Candy, Cigarettes, and Murder (Chocolate Martini Sisters Mystery) by Brenda Whiteside and Joyce Proell

About the Book

It’s a birthday weekend with the gift of murder.

Recently widowed, Emma Banefield looks forward to a getaway birthday weekend with her free-wheeling sister, Nicole Earp, sipping chocolate martinis at the peaceful, historic Dulce Inn. When a rude stranger, a nasty food critic, and a madhouse of temperamental artists greet them, all hope for a tranquil weekend evaporates faster than dew on a hot desert morning.

Overlooking the riotous atmosphere is doubly hard after Em discovers the body of a hotel guest, and a second murder affects Nic personally. Now, entrenched in a caper that pits them against a surly detective, they cozy up to a hotel staff hiding dangerous secrets to uncover clues to the killer.

Using their smarts and love of all-things mystery, will the Chocolate Martini Sisters solve the crime ahead of the obstinate Chief Detective or find themselves trapped in the middle of a third murder?

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Sounds like a case for the Chocolate Martini Sisters. The silly moniker lifted the heavy weight on her chest, and she smiled. In spite of it all, life was good. With closed eyes, she breathed deeply what she’d expected to be fresh air. Instead, the stink of cigarette smoke made her noise twitch. What dummy had the gall to clog up paradise? One eye popped open in search of the culprit.

The offender, a woman sporting bleached blonde hair with sprigs of azure and pink, propped against the hotel, one scuffed sneaker planted on the brick façade. A white apron, the sort preferred by cooking staff, wrapped about her slender waist. She sucked another puff. A cross tattoo on her wrist stained the pale skin blue. Acting as though she didn’t see her sitting there, she blew the offending smoke across her shoulder, away from her.

Thanks loads. Lips pursed and her privacy interrupted, she sat upright and faced the hard-edged employee. The aroma of sautéed garlic and onions mingled with the smoke of her cigarette. “You must work in the kitchen,” Emma said by way of making conversation. A series of gold hoops pierced the rounded helix of the woman’s left ear.

“Yup.” She crossed her arm over her waist, propping her elbow on her opposite hand and looked away, blowing more pollution into the air.

“So, you work with the famous Chef Grayson.”

The woman snorted. “Yeah. I guess you could say that.”

Evidently, Miss Rainbow-Colored Hair didn’t think much of him.

“Are you his assistant?”


So this was Charlotte Wilson. The very woman Joe had mentioned to Nic and who coveted Payne’s job.

“Chef Payne has built up quite a prestigious reputation.”

“Oh, yeah,” she snarled. “He’s the best.” Her acid tone dripped with sarcasm.

Emma chose to avoid further comment about their contentious work relationship.

“Are you familiar with the man who died?”

She grunted and picked tobacco from her tongue. “You mean who was murdered?”

“Shocking, isn’t it?” As suspected, word of the death had spread throughout the hotel.

The sous-chef didn’t answer. Instead, she ground the last bit of her cigarette into the paver with her shoe, then flashed the most chilling smile. “Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.” Without a parting word, she disappeared through the hotel door.

She reclined against the supportive lounge chair, not certain what to make of the woman. Hostile was a certainty, and the cold smile was downright creepy. Could Nic’s proposed theory at breakfast suggesting the sous-chef committed murder to frame Payne for personal advancement be viable? Could a person successfully lead a kitchen crew with so much anger licking at her heels? Was she driven enough to kill?

About the Authors

Joyce Proell is the award-winning author of Amaryllis, Eliza and the Cady Delafield mysteries: A Deadly Truth, A Burning Truth and A Wicked Truth. Along with her husband and little dog, Nellie, she lives in Minnesota in her very own little house on the prairie. She loves to hear from readers.

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Brenda Whiteside is the award-winning author of romantic suspense, romance, and cozy mystery. After living in six states and two countries—so far—she and her husband have settled in Central Arizona. They admit to being gypsies at heart and won't discount the possibility of another move. They share their home with a rescue dog named Amigo. While FDW fishes, Brenda writes.

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