Thank you for inviting me back, Dru Ann. Much has happened since we chatted a year ago. The summer tourist season in our little beach village of Corolla, North Carolina started quietly enough until Tropical Storm Ana unearthed a body buried under a vacation home boardwalk, local developer Denny Custis died in a suspicious fire, and I got pressured into being a bridesmaid for the “spiritual union ceremony” of one of my firefighters.
Maybe I should go back a bit. Over the last few months, there has been a string of arsons of abandoned properties on the mainland. Jimmy Bartlett, my veteran captain, and I had been keeping a close eye on those developments and hoping that whoever was responsible didn’t decide to cross Currituck Sound and continue his crime spree on the Outer Banks. My heart sank when land developer Denny Custis ended up dead in a fire set to a beach house under construction – not that I’m a fan of Denny’s after the way he teased my border collie Sparky, but it’s always devastating for firefighters when we can’t save a life. During the course of the homicide investigation, Bill and I have discovered that virtually everyone has had a beef or run-in with Denny and a motive for killing him. Right now Antonio “Pinky” Salvatore, Denny’s business rival, is Bill’s chief suspect but I have serious doubts that Pinky is our man. Bill thinks I’m letting Pinky off the hook because I have a soft spot for him. Ridiculous. I just don’t think Pinky would jeopardize the business he’s worked so hard to build. . . although I do think he’s hiding something.
To complicate matters and our investigation, we’ve also learned that Myrtle Crepe, the head of the Lighthouse Wild Horse Preservation Society and my cranky former third grade teacher, has been embroiled in several battles: one with Denny about Corolla’s wild Spanish mustangs, a second with the Tour-zilla tour company for destroying the dunes in the sanctuary where the horses live, and a third with the folks at the endangered piping plover shore bird protection society – although why the horse and bird folks are feuding I have yet to figure out.
What’s that? You want to know about my relationship with Bill? Okay, okay, I admit that maybe we’re a bit more than friends now. When he was away during the winter I realized how important he was to me. I guess absence really does make the heart grow fonder. But don’t get any ideas. The upcoming sunrise wedding is definitely not ours.
All of this might give you the impression that Corolla is a dangerous place to visit, but let me reassure you and your readers that our community is perfectly safe. Tens of thousands of people visit every year without a single incident – unless you count being stung by a jellyfish in August an incident. If you do make it to Corolla, Myrtle will happily take you on a four-wheel drive tour of Carova where you’ll see the beautiful wild horses, the Outer Banks’ second largest living dune, the maritime woods, and the ancient cedar and oak stumps dotting the long, wide beach. And if you survive a morning with Myrtle, I’ll treat you to a famous homemade doughnut from Lighthouse Bagels or a cool delight at Ned’s Ice Cream!
You can read more about Colleen in Neighing With Fire, the third book in the “Colleen McCabe” mystery series, published by Minotaur. The first two books in the series are Foal Play and Murder On The Hoof.
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About the author
Kathryn O’Sullivan is a winner of the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Competition. Neighing with Fire is the third in the Colleen McCabe series. She is also an award-winning playwright, creator and writer of the Web series Thurston, and a theatre professor at Northern Virginia Community College. She lives with her husband, a film director and cinematographer, and their rescue cat Oscar in Reston, Virginia.
For more information, visit Kathryn at www.kathrynosullivan.com