The tourist town of South Cove, California, is a lovely place to spend the holidays. But this year, shop owner Jill Gardner discovers there’s no place like home for homicide. . .
As owner of Coffee, Books, and More, Jill Gardner looks forward to the hustle and bustle of holiday shoppers. But when the mayor ropes her into being liaison for a new work program, 'tis the season to be wary. Local businesses are afraid the interns will be delinquents, punks, or worse. For Jill, nothing’s worse than Ted Hendricks--the jerk who runs the program. After a few run-ins, Jill’s ready to kill the guy. That, however, turns out to be unnecessary when she finds Ted in his car--dead as a doornail. Officer Greg assumes it’s a suicide. Jill thinks it’s murder. And if the holidays weren’t stressful enough, a spoiled blonde wants to sue the city for breaking her heel. Jill has to act fast to solve this mess--before the other shoe drops. . .
"Murder, dirty politics, pirate lore, and a hot police detective: Guidebook to Murder has it all! A cozy lover’s dream come true." --Susan McBride, author of The Debutante Dropout Mysteries
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USA Today and New York Times, best-selling author, Lynn Cahoon is an Idaho native. If you’d visit the town where she grew up, you’d understand why her mysteries and romance novels focus around the depth and experience of small town life. Currently, she’s living in a small historic town on the banks of the Mississippi river where her imagination tends to wander. She lives with her husband and four fur babies.
The holidays were supposed to be a time of goodwill, celebration, and community. You couldn’t tell it from the glares going around the table as Mayor Baylor talked. Earlier, the leader of our little town had the group eating out of his hand. Then all hell broke loose. Focusing on the uproar going on at the Business-to-Business monthly meeting, I wondered if the shop owners gathered around the mismatched tables had even seen the calendar. As South Cove’s council liaison, I volunteered my shop each month for the meeting. I’m Jill Gardner, owner of Coffee, Books, and More, and president of the I-Hate-Mayor-Baylor Club. A red-faced Bill Simmons, chair of the business council and owner of South Cove Bed-and-Breakfast, stood at the front of the table, trying to get the group to quiet down.
Aunt Jackie issued a shrill, earsplitting whistle, two-finger variety. My aunt could make me smile even in the worst situations. She’d been a rock the last year during all the craziness that had been my life. Now I didn’t know what I’d do without her help with Coffee, Books, and More. Or without seeing her on a daily basis.
The room finally quieted. I’d been the city council liaison with the business community in our little coastal California tourist town for the last five years. I’d never heard this kind of uproar over a mayor’s mandate before. Maybe the Honorable Mayor Baylor was losing a bit of his power over the group.
“Look, I know it’s a bad time for many of us to take on a charity project, but think of it this way, you’ll have an extra pair of hands for the season.” Bill pulled out what he’d thought would be his trump card.
“I don’t understand what you’re all so upset about. I got you free help for the busiest season of the year.” Mayor Baylor glared at me, like their reaction was my fault. “These people want to work. We need to be charitable in our attitude.” This time, his scowl was full-on directed at me.
I put on my sweetest smile, the one I saved for the few customers I truly didn’t like. “I’ve already signed up the coffee shop to participate. How about the rest of you?”
“Not all of us have South Cove’s finest working part-time in our shops.” Darla
Taylor, owner of the winery and editor of the local news for the South Cove Examiner, sniffed. “I heard he couldn’t place these losers anywhere else so Ted paid the mayor to take on these stragglers.”
“That is totally unfounded speculation,” Mayor Baylor blustered, his face turning a bright shade of scarlet. He turned his stare from me to Darla. “I hope I won’t see anything close to that being reported in the Examiner.”
I turned my head so no one would see my smile widen. As one of the local media, Darla’s nose for rumors was spot-on. Ted Hendricks, program director for Bakerstown’s welfare-to-work program, had come to our tourist town of South Cove with an offer. Ten participants would work for eight weeks with a local business in an intern capacity. South Cove was their last chance.
The mayor’s gaze shifted down the table, landing on Josh Thomas, a strong Mayor Baylor supporter. Except even I could see that His Honor wasn’t winning any points with his friend today.
“Delinquents. You want me to let a delinquent run wild in my store. Talk to my customers and probably scope out my merchandise so they can rob me blind when I turn my back?” Josh owned Antiques by Thomas, the most recent business to open its doors on Main Street. Today, he pounded a chubby finger on the table.
“Of course, you’d have a problem with this. You don’t even know that they are kids, or if they had trouble with the law. Just because someone is down on their luck doesn’t mean they are a bad person,” Sadie Michaels shot back. Sadie, owner of Pies on the Fly, was my main supplier of desserts for the coffee shop. And a strong advocate for the underdog in any fight.
We’d gone down this path before. Josh and Sadie rarely saw eye to eye on any discussion. For my part, I liked the way she called him on his prejudice and narrow-mindedness. Bill tried again to short-circuit the argument he saw developing. “We don’t have time for a political discussion on the topic. This is a done deal. They’re coming today for the initial meet-and-greet with a walk through town.