A Pre-Christmas Ebook Bonanza is Underway!

Don’t miss this opportunity to save on great ebooks. A group of mystery writers are offering their works this weekend at either 99 cents or FREE This is your chance to stock up while you prep for the holiday season to come.  http://writeravamallory.wixsite.com/avamallory/mystery-promo

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Crime World Trivia, #2

Al Capone speaks out in his own defense:

All I ever did was sell beer and whisky to our best people….They talk about me not being on the legit. Why, lady,  nobody’s on the legit. You know that, and so do they. Your brother or your father gets in a jam. What do you do? Do you sit back and let him go over the road without trying to help him? You’d be a yellow dog if you did. Nobody’s really on the legit when it comes down to cases; you know that.

The quote is from an interview Capone gave to Chicago Tribune reporter, Genevieve Forbes Herrick, March, 1930 as quoted on page 17 in the Illinois Historical Journal, Vol. 82, Spring 1989. It it part of an article titled  written by Daniel McDonough which examines Chicago Press treatment of gangsters during the

Another label used for cops: Donut Patrol or Donut Muncher

(This is one I’d never heard before.)  Refers to police officers in the United States. It apparently originated from night shift officers stopping at doughnut shops for coffee, as they often used to be the only catering establishments open all night. And so the tie of cop to donuts allegedly began. Donuts and cops are part of our police images even down to this very day

Origins of the decidedy criminal-oriented word: Heist

Some sources allege heist is a US word that came into being in the late 18th century. Another source suggested it came along in the 1920s, during the US’s fascination with American mobsters like Al Capone. It was said to  have probably been based on the earlier British word hoist, meaning to lift and was somehow tied to shoplifting. If anyone can track down a more definite origen, please share.


Crime World Trivia #1

The Fuzz

While most of us are familiar with the use of the fuzz to refer to police, I was curious as to its origins. According to the Urban Dictionary, the term came into use in the 1960s, when military veterans were returning to the US and joining police forsces in large numbers. They brought with them their short, military haircuts and with it arose the term: the fuzz.

And Cop

Some claim it is stands for “constable on patrol.” Others say it derives from the Latin word for capture. Both explanations seem logical. Both are also said to have originated in Britain.

If you have knowledge of words well-known to readers of crime fiction, feel free to share your knowledge with the rest of us in the ccomment section.

Time Is Running Out

This is the last day to save on ebooks listed in the  Fall Mystery Sale. A group of mystery writers have offerings priced this weekend at either 99 cents or FREE.  But that sale ends today!!! Don’t miss this opportunity to load your ereader with great stories to carry  you into the chilly days ahead.

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Free Cozy Mystery

Bones & Boxes, the first book in the Hetty Fox mystery series, is free today and tomorrow.

Facing a ghost, a dead body, and a cat, Hetty Fox has her hands full. Recently widowed and new to  town, she also must find her place among a village of strangers. That effort is how she discovers her first dead body. It also launches her into her first murder investigation.

But her effort to track a killer gets muddled as ghost and cat compete for her attention. Then there’s her daughter, Megan. How is Hetty to track a killer without tipping her off? Finally, mix in a clever killer, and Hetty finds herself truly challenged in this lighthearted mystery.     

A Huge Thank You

RDMTo all of you who bought or borrowed A Rainy Day Murder in this most recent cozy mystery sale, thank you.  You made it one of my best promotions ever.  Hetty is one of my favorite characters. She’s tough, she’s determines, and she has a big heart. I’m so glad so many of you appreciate her efforts, too.

Another Hetty Fox book is underway, but more about that later. Also in progress is another Melanie Hart mystery, including in the near future, a story narrated by Ginger Black who is in one of her full-throttled fits. More on this later as well.

Cozy Mystery Sale!

 

It begins today and runs through Sunday,  a great collection of cozy mysteries from some highly talented authors. And all available for only 99 cents.

 

Whether your tastes run to culinary sleuths,  or to witches who track down killers, or to cats willing to lend a paw with the effort, or what have  you. You’re sure to ind something to brighten up your weekend

Be sure to grab a copy from this outstanding collection today.

 

Death Among the Roses: Sneak Peak

 

 

DEATH2 (9)A WEDDING WILL USUALLY put a smile on a woman’s face, but not mine. I dislike weddings. I’d never seen one where the bride wasn’t a nervous wreck, the mother a walking zombie, and the groom little more than a second thought.

Was that why I was in my present funk? I was headed to a wedding, to my best friend’s wedding, and I was running late.

I whipped my car out of the turn at Oak Street and tramped down on the gas. Two blocks later, at the intersection of Main and Maple streets, I wrestled my car around the corner like an Indy driver on steroids. The move hurtled me past a startled Mabel Florent, who was taking out her trash. I gave her a quick wave and moved on, roaring left onto Torrence Street, where, halfway down the block, I stomped hard onthe brakes. Then, with tires screeching, I manhandled my car into the parking lot of the Cloverton Methodist Church.

A glance at the dashboard clock told me I had at least a couple of minutes to spare. I ease the car into a vacant parking space and sagged back against the seat.  I’d just driven from the newspaper office to this church in under six minutes.

I switched off the engine and smiled. Cordelia had wanted a big wedding, and she’d obviously pulled it off. The church lot was nearly stuffed full with cars. Presumably with their occupants now all inside the splendid old church, waiting to see Cordelia marty Gary Pepper.

Even the day was gorgeous. The sky was blue and cloud free. Grass was greening. Birds had been chirping since dawn. The naked rose stalks in front of my car showed plumping leaf buds. I scooped up my handbag and stepped into the brilliant spring day.

I’ll never know what drew my attention to the rose bed. But as my glance fell there, I experienced an uncomfortable moment. Maybe it was the pair of men’s shoes peeking from behind the rose branches. My stomach fluttered.

Shoes in a rose bed? I did a double take.

The shoes were made of  black patent leather and were the kind that went well with a tuxedo. A shiver of dread raced up my spine.

I inched closer, taking in more of the outstretched form. A pair of slacks led to a dark cumberbun and a pristine white shirt. The shirt was topped by a well cut tuxedo. Finally, my gaze reached the face.

“Gary,” I whispered. I hauled in a breath and spoke louder, but I didn’t really expect Gary Pepper to answer, for I know  the dead cannot speak.

The calm of the beautiful day shattered. A scream broke free of my throat. When I finally managed to cut it off, I heard a car pull into the parking behind me. Yet I remained rooted to the spot. The sound of scurrying feet told me someone was approaching. I closed my eyes and prayed it was a friend — or at least not a killer.

“What’s wrong?” a deep male voice asked. “Are you okay?

I tried to say something, but nothing came out. My mouth and throat were dry, unable to do the task I asked of them. I raised a trembling hand and pointed to the offending sight.

The stranger stepped forward, strained his neck, then gasped.

He turned toward me “Are you all right?”

“Yes,” I said. “I’m fine now, or at least I will be. Thank you.” I glanced up at him.

The man standing before me was tall with brown hair and a square chin. I guessed him to be close to my age. He wore a dark suit with a white shirt and tasteful striped tie. I assumed  he was another wedding guest, although I couldn’t recall seeing him in Cloverton before. Perhaps he was one of Gary’s old college chums?

“Come now,” he said, “you’ve had a shock. You need to sit down.” He led me to his car, opened the door, and supported my elbow as I sank down on the driver’s side seat.

“You wait here,” he said. “I’m going to go check for a pulse.”

I shuddered. I couldn’t imagine touching the body. I wanted to tell him not to bother. Gary was obviously dead. But I didn’t. Or maybe couldn’t. I’m not really sure which. Perhaps he was right to check.

I watched passively as he approached Gary’s body, as he squatted and checked Gary’s neck for a pulse. His shoulders sagged,  and he glanced back at me and shook his head. “Do you have your cell phone with you? We need to call the police.”

His words slammed into me, bringing home the reality of what lay before us. Gary Pepper, a man I’d known since childhood was dead—probably murdered. Young, healthy men didn’t normally step into a flowerbed and drop dead. A flash of rage rushed through me.

Gary and I had gone through grade school and high school together. Along with Cordelia, we’d pedalled our bikes in the summers all around this small town. We’d double dated, and I’d been among the first to drink a toast to their engagement.

My thoughts shifted to my best friend waiting inside the church. This morning Cordelia had been bubbly, excited. She’d be devastated by this dreadful news.

Tears filled my eyes and spilled down my cheeks. I grabbed a tissue from my purse, and mopped them away.

Then with a shuddering breath I wondered who could have killed this glorious man? But I couldn’t come up with an answer. Gary had been a charming, agreeable person. He could never have given anyone a reason to kill him. Never.

The man turned me to face him. “It’s okay,” he said, his face near enough to mine for me to catch the faint scent of coffee on his breath. His dark eyes locked onto mine. “We’ll get through this. Do you hear me?”

I nodded, grateful for his firm voice, his reassuring manner. Slowly my breathing eased and my legs regained their strength.

“Better?” he asked, as he stepped back and released me.

“Yes,” I said, taking a step back myself. “I’m all right now. Thank you.”

The man standing before me was tall with brown hair and a square chin. I guessed him to be close to my age. He wore a dark suit with a white shirt and tasteful striped tie. I assumed  he was another wedding guest, although I couldn’t recall seeing him in Cloverton before. Perhaps he was one of Gary’s old college chums?

“Come now,” he said, “you’ve had a shock. You need to sit down.” He led me to his car, opened the door, and supported my elbow as I sank onto the driver’s side seat.

“You wait here,” he said. “I’m going to go check for a pulse.”

I shuddered. I couldn’t imagine touching the body. I wanted to tell him not to bother. Gary was obviously dead. But I didn’t. Or maybe couldn’t. I’m not really sure which. Perhaps he was right to check.

I watched passively as he approached Gary’s body, as he squatted and checked Gary’s neck for a pulse. His shoulders sagged,  and he glanced back at me and shook his head. “Do you have your cell phone with you? We need to call the police.”

His words slammed into me, bringing home the reality of what lay before us. Gary Pepper, a man I’d known since childhood was dead—probably murdered. Young, healthy men didn’t normally step into a flowerbed and drop dead. A flash of rage rushed through me.

Gary and I had gone through grade school and high school together. Along with Cordelia, we’d pedalled our bikes in the summers all around this small town. We’d double dated, and I’d been among the first to drink a toast to their engagement.

My thoughts shifted to my best friend waiting inside the church. This morning Cordelia had been bubbly, excited. She’d be devastated by this dreadful news.

Tears filled my eyes and spilled down my cheeks. I grabbed a tissue from my purse, and mopped them away.

Then with a shuddering breath I wondered who could have killed this glorious man? But I couldn’t come up with an answer. Gary had been a charming, agreeable person. He could never have given anyone a reason to kill him. Never.

***

The stranger returned to me, accepted my cell phone, called the police. “They’re on their way,” he said after disconnecting the call. “They said someone should arrive within minutes.” He smiled sadly and stuck out a hand. “I should probably introduce myself. I’m Josh Devon. I came down for the wedding.” His grip was strong, warm. “I’m assuming the man is Gary Pepper?

I nodded, then shook my head to clear it. “I don’t understand. You say you’re here for the wedding, but you didn’t know Gary?” “No. Not to look at, at any rate. I’m his cousin, but we’d never met.”

I blinked. “You’re a cousin?”

A sad smile washed over his face. “Our families have been on the outs for years. This was to be our first face to face meeting.” Josh’s lowered his chin. “Are you feeling better?”

I gave a quick nod. I was still a bit light-headed, and I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t fall over if asked to stand up. But this man had earned a more positive reply. “I’m much better, thank you. I Melanie Hart, by the way. I’m a reporter with the Cloverton Gazette. I, too, am here for the wedding.”

Just then a patrol car wheeled into the lot. The officer steered the car to an empty space and parked. Lonnie Day stepped out and nodded at me.

Lonnie was another man I’d gone to school with. Short, barrel chested, and with a lantern jaw, he scooped up a clipboard from the front seat of his car and headed for us.

“Hi Lonnie,“ I said as he approached us.

“Melanie.” Day replied with a crisp nod. “So where is this body that’s been reported?”

“It’s in the rose bed.” I reached out, placed a restraining hand on his arm. “Lonnie,  you’ll know the victim.”

Day blinked, then craned his neck toward the offending plot of ground. “So who is it?”

Fresh tears pooled in my eyes. “Gary Pepper.”

Day’s jaw dropped as his gaze slid back to mine. “It’s Gary? If I hadn’t had to work today, I’d have been here at the wedding.”

“Yes, I know.”

Day glanced toward my companion. “And you are?”

Josh recited his name and said, “I drove down from Chicago today to attend the wedding.”

Day made note of the information on his clipboard. Looking up, he asked, “Who found the body?”

I raised my hand. “I did.”

“And you,” Lonnie asked eyeing Josh, “what’s your role in all of this?”

“I came on the scene soon after Melanie found the body. She was obviously upset, so I tried to settle her. Then I checked the body for a pulse and called the police.”

“Either of  you see anyone else in the parking lot?”

I replayed the scene in my mind. “I’m pretty sure there was no one here when I pulled in. But I wasn’t expecting to see anyone. I was almost late. I figured everyone was already inside the church.”

“And you?” Day shifted his gaze back to Josh.

“Same thing. There wasn’t anyone here as far as I could see… except for Melanie.”

Day tapped his pen against the clipboard several times and reviewed his notes. “I guess that’s it then,” he said, “except I’m sure Chief Gossford’s gonna want to talk to you both. For that matter, I suspect he’ll want to speak with everybody who is inside the church. I wouldn’t plan on going anyplace soon if I were you two.”

“That’s fine,” I answered. “But somebody needs to let the wedding party know what’s happened. The ceremony was to start a few minutes ago. Cordelia must be wild with worry.”

A few timid souls had stuck their heads out of the church entrance, apparently intent to discover what the ruckus out here was about. Lonnie waved them back inside.

Afterwards, he clicked his pen closed and shoved it into his shirt pocket “As soon as backup arrives, we’ll go inside. I can’t leave the crime scene unsecured.”

Josh and I nodded our understanding and within minutes a second squad car arrived. After the new officer was given instructions on what was expected of him, Day, Josh, and I set off for the church.

The building we approached was a substantial structure. Built of gray stone, it had occupied this location for over a century. A soaring bell tower stretched upward beside its double-door entrance. And the Gothic-shaped windows bore freshly painted white trim that glowed brightly in the day’s brilliant sunlight.

Under normal circumstances I thought it a charming building, but on this day, despite its freshly painted trim, it appeared dark and cold and joyless to me

The inside, decorated as it was with flowers and ribbons struck an even more discordant note in me.  We advanced down the center and nearly every face turned our direction. Expressions had already grim. Word of strange doings outside the church had apparently already reached them.

Day paused and indicated that Josh and I should take a seat. As I slid back onto the pew, I noted the wedding party had already assembled at the front of the church.

Cordelia looked stunning in a well-cut gown studded with small pearls. Her blonde hair was piled atop her head and a sheer veil drifted about her. My heart bled at the thought of the terrible news about to descend on what was to have been a glorious time.

Day approached Cordelia and  her father and delivered his message. When he finished, Cordelia swayed, nearly fell. Her father grabbed her arms to steady her before he swept a her out of the church.

I pulled in a shuddering breath. I longed to go to  her, to comfort her. But I knew I had to stay to face the police.

Day turned to face us and raised his hands to get our attention. “Folks, I dislike delivering bad news, but Gary Pepper has been found dead just outside the church. Our police chief is on  his way. He is going to want to speak with each of you. So please, don’t leave until you are released.”

A bit later Pastor Bill Torman knelt beside Josh and mme. “There’s coffee to be had in the basement. And Gossford has arrived,” he said, nodding at me. “They’ve combing the grounds apparently seeking evidence. The coroner is on hand, too.” A worried frown spread over the minister’s weathered face as he turned to me. “I heard you found the body?”

I nodded.

“Are you okay?”

I appreciated his thoughtfulness and smiled. “Of course. I come from sturdy stock.”

“Good. I can get on with my job, then,” he said, patting my hand. “I need to share the news about the coffee with the rest of these good people.”

After he departed, the thought of coffee pushed us from the pew. I led Josh from the chapel to the stairwell, where we joined other wedding guests making their way to the basement. Once there, we each filled a white, thick mug with some steaming brew. The coffee spilled out dark and fragrant, from the little black spigot near the bottom of the large, old aluminum coffee maker.

The sight was so familiar. We had a coffee pot just like this one at work. Ours was ancient, too. I could hardly believe either of them still worked. Yet there they were, each churning out an almost acceptable brew.

After filling our cups, Josh and I headed for a quiet corner. The space we walked through was plain and completely open. The exterior cinder-block walls were painted a neutral beige. Banquet tables stood in three long rows. Folding chairs had been placed alongside the tables, providing seating.

The room was a Spartan kind of place that relied on the neighborliness of the congregation for its warmth.  But there were few of those vibes present this day. People milled about, or settled themselves at one of the tables, but the expression on their faces remained grim.

Josh and I moved to a corner off by ourselves, where he finally shifted our conversation to the murder. “Have you any idea why someone would want to kill Gary?” Josh asked.

I glanced about the room, taking in the sight of the restless wedding guests and wondering if one of them was a murderer. “I can’t imagine anyone disliking him that much,” I finally said. “Gary was a quiet man. He mostly went out of his way to avoid trouble.”

A look of distress crossed Josh’s face. “Obviously someone thought otherwise,” he managed to get out. “But once police find a motive, they’ll be half-way home to nabbing the killer.”

I drew back and studied his face. “Are you a cop?”

He shrugged. “No, I’m an accountant.”

And also a very thoughtful man, I thought. “I was stunned to learn you were Gary’s cousin.”

Josh wrapped both hands around his coffee cup. “I’m not surprised. As I said our families weren’t at all close.”

At that moment, Ginger Black advanced on us. She was one of Cordelia’s cousins and had been drafted into service as maid of honor due to my dislike of weddings. Ginger, of course  had not been informed to that fact.

With copper-colored hair, large hazel eyes, and delicate, even features, Ginger was what could be called a natural beauty. And the bridesmaid dress looked perfect on her. A rare achievement in my estimation.

“Here,” she said, shoving a platter of food toward us. “I’m carting around the canapés.” She rolled her eyes. “Somebody called the caterers and had a bit of the goodies brought over. It’s a good idea, I guess. It keeps a little of the food from going to waste. Plus this gives me something to do. Otherwise I’d go bonkers waiting for Gossford to do his thing.”

I stared at the platter. Shrimp and sliced ham and smoked salmon along with several types of cheeses had been lovingly arranged. While everything looked tempting and smelled delicious, I couldn’t force myself to take a single bite. The memory of Gary’s dead body was too fresh with me.  Josh, too, passed up the offerings.

“So who’s your friend?” Ginger asked, her eyes twinkling as she took my companion’s measure.

I introduced the pair, explaining that Josh was a cousin of Gary’s from out of town.

“Really?” Ginger crooned. I tried not to let her flirtatious tone annoy me, reminding myself Ginger usually trilled sweetly whenever she got within a few feet of a handsome man.

“Will wonders never cease?” she exclaimed. “I never knew Gary had a cousin.”

Josh explained about the estrangement.

Finally, Ginger managed to drag her gaze back to me. “So, I heard you found the body?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Lucky you.”

I dragged in a breath. “How’s Cordelia?”

“I haven’t had an update yet. But, as you saw, the doctor sped off after her. He was muttering something about tranquilizers as they left. My guess is she’s probably sound asleep by now.”

I nodded. “That would be a good thing.”

Ginger took a moment to survey the room. “Do you think the police will keep us here much longer? I mean, what can I tell them? I was cooped up inside the church. None of the bridal party saw anything. I mean, what do they want from us?”

“I’m sure Gossford will do his best to get through the room quickly.”

“I certainly hope so,” Ginger said with a huff. “I’d like to get home before my feet swell any more than they already have. What was Cordelia thinking? These shoes are a beast.”

“You could slip them off,” I suggested.

She glanced at me aghast. “You might, maybe. But I certainly won’t.”

“It was nice of you then,” Josh volunteered, “to come round with the food.”

Ginger inclined her head and placed a hand on her chest. “It was my pleasure,” she purred. Then, she straightened and peered about the room, her eyes large. “Can you imagine?” she asked me. “A murder in Cloverton? Poor Gossford will be having fits. Murder is so far out of his league.”

I felt myself bristle. “He’s always seemed a very competent police officer to me.”

Ginger leaned in close and whispered softly. “If Gossford can’t figure this murder out, I bet we can.” She straightened and gave me an encouraging smile.

I took a deep breath, wondering if I’d misheard her.

She poked my upper arm with her elbow. “Oh, come on. Why not?”

I scoffed. “And right after we scope out the killer, we can climb Mt. Everest, too.”

“Are you saying we couldn’t solve this mess?”

I drew my arms across my chest. “Probably. Something like that. Yes.”

“Hey, you’re a reporter. You’ve got smarts. And I know every dirty secret in town.” Ginger faced Josh. “I hear more about the goings on here than any decent person should.”

“Ginger owns the most popular beauty salon in Cloverton,” I offered as explanation. “A lot of gossip gets spread there.”

Josh raised an eyebrow. “You two can’t be serious about poking around in a murder?” He studied our two faces closely. “Surely, you wouldn’t do that?”

I felt my cheeks flush from embarrassment. Put that way it clearly was an absurd idea.  “I don’t believe we’d undertake an investigation, no. Ginger is just offering up another of her outlandish ideas.”

Ginger snorted. “You think about what I’m saying, Melanie.” She returned her attention to Josh. “Times certainly could have been happier. But all that aside,” she laid her free hand on top of his, “it’s been very nice meeting you.”

Josh gazed up at Ginger looking for all the world like a puppy who’d just found a home. “Likewise,” he muttered, a goofy smile playing across his handsome face.

Suddenly realizing the pair looked good together, I folded my arms over my chest and fumed.

I’d found him first, I irrationally thought. But my reaction left me puzzled. I hadn’t been interested in a man romantically since my one-and-only dumped me two days short of college graduation.

My gaze fell back on the happy pair and I shook my head.

Team up with Ginger to solve a murder? I’d rather face a root canal.

 

This book is available at Amazon and may also be read in Kindle Unlimited.

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Fall Mystery Sale!

Come and get ’em. A group of mystery writers are offering their works this weekend at either 99 cents or FREE.  Don’t miss this opportunity to load your ereader with great reads to carry  you into winter.

Yellow wet autumn leaves on the background a dark old wood