I ordered some eggs over easy and toast and then heard the ding on my phone as the waitress left our table.
“Do you need to get that?” my friend asked me.
I hated interrupting the way-too-infrequent times I get to see my friend, but sometimes my mom’s caregivers will text instead of call when she’s having a problem. “Just a sec.”
I opened the text and found the picture of a headless doll. The next image was of the missing head. And it wasn’t exactly a doll. More of a nutcracker. You know the type: dressed in a soldier uniform with a big head that allows for the nuts to fit in between his wide-opening mouth. This one had a tiny sword in one hand and a tall hat like a palace guard.
“Check this out.” I handed my phone over to my friend.
“Is this some sort of threat or just some weird coordination between mystery writers?”
I snorted. “Probably more of the latter than the first. It’s from April Hayman, one of the authors of the Ever After series.”
“Do y’all exchange pictures of broken dolls often?” She handed the phone back to me. “And should I ask for the check now?”
“No.” I laughed. “Apparently, the nutcracker from Chautona Havig’s new book, The Nutcracker Suite, has lost his head somehow.”
“Probably over some Raggedy Ann doll.”
“Cute.” I looked up at the ceiling. “April thought I might know who broke it.”
“Do you?” Her eyebrow arched and she leaned over her elbows on the table.
“I could probably make a pretty good guess. I mean, if it has to do with a nutcracker, then there are likely some mice involved.” Though I really didn’t think Chautona would have mice in her house.
“Maybe the mouse king shoved him off a high shelf?” my friend suggested. “Like yours. Don’t you have a nutcracker on that high shelf in your living room?”
“Yeah, but it’s not a soldier. Mama brought it back from Germany, though it looks more like a Leprechaun.”
My friend took a sip of her coffee. “So, if Chautona doesn’t have mice that could have broken the nutcracker, who broke it?”
“Well…” I thought of some of the sundry characters who fill my own books, but there would be no reason for them to hop into Chautona’s book to create havoc. “While Chautona doesn’t have mice, she does have a passel of kids.”
“I seem to remember somewhere that a couple of kids fought over a nutcracker and broke it. Do you suppose that’s what happened?”
I remembered that story. “I think at least one of those kids was pretty bratty. Chautona’s kids aren’t like that.”
“But it could have still happened that way, maybe they were playing with it?” My friend was certainly getting into the spirit of the mystery. “Or it could have fallen when Chautona was cleaning.”
I couldn’t answer for Chautona, but the poor guy on my high shelf likely had an inch of dust on his little green cap, not that anyone would be tall enough to see it. Which was exactly why I didn’t worry over keeping him dusted. “Either way, I certainly think she’s the one we should ask next about all of this.”
I typed in a short message and attached the pictures to the text. She had some explaining to do.
This little mystery celebrates the release of The Nutcracker Suite, the newest book in the Ever After series by Celebrate Lit. Chautona Havig offers this take on the famous Christmas story:
“Time to dance, sugarplum.”
A painter at the Meyer’s Toys factory, Clarice Stahl, knows something is strange about the way so many men come and go through Mr. Meyer’s office, especially one in particular.
Then murder strikes a little too close to home and uncorks a barrel of secrets.
When mob king, Mario Topo’s, enforcer goes missing the race is on to prove he’s behind the murder. Police and mobsters alike are after Milo Natale, and he who finds Milo first might determine the enforcer’s fate.
A race through the city, a new friend… or more… a new life in the offing. Milo and Clarice must find who killed Topo’s man and why before the police arrest him for murder or Topo’s men bump him and Clarice off,
This next book in the Ever After Mysteries combines “The Nutcracker Suite” with a murder mystery set in the heart of 1920s Rockland.
Order your copy HERE.
And don’t forget to enter at the link below for an Amazon gift card giveaway.