Caught Read-Handed (Read Em and Eat Mystery)

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9780425270295: Caught Read-Handed (Read Em and Eat Mystery)

From the national bestselling author of Well Read, Then Dead comes the second mystery featuring Sassy Cabot and Bridgy Mayfield, who bring Fort Myers Beach, Florida, residents plenty of sinful treats and killer reads at their bookstore café, Read ’Em and Eat.

Happy to help her fellow bibliophiles, Sassy visits the local library with book donations for their annual fundraising sale. Unfortunately, the welcoming readers’ haven is in turmoil as an argument erupts between an ornery patron and new staff member, Tanya Lipscombe—also known as “Tanya Trouble.” She may lack people skills, but everyone is shocked when she’s later found murdered in her own hot tub.

The man last seen arguing with Tanya is soon arrested. But Alan Mersky, a veteran with PTSD, happens to be the brother of Sassy’s former boss—and he’s no murderer. Now it’s up to Sassy and Bridgy to clear Alan’s name and make sure the real killer gets booked.

Includes a recipe for Miss Marple scones!

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About the Author:

Short-listed twice for The Best American Mystery Stories, Terrie Farley Moran is delighted to introduce mystery fans to the Read ’Em and Eat café and bookstore, which debuted with Well Read, Then Dead. The only thing Terrie enjoys more than wrangling mystery plots into submission is playing games and reading stories with any or all of her grandchildren. 

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

CONTENTS

Chapter One ||||||||||

Bridgy Mayfield’s aunt Ophelia tapped her extra-long, shocking pink fingernails impatiently on the countertop beside the cash register.

“Really, how long can it take to pack a few scones and fill a thermos with tea?”

I held my tongue, reminding myself there was no point in answering Ophie. She never paid the least attention to what anyone had to say unless they were spouting lavish words of praise directed at Ophie herself. Everything else flew right past her.

Bridgy came out of the kitchen. She placed the tea-filled thermos and a box of scones in front of her aunt. “I tied your pastry box with a fancy lace ribbon. When you open the box, each scone is resting in its own little doily. Do you want cocktail-sized napkins rather than lunch napkins? More festive, I always think.”

Ophie’s mood swung from frozen latte to southern syrup.

“Here you go gussying up the tea I’m sharing with a new client to make it look like I fussed to the moon and back. Why, honey chile, it’s no wonder you’re my favorite relative.” Ophie reached across the counter to pat Bridgy on the cheek and spotted a cardboard box half filled with assorted books. “What is that? A new shipment? Shouldn’t you get those books on a shelf? How can folks buy them if they don’t know you have them?”

She turned to me. “Sassy, you’re the book maven. What are you waiting for?”

I tried explaining that we were donating some used books from home and a few unsold books from the café bookshelves for the library fund-raising book sale, but Ophie was having none of it.

“Isn’t that like helping the enemy stock up on weapons? Honey chile, if everyone got their books at the library, who’d buy books from you?”

Remembering it wasn’t so long ago that Ophie suggested we expand the café and get rid of the bookshelves altogether, I needed to change the subject, and fast. I pointedly looked at the wall clock and asked, “What time are you meeting your new client?”

“Oh Lordy, I’ve only got about two minutes.” She picked up her thermos and package. “Y’all know the smartest thing I did when I opened the Treasure Trove was mix local art with eclectic consignments. The interior designer I’m meeting this morning has the exclusive to decorate the model homes and apartments for Lipscome Builders. And they are plenty big. Right now they’re building an apartment complex here on the island, and a private home development in Bonita Springs. I’ve got some great pieces, guaranteed to make the models look beachy yet elegant. Moving down here from Pinetta is the best thing I could have done. It’ll be raining money over at the Treasure Trove.”

As I watched her trot out the door on impossibly high, spiky yellow sandals, I thought back to when she’d barreled in the front door of the Read ’Em and Eat, eager to help as soon as she heard that Bridgy and I were in serious trouble because our chef, Miguel Guerra, broke his leg. Hard to run a café without a chef. By the time Miguel was back at work, Ophie had fallen in love with Fort Myers Beach, its friendly residents and peaceful vistas. She rented a vacant store in our plaza and was soon earning enough to allow her to buy a tiny cottage on Estero Bay.

Bridgy and I hustled for another hour serving breakfast, which included book-related items like Agatha Christie Soft-Boiled Eggs and Green Eggs and Ham. When we finally hit the brief lull between the breakfast and lunch crowd I grabbed the box of books and headed over to the library.

I carefully edged my ancient but beloved Heap-a-Jeep into a parking space tucked between a well-polished silver Lexus and a flamboyant blue Corvette sitting with its top down. An overflowing ashtray in the Corvette’s dash was wide open and as each gust of wind blew through the dwarf palms lining the parking lot, cigarette ash swirled around the seats and console, scattering gray and white specks on the smooth navy leather. The tiny whirlwinds caught my eye.

For a second, I toyed with the idea of leaning over the passenger side door of the Corvette to close the ashtray, but decided that could spell trouble if the owner came out of the library and thought I was fiddling, or worse, with the car.

The expansive glass façade of the Beachside Community Library always made me smile. The library was every bit as warm and welcoming as the Read ’Em and Eat. The staff worked tirelessly to meet the reading needs of the full-time residents of Fort Myers Beach and the ever-changing snowbird community—winter residents who came to the Gulf Coast of Florida from all parts north. A car door slammed, breaking my reverie. Involuntarily, I looked toward the noise. The man who’d shut the door of a faded black Mustang covered with rusted-out dents and dings looked surprisingly familiar.

“George. George Mersky?”

When he turned toward me, I realized that he was not my former boss at the final job I held before Bridgy and I left Brooklyn. For one thing, this man was more disheveled than the always-neat and tidy George. Still, the resemblance was startling. The man shook his head, muttered something to himself and stared at the ground as he limped his way into the library.

I pulled the box of books from the rear of the jeep and hoisted it until I had it balanced on my forearms. When I passed the ancient Mustang, I couldn’t help but peek. The entire car was jumbled with the fragments of a topsy-turvy life. Stuffed in the front passenger seat, I saw the jagged edge of a large tree limb. It crossed over the console, and its branches, most bare but some with dead leaves still clinging, straddled an assortment of bags and boxes piled on the car floor and spread across the backseat.

I shook my head. George would never tolerate such unsightly clutter. A few steps closer to the library door, I began maneuvering the box of books until I had it poised on my hip, leaving one hand free to reach for the handle. The box began to slip but I juggled it back to steady, and managed to open the door a few inches. From inside I heard a woman yelling something that began, “You can’t . . .” Her screech threw off my equilibrium and the box began to slide to the ground.

The voice got louder, the words less intelligible, and then stopped abruptly when something metal crashed, followed by dead silence. A wave of whispers by patrons and staff quickly crescendoed to a flap of confusion. My box landed on the ground with a thump, and several books spilled to the concrete. As I bent to pick up the books, the man who looked like George pushed through the door, knocking into my shoulder. He was muttering incoherently.

He tripped over one of my books, and I couldn’t help but say, “Oh, careful.”

The man stopped short and looked directly into my eyes. He nodded his thanks for the words of caution, then he picked up the book and handed it to me. I felt an instant connection arise and then disappear when he dropped his head and went back to whispering indistinctly.

I gathered my books and went inside the library. Sally Caldera was assuring patrons that all was well while trying to straighten a book cart that was lying on its side. An elderly man, dressed in a loud Hawaiian-print shirt, kept insisting that he could lift the cart if Sally would get out of the way. I set down my box and rushed to help her set the cart back on its wheels before the old gentleman pulled a muscle or had a heart attack.

“Looks like I’ve come at a bad time.” I pointed to the box I’d set down on the floor near the doorway. “I brought books for the book sale. Where do you want them?”

Sally pushed a mass of curly russet-colored hair off her forehead.

“Let’s put them behind the desk for now. Do you want a receipt? For taxes?”

Great idea, I thought. I followed Sally to the reception desk and couldn’t help but mention the man who looked like George.

“Alan. His name is Alan. He comes in all the time to use the computers. He doesn’t bother anyone and we pretend he has a library card. I never forced the issue because I doubt he has an address he could use for identification. Still, he is clearly living somewhere on the island because I see him around town every now and again.”

“No address?”

Sally nodded. “I think he is one of the veterans who’ve migrated south. They live outdoors, often in isolation, sometimes in small camps of three or four. They don’t bother anyone and we certainly owe them our support. So if a vet needs to use our computers to write to the Veterans Administration or email family or friends . . .”

“I had no idea.”

“Most people don’t. That’s one problem. The other is the people who don’t care. Like Tanya Trouble. She was filling in for Marcie in the computer section a few days ago and—”

“Tanya Trouble?”

Sally discreetly pointed to a buxom brunette dressed in mile-high wedge sandals and a too-tight red skirt. She was helping a student-type go through research material.

“New volunteer. Thinks she’s in charge of the whole place. Anyway, last week Alan came in and asked for computer time, but when he couldn’t produce a library card, Tanya went ballistic. He told her he needed to do some veterans business and she started yammering about no special privileges. She went on and on.”

Sally shook her head.

“Confrontational isn’t in Alan’s DNA. I was in the back while this was going on but one of the clerks told me Alan ran out the door before anyone could intervene.”

“Same as he did today?”

“He’s skittish around people and would rather avoid interaction. I did have a heart-to-heart with Tanya, and explained how we liked to extend courtesy to our military veterans. She yessed me, made all the appropriate noises, but it was obvious she thought I was making a big deal out of nothing.”

“If she’s not interested in helping people, why volunteer here?”

Sally shrugged.

“Husband’s a high-powered guy who spends all his time making pots of money. He golfs with the head of the library board of trustees . . .”

“So she may be here more to please her husband than to help patrons.”

“Exactly. Oh, there she goes. She spends more time on cigarette breaks than being useful.”

Sally’s eyes slid toward the doorway. I turned and saw Tanya Trouble moving through the doorway, tottering on her wedges with far less grace than Aunt Ophie on spike sandals. She had a cell already at her ear and was carrying a small, shiny object I couldn’t identify.

“You rarely see people smoking anymore,” I said to Sally, who laughed.

“I’m not sure how much actual smoking Tanya does. Mostly she waves the hand holding her cigarette while she talks on her cell phone. We’ve requested that all smokers stand away from the entrance, and we reinforced that by putting the upright trash can with the ashtray top at the far corner of the building.”

I shrugged off the smoking area as something I’d never noticed, and that pleased Sally to no end.

“Out of sight, out of mind, even for the smokers. They come and go, never notice the ashtray so they don’t smoke outside the building. Who wants cigarette smoke overtaking the fresh scent of a breeze off the Gulf of Mexico?”

I laughed. “Tanya Trouble, for one.”

“I think she likes to show off that fancy lighter of hers. Claims her husband paid nearly a hundred thousand dollars for it as a gift for their first anniversary. She tells anyone who will listen that all those sparkly bits are hundreds of tiny diamonds and set in eighteen-karat white gold with platinum inlays. Carries it everywhere, even in nonsmoking spaces. Odd.”

All this talk of cigarettes reminded me.

“By any chance does she drive a blue Corvette?”

“She left the top down again, right? Last week ashes were swirling around and flew right into a woman’s eye when she stepped out of her car. I’m going to have to speak to her about the car, and about Alan. Here she comes. See you soon.”

I headed toward the door, and as I passed Tanya, I got a good look at the lighter in her hand. It seemed too flashy to be real gold and diamonds. I would have thought it came from the dollar store. No accounting for taste.

In the parking lot, once I brushed away some ash that had twirled from Tanya’s ashtray to my windshield, I dismissed her completely. I hurried back to the Read ’Em and Eat determined that as soon as the lunch rush was over, I’d call George Mersky to ask if he had a relative named Alan living in Florida.

Chapter Two ||||||||||

Within five minutes of walking through the door of the Read ’Em and Eat and tying on my apron, I forgot all about Alan, the library and Tanya Trouble. We were that busy.

Miguel had his Old Man and the Sea Chowder on the menu and from the way folks were ordering, I hoped he made enough.

Maggie Latimer, owner of our local yoga studio, Zencentric, came in with a woman who was as tall and lithe as Maggie but with dark auburn hair cut in an adorable pixie in contrast to Maggie’s blond ponytail. They sat at the Robert Frost table. Maggie was pointing out the various Frost memorabilia laminated to the tabletop, copies of poems, pictures of the author, an article or two, when I brought over their menus.

“See the fruit poems, the one about apple picking and the one about blueberries?” Maggie pointed to the menus still in my hand. “You’ll find Robert Frost Apple and Blueberry Tartlets on the menu and they are yummy.”

As I set the menus on the table Maggie introduced me to her sister, Karen.

“Karen is here for a month recovering from a too-long bout of pneumonia.”

I welcomed Karen and she responded with an earnest smile.

“Maggie tells me that besides scrumptious food, you also serve fascinating conversation at book club meetings. I look forward to attending one or two while I’m here.” She glanced at the bookshelves that lined two walls of the café. “I’ll probably want to browse a little after lunch.”

The sisters decided on Old Man and the Sea Chowder with Catcher in the Rye Toast and sweet tea. I set the order request on the pass-through shelf, and while I was pouring the sweet tea, I decided to get a copy of this month’s book club calendar for Karen. I was reaching for the flier when the door flung open and Jocelyn Kendall, her strawlike hair even more askew that usual, stepped in. She looked around, confusion mounting in her eyes.

“I didn’t think I was that late. Did I miss it completely?”

I made the mistake of taking a step toward her. I was close enough that she grabbed my shoulders and shook me.

“Why didn’t you send out an email? Why didn’t you call me? I have so much to say.”

When don’t you? I kept that thought to myself and asked, “Jocelyn, what are you talking about?”

“The Tea and Mystery Afternoons. The Circular Staircase? Mary Roberts Rinehart? For goodness’ sake, Sassy, you’re in charge of the book clubs; I shouldn’t have to tell you what I’m talking about. You should know.”

Then like an errant preschooler, she stamped her foot and fixed a bold, defiant stare at the book corner where the book clubs hold their meetings.

How convenient that I was holding a book club calenda...

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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2015. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. From the national bestselling author of Well Read, Then Dead comes the second mystery featuring Sassy Cabot and Bridgy Mayfield, who bring Fort Myers Beach, Florida, residents plenty of sinful treats and killer reads at their bookstore cafe, Read Em and Eat. Happy to help her fellow bibliophiles, Sassy visits the local library with book donations for their annual fundraising sale. Unfortunately, the welcoming readers haven is in turmoil as an argument erupts between an ornery patron and new staff member, Tanya Lipscombe also known as Tanya Trouble. She may lack people skills, but everyone is shocked when she s later found murdered in her own hot tub. The man last seen arguing with Tanya is soon arrested. But Alan Mersky, a veteran with PTSD, happens to be the brother of Sassy s former boss and he s no murderer. Now it s up to Sassy and Bridgy to clear Alan s name and make sure the real killer gets booked. Includes a recipe for Miss Marple scones!. Codice libro della libreria AAS9780425270295

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Terrie Farley Moran
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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2015. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. From the national bestselling author of Well Read, Then Dead comes the second mystery featuring Sassy Cabot and Bridgy Mayfield, who bring Fort Myers Beach, Florida, residents plenty of sinful treats and killer reads at their bookstore cafe, Read Em and Eat. Happy to help her fellow bibliophiles, Sassy visits the local library with book donations for their annual fundraising sale. Unfortunately, the welcoming readers haven is in turmoil as an argument erupts between an ornery patron and new staff member, Tanya Lipscombe also known as Tanya Trouble. She may lack people skills, but everyone is shocked when she s later found murdered in her own hot tub. The man last seen arguing with Tanya is soon arrested. But Alan Mersky, a veteran with PTSD, happens to be the brother of Sassy s former boss and he s no murderer. Now it s up to Sassy and Bridgy to clear Alan s name and make sure the real killer gets booked. Includes a recipe for Miss Marple scones!. Codice libro della libreria AAS9780425270295

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Descrizione libro Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2015. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. From the national bestselling author of Well Read, Then Dead comes the second mystery featuring Sassy Cabot and Bridgy Mayfield, who bring Fort Myers Beach, Florida, residents plenty of sinful treats and killer reads at their bookstore cafe, Read Em and Eat. Happy to help her fellow bibliophiles, Sassy visits the local library with book donations for their annual fundraising sale. Unfortunately, the welcoming readers haven is in turmoil as an argument erupts between an ornery patron and new staff member, Tanya Lipscombe also known as Tanya Trouble. She may lack people skills, but everyone is shocked when she s later found murdered in her own hot tub. The man last seen arguing with Tanya is soon arrested. But Alan Mersky, a veteran with PTSD, happens to be the brother of Sassy s former boss and he s no murderer. Now it s up to Sassy and Bridgy to clear Alan s name and make sure the real killer gets booked. Includes a recipe for Miss Marple scones!. Codice libro della libreria BTE9780425270295

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