Sam Cheever has a new Mystery!

Come to Silver Hills. Where age is relative and relatives can be deadly.

A skeleton under the floorboards…a long-hidden crime…and a nonagenarian WWII veteran who claims to have no knowledge of how the body got buried under her living room floor…

When their new friend, Scarlett, moves to Silver Hills, Flo and Agnes soon realize the crotchety veteran isn’t exactly a people person. Unfortunately, her acerbic personality isn’t helping her convince Detective Peters that she had nothing to do with murdering the dead guy beneath her floorboards. So the two sleuths, with a colorful array of the usual sidekicks, dive into the decades old murder and quickly learn it has a grip in the present. Can Flo and Agnes keep themselves above the fray? Or will they soon find themselves over their heads and swimming against the tide? If you’ve been to Silver Hills before you already know the answer to that. There’s really only one question left: backstroke or breaststroke?

 

Read a Never-Before-Seen Excerpt

The man standing next to the gravesite looked to be in his mid to late nineties. He stared at the coffin with a bit of a perplexed expression, as if he was surprised to find himself there and was wondering who was in the big, shiny box.

Flo didn’t think he even heard the words the minister was uttering. The single true mourner hadn’t looked up since he’d arrived and he stood, bent and frail, holding a daisy in one hand down by his side. He was dry eyed, seemingly beyond emotion, only the occasional pursing of his wrinkled lips betrayed the fact that he struggled at all.

Her heart broke as she looked around the site. If it weren’t for Maria Cooper and her merry band of mourners, no one else would have been there to say goodbye to the deceased, whose name was apparently Daisy, like the flower.

The minister’s words were vague, unexceptional, leading Flo to believe he either didn’t really know the deceased Daisy or he didn’t like her much. She wondered if it might be the latter, given the dearth of people around the poor woman’s gravesite.

In that moment, Flo adjusted her opinion of Ms. Cooper and her strange vocation. It would be horrible to be sent to Eternity without so much as a single wet-eyed goodbye from those still among the living.

Then again…

A long, wailing sob broke the stillness, its fulsome, alarming tenor enough to break through even the little old man’s stupor. He flinched once but, no doubt suffering under nine decades of emphasis on manners and how to behave in polite society, kept his gaze fixed on the casket in front of him.

However, the emitter of the wail was not to be ignored. Another hefty wail broke the silence and it seemed the sound broke something loose in the rest of the assembled mourners. Loud sobbing bubbled up to fill the previously mostly silent cemetery. The sound rose to match the wailing in loudness and, in one or two instances rose above it.

Not to be outdone, one mourner called out, “Help me Lord Ja-eee-sus!” Sounding like a good old fashioned television preacher working a crowd for money.

With that the stakes were raised. Never one to let someone beat her at her own game, Agnes let off wailing and, giving her competition a very un-Christian glare, threw back her head and screamed, flinging herself forward toward the unsuspecting deceased.

Unfortunately for everyone involved, Agnes caught her oversized sneaker on a blade of grass and toppled, arms akimbo, onto the surface of the casket.

Everything stopped. It was as if someone had been playing with a time machine and, seeing the pure entertainment value in that place and time, hit a giant ‘Pause’ button to savor the train wreck more completely.

Agnes lay on her belly, round boohind stuck up in the air, and arms splayed across the formerly pristine surface of the highly polished oak casket. The toes of her sneakers were dug in, as if by the very act of falling forward she’d hammered them into the dirt.

The minister cleared his throat.

The elderly mourner blinked a few times and began to tremble.

Agnes seemed to realize she sat…or lay as it were…on a perfect opportunity to bring her performance to standing ovation levels. To Flo’s unending horror, her friend began banging her head against the casket and sobbing hysterically. Her arms stayed out-flung on the shiny surface but her hands curved into fists no doubt meant to portray the heights of agony.

Wide-eyed and beginning to be frightened, the minister started to back away from the gravesite, his round face turning nearly the color of his starched clerical collar as he turned tail and started run-walking toward the Office building in the distance.

Flo realized he was probably going to fetch security to have Agnes hauled away. She quickly stepped forward and grabbed her friend’s arm, bending down to whisper into her ear. “Agnes Willard, you stop that right now. We need to go before security gets here.”

Agnes opened one eye and peered up at Flo. “Back off, Flo, you’re stepping on my lines.”

“I’m going to step on more than that if you don’t haul your wide backside off this casket right this minute and come with me. That minister just went to call security.

Agnes’s eyes popped wide and she jerked her glance toward the enrobed pastor, who’d given up acting like he was walking and had broken into a full out run, bible pumping like a marathon runner’s heart. She closed her eyes one last time and said, “Amen.” Then pushed off the casket and started toward the car, almost stepping on Flo’s heels.

In the distance, the minister had reached the building and was talking to a uniformed man who looked to be twice his size. His be-robed arms were cutting wide swaths of the air around him and every once in a while his head would drop back and a soft wailing sound wafted toward them.

“Good Lord, Agnes,” Flo complained as she hurried around to grab the driver’s side door. “You’re going to end up in jail for sure.”

“Missus?”

The voice was scratchy, so soft it barely pushed its way through the air to reach them, and Flo’s head snapped up as Agnes turned around. The little man was standing behind Agnes, a wide smile on his wrinkly face. He still clutched the Daisy but it was starting to look a bit wilted.

Very slowly, he lifted the hand with the flower and extended it toward Agnes. His eyes filled with tears even as his smile widened. “I want you to have this.”

Agnes took the flower but her expression was filled with confusion. “But why?”

The old man trembled so violently Flo started around the car to grab him in case he should fall. But she quickly realized he wasn’t having a seizure when he barked out a laugh, shaking his head. “I loved what you did back there. More importantly, my Daisy would have loved it too. She never was one for fine words and sentiment. But she’d have loved your bit on the coffin back there.” He dissolved into more laughter, holding his belly as he chortled.

Flo turned at the sound of a shout and saw the minister hurrying back, the security guard just ahead of him. “Agnes, we have to go.”

Her friend looked down at the daisy and then, with a big smile, walked over and gave the man a hug. “This flower is hers. But I won’t forget the sentiment.”

The man nodded. “Trust me, Missus. I won’t forget you either.”

“How could he?” Flo murmured as she yanked the car door open. “Agnes!”

“Go on now,” the old man told Agnes. “I’ll smooth things here.”

Agnes waved goodbye to the assembled mourners and received a cheer as a send off. She climbed into Flo’s sedan and, as Flo started the engine, Maria Cooper hobbled over, waving for Agnes to wait. “I want to get your name and number. I have two mourner deficient clients tomorrow. Can you come?”

Agnes opened her mouth to respond but Flo cut her off. “Agnes Willard, don’t you dare.”

“Why not?” Agnes asked, turning to Flo with a frown. “They loved me.”

Flo shook her head and put the car in gear. The back door of the car opened and Scarlett scooted inside, slamming the door. “Hit it, Flo. PoPo’s breathin’ down our necks.”

Flo didn’t waste any time. Because PoPo was indeed within neck breathing range. In fact, the guard slammed a palm on the roof of Flo’s car as she started to pull away, causing the inhabitants of the front seat to give off a startled yelp, before Flo hit the gas and put the enraged minister and guard in her rear view mirror.

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NEW RELEASE! Fun Romantic Cozy Mystery by Sam Cheever

Blaise and Dolfe have their own mystery series!

Murderous Craft final

Dead End Job: When the only thing on tap is death.

A corpse in the bathroom of a popular bar. An old acquaintance still nursing a mad-on from fifteen years earlier. And a cast of characters possessing secrets they’ll do almost anything to keep. It’s enough to make reformed (sort of) party girl Blaise Runa want to quit her dead end job. But in the meantime she fully intends to grab her sexy private eye fiancé and dig into the mess. Because she might be trying to adult, but that doesn’t mean she’s gotten any less nosy!

heart

If looks could kill, the woman across the bar would have already butchered Blaise and hacked her into a million tiny pieces. Something about her seemed familiar, but Blaise couldn’t put a name to the face to save her life.

She narrowed her gaze at the woman and picked up another freshly washed wine glass, running a towel over the clear glass to dry it.

“Who you glarin’ at brown sugar?”

Blaise held the hostile gaze across the room. “That chick’s been glowering at me. I’m just trying to figure out who she is.”

Tyrese Miller leaned an arm on Blaise’s shoulder and followed her line of sight to the spot near the door. “I don’t see anybody glarin’ at you, Blaise.”

Blaise slid the wine glass into the rack above her head. “That’s because she just left.”

Her boss lifted a dense, black eyebrow. “Mm-hm.”

She turned a grin on him. “I’m not lyin’.”

He chuckled darkly. “It was probably just some woman whose husband lusts after you, brown sugar. I wouldn’t pay her no mind.”

Blaise shrugged. “She seemed familiar but I can’t come up with a name.”

“Bronislava?”

Blaise frowned. “Huh?”

“That’s a name. Here’s another one. Shampooya.” His trademark grin widened, showing a full mouth of straight white teeth except for a single gold one on the bottom. “Am I ringing a bell?”

She snorted. “I think your bell’s already been rung. Those aren’t names, Ty. Those are letters you shoved together to create nonsense.”

He held up a hand. “God’s truth. I saw ’em in a baby names book. They’re real names.”

“What in the world were you doing looking through a baby names book?” She lifted her brows. “Is there somethin’ you need to tell me?”

Grabbing a frosty glass mug, Ty pulled a draft beer and settled it on the counter for the waitress swaying in his direction. “My brother’s expecting. Well…his wife is…and they’re having trouble picking a name.”

“Hopefully they’re not desperate enough to ask for your help.”

“They have and I’m coming through for them. They now have a long, long list of intriguing names to select from. Personally, I’m leaning toward Exaltacion.”

“Good Lord.”

“Hey, it’s biblical.”

“So was The Plague of Locusts. Equally catastrophic.”

The waitress reached the bar and grinned when she saw the beer sitting there. “Thanks, Ty.” She was petite, curvy and sported a thick nest of dark brown hair which she was currently wearing loose and wavy around her shoulders. The waitress winked at the bar’s owner. “How’d you know I was coming for that?”

He ran a cloth over a wet spot on the bar. “I’ve told ya a million times, Suz, I know all and see all.”

Suzie Whotsnoggin turned a bright blue gaze on Blaise, widening it comically. “The man’s delusional.”

Laughing, Ty moved down the bar to help a customer.

Blaise grinned at her best friend. “How you doin’ Suz?”

The waitress shrugged. “Okay. Tips are good tonight. But I’m dead tired. We didn’t get out of here until three this morning. I swear, something’s changed. We’ve never been this busy.”

“I know, right? It must be this new line of local beers. I think people like the idea of supporting the small breweries.”

“Hey, gorgeous, where’s my beer?” a masculine voice called across the bar.

Suz rolled her eyes. “Doodie calls.” She picked up the frosted mug of beer. “You want to go shopping tomorrow? It’s my first day off in over a week and I want to do something fun.”

“I’ll see what Dolfe’s doing. If he’s working I’d love to go. Mama needs a new pair of shoes.”

“Doesn’t Mama always?” Suz asked before swinging away. She swayed across the bar with the beer, large gold hoops in her ears dancing with her movement. Blaise watched, amused, as she deftly sidestepped her rude customer’s groping hands.

Shaking her head, Blaise fought the coil of discomfort in her gut. She’d loved the atmosphere, lights, music and fun of working at Tyrese’s Bar. But after six months some of the bloom was starting to wear off. To her ever-growing surprise, Blaise was starting to think she’d like to do something else. Something that would leave her nights free to spend with her honey, Dolfe. At least when he wasn’t scoping out some cheating spouse or elusive thug.

Dolfe Honeybun was a private investigator who worked closely with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department on the occasional case. He was darn good at his job and Blaise loved that he was that kind of guy. A big, strong man who carried a gun and an attitude and didn’t take any crap from anybody. But between his hours and hers, they didn’t get to spend nearly enough time together.

And since they’d only been affianced a few months. That was a serious problem.

“You’re Blaise Runa aren’t you?”

Blaise’s head snapped up and her pulse spiked. She hadn’t even heard the woman approach. “Oh my gosh! You startled me.”

The woman didn’t seem to care. She slid a hostile gaze over Blaise and frowned. “You don’t remember me do you?”

“I’m really trying to.” It probably wasn’t a good sign that the most memorable thing about the woman was her frown. “Did I…annoy…you in some way?”

“You could say that. If sleeping with my boyfriend can be classified as an annoyance.”

Kerplunk! The memory fell into place. Blaise leaned closer, narrowing her eyes at her accuser. The years since High School hadn’t been kind…but Blaise could almost see the pretty face she once knew beneath the bags and wrinkles. “Dierdre?”

The woman put her hands on her well-padded hips and glowered up at Blaise. “You admit you slept with him?”

Blaise couldn’t believe it was the same woman she’d been so terrified of. Voted most likely to irritate a rich husband. Head cheerleader. Came from a wealthy family who gave her everything she wanted. She seemed much smaller than she had back then.

Well…shorter anyway.

“I never slept with Roger White.”

“Of course you did!”

Blaise shook her head, cocking a hip against the bar and crossing her arms over her middle. “Nope. We were just friends.”

Dierdre Masterson slapped her hands on the bar top and leaned closer, wafting rancid breath that smelled like garlic into Blaise’s face. “You must have slept with Roger!”

Conversations all around them stopped. All eyes turned to Dierdre and, by proximity, Blaise. Fortunately Blaise didn’t embarrass easily. She chuckled. “I’m sorry to disappoint, Dierdre. I didn’t.”

“Then why did he break up with me!” she wailed.

The curious gazes slid quickly away, clearly unwilling to witness the train wreck at the bar. Blaise figured they’d hoped for salacious details but weren’t comfortable watching Dierdre debase herself.

“I don’t know the answer to that,” Blaise said softly. “You’ll have to ask him.”

“I was going to ask him,” the other woman said despondently. “But he stood me up.”

Blaise stared at the lumpy woman sitting across the bar. She frowned, and then felt anger finally rise. “You asked him here to confront me?”

Dierdre Masterson shrugged. “I figured I’d be able to tell from the expression in his face when he looked at you.”

“Good God, D, that was eleven years ago. You need to get over it.”

The other woman’s eyes filled with tears and Blaise instantly regretted yelling at her. “Would you like a drink? We have some really great local beers…”

Dierdre grimaced. “Not beer. I have enough of that at work.”

Blaise’s eyebrows shot upward. “You don’t say?”

Seeing her expression, Dierdre laughed. She swiped tears off her round cheeks, sniffling. “I work at Byerson’s Beers.”

Understanding flared. “Ah. Those beers are of our best sellers. Great stuff.”

Dierdre didn’t look like she cared. “Whatever.” She sat in silence for a long moment and then glanced at Blaise. “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I keep a man?”

Blaise panicked. The last thing she wanted to do was give counseling to a woman she didn’t even really like. “Um…”

“Can I get you something to eat or drink?” Ty asked Dierdre. He winked at Blaise as he approached, nudging her to the side and putting himself between the pathetic woman on the other side of the bar and Blaise.

She could have kissed him.

“I don’t want anything,” Dierdre told him. Then she blinked and grabbed her purse. “Actually, you can do one thing for me. Have you seen this man today?”

She slid a photo across the bar to Ty. Blaise looked over his shoulder and was shocked to see a picture of Roger White in his quarterback’s uniform.

“He’s older now, of course. That was in High School.”

Ty’s lips twitched and Blaise surreptitiously pinched him below the bar. “Ow! Erm, no I don’t think…” He picked the photo up, studying it more carefully. “Actually, I think I might have.”

Blaise barely resisted blowing a disbelieving raspberry. He was clearly just humoring the woman.

Dierdre’s scowl turned upside down and she looked almost pretty as she smiled. “Really? He was here?”

“Still should be,” Ty said, jerking his head toward the restrooms. “I saw him head to the Men’s a while ago.”

“How long?” Blaise asked. “I’ve been here an hour and I haven’t seen him.”

Ty glanced at his watch and frowned. “You’re right. It’s been a while. I hope he’s okay in there.”

“Did he seem ill?”

Ty thought about it. “He seemed fine when I saw him. He was even chatting up a pretty young woman a while ago.”

Grimacing, Dierdre climbed down from her stool. “I’d better go check on him.”

“You can’t…um…ma’am…” When Dierdre ignored him, Ty widened his eyes at Blaise.

“I’ll stop her.” She rounded the bar just as the door across the room opened and a short, balding man with a veiny nose staggered out, looking like he’d seen a ghost. He lifted round, brown eyes to Ty and flapped a hand. “There’s…oh God…I think that guy in there is dead.”

Get your very own copy now! books2read.com/murderouscraft

Bad HairCult – New Cozy Mystery by Sam Cheever

BadHairCult_large

 

If you were a “mature” individual with a mighty fine bouff, would you consider shaving your head to solve a case of possible murder? That’s the million dollar question for Flo and Agnes as they find themselves neck deep in missing Satanists, scheming cultists, and a long string of seriously bad hair days. But what’s a sleuth to do when the queen of the night comes to them pleading…erm…threatening…ahhh…pleatening them for help? If you know Flo and Agnes you already know the answer to that question. They’re goin’ in!

“This novel needs a spew alert on the cover; drinking a beverage while reading is not recommended.”

“The suspense and humor keep the pages turning. I started reading this book the evening I received it and didn’t/couldn’t stop till the end in the late hours. Well worth it. Ready for book 4 !!!”

“OMG Ms. Cheever has done it again. She has written another hilarious book, in her unique style, involving the crazy antics of Flo, Agnes and their friends at the Silver Hills Senior and Singles Residence. I laughed until I had tears rolling and my sides hurt at this zany addition to the Silver Hills Cozy Mysteries series or as I like to call them, the Wacky Adventures of Flo, Agnes and the Gang! 2 Thumbs Up for a highly recommended suspenseful yet funny read!”

Flo pumped her arms and blew air out in a gust as she neared the top of the hill. She had a decidedly unladylike sheen on her face but she was starting to feel like she might actually survive the walk.

Unfortunately, not too far behind her, an exercise failure of epic proportions was happening. In fact, as she threw a look over her shoulder to make sure the sounds she was hearing weren’t actually from a buffalo giving birth to a rhinoceros, she realized the failure had already happened. She stopped and turned back to Agnes, hands on hips. Her friend was draped over the hood of somebody’s car, her round belly heaving and quivering as she tried to force air through her lungs. “Agnes Willard, you’re in terrible shape.”

Agnes didn’t lift her head, but if her neon red face was any indication, she was at the end of her endurance. “I don’t care what the stupid doctor says, I hate walking.”

TC hailed them from a couple blocks up and Flo waved her off, realizing the rest of the group would have to go on without them. “Your blood pressure is too high, Agnes. If you don’t want to stroke out you need to get in shape and bring it down.”

Agnes shoved off the car and bent forward, her skinny legs quivering as she panted for air. “That’s what they make drugs for, isn’t it? I’ll just take bigger pills.”

“Not a good plan, fool.” Flo frowned. She was actually worried about her friend’s health so when TC had suggested they join the thrice weekly walking group she’d jumped at the chance. Unfortunately, she hadn’t counted on her friend’s rabid resistance to the idea. “You lift weights and use the treadmill. I don’t understand why walking is such a chore for you.”

Agnes fixed a bloodshot eye on Flo, her graying brown pageboy sticking up around a wide hairband that was dark with sweat. “Lifting weights only requires muscles. I have those in abundance.” She patted her well-rounded behind as if presenting evidence of muscle. “But these here are fast twitch muscles. They’re for strength more than endurance.”

Flo eyed the “muscles” her friend indicated, one eyebrow creeping skyward with skepticism. “There’s definitely some twitching going on back there, but I’m not sure it’s muscle.”

Agnes blew out a breath and limped toward Flo. “What I’m trying to tell you is that I’m a sprinter rather than an endurance runner. I’m out of my league with this long, drawn-out walking stuff.”

Flo slid her gaze down the street to the Silver Hills Senior and Singles Residence, the other eyebrow creeping northward to join the first one. “You know we’ve only gone a block, right?”

Get your copy here: books2read.com/badhaircult

 

USA Today Bestselling Author Sam Cheever writes romantic paranormal/fantasy and mystery/suspense, creating stories that celebrate the joy of love in all its forms. Known for writing great characters, snappy dialogue, and unique and exhilarating stories, Sam is the award-winning author of 50+ books and has been writing for over a decade under several noms de plume.

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New Cozy Mystery Release – Christmas Grift by Sam Cheever

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A corpse, a cantankerous camel, an entertaining array of suspects, and a yule tide of problems along the way…it must be a Flo and Agnes Christmas!

Who would have guessed Agnes would rub Penelope the cranky camel the wrong way? Or that Flo would find herself ankle deep in camel dung while fending off a masked murderer? Or that TC would, once again, get on the wrong side of her handsome detective in an attempt to help her friends? Why…anybody who’s been to Silver Hills before…that’s who!

5 stars

“The zany sleuths, Flo, Agnes and TC are up to their eyeballs in Christmas lights, camel poop and holiday cheer as they track down clues to find out who murdered the maintenance man.” Barbara, Sexy Sirens Blog

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Thinking of Agnes’s talent for getting under people’s skin, she started to think having her friend working around an animal like that was a bad idea. “Maybe I should go check up on her.”

The front doors whispered open and TC glanced that way, her pretty green gaze going wide. “I don’t think that’ll be necessary.” She pointed toward the door and Flo turned, all the blood running out of her face.

“Good Lord in heaven. It’s the abominable poop monster.” Flo squinted at the aberration standing just inside the door. “Are you sure that’s Agnes?”

TC frowned. “It’s holding a shovel.”

The music in the overhead speakers squealed and went quiet and the lights high above flickered manically. The office door slammed open and Vampira stood there, long black gown swaying in an imaginary breeze. The white-faced creature of the dark lifted a bony white hand and stabbed a blood-red claw toward the door. “Get. Out. Foul. Creature.”

Flo and TC swung their gaze from the vamp to the door, where old abominable seemed to be frowning under her poop colored face paint. “That thing out there is a demon,” Agnes’s shaky voice emerged. “Did you summon it from Hell, Morty?”

The combined gaze of the room slid back to Morticia Newsome, rumored vampire and unfortunate holder of the title co-night-manager at Silver Hills.

Her heavily made-up black eyes tightened with pique. The blood-red lips pursed with distaste. “The only thing that appears to have been summoned from Hell is you, Agnes Willard. Do not take one manure-covered step into this lobby.”

Agnes looked down at her slimy, green brown shoes. “How am I supposed to get to my apartment?”

“I don’t care,” Morty announced with a grimace. “Maybe if you hadn’t done the backstroke in camel dung…”

“The demon shoved me into it. Then it hissed at me and spit something…” She lifted a hand and a long, shiny string of something gooey dropped toward the floor. Morty sucked air, her thin cheeks puffing out like a chipmunk’s during Fall nut gathering. The skeletal finger stabbed toward Agnes again. “Get. Out!”

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Freezer Bernie – New Cozy Mystery Release from Sam Cheever

freezerbernie_largepromo

3 Winter chickens against a cadre of thugs? Yeah, the bad guys are definitely in trouble!

When a dead guy turns up in the freezer of Flo and Agnes’s favorite Italian restaurant, the ladies quickly discover the corpse had connections to one of their friends. Celia Angonetti’s husband owns Gioppino’s Italian Restaurant, as well as the gun lying next the frozen body with bullet holes in his chest. What he doesn’t own, according to Celia, is responsibility for the kill. Against their better judgement, the ladies get pulled into the mystery of how the dead guy got dead in the freezer…why he’d been killed with Massimo Angonetti’s gun…and how Celia came to the unlikely conclusion that her thug of a hubby was innocent of the crime. Some might think it was an impossible task.

Some probably haven’t met Flo and Agnes.

5 stars

Flo rounded a long, stainless steel counter and found Celia and Agnes staring down at something on the floor. Expecting to see a man’s body, she blinked in surprise at the long sheets of brown paper with blood seeping out from underneath. “Is that butcher paper?” she asked softly.

Celia looked up, her mouth puckered worriedly. “It was all I could think of to cover him with.” She shrugged, her frown deepening.

Flo stopped beside Agnes and stared down at the paper, willing it to rise and fall in breaths that wouldn’t come judging by the amount of blood on the floor. “Do you know who he is?”

Celia didn’t respond. Flo glanced quickly up. “Celia?”

“Yes.” She sighed. “His name’s Bernie. He sold Mass a car last week.”

Agnes wandered away from the corpse and stepped into the freezer, eyeing the series of holes in the door. “Why would Mass kill a car salesman?”

Celia snorted. “Why wouldn’t he?” She shook her head. “Besides, he didn’t kill this man, Agnes. Mass wouldn’t kill anybody.”

Flo’s eyebrows climbed north but she didn’t say anything. From what she’d heard about Massimo Angonetti’s temperament and business dealings, he had no trouble at all killing things.

Agnes shrugged, stepping more deeply into the freezer.

Watching her friend’s movements, Flo felt the need to give a warning. “Don’t touch anything Agnes, the police will be fingerprinting everything.”

Agnes’s head popped around the door. “Even the gelato?”

Flo shook her head. “How did he die?”

Celia twitched a hand toward the butcher paper. “You should uncover him and look.”

Flo’s mouth came open. “Whatever for?”

“To look for clues of course.”

Flo shook her head. “I’d have no idea what to look for.”

Celia sobbed.

Flo immediately felt bad. “Okay. Don’t cry. I’ll see what I can…um…see.” Flo carefully lifted the paper and peeked underneath. The man’s face was a strange blue color and his eyes were wide. They were cloudy from death and Flo shuddered. His mouth was open wide as if he’d been shouting something when he died.

“There’s no foam around his mouth.”

Agnes’s heavy footsteps came from inside the freezer. “You and your foaming mouth.”

Flo didn’t look up. “No petechial hemorrhaging.”

Agnes snorted.

“Petechial what?” Celia asked.

Warming to her examination, Flo peeled the paper back more. It stuck to his chest and she grimaced as she realized it was glued to his shirt by drying blood. “Broken blood vessels in the eyes from strangulation.”

“Ah,” Celia said. “See, Flo, I knew you were the right person to call. You know all about this stuff.”

Agnes snorted out a laugh. “She knows those two things and that’s all.”

Flo glanced angrily at her friend. “Says the person not helping…” Her voice trailed off in horror. “Please tell me you’re not eating gelato at the crime scene?”

Agnes looked down at the small carton of lemon gelato. Then she shrugged, sticking the flat, wooden spoon back into the frozen dessert. “Flo, I’m not eating gelato at the crime scene.”

Celia looked horrified. “How can you possibly eat with a dead body right in front of you?”

Agnes shrugged again. “I have a very strong constitution.”

“Yeah,” Flo stood, “that’s one way to refer to it.” She looked at Celia. “Do you have the weapon he…erm…the killer used?”

“No,” she said much too quickly.

Flo crossed her arms. “Celia.”

Celia flushed guiltily, then folded like yesterday’s laundry underneath Flo’s substitute school teacher glare. “Okay.” She marched over to a big, stainless steel pot on the stove and pulled off the lid, reaching inside.

“Wait!” Agnes screamed, starting forward as Celia jumped and her arm hit the side of the pot, sending it clanging to the floor. A big, black gun flew out of the pot and skidded toward the body, landing right next to Bernie as if the killer had dropped it there.

Flo’s heart was pounding in her chest. “Good Lord in Heaven, Agnes. What are you screaming about?”

Agnes strode over to the gun and inserted the wooden spoon under the trigger, pulling it off the floor with a grin. “No fingerprints. Pretty smart, huh?” A glob of gelato fell off the spoon and landed on the body.

“Very smart, fool. If only you hadn’t thrown your stolen gelato at poor Bernie in the process.”

Celia and Agnes looked where Flo was looking and Agnes frowned.

The shiny glob of frozen sweetness was perched on Bernie’s bloody shirt, in the vicinity of the three tightly packed bullet holes.

“Oh my,” Celia said. “Should we try to clean it out?”

Agnes took a giant step backward, which put her back inside the walk-in freezer. “I’m not touching him.”

Glaring at her friend, Flo nodded curtly. “The last time you touched a corpse he ended up with a broken wrist and a lampshade on his head.”

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A Tense New Mystery by Sam Cheever

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*A Note from the Author:

The Smart Investigations, Inc. series is not your typical mystery series. There are two things you might like to know about it. First, the pace is fast, like a great suspense novel, and the mood is tense…a bit darker than your average cozy mystery but not too dark. The romance in the books is sweet, with sensual overtones, like an old time murder mystery from film noire days. And of course there’s a cute little dog named Max, a dachshund, who pees on bad guys because…well…he can! And because he’s a dachshund and they always have an opinion.

And secondly, you’ll notice a second author’s name on the cover. Edric Honeybun is one of the brothers from my popular Honeybun Heat series. In the Heat, Edric is a thriller/suspense writer and the Smart Investigations, Inc. series was originally his before I stole it. So I thought it was only fair to give him some credit. Thus the co-authorship.

 Read the reviews, check out the blurb and if it sounds like something you might enjoy, I hope you’ll give this exciting new series a try. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

Fractured love, treachery and cold-blooded murder…

A nightmarish new case plunges Alex and Matthew into personal and professional chaos as they pursue a killer who traffics in the most vile of human traits. They quickly learn that the current killings are somehow tied to a decades old murder, which comes with a hefty mix of suspects. As they begin to dig into the cold case, they start to realize that one of their suspects is hiding an evil so horrific it can barely stand the light of day.

Unfortunately, the evil they stalk is only one side of a multi-sided problem. Twisted around old loves and never forgotten treacheries, the case threatens their growing feelings for each other and dangerously undermines their professional relationship, while pitting them against a killer more deadly than any they’ve faced. Can they survive the dual threat? Will they reach for each other when things get rough? Or will they let misunderstanding and menace kill the future they’ve started building together?

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Tandy Smart clicked blood-red nails on top of Alex’s desk and tugged on a shiny blonde curl as she talked into her pink phone. Alex watched Matthew’s twenty-something sister with a mixture of awe and disbelief. She, Alex, had never been the flirty girl sort. She’d always been driven by the need to learn and, as such, had somehow threatened the tender psyches of any men she might have formed attachments with.

Before Matthew, there had been only one other man who’d seen past Alex’s brains and acerbic sense of humor to the slightly insecure, loving woman beneath. But, watching Tandy do her thing, Alex realized the younger woman’s modus operandi was a mature one, no doubt built over years of flinging out test bubbles to see what worked and then adjusting strategy to get what she wanted. That was where the awe came in. Tandy Smart was as good as her last name. She was no ditzy blonde, though she carefully crafted that persona when interacting with her victims. She was every bit as smart as her sexy brother, even if their methods were as different as night and day. Alex saw what none of the young girl’s brothers seemed to see. Tandy Smart was as savvy as the most dogged femme fatale. And every bit as dangerous because of her ability to hide it.

“Would you do that for me? Aw, that’s so sweet. You’re just the best. Thanks, Roger. I’ll owe ya one.” Tandy hung up the phone and threw Alex a smug grin. “Dandy Joes at two o’clock Wednesday. Back booth as requested.”

Alex shook her head. “You’re amazing.”

“Thanks.” Tandy surged from her chair, seemingly already focused on her next task. Her quick changes of mood and high energy were only two of the things that made Tandy exhausting to be around. “I’m meeting some friends for lunch. Can I bring you something back?”

“No thanks. I brought my lunch.”

Tandy grabbed a cute little clutch and headed for the door.

Alex eyed both the purse and the tiny behind swaying away from her, thinking she’d give anything to have a butt or a purse that small. But then she realized she’d have to give up carbs and store her gun in her bra. Nope, not worth it. “Enjoy your lunch.”

Tandy stopped at the door, turning back with a frown. “You know, my brother is an idiot.”

Alex felt the statement like a physical blow. Blood crawled into her face and turned her cheeks hot. She shook her head, unable to respond. Heading for her desk, she flung a hand dismissingly over her shoulder. “Have a nice lunch, hun.”

The door closed and Alex took a deep breath, her gaze sliding to the closed door of Matthew’s office. Sadness tugged at the sight, regret flared. Alex looked determinedly away, refusing to give in to the despair threatening to drag her down. She’d made a good run at it all. The relationship. The job. The last few months with Matthew, working at his side and sharing his life, had been the best days of her life.

But she’d made a decision and she was determined to live with it.

The office door reopened and Alex spoke without looking up. “Forget your lipstick again?” When Tandy didn’t respond, Alex glanced up from her computer. Her world tilted. Her lungs seized. She stood too quickly and thought she might faint as stars burst before her eyes. “Ben.” Her gaze slipped over him. Over the blood-shot blue eyes and the rumpled clothing. His face was whiter than the t-shirt he wore under the filthy hoodie. His baggie trousers were wet, the knees black with filth. But it was the trail of dried blood on his face that had her rushing forward. “Oh my god. What happened?”

The man she used to love more than anything let her take his arm and walk him toward a chair. His legs buckled out from under him more than once during the short trip. He groaned, clasping his head as Alex grabbed her client chair and pulled it over to the sound of wood screeching against wood.

When he was seated, Alex crouched before him, her hands over his on the arms of the chair. “Who did this to you?”

He frowned down at her, his sexy blue gaze filled with confusion and pain. “I…I don’t know exactly.”

Max yipped behind the closed door, his nails clicking across the floor in Matthew’s office. A beat later he was throwing his tiny body against the scarred wood, whining plaintively. Alex skimmed a quick glance in that direction before returning her gaze to Ben. Something inside her rebelled at the idea of asking Matthew for help with the man she’d once thought she’d marry.

“Ali, I think I’m in trouble.”

She sucked in a small gasp at the sound of that name. No one but Ben had ever called her Ali, and it had usually been in the most intimate of situations. Panicking at the flood of disconcerting memories, she stood up and moved away from him. Alex perched on the edge of her desk and crossed her arms. She knew even as she did it that the distance and the crossing of arms were both protective, shielding mechanisms, but she didn’t care. If there was anyone Alex needed to protect herself from it was the man sitting a few feet away from her. “Tell me what happened.”

His story was fractured, with small blank spaces his injured brain couldn’t fill in. But the gist of it was that Ben had been trying to help what he’d assumed was a homeless guy and had gotten himself caught in the crosshairs of the person who’d attacked him. “Have you gone to the police?” she asked him.

“No.” He shook his head and grimaced, his blood-covered hand flying to his head. “I can’t.”

“Why not?”

He lowered his hand and looked at it, seeming to see it for the first time. He didn’t speak for long enough to make Alex think he hadn’t heard her question. “Alex? Why haven’t you gone to the police? The man who hurt that homeless guy and you is still out there. He might hurt someone else.”

“The police already have their suspect.” Ben’s gaze slid to hers and darkened with fear. “It’s me, Ali. They think I killed that man.”

Though her stomach twisted painfully at the news, Alex made a dismissive sound. “That’s ridiculous, Ben. Why would they think that? Because you tried to save him and couldn’t? Ben, was that what happened? If so, we can help you.” She realized the word “we” had flown out of her mouth all too easily and, truth be told, she wasn’t entirely sure it was a true statement anymore. It was highly likely Alex was no longer a “we”. So she quickly amended her words. “I can help you.”

Ben Phillips continued to stare at his bloodied hand, his face the very picture of confusion. “No. You can’t.” He lifted a terrified gaze to her. “Because I’m afraid I did kill that man.”

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Get Your Dose of Fun Today! Dose Vidanya

DoseVidanya_final

Silver Hills Senior and Singles Residence isn’t exactly a boring place. Home to a death predicting cat named Tolstoy, a night manager who may or may not suck blood and float above the floor, a cook with mad voodoo and pie baking powers, and a trio of nosy sleuths who are determined to get to the bottom of the corpse in the library (maybe literally)…some might say things couldn’t get any weirder.

Some would be wrong.

5 starsReader Review: “OMG this book was laugh out loud tears in your eyes funny!!! You will never look at retirement communities or Yoga classes the same!!!! The book is full of humor, mystery, and a bit of romance. Highly recommended and safe for all ages who want to read a murder mystery.”

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“You’re being ridiculous, Flo.”

Florence Bee cast her friend Agnes Willard a withering look. “I’m not going anywhere near that cat. I know you love him but he’s the Grim Reaper.”

Agnes snorted. “That’s just superstition. Tolstoy cannot predict death.”

The two women peered around the corner again. The huge orange striped cat sat licking his paws in a ray of sunlight that painted the mauve colored carpet. He stopped suddenly, as if sensing their presence and lifted his round green gaze in their direction.

Florence jerked backward, dragging Agnes with her. “There are ten dead people who might argue with you about that.”

Her friend removed Florence’s bony fingers from her shirt. “He’s my cat. I don’t need to hide from him.”

“Yes you do. If he sees you he’ll come over here.”

“And?” Agnes lifted a heavy brown eyebrow and placed her hands on wide hips.

“And I’m not going to find out what happens next. We don’t know if he kills with a look or if he has to sit on you.”

Agnes blew a raspberry. “Flo, I live with Tolstoy. He looks at me all the time. He sits on my chest when I’m sleeping…”

Flo gasped, grabbing Agnes’s wrist and looking at her watch.

“What are you doing, fool?”

“I’m checking your pulse.”

Agnes yanked her arm away as a door down the hall opened and a familiar voice spoke to Tolstoy.

“Good afternoon, boy.”

Tolstoy yowled a greeting and dove through the stairwell door before it closed.

Florence expelled a breath. “Good. We can go now.”

Shaking her head, Agnes stepped around the corner. She hotfooted it toward Richard Attles, a flirtatious smile on her wide face. “Richard! Hello.”

Flo rolled her eyes and followed, hoping to avert disaster.

Agnes had been nursing a serious crush on the man since the first day she’d arrived at the residence and had made a fool of herself more times than Flo could count over it.

The day manager of Silver Hills looked up as Agnes plowed toward him, her broad flank swinging energetically as she cut the distance between them.

Judging by the widening of the man’s eyes and the way his head swung from side to side looking for an escape route, Richard Attles was about to do something desperate. When his gaze swung toward the second floor window at the end of the hall Flo decided aggressive maneuvers were called for. She pitched sideways with a cry and folded carefully to the ground. As Agnes turned around, Flo grabbed her ankle.

Agnes rushed in her direction and Richard Attles saluted Flo as he dove back into the stairwell.

“Are you all right?” Agnes put her big hands under Flo’s arms and hefted her off the ground. Flo gave a startled chirp as her feet left the carpet. Agnes rarely knew her own strength.

“I’m fine I think. I just twisted my ankle.” She took a step, feigning a limp, and then straightened. “There, good as new. Let’s go or we’ll be late to the reading.”

Agnes narrowed her gaze at Flo and held her ground. “Just like that, your ankle’s better?”

Flo took off toward the elevator. “I’m a quick healer.” She pressed the Up button and the doors slid open with a whir. The two women climbed on board and Agnes stabbed a thick digit at the number three button.

“Hold the elevator!”

Agnes pressed Hold and peered around the open door to the young woman running lightly down the hall toward them, pressing a paperback to her stomach as she ran. The newcomer tugged a strand of mahogany hair off her face and smiled as she slipped into the elevator. “Thanks, ladies. Are you coming to the reading?”

Flo nodded. “We are. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I think I’ve figured out who killed Professor Pelt in the sun room.”

The doors slid shut and Agnes leaned against the wall at her back, eyeing the green-eyed beauty across from her. “I’m waiting for the sex scene. When are we getting to that, TC?”

Trisha Colombo shook her head. “There’s no sex, Agnes. But there is a sweet romance.”

Agnes blew a raspberry. “You need to write something steamier, TC. I’m getting diabetes from all that sweetness.”

The younger woman’s eyes widened as the doors slid open. “Shhhh! I don’t want Richard to know about the writing. It’s against my contract to have a second job.”

Agnes frowned. “It’s not like writing a book is a job, TC.”

TC lifted carefully shaped brows. “Have you ever tried it?”

“Agnes can’t even write a grocery list without breaking every grammar rule in the book,” Flo offered. She peered at her friend. “Besides, if you’re getting diabetes it’s from all those glazed donuts you eat.” Flo punched Agnes on a beefy arm. It was like a tick hitting a rhinoceros, barely even registering.

Agnes glanced at Flo when she rubbed her fist.

“I hope you hurt yourself.” She gave Flo a mean smile. “Good thing you’re a fast healer.”

“You two are incorrigible,” TC told them. “I hope I’m not going to have to separate you again.”

“If you do,” Flo said while glaring at her friend, “don’t put her near the coffee and cookies. The last time she ate everything but the ones with raisins.” Flo bunched her face with distaste. “I hate raisins.”

“Raisins are Satan’s boogers,” Agnes agreed.

TC grimaced. “Good Lord.”

“Don’t bring him into this,” Flo said with a grin.

Agnes laughed with her. “Yeah, he had nothing to do with raisins. He’s chocolate all the way.”

The elevator door opened and they stepped out, heading for the Silver Hills library. It was an open, inviting spot settled into a corner of the third floor. Two of the room’s walls consisted of floor to ceiling shelves made from dark wood, and every inch of the shelving was filled with books. The outside perimeter was open to the hallways and overlooked the large entrance and dining room two floors below.

Flo loved the library. It was her favorite spot at Silver Hills and she spent as much time there as possible. In fact, it had been her idea for TC, who was the resident activities director, to do the weekly readings. She hadn’t even known at the time that TC actually authored the cozy mysteries she read to about a dozen of the residents at Silver Hills. She’d just known they shared a love of reading.

They were a few minutes early to the reading and only one of the comfortable upholstered chairs was occupied when they approached. “Somebody beat us,” Flo observed as she eyed the stooped form with his back to them. She didn’t recognize the man from previous readings. “Who is that?”

TC shrugged. “Maybe it’s somebody new.”

Agnes picked up the pace. “He’s sitting next to the cookies. He’d better not have eaten all the chocolate chip ones.”

Flo rolled her eyes at TC and the younger woman smiled. “If he did I’ll call Cook and order us some more.”

Agnes slowed down from a near sprint and nodded. “Good. I need my daily sugar or I’ll drop into a diabetic coma.”

“You’re no more diabetic than I am,” Flo argued.

“Says you.”

They entered the cool, quiet space and a sense of peace slipped over Flo. She headed for her favorite chair just down from the newcomer, stepping over his very large shoes. “Excuse me.” The man in the chair didn’t look up from his magazine. Flo eyed the shaggy fringe of dark hair falling over his brow and frowned. Something about the man was familiar. And he appeared to be asleep.

Voices down the hall spurred Flo into action. She quickly forgot the magazine reading newcomer and hurried to her chair before old Mrs. Peoples stole it out from under her. Their feud over the slightly lumpy armchair had started months earlier, when Flo got up to go to the bathroom and came back to find the nasty old woman sitting like a queen in her chair. Mrs. Peoples had refused to leave, declaring the worn and lumpy chair the finest in the room and since she was the oldest, she proclaimed it should be hers.

Florence hadn’t taken it well and had set out, from that day on, to get to the readings before everyone else and claim the chair. She’d managed to snag the seat away from the crotchety old ninety-year-old woman several times in a row, only missing it the day the woman brought her lunch of prunes and sunflower seeds to the library and stayed until the reading just to rain on Flo’s parade. The cantankerous old woman had to have a bladder the size of her head.

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