The Painted Lady Inn Mysteries, #1
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Sleeping Dragon Press
Date of Publication: November 9th, 2015
Number of pages: 266
Donna’s dream of running a Victorian Bed and Breakfast is almost a reality. Her lack of inn keeping expertise, a shabby house in need of dire renovation and lack of money has slowed her down a bit. The murdered man in the upstairs parlor is her biggest obstacle. Less determined people might give up, but not Donna. No killer is going to stop her from serving apple crumb cake to high paying guests.
Her natural skill at the Clue board game, along with the grudging assistance of veteran detective, Mark Taber, an overweight Puggle, and a chatty octogenarian neighbor should help her sniff out the killer unless she’s snuffed out first.
Mr. Smoky eased up next to her. “I heard what you said about the dead man.”
Her eyes cut to the man beside her. His skin, upon closer examination, appeared weathered and wrinkled, not at all the appearance of a reporter. Too old, too rough, not one of the pretty boys who ended up in front of the camera. His tweed coat sported wide lapels, indicating the man was no slave to fashion, or he was cheap, or possibly both.
Surreal. Everything had shifted at some point in time to left of normal. It could have happened while she slept. The man puffed away on his cigarette, getting the last drag before he dropped it and ground it underneath his loafer. Good thing they were standing in the neighbor’s yard and not hers.
She tried for the world-weary voice of a sexy 1940’s silver screen siren. “Yeah, what about it?” The scratchy tone of her coffee-less voice grated. Somewhere, between finding a deceased trespasser and calling the police, she’d put down her hazelnut coffee.
Her eyes remained on Daniel as he effortlessly charmed the older couple. Why couldn’t she do that? It would be a useful skill for running a Bed and Breakfast, but her practical nature saw small talk as a waste. She had considered making her brother a partner, but his wife Maria quickly put the kibosh on that plan.
The man spoke, reminding him of her presence by her side. “You have a good eye. You remembered a great deal while only seeing the man briefly before you called the police.”
Yeah. True, she tended to remember things. Was he complimenting her or accusing her? “When a dead stranger shows up in a newly purchased house, it makes a big impression.”
“Understandable.” The man agreed, patting down his jacket. Finding a box-like bulge, he pulled out his cigarettes. “Do you mind?”
Her quick answer stopped him in the middle of shaking out a new smoke. He pushed it back in with his index finger, replaced the pack, and shrugged his shoulders. “Need to quit. Nasty habit.”
Her top teeth rested on her bottom lip, keeping her from agreeing as much as she wanted to. She didn’t know who the man was. It would be rude behavior anyhow. As an innkeeper, she’d have to learn to hold her tongue. Critical B and B owners probably earned very few return customers.
“Name’s Mark Taber, detective.”
“I’m Donna—” She never got to finish her introduction before the man finished it for her.
“Tollhouse, the owner, I know.”
Her top teeth clamped down on her lip again. While she could use some lessons on the art of small talk and social etiquette, Detective Taber could benefit from an extensive four-year course. At one time, she played with the idea of naming the inn The Tollhouse Inn. Daniel discouraged her by pointing out most people didn’t associate the words Tollhouse and cookies together. Besides, customers might believe there was a hidden charge if the word toll appeared in the name.
Sometimes people wonder about research. Is it all dry and boring stuff? Looking up items on the Internet until my eyes glazed over. I did spent time researching investigative techniques online. I went online to see what items I could buy on my own as far as footprint kits and chloroform. I studied maps of the Atlantic coastline to decide where my town would be. That was the end of that type of research. I moved on to television.
I’ve watched endless episodes of Murder She Wrote, Miss Fischer’s Murder Mysteries, Murdoch Mysteries, and assorted other mystery shows. I also read a series of cozy mysteries to discover what I liked in a book before I even started writing. I often discussed my findings with my husband.
My husband and I went to cooking classes to learn gourmet recipes. With the kids gone, we were able to stay in Victorian B and B where the lessons were held. It gave me a sense of the effort it took to keep a B and B running smoothly. I also vacationed in North Carolina to get a feel for the place.
Finally, I experimented with the recipes Donna used to make them exclusively her own. My grandmother used to work in a bakery where she made wonderful pies and cakes. Women would begged for her recipes while knowing it was her livelihood. Not a confrontational person, she always gave them a recipe, but left out two small ingredients. I feel like this is something Donna might have done. When people asked her what her secret ingredient was she’d smile sweetly and say, “Love.”
M.K. Scott is the pen name of husband and wife team, Scott & Morgan. This is their first cozy mystery together, although Scott has worked with several of the Morgan K Wyatt books. The couple has several books planned for the series. In an effort to give the series an authentic touch, Scott and Morgan participated in cooking lessons, winery tours, and stayed at several Bed and Breakfasts. Research is a hard job, but someone has to do it.
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