Marji Laine

I Love a Good Mystery!


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Accused – in PARIS!

“I didn’t do it.”

“Do what? Madam?” The airport security guard had introduced himself as Toussant. He had only a mild accent, but he didn’t fool me. He’d pulled me into this bare, little room for something.

“Whatever it is you’ve brought me in here for.” I wasn’t making a whole lot of sense, but such was typical when I got nervous.

“We merely want to speak to you, Madam Laine.” He gestured to a chair on one side of a small table, but I didn’t feel like sitting.

How did the man know my name? I’d just been sitting in the waiting room when he stepped up and ushered me in here. It certainly wasn’t the random choice I’d thought it was. “About what?”

“What is it that brought you to Paris, Madam?” He seated himself in the chair across the table and steepled his fingers.

I don’t know what bothered me most about the man: his condescending tone or his half-lidded eyes. But since he’d sat down, I went ahead and sat across from him. “I was in Germany, visiting a mission with one of my friends, and I decided to come to Paris, just to say that I’d seen the place, and fly out from here.” I know I’m weird, but Paris has never been one of my dream vacays. Still, when I was only a hop, skip, and jump away, I needed to see what all of the fuss was about.

“And the Louvre?” The man lifted an eyebrow in, clearly doubting all that I’d just said.

“Was open when I got here. I decided to visit.” I lifted my chin and held his gaze for a second. “What’s the look for? I like art.” My mind flitted to the painting of the dogs playing cards that had hung in my game room when I was a kid.

I liked all sorts of artistic stuff.

“You were in the Louvre this morning?”

“Yes.” What was he getting at?

“And last night?” He gave a lazy blink as though he was working at being patient with me.

And I had no idea what he was fishing for. “I stayed in a little village just over the border from Germany. I can’t pronounce the name, but the chalet was owned by a family named Fontaine.”

“Then you did not come into Paris last night.”

“No.” Wasn’t that obvious? “I traveled yesterday and stayed at the chalet. Then I drove into Paris today and went straight to the museum.”

“To see the art.” He took out a notepad and jotted something down.

“Yes.” What was with this guy?

“And then you came straight here to the airport.” He didn’t look up at me this time.

“Yes.” I had a late afternoon flight to Heathrow. Was that so odd?

The man stood and gazed down at me. “So how did you enjoy the painting of the Russian Princess?”

I thought through the rooms I’d visited. I’d made a point to put my eyes on every picture, but that didn’t mean I would remember them all. Or any of them. Well, a few stood out in my mind. And some of them had looked royal. “Was that the painting of the little girls near the roses?” They had been dressed in multiple layers, so they might have been royal.

He merely shook his head.

“Well, I liked most of what I saw, so I’m sure I liked it.” Wait, why had he asked about that specific painting? “Was there something odd about it?”

“Only that it is missing.”

So that was why I’d been pulled aside. I stood. “Okay, I really didn’t take that. The only thing from Paris that I have in my bag is a magnet for my fridge and a thimble for my collection.” Well, and a couple of photos on my phone, but they didn’t count. I pushed my carry-on toward him as the door behind me opened.

I turned in time to see another guard step in and simply shake his head.

Toussant smiled benignly. “It seems you were indeed where you said last night.”

No news to me. “So I’m free to go?”

“I do have one other question.” He eyed me again. “When did you decide to go to the Louvre? I mean, there are many sights here in Paris. And you only had time for one of them. What made you choose that particular place?”

I’d actually planned this jaunt before I’d even purchased my plane tickets. “A friend of mine back in the states talked to me about the Louvre. Come to think of it, she mentioned some painting of a princess.” I immediately wished I hadn’t added that comment.

The guard pounced on it. “And who was that friend?”

Well, at least I didn’t need to worry about that. She was safely in California. “Chautona Havig. You might have heard of her. She’s the author of over seventy books.”

“Spell, please?” He jotted down the name as I spelled it for him. She couldn’t even be a suspect since she wasn’t even in France, but he wrote it down anyway.

“Thank you for your time, Madam.” He ushered me to the door and closed it behind me. The little room in the airport hadn’t been on my list of things to see in Paris, but I was glad that at least I wouldn’t be missing my plane.

Have you been able to follow this mystery? The Ever After authors are again caught up in a theft, this time of priceless art. Follow the trail of the missing painting:

Cathe Swanson – Feb 1
April Hayman – Feb 2
Denise Lauren Barela– Feb 3
Sandy Barela – Feb 4
Rebekah Jones – Feb 5
Liz Tolsma – Feb 6
Marji Laine Clubine- Feb 7
Chautona Havig – Feb 8

I’m so excited to celebrate with Liz Tolsma on her Ever After mystery Slashed Canvas. Here’s a little more about her new book which is now available in paperback and ebook at Amazon:

Held prisoner by all she’s lost, Katarina’s about to lose all she has.

Grand Duchess Katarina Volstova barely escaped the Russian revolution, arriving in Paris just before the birth of her twin daughters. With her heart still captive in her homeland, she haunts the Louvre each day, spending hours gazing at one painting, lost in her pain.

Not the man he once was, Timothy Smythe never returned home to England after the Great War. Instead, he hides himself away doing maintenance in the Louvre and watching the beautiful woman whose pain seems riveted on one painting.

When Katarina returns home to find her daughters and their nanny missing, the loss opens her eyes to all she has to lose now.

Frantic to find her girls, her distress causes Timothy to offer his assistance. Together they put together clues to a puzzle they must complete before the kidnapper ensures Katarina and her daughters are never reunited.

Slashed Canvas offers a retelling of The Lost Princess that mingles self-centered grief, spoiled little girls, and proof that nothing will stop a mother from saving her children.

And don’t miss your chance to win an Amazon gift card. Giveaway Link:  https://promosimple.com/ps/18dfa/slashed-canvas-marji


In Pieces

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,
too.

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.

ENTER HERE!