Stan Connor pushed open the door to Izzy Sweet’s Sweets, her mind on a few moments of peace and a giant soy latte. Peace was hard to come by these days, though, ever since her former coworker had been found dead at her mother’s engagement party. Granted, she’d probably had it coming, but that didn’t negate the fact that the whole town had been thrown into an uproar. Peace wasn’t in the cards for today, though. Izzy’s was jam-packed. Not one table, including the one nearest the back that Stan usually claimed with no trouble, waited for her with a free chair. The baristas rushed around behind the counter, attending to a line that snaked through the middle of the cafe. Some people oohed and aahed at the selection of gourmet chocolates, while others waited for coffee and pastry.
They were all probably here to gossip about the murder.
Stan bit back a sigh and joined the line. She should be happy her friend’s cafe was so successful. Izzy’s place attracted the most non-local guests of any business in town. And inevitably, once they saw how charming Frog Ledge, Connecticut really was, they supported other parts of the local economy.
Nearly ten minutes later, latte in hand, Stan headed for the counter at the back of the store. The bar overlooked Main Street, so it was perfect for people watching. There was one empty chair. Prepared to knock someone over for it, Stan reached it with no interference and sank down gratefully. It had been a long day, working on the design for her new Pawsitively Organic Pet Patisserie, due to open around the holidays. Not to mention the party this weekend she needed to prepare for. Her mother’s engagement party. To the Frog Ledge mayor. Which meant she’d be living in town basically full time.
The thought made Stan need much more coffee.
As she sipped, Stan looked out the window where a taxi claimed the only empty parking space on Main Street. As it backed in, Stan noticed the Maine plates. Man, are you lost, she thought. But then the driver’s side door opened and a petite woman around her own age climbed out. She ran a hand through her blond hair, but there was no mistaking the rumpled, tired look of someone who’d had a long day and was a long way from home.
Stan lost track of the woman after she left her car. The man in the next seat heaved himself up with a grunt and walked away. As he moved toward the door, Stan spotted the blond woman standing in the center of the shop, a coffee cup and muffin in her hands, looking desperately for a seat. Stan waved the woman over.
I smiled at the woman in gratitude and climbed onto the stool. It had been such an awful day, bringing one—no, two—no, three shocking revelations with it. I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry. I wanted to drive straight home to Maine. But the GPS in Chris’s cab had taken me back a different way than it had brought me. When I drove into this town with its beautiful green and noticed the coffee shop, I realized I had to eat something if I was going to make it. I had to stop and pull myself together.
I noticed the woman next to me staring, eyebrows drawn together. Her blond hair was almost the same color as mine and pulled back with a hair band. She looked tired too. “Are you okay?” she asked.
Her concern caught me off guard and brought tears to my eyes. We New Englanders aren’t big on unburdening ourselves to strangers. But if I didn’t talk to someone soon about the strange events of the day, the strange events of the week, I might burst. “I’m driving home to Busman’s Harbor, Maine from Guilford,” I said.
“I know Guilford. Business or pleasure?” she asked.
“Murder,” I answered. Might as well go for it. “I went there to solve a murder.”
The woman’s eyes opened wide, but she didn’t recoil. In fact, she put a hand on my arm, in a gesture of comradeship. I couldn’t quite tell what she was thinking, but there was a look of. . .understanding on her face. Her acceptance made me plunge on. “A man was murdered in the walk-in refrigerator of the restaurant I run with my boyfriend,” I explained. I looked at her again, half expecting her to leave.
“Go on,” she said.
“That isn’t even the worst part. Since I moved back to my hometown to run my family’s clambake business, this is the fourth murder investigation I’ve been involved in.”
The woman reached into her bag and opened a full box of business cards. The smell of the printshop still clung to them. “Stan Connor,” she said, handing me a card. “I think we are going to be very good friends.”
Custom-Baked Murder is the fifth book in the Pawsitively Organic mystery series, published by Kensington, December 2016.
Kristan “Stan” Connor gladly turned tail on her high-flying job and moved to a quaint New England town to sell organic pet treats. But with her nose for solving murders, there’s no such thing as a quiet life. . .
Summer is winding down in Frog Ledge, Connecticut, but Stan’s love life and career are both heating up nicely. In between planning her new pet patisserie and café, Stan is settling into living-in-bliss with sexy pub owner Jake McGee. Love’s on the menu for Stan’s mom, Patricia, too, who’s engaged to Frog Ledge’s mayor, Tony Falco.
Mayor Falco’s dogged ambition isn’t popular among locals, but it’s his executive coach, Eleanor Chang, who’s inspired a dangerous grudge. When Eleanor is found dead, there’s a whole pack of suspects to choose from. Stan has first-hand experience of Eleanor’s unsavory business tactics. But finding out who forced her to take a fatal plunge off the corporate ladder means unearthing some shady secrets. . .and a killer who’s too close for comfort.
Iced Under is the fifth book in the Maine Clambake mystery series, published by Kensington, December 2016.
The snow is deep in Maine’s Busman’s Harbor and the mighty rivers are covered in ice. Snowden Family Clambake Company proprietor Julia Snowden and her mother, Jacqueline, are hunkered down for the winter when a mysterious package arrives—heating up February with an unexpected case of murder . . .
Inside the mystery package is an enormous black diamond necklace that once belonged to Julia’s great-grandmother and disappeared in the 1920s. Who could have sent it—and why? Julia’s search for clues takes her on a perilous journey through her mother’s troubled family history, from a squabble over the family fortune in “frozen water” to the recent unexplained death of Jacqueline’s long-lost cousin Hugh—who’d been missing and presumed drowned for more than forty years. To protect her mother’s inheritance, Julia must fend off a small army of feuding relatives, solve the mystery surrounding Hugh’s demise, and get back home before the next blizzard buries them all . . .
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About the authors
Liz Mugavero is the author of the Agatha Award-nominated Pawsitively Organic Mysteries Kneading to Die, A Biscuit, A Casket, The Icing on the Corpse and Murder Most Finicky. Custom-Baked Murder, the fifth in the series, was recently released in December 2016. As you can imagine, her canine and feline rescues demand the best organic food and treats around. She is a member of Sisters in Crime National, Sisters in Crime New England, Mystery Writers of America, and the Cat Writers’ Association. She currently lives in Connecticut.
Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries, Clammed Up, Boiled Over, Musseled Out, Fogged Inn, and the latest, Iced Under. Clammed Up was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel and was a finalist for the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. Her holiday novella featuring amateur sleuth Julia Snowden was published along with novellas by Leslie Meier and Lee Hollis in Eggnog Murder from Kensington Books in October 2016.
Barbara blogs with a wonderful group of Maine mystery authors at Maine Crime Writers and with a group of writers of New England-based cozy mysteries at Wicked Cozy Authors. Barbara writes on the big front porch of the former Seafarer Inn at the head of the harbor in Boothbay Harbor, Maine.
All comments are welcomed.