundreds of texts to prove it. Even when her children were babies with sleep schedules that would kill most people, she somehow managed to stick to her routine. Vacations with her were pure torture.
“Val, get up. The sun is shining. Let’s go for a walk on the beach.”
I’d open one eye to find her standing in the doorway. She’d be dressed in black nylon shorts and neon sneakers, bouncing up and down on her toes.
“We can walk. I promise I won’t run.”
Tossing my pillow at her, I’d groan and pull the covers over my head. “You can’t sleep the day away, Val.”
She’d cross the room in two strides and rip back the sheets. “Get up.”
In spite of my night-owl tendencies, I’d crawl out of bed. Sylvia had a way of making me feel like if I didn’t join her, I’d be missing out on something extraordinary. The thing is, she was usually right. Sure, a sunrise is a sunrise, but a sunrise with Sylvia was color and laughter and tenderness and love. She had that way about her. She loved mornings.
I tried to explain Sylvia to the police officer, to tell him that hanging a sleeping sign past six in the morning, much less all day, was not only odd behavior but also downright suspicious. He did his best not to dismiss me outright, but I knew he didn’t get it.
“Sleeping too much can be a sign of depression,” he said. “She wasn’t depressed.”
“She hung a sign, ma’am. It’s been verified by the manager.” He stopped short of telling me that putting out that stupid sign wasn’t atypical of someone planning to do what she did.
Whatever that’s supposed to mean.
The screen in front of me blurs, and I rub my burning eyes. There are suicide statistics for women of a certain age, women with children, women in general. My fingers slap the keys. I change the question, desperate for an answer, any answer.
A shadow falls across the screen when a man takes the chair across from me, a newspaper under his arm. My throat tightens, and I press my lips together. He settles in, stretching his legs. The paper crackles as he opens it and snaps when he straightens the pages.
“Do you mind?”
He lowers the paper, his brows drawn together. “Mind what?” “This is a library. It’s supposed to be quiet in here.”
He angles his head. “Are you always this touchy or is it just me?”
“It’s you.” I don’t know why I say that. I don’t even know why I’m acting like a brat, but I can’t help myself.
Silence fills the space between us as he appears to digest what I’ve said. “Perhaps you’d like me to leave?”
“That would be nice.”
He blinks, the paper falling from his hand. I’m not sure which of us is more surprised by my answer. I seem to have no control over my thoughts or my mouth. The man has done nothing but crinkle a newspaper, but I have an overwhelming need to lash out. He looks around, and for a moment, I feel bad.
The man gets to his feet, the paper jammed under his arm. “Look, lady, I’ll move to another spot, but that’s because I don’t want to sit here and have my morning ruined by some kook who thinks the public library is her own personal living room.” He points a finger at me. “You’ve got a problem.”
I feel the sting, the well of tears before he’s even turned his back. They flood my eyes and pour down over my cheeks. Worse, my mouth opens, and I sob, great, loud, obnoxious sobs.
I cover my face with my hands and sink lower into the chair, my body folding in on itself.
My laptop slips to the floor, and I somehow cry harder. “Is she all right?” a woman asks, her voice high and tight. The annoying man answers. “She’ll be fine in a minute.”
“Are you sure?” Her gaze darts between us, and her hands flutter over me like wings, nearing but never touching. I recognize her from the reference desk. “People are staring. This is a library, you know.”
I want to laugh, but it gets caught in my throat, and comes out like a bark. Her little kitten heels skitter back. I don’t blame her.
Who wouldn’t want to get away from the woman making strange animal noises?
“Do you have a private conference room?” the man asks. The woman points the way, and large hands lift me to my feet. “Can you get her laptop and her bag, please?”
The hands turn into an arm around my shoulders. He steers me toward a small room at the rear of the library. My sobs morph into hiccups.
The woman places my bag and computer on a small round table. “I’ll make sure no one bothers you here.” She slinks out, pulling the door shut.
The man sets his paper down and pulls out a chair for me. I don’t know how many minutes pass before I’m able to stop crying, before I’m able to speak.
“Are you okay now?” I can’t look at him. His voice is kind, far kinder than I deserve. He pushes something across the table. “Here’s my handkerchief.” He gets to his feet. “I’m going to see if I can find you some water.”
The door clicks behind him, and I’m alone. My sister, my best friend, is gone, and I’m alone.
“Do you want to talk about it?” the man asks, setting a bottle of water and a package of crackers on the table.
Sniffling, I twist the damp, wadded up handkerchief into a ball. I want to tell him that no, I don’t want to talk about it, that I don’t even know him, but the words slip out anyway. “My sister died,” I say.
“Oh.” He folds his hands together. “I’m sorry. Recently?” “Four days.”
He pushes the crackers he’s brought across the table. “You should try to eat something.”
I try to remember when I last ate. Yesterday? The day before? One of my neighbors did bring me a casserole with some kind of brown meat and orangey red sauce. It may have had noodles, but I can’t be sure. I do remember watching the glob of whatever it was slide out of the aluminum pan and down the disposal. I think I ate half a bagel at some point. My stomach churns, then rumbles. The man doesn’t wait for me to decide. He opens the packet and pushes it closer. For some reason I can’t explain, I want to prove I’m more polite that I seemed earlier. I take the crackers and eat.
He gestures at the bottle. “Drink.”
I do. The truth is, I’m too numb to do anything else. It’s been four days since my parents phoned me. Up to now, I’ve taken the news like any other story I’ve been assigned. I’ve filed it away, stored it at the back of my mind as something I need to analyze and figure out before it can be processed. I’ve buried myself in articles and anecdotes and medical pages, reading anything and everything to try and understand. On some level, I recognize my behavior isn’t entirely normal. My parents broke down, huddled together on the sofa, as though conjoined in their grief. I couldn’t have slipped between them even if I wanted to. Sylvia’s husband—I guess that’s what we’re still calling him—appeared equally stricken. Not even the sight of her children, their faces pale and blank, cracked the shell I erected, the wall I built to deny the reality of her death.
“Aunt Val,” Merry asked. “Mommy’s coming back, right? She’s just passed, right? That’s what Daddy said.” She paused, a single tear trailing over her pink cheek. “What’s ‘passed’?”
Merry is the youngest, only five. Miles is ten—going on twenty if you ask me—which turned out to be a good thing in that moment. Miles took his sister by the hand. “Come on, Merry. Dad wants us in the back.” I let out a breath. Crisis averted.
My sister has been gone four days, and I haven’t shed a tear. Until today. The man across the table clears his throat. “Are you feeling any better?” “No, I’m not feeling better. My sister is still dead.” God, I’m a bitch. I expect him to stand up and leave or at least point out what an ass I’m being when he’s gone out of his way to be nice, but he does neither. “Yes, I suppose she is. Death is kind of permanent.”
I jerk back in my chair. “Is that supposed to be funny?”
Unlike me, he does apologize. “I’m sorry. That didn’t come out right. I never did have the best bedside manner for the job.”
I take a closer look at the man. “Are you a doctor?”
He half laughs. “Hardly. Detective. Former, I mean. I never quite got the hang of talking to the victims’ families without putting my foot in my mouth. Seems I’ve done it again.”
My curiosity gets the best of me. He’s not much older than I am. Mid-forties. Maybe younger. Definitely too young for retirement. “Former detective? What do you do now?”
“I run a security firm.” He lifts his shoulders. “It’s different, has its advantages.”
The way he says it, I know he misses the job. I understand. “I write for the Baltimorean. Mostly homicides,” I say. “That’s a good paper. I’ve probably read your work then.”
Crumpling the empty cracker wrapper, I say, “I’m sorry I dumped on you out there.”
He shrugs again. “It’s okay. You had a good reason.” I can’t think of anything to say to that.
“How did she die, if you don’t mind my asking?”
The question hits me hard. What I mind is that my sister is gone. My hands ball into fists. The heater in the room hums, but otherwise, it’s quiet. “They say she died by suicide.”
The man doesn’t miss a beat. “But you don’t believe it.” He watches me, his body still.
My heart pounds in my chest and I reach into my mind, searching for any information I’ve found that contradicts what I’ve been told. I’ve learned that almost fifty thousand people a year die by suicide in the United States. Strangely, a number of those people choose to do it in hotels. Maybe it’s the anonymity. Maybe it’s to spare the families. There are plenty of theories, but unfortunately, one can’t really ask the departed about that. Still, the reasoning is sound enough. For four days, I’ve read until I can’t see, and my head has dropped from exhaustion. I know that suicide can be triggered by traumatic events or chronic depression. It can be triggered by life upheaval or can be drug induced, or it can happen for any number of reasons that even close family and friends don’t know about until after—if ever. I know all this, and yet, I can’t accept it.
Sylvia was found in a hotel room she had no reason to be in. An empty pill bottle was found on the nightstand next to her. She checked in alone. Nothing in the room had been disturbed. Nothing appeared to have been taken. For all these reasons, the police made a preliminary determination that the cause of death was suicide, the final ruling to be made after the ME’s report. I know all this. My parents and Sylvia’s husband took every word of this at face value. But I can’t. Sylvia is not a statistic, and I know something they don’t.
“No. I don’t believe it.” I say, meeting his steady gaze with my own.
He doesn’t react. He doesn’t tell me I’m crazy. He doesn’t say “I’m sorry” again. Nothing. I’m disappointed, though I can’t imagine why. He’s a stranger to me. Still, I press my shoulder blades against the back of the chair, waiting. I figure it out then. Former detective. I’ve been around enough cops to know how it works. It’s like a tribe with them. You don’t criticize another officer. You don’t question anyone’s toughness or loyalty to the job. You don’t question a ruling that a case doesn’t warrant an investigation, much less that it isn’t even a case. So, I sit and wait. I will not be the first to argue. It doesn’t matter that he’s retired and left the job. He’s still one of them. In fact, the more I think about it, I can’t understand why he’s still sitting there. I’ve been rude to the man. I’ve completely broken down in front of him like some helpless idiot. And now, I’ve suggested the cause of death that everyone—and I mean everyone—says is true is not the truth at all.
He gets up, shoves his hands in his pockets.
This is it. He’s done with me now. In less than one minute he’ll be gone and, suddenly, I don’t want him to leave. I break the silence.
“I’m Val Ritter.” “Terry Martin.”
I turn the name over in my brain. It’s familiar in a vague way. “Terry the former detective.”
“Uh-huh.” He shifts his weight from one foot to the other. “Look, I’m sorry about your sister. You’ve lost someone you love, and the idea that she might have taken her own life is doubly distressing.”
“I’m way past distressed. I’m angry.”
“Is it possible that you’re directing that anger toward the ones that ruled her death a suicide instead of at your . . .” His words fall away.
“My sister?” “Yes.”
“I might be if I thought she did this.” I cross my arms over my chest. “But I don’t. This idea, this thing they’re saying makes no sense at all.”
Terry the former detective’s voice is low, soothing. “Why?”
My arms drop again. I’m tempted to tell him everything I know, which admittedly isn’t much, but I hold back. This man is a stranger. Sure, he’s been nice, and every time I’ve expected him to walk out the door, he’s done the opposite. But that doesn’t mean I can trust him.
“I’m sorry if my question seems insensitive,” he says. His voice is soft, comforting in a neutral way, and I can picture him in an interrogation. He would be the good cop. “No matter how shocking the, uh, idea might be, I have a feeling you have your reasons. You were close—you and your sister?” “We were.” I sit there, twisting the handkerchief in my fingers. The heat-
er makes a revving noise, drops back to a steady hum. “We talked all the time, and I can tell you she wasn’t depressed. That’s what they kept saying. ‘She must have been depressed.’ I know people hide things, but she was never good at hiding her emotions from me. If anything, she’d been happier than ever.” I give a slow shake of my head. “They tried to tell me about the other suicide and about the pills and the sign on the door and—” I stop. I hear myself rambling and force myself to take a breath. “If something had been wrong, I would have known.”
Terry the former detective doesn’t react, doesn’t move. He keeps his mouth shut, but I know. He doesn’t believe me, same as all the others. I can tell. There is no head bob or leading question. He thinks I’m in denial and that I will eventually accept the truth. He doesn’t know me at all.
The minutes pass, and I drink the water. I realize I feel better. It’s time to leave. “I should be going.” I hold up the crumpled rag in my hand. “Sorry I did such a number on your handkerchief. I can clean it, send it to you later.”
He waves off the suggestion. “Keep it.”
I gather my items and apologize again. “Sorry you had to witness my meltdown out there.”
I’m headed out the door, my hand on the knob, when he breaks protocol.
“What did you mean by ‘the other suicide’?”
Monday, 10:02 a.m.
The woman—Val, I remind myself—hesitates. I can see she’s wary, worried I don’t believe her. I don’t know that I do, but I am curious. “What
did you mean? There was another suicide?”
“A month ago, maybe a little longer, a woman killed herself in the same hotel. She jumped off the roof, which apparently was no easy task since there were all kinds of doors to go through to get up there. Of course, what happened to her was horrible, but it has nothing to do with my sister. I don’t know why they’re acting like it does.”
My jaw tightens. “Which hotel?”
I look past her and think maybe I should be surprised, but nothing about that hotel surprises me. “The Franklin,” I say, echoing her words.
The Franklin is one of Baltimore’s oldest hotels. Built in 1918, it’s fifteen stories high with marble columns and archways at the entrance. Along with the Belvedere, before it became condos, and the Lord Baltimore, the Franklin is a destination, a swanky place that’s attracted film stars and
politicians for decades. Somewhere along the line, it fell into disrepair and the famous guests went elsewhere. For a brief time, the management offered rooms for short-term rentals, desperate to keep the hotel from plunging further into the red. Twenty years ago, the hotel was sold to an investment group. They declared the hotel historic, sunk tens of millions of dollars into it, and reopened it in grand style. The governor and the mayor cut the big red ribbon. Baseball stars from the Orioles and a well-known director were photographed at the official gala. It was a big to-do for the city at the time. Since then, it’s remained popular—one of the five-star hotels downtown, which, of course, means that a night there doesn’t come cheap. That’s the press release version.
But there’s another one. Lesser known.
Val is calm now, watching me, and I catch a glimpse of the reporter. “Do you know it?” she asks.
“Yeah, I know it.” Stories have circulated about the hotel through the years. Some are decades old while others have been encouraged by the hotel itself. Ghost tours are popular these days, and the Franklin tour is no exception. “It has a history. For a while, it was called the Mad Motel.”
She flinches. “What?”
“According to my grandfather, people seemed to die there. Most deaths occurred right after the Depression, victims of the stock market crash, but not all. There was one guy that killed his whole family right before he killed himself. They said he lost his mind. That was the first time it was called the Mad Motel, though there were other stories.”
“What are you saying?”
I see the flush on her cheeks and know my words have upset her in a way I didn’t intend. I do my best to smooth it over. “Nothing. I didn’t mean anything. I’ve never been a fan of the name myself, but there were some guys around the department that used it.”
The anger that colored her cheeks a moment earlier fades, eclipsed by something else I recognize. Curiosity. “Why would they use such a terrible name?”
It’s a valid question, and I give the only explanation I can. “The first time I heard it on the job was about fifteen years ago. An assault at the Franklin. I didn’t catch the case, but I remember a man almost beat his wife to death. He would have, if someone in the next room hadn’t called the police.”
She doesn’t blink, doesn’t raise a hand to her mouth. Just waits. “Before that day, the guy was a typical accountant. Kind of nerdy.
Mild-mannered. Went to work. Went home to his family. Nothing out of the ordinary. Then they fly into Baltimore for their nephew’s wedding, stay at the Franklin. As they were dressing, he loses it. He hits her with the lamp, punches her, throws her up against the wall. When the police arrived, they had to pry him off of her. They rushed her to the hospital. She ended up with broken ribs, a concussion, a whole bunch of other stuff.”
“And the husband?”
“That’s what was so strange. According to the officers on the scene, as soon as they pulled him off, he stopped all of it. He cried, begged to be allowed to go with her to the hospital. When they took him downtown, he swore he didn’t know what had come over him. That he’d never hit anyone in his life, and he couldn’t even recall being angry with her. They kept him in jail until she woke up. Oddly, she corroborated his story. She said he didn’t have a violent bone in his body before that day.”
Val’s forehead wrinkles. “I don’t remember ever reading about that case.
“He was charged in spite of his wife’s insistence that she didn’t want that. When he went to trial, his lawyer put him on the stand. That’s when I heard his story.” I pause and run my hand over my face, scratching at my chin. “He told the jury that while he was putting on his tux jacket, a cold breeze blew in. He said he checked the room, but the windows were closed, and it was winter, so the heat was on. Then according to him, this cold air got into his body, in his hands and his feet and then his mind. He said when his wife came out of the bathroom, he didn’t recognize her, that she was someone else, something else.”
“Something else? What does that mean?”
“He described a monster with sharp teeth and claws. His attorney even had a drawing done by a sketch artist. She held it up for the jury, but the man wouldn’t look at it. Refused. He claimed he panicked, grabbed the lamp, and swung, but the monster kept coming. He said the monster howled—that was probably his wife screaming—and came at him again. That must have been when the guest in the other room called the police.” I pause again. Even as I say it, I know how it sounds. “So, he tells this story at trial, and everyone looks around at each other thinking this guy is crazy. But his wife is in the audience and nodding like it’s true. The prosecutor goes after him, but he doesn’t back down. He admits he attacked someone, but he swears he didn’t knowingly hurt his wife. He breaks down on the stand, and it’s basically bedlam in the courtroom.”
Memories of that day flood my mind. I sat in the back of the packed courtroom, watching the melee. It was hard to know what to think. Was the man delusional? A sociopath? Or was he telling the truth? Fortunately, Val doesn’t ask my opinion, and I tell her the rest.
“The prosecutor decided to cut his losses,” I say. “He let the man plead to a lesser charge and get some mental help.”
“Yep. The man did three months in a mental health facility, then went back to Omaha and his wife. End of story.”
“So that’s why the Franklin is called the Mad Motel?”
“It’s one of the reasons. But like I said, the place has a history.” Newspaper articles and pictures and evidence files flit through my mind. Many of the images are gruesome. Others just sad. Although the library is warm, I’m cold under my jacket. My voice drops to a whisper, the memories too close for comfort. “A history of death.”
Excerpt from Her Sister's Death by K. L. Murphy. Copyright 2022 by K. L. Murphy. Reproduced with permission from CamCat Books. All rights reserved.
The mind of a mystery writer is a strange thing. The other day, my brother and I were on our way to a local refuse (affectionately known as The Dump) when we ran into a traffic jam trying to get in. A few minutes later, there were sirens wailing and emergency vehicles speeding past. My brother asked me if I thought one vehicle had slammed into another (a car accident ahead) or someone had gotten hurt somehow (fallen and broken a leg). My mind didn’t go to such mundane possibilities. In fact, those things hadn’t even occurred to me. Instead, I turned to him and said, “Maybe they found a body.”
Writers observe. They listen. And they ask questions. This is something I have in common with Val, one of the protagonists in my new novel, Her Sister’s Death. She’s a reporter who’s addicted to research and relentlessly questions things she wants to understand. This includes the death of her beloved sister, Sylvia.
While I am actually nothing like Val in real life, we do both ask a lot of questions. My family has long called me “The Detective” and begs me to stop when they can’t take it anymore. For me, ideas and inspiration come from asking questions. With Her Sister’s Death, I was inspired by a nonfiction book about a man’s unsolved death, the historic hotels of Baltimore, and a creepy ghost tour I took years ago in Key West, Florida. I researched the death. I studied the history of the hotels. I looked for why ghost tours were popular and endured. For me, each of these things is interesting on its own, but brought together, they become something else. They become a story.
Like most other mystery writers, I have a pretty good imagination. What the average person sees as skid marks on the road, I might see as evidence of a desperate woman escaping the clutches of a would-be serial killer. Okay, maybe that one is a stretch but sometimes, that’s how it starts. In Her Sister’s Death, Val has lost Sylvia, but she’s unable to grieve until she understands why. The not knowing drives her to ask questions, to join forces with a retired homicide detective, a man she’s just met and who might have motives of his own. In a dual timeline, Bridget is a young woman about to be married to an older man and plagued by doubts and fears. Each of these protagonists has their own tale to tell, but ultimately, together their stories, along with that of the historic Franklin hotel, become one. For a mystery writer, the mundane is infused with darkness and sharp edges. I feel that is also true in Her Sister’s Death. The book explores difficult themes, but it also offers hope and redemption. That, too, is always in the mind of a mystery writer.
Not long after the sirens passed my brother and me, they turned around and came back, sirens off. Traffic moved and within a short time, we were dumping trash into one of the large, empty metal bins. Logic tells me there was no body that day, but my imagination tells me, you never know.
K. L. Murphy is the author of the Detective Cancini Mystery Series: A Guilty Mind, Stay of Execution, and The Last Sin. Her short stories are featured in the anthologies Deadly Southern Charm (“Burn”) and Murder by the Glass (“EverUs”). She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Sisters in Crime, James River Writers, and Historical Writers of America. K. L. lives in Richmond, VA, with her husband, children, and amazing dogs. When she’s not writing, she loves to read, entertain friends, catch up on everything she ignored, and always—walk the amazing dogs.
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Raven’s Edge by JB Dane
About the Book
Name’s Bram Farrell. I’m a PI—well, used to be. Michigan doesn’t think I have the requisites for a license in this world. My experience is nearly all within the pages of a set of fantasy novels written by Calista Amberson, who I thought died shortly after yanking me into the real world but hadn’t. Currently, I rank at the top of her “Erase These Idiots” list. The feeling is mutual.
As St. Patrick’s Day dawned, I thought the only dangerous thing on my social calendar was meeting my secretary-cum-sugarplum Naomie Enright and her family. It wasn’t—though downing green dyed potato salad had taken courage. No, it was finding the Irish goddess Danu waiting for me at the bar of Enright’s Pub. She had a sword for me to find. Someone had nicked The Retaliator, an ancient Tuatha blade that could kill with just a scratch.
Not many of them around in twenty-first-century Detroit.
Except Naomie’s brother happened to have a friend who liked to buckle on some swash and dazzle crowds with sword play. And he’s vanished, only the scents of ghoul and vampire lingering in his wrecked apartment. That’s never good.
And it was headed for even worse. I needed an edge to solve—and survive—this case!
~~ Amazon ~~
It was dim, as usual, in The Bridge Bar and Grill, and the scents were not in the least appealing. Not those wafting from the kitchen, from the pewter tankards on the table, nor from the guy sitting across from me.
And I use the word guy loosely. He wasn’t human, but then, I’m not either. Just passing for one. Passing a damn sight better than the troll sharing the table with me. The name’s Bram Farrell but most non-humans refer to me by my other moniker, The Raven. I’m a PI specializing in Otherworlder crimes and punishment. Or at least I used to be.
“What sort of experience do you have in providing security for a business owner?” I asked.
“Been in the protection business fer nigh on forty years now,” he said.
“Ms. Lund isn’t looking for protection, she’s looking for security. You do realize the two things aren’t exactly kissing cousins?”
Actually, what Ruthie was looking for was somebody who looked big, scary, and could thump on any customer she felt needed to be escorted to the street with a firm kick to their nether regions. She’d love to do it herself but she’s a very foreshortened troll since her dad was a dwarf. The highest she could deliver a martial arts kick was to a man’s kneecap. In the past her half-giant brother Ralph had handled bouncer duties, but he’d gone off to check on his bridge.
I’ve no idea why she thought I was the best person to play nonhuman resources personnel, but I’d showed up to do it anyway.
“‘Splane ta me agin what the job is,” the regulation sized troll across from me said. “Spell it out so’s I can understand, and I’ll tell ya if I got the moxie.”
I glanced at the application form before me to cadge his name. “It’s simple, Horace. Ms. Lund points to someone she wants out and you pick them up and put them out. Like letting the cat out, except that this cat doesn’t want to leave.”
“So, I break their arm and maybe a couple ribs.” I suppose he was attempting to clarify the position.
“No. You say, ‘thank you for patronizing our bar, now get the hell out and don’t come back.’”
“Before or after I break a few bones?”
“There is no bone breaking involved.”
“Then what’s ta keep ’em from comin’ back in?” he asked.
Well, he had me there.
“I think I see where you’re confused. You are what’s keeping ’em from returning.”
“What if it’s somebody I know, like a friend er relative?”
Mentally, I sighed. “I’ll have to ask Ms. Lund when all the interviews are finished for the day,” I sidestepped. “If you don’t hear from her, it means she’s chosen a different contender for the post.”
Horace nodded sagely. “So, when do I start work?”
Put the words troll and physics together and the equation clearly states the square root of the thinking capacity of the individual divided by π (preferably cherry) equals an end to this foolishness.
“Tomorrow night. Be here at five,” I said.
He smiled. Not a pretty sight. Stuck his hand out. “Thanks, Raven. I’ll do the little lady proud.”
Ruth slid into his vacated seat while I was still trying to work feeling back into the hand he’d wrung. “Did you find me a guy?” she demanded.
“Horace Hochlegschon.” Loosely translated that’s Horace Tall Bugger. Very loosely translated. “He was our final contestant for the day. He’ll probably break your customers in half over his knee.”
Ruth shrugged. “Is he good looking?”
“Compared to what?”
“I see your point,” she admitted. “I owe you one, Bram.”
No, she didn’t. She’d already done me a giant favor helping me juryrig a protection spell for my secretary-cum-sugarplum, Naomie Enright.
“Did Ralph say how long he’d be gone?” I asked.
Ruthie shook her head. “I don’t really expect to see him back this way ever. He’s just using that bridge of his as an excuse. Personally, I think he’s off lookin’ for a sweetheart. He’s ready to settle down and start a family.”
I did not want to picture that.
“You finished writing that second book?”
It was a big step down from magic tossing bad ass to writer, but I’d shouldered the status reduction well.
“Nope. Still learning how to type.” Which was a lie. Not that I now knew how to type, but that I was even making an effort to learn.
About the Author
J.B. Dane is the author of the urban fantasy PI mystery comedy series, The Raven Tales, which includes novels published by Burns and Lea Books, and a series of Indie published novellas that are prequels and also "between the books" adventures of her sleuth, Bram Farrell. The latest novel in the series is RAVEN'S EDGE. Quite a few 5* reviews have followed for the novels, in particular, singing praises that should make her blush though she’s too busy proudly polishing her nails against her lapel to do so. She also writes shorter fantasy fiction, many tales of which have appeared in anthologies, particularly her Nick Claus, North Pole Security stories. She writes historical and contemporary romantic mystery and speculative twisted 19th century fiction under two different names, just to confuse people. Or so they seem to think.
This week's Saturday quote is from Something Shady at Sunshine Haven by Kris Bock from Tule Publishing: https://tulepublishing.com/series/the-accidental-detective/.
Masquerades and Murder by Rachel Lynne
About the Book
A pretty mask hides a wealth of sins …
When her perennial screw up brother is accused of murdering a local podcaster during a Halloween party, former sheriff’s deputy Holly Daye plunges into the investigation and uncovers a decades old secret along with a killer who will do anything to keep the past buried, including putting Holly six feet under.
Come on down to Sanctuary Bay, South Carolina a small Lowcountry town full of quirky Southerners running amok, an English Bulldog that sniffs out a heap of trouble, and a snarky heroine that tries to keep the crazy confined to the boundaries of Noble County.
~~ Amazon ~~
I opened my mouth to ask her a point-blank question when Dewey burst through the back door.
“She thinks my tractor’s sex-hey, Holly, just the person I wanted to see … ah!”
Dewey stumbled across the threshold and face-planted on the kitchen floor. Mama rushed to his side, clucking like a hen, but I followed more slowly. Regardless of how hard the stone tiles, he was feelin’ no pain.
Mama helped him to a sitting position and then gasped. “Dewey Barker, are you inebriated?”
I snorted to stop my outright laughter. My mother’s naivety, in particular when it came to my brother, never ceased to amuse me, well, when it wasn’t getting on my last nerve.
“Me? ‘Course not …,” Dewey grabbed onto the counter and hoisted himself to his feet. “Well, not over much anyway. Nah, now don’t fuss Mama, it’s just a little beer …”
Dewey waved away our mother’s concerns and stumbled his way over to the table. Dropping into the chair beside me, he leaned on one elbow and gave me a Walleyed stare.
“Guess who killed Megan Hearn.”
Half of what Dewey said came out as one long, slurred word. I hesitated to engage with him, but he sat up straight and repeated it.
“Go on, ask me who killed that woman.” He scowled and waved his hand before I could reply. “Never mind, I’ll tell you who did it! Cricket Morrison.”
He sat back, arms crossed over his chest and a triumphant look on his face.
“Cricket Morrison?” I rolled my eyes. “Dewey, go to bed, you’re drunk.”
“No I ain’t, well maybe just a little, but that don’t mean I ain’t right, tell her Mama.”
Mama fretted over the coffee pot. “Well now, I can’t say as I know her all that well but if you think so son …” She looked over her shoulder and directed a pointed stare at me. “You should look into it, Holly Marie.”
She would say that. I could count on one hand how many times our mother did not take up for Dewey. I drew a deep breath and then took another to insure I replied with a civil tone. “Mama, I am looking into the murder, but I hardly see how Cricket Morrison could be responsible.” I scowled at my drunken brother. “She wasn’t a guest, Dewey!”
His expression turned mulish. “Well I know that, but she coulda done it just the same.” He tapped the table for emphasis. “She had motive!”
Motive. Cricket Morrison was a thrice divorced forty-something-year-old barfly that I strongly suspected had been the anonymous poster of a personal ad looking for her lost panties a few months back. Much head scratching and cogitation yielded no clear reason for her to have killed Megan Hearn. I hesitated to even go down the road but …
“Dewey, she has no clear connection to-”
“Ha, see now that’s where yer wrong!” His smile was smug. “Cricket works for Peachy Clean, don’t she? She does them big fancy houses out on Osprey point and,” he frowned at me when I started to interrupt. “And she also cleans offices, like fer Coastal Construction and Minton Equipment.“ He sat back with a nod. “See? Motive. She did it.”
“Oh Dewey, that’s genius, isn’t that clever of your brother, Holly?”
I closed my eyes, so I didn’t have to see the beatific smile my mother was gracing Dewey with. In her eyes, all he needed was a halo. But either I was lacking all good sense, or they were because I still didn’t see a connection between Megan Hearn and Cricket Morrison.
Dewey huffed. “How can you not see what’s right in front of yer face?” He rolled his eyes. “Didn’t I tell ya Cricket cleans fer J.T. Minton’s companies? Huh? And didn’t I also tell ya she was there the day that podcaster walked in and tried to get an interview with Minton only he refused because, according to Cricket, Minton told Hearn she made mountains out of molehills for ratings, so Minton had her thrown out.” He sat back. “There, clear as day now, ain’t it?”
Clear as mud, more like. “Dewey, first, you left out the part where Minton threw her out but even so, how is that relevant? He wasn’t at the party!”
“Nah, but Dale Scruggs was. I’m goin’ to bed.” Dewey struggled to his feet and wobbled his way to the door.
“Hold on,” I shook my head. “What on earth does Dale Scruggs being at his own party have to do with J.T. Minton and Cricket Morrison?”
My brother turned and gave me an incredulous look. “Jeez Holly, like with J.T. Minton, Megan was poking around asking about those gyms Dale lost and …” he shrugged and waltzed out the door. “Dale was Cricket’s second ex-husband.” The screen door slammed as he headed off to his apartment over the garage.
My jaw dropped. Of all the convoluted … I turned and met Mama’s gaze.
She quirked an eyebrow. “Close your mouth, Holly, you’ll draw flies.”
About the Author
*Sweet Tea & Live Oaks heavy with Spanish Moss.
*A warm breeze rustling the Spartina.
Now, add a cozy little murder & a dash of mayhem!
I live in the hauntingly beautiful Low Country area. My Cozy Mysteries feature strong Southern female sleuths, a motley crew of locals, plot twists, and a splash of romance all set amidst the splendor of the coastal South.
The Canadian Beaver Lodge Assassins Association by Jerry Cripe
Date Published: November 30, 2022
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
On a routine delivery, courier Jaxy Thrie must ferry a priceless item—a Fabergé guardian angel once worn by the Empress Maria Feodorovna—to a Russian heiress in British Columbia. Things get out of hand when Jaxy loses the valuable medallion. He finds himself in fast trouble with the Romanov Guild, who accuses him of theft. It falls on Jaxy to restore the national treasure to the Royal Museum while dodging bullets from a greedy band of robbers, the Mounties, and the Canadian Beaver Lodge Assassins Association.
Where Golly Gee dwelled, few could tell. Still fewer knew what she looked like. Those who did know let her get away with murder and other knavish things, on the conditions that, one, she honor a list of high-value parliamentary officials; two, she donate obscene amounts of money to charities; and three, she shut down the music and clear the island of cars by ten.
But tonight, on New Year’s Eve, the shadowy scofflaw could go and go until the last ember of the pyrotechnic show sizzled in the sea. So, for her final blowout in the western hemisphere before launching the career move of a lifetime, Golly Gee wanted a guardian angel to wear to the ball—plus a dance partner not afraid of stepping on her touchy toes. Was this too much to ask for? The five-foot, filthy-rich Russian duchess frowned at feet fated to waltz the night alone.
Golly Gee was tempted to call off the Canadian Beaver Lodge Assassins Association year-end banquet and send each employee home with a party plate and a prize. Her unseasonal funk went well beyond the invitation’s hackneyed border trim of silver bells and holly berries. The twelve days of Christmas were slipping by without a shipment from her jeweler, and no four-eyed fool would make the run to Beaver Island on the last day of December, even for her.
Or would he?
From her treetop minaret, Golly trained a monocular on someone attired in festive eggplant purple and jade green who claimed the fifteen-minute “Pick-Up and Drop-Off” space at the end of her ice-puddled, fir-lined drive. With a touch of the send key, out went the announcement. She hit print and splashed a hardcopy with eau de parfum to stash behind her medaled sash. Then, masking her face with a muskox toque, herringbone bandana, and orange, reflective goggles, she pumped her nine-millimeter summertime carry and, with a “Whooo!” down the beavertail escape hatch, chuted to see what fate had sent her way.
About the Author
A lifetime resident of California, Jerry moved to Santa Barbara after graduating from USC to work in the aerospace industry. Today, he designs night-vision cameras for everyday use. In his free time, Jerry likes to write and use his musical talent to compose original scores for piano and guitar. After his first loves—song and storytelling—Jerry enjoys hiking, spending time in the garden, and baking sourdough bread.