Marji Laine

I Love a Good Mystery!


4 Comments

going, Going, GONE!

“And gone is exactly what it was.” I tried to be nonchalant as I pulled a candy cane from beside my front walkway. I wasn’t fooling any of my neighbors, though. I never did outdoor decorating, or undecorating, as in this case. And when the police car pulled in front of the house, at least three of the houses nearby suddenly had activity at their windows.

Blinds suddenly had a kink in them. Curtains were pulled back. A crazy dog started barking and pawing in the front window at the house across the street. I knew Mrs. Myers was crouching in the dark behind the dog. She probably even had her binoculars out.

I resisted the urge to wave at her and pulled up another candy cane as I turned my attention to the young officer.

He eyed me, holding a stylus above an iPad. “I realize the poster was gone, but I need to know what happened leading up to that moment.”

“Well, there isn’t much to tell. The auctioneer announced that the freakshow poster was the next thing to be auctioned. I picked up my paddle, but I never got the chance to bid. When they revealed the item, all they revealed was a big fat empty.”

“And you . . .”

I felt the heat rise up my neck. “Well, I had a plane to catch. I couldn’t bid on the item I wanted, so what was the point of me staying?”

“You went directly to the airport?”

Sort of. I reached for another candy cane and dropped my voice to a little over a whisper. “I did have to use the ladies.”

“So you stopped along the way.”

I merely nodded at this point. I wasn’t about to go into detail. “Bottom line, I had nothing to do with the disappearance of the poster.” I shook a candy cane in his direction. “No matter what you heard from Cathe Swanson. I was only interested in it for memorabilia anyway. I’ve collected all the books of the series; why not add to the presentation. And it really is a nice poster – was a nice poster.”

“And you never went near the poster before the auction began?”

Okay, that was a different question. I certainly couldn’t outright lie about it. Even if I could force out something that might sound rather affirmative, my flaming face would give it away. Judging from my feverish cheeks, it already was. “I wanted to see the thing before I began bidding on it. You know how it is. I had to be sure it was the real thing.”

“So . . .”

I glanced up at the sky and then down the street toward the corner. Why was some officer questioning me about the auction now? Out of the blue? I spotted a car parked on the entry road to my neighborhood. Cars never parked down there. A head ducked as I looked at it. Was that Cathe Swanson? Surely not. She lived way up north, for pity’s sake.

Was that why the officer was here?

“So you were the last to view it.” This officer, young or not, wasn’t missing anything.

I thought back to the episode I’d seen. Cathe had raced out of the auction house dragging some poor terrier in a hideous Christmas sweater. A moment later, security guards followed in hot pursuit. I had the chance to check under the red drape over the picture. “I wasn’t alone. April Hayman wandered over as well. She held up one edge of the drape and I held up the other.” It had been the real thing, all right.

“I see.” He lifted one eyebrow and jotted something into his iPad.

I pointed at him with the cane. “All I did was look at it. I didn’t touch it. I wasn’t even the last one with it.”

“Who was?”

I couldn’t really be sure about that. A few others joined us as we viewed it. “I think there were a few people there when I dropped my corner of the drape. I know April Hayman was. Have you even spoken to her?”

He ignored my question. “You’re certain she was there?”

“Yes. She had been standing right next to me and went around to the other side as I was leaving.” I took a breath, hoping this would encourage him to leave. I’d already tangled myself up in the candy cane wires and I still had about a dozen of them left to remove.

“I’ll see about this.” He didn’t even say goodbye as he strolled back to his car and got in. The dog across the street stopped barking. The curtains in the house next to it fell back into place. The blinds next door suddenly lost their kink.

I glanced toward the car parked at the corner as it pulled away. If it was Cathe Swanson, she’d been meddling in the wrong barrel. I had nothing to do with the theft no matter how much I’d wanted that poster. I pulled up another cane and solidified a huge tangle around the others and myself.

There was a reason why I didn’t do the outdoor decorating.

***

The authors of the Ever After series are celebrating Denise Barela’s release of Silencing the Siren, even more special because it is her premier publication! Woohoo! It’s available today on Amazon. Here’s a little more about her story:

Andrew Grayson thought he had everything… until he met her.

The indulged son of wealthy parents, Andrew has always gotten whatever he wanted almost before he knew he wanted it—clothes, gadgets… even a car! What more could a young man desire?

Enter Annabel Thompson. Freakshow mermaid extraordinaire… in a wheelchair!

Of course, her beauty attracts him. How could it not? Add to that a kind heart, and Andrew can’t help but fall for her.

Annabel’s connection with the freakshow repels his parents and their society friends. They want him to sever all ties with her and his new friends. Oh, and marry the “right” girl with the “right connections.” But he won’t do it. He’ll defy them and marry his little mermaid.

When Annabel turns up missing, declared dead, things don’t add up, Andrew begins asking some difficult questions, the most important being, “What happened to the little mermaid of the Coney Island freak show?”

Find out in this next book in the Ever After Mysteries, combining beloved fairy tales and mysteries. Silencing the Siren offers a retelling of “The Little Mermaid” that will keep you gripped to the edge of your seat as you watch the story unfold.

Enjoy the rest of this little bloghop:

Rebekah Jones – Jan 4
Chautona Havig – Jan 5
Cathe Swanson – Jan 6
Marji Laine Clubine – Jan 7
April Hayman – Jan 8
Liz Tolsma – Jan 9
Sandy Barela – Jan 10
Denise Lauren Barela – Jan 11

And don’t forget to enter the giveaway below! Great opportunity to win an Amazon gift card!


1 Comment

I Know My Goldmine!

The knock at the door interrupted my new story. Again. I was determined to complete this 1940s retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, but between phone calls and errands, most of my story remained in my head.

My loveable rescue mutt started in on a tirade of protective barks when someone rang the doorbell.

Really? The Amazon delivery person was more than a little determined to get me to empty my porch. I put Rosie (aka Madam Barksalot) into her crate and went to the door.

Now, I live in the suburbs of Dallas, but even in my quiet neighborhood, I know better than to simply open my front door, broad daylight or not. But the fall wreath that I had put up last week completely blocked the peephole.

Grr.

The best I could do was to crack the door open. I thought there was probably a door-to-door salesman there. Over the last couple of months, we’ve entertained cable salesmen, a roofer from down the street, and a fellow attempting to sell us new windows. Well, and a girl scout, but since she came bringing me extra thin mints, I won’t count her among the nuisances.

Either way, I wasn’t expecting dusty men with crumpled fedoras pushing their way into my house.

Instant terror. The thing of nightmares. Or my suspense stories.

Rosie let out a blitz of non-stop barks in the living room. What I wouldn’t give for her sharp little teeth chasing the men off. But I took comfort that sweet hubby was only out on a short walk, and dear daughter and her taser were in the next room. She’d probably even seen the men approaching the place. “Get out of my house.”

The taller one walked through the entry hall looking at my shelves and the pictures on the wall. He made it to the living room, took one glance at Rosie in her crate, and backed away. “Not ’til you tell us where it is.”

“Huh?” I guess my expression confused them. They looked at each other and then back at me. Not that I had any answers. “What is it?”

Rosie had finally stopped barking, and the first man shushed me. “Keep your dog calm.”

The second man stepped into my dining room. “Drawers in here.”

Only in the china cabinet. “Hey.” I held up my hands, but the first guy shushed me again.

The second man pulled out the wide drawer under the glassed cabinets, and, as I discovered several years ago, learned that the drawer has no stopping device. It came out of the slot, and heavy as it was with flatware and Christmas utensils, it fell to the floor, slamming into his toes. “Ow.” He hopped up and down on first one foot and then the other. His friend, the last one at the door, came to help, but the injured man shoved him away.

“Who you shoving?” The last man acted as though to tackle the hopping fellow.

His friend who had returned from the living room yelled at him. “Keep it down.”

They hadn’t closed my door behind them, and my neighbor across the street was out sweeping the acorns off of his sidewalk. He kept glancing in the direction of my doorway. That was good.

And with so much commotion, my daughter had probably already called 911.

I lowered my voice, hoping a calming tone was coming out. “Look, this is a quiet area with nosy neighbors. The police are probably already on their way”

The first one held his hands out toward me. “Ain’t no need for that lady. We just wants the location.”

Did they break into the wrong house? “Location to what? I don’t even know you.” What in the world were they talking about?

“We wants to know where to find the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine, and don’t say you don’t know ’cause Chautona Havig done mailed choo the map.” The last fellow pointed a finger at me.

I would have to remember to thank Chautona, but I hadn’t gotten the mail yet. Had it come today? “But what if I don’t know where your mine is?” I almost said mind which would also have been appropriate.

At this point, I could see the lady who lived catty-corner to me join my across-the-street neighbor in open curiosity. I resisted the urge to wave. Wouldn’t want them to think I was okay with the men bursting in.

“Prove it.” This time, the first man pointed at me.

Were these guys for real? How was I supposed to prove that? But then, I’m a words person. Maybe I could reason with them? “Well, first, the mine is lost, right?”

“Yeah,” the trio chorused.

They might have been dressed like Indiana Jones, but they didn’t seem to be all that intelligent, though that’s a rather harsh thing for me to think. Still, I had few other options since neither the police nor my family members had made an appearance as yet. I pursued my line, “I’m at home here, so clearly I am not… lost, that is. Wouldn’t you agree?”

The expressions on the men’s faces dumbed up with wrinkles across their foreheads and their mouth’s looking like they’d just had a bite of months-old stew. “Uh, okay,” the third guy grunted.

“Second, do I look Dutch to you?” Okay, there might’ve been some Dutch ancestors way, way back in the family tree, but the question just intensified the confusion on the men’s faces. “I can prove to you that I am not.” I pulled out my phone and opened the app that had my family tree in it. Well, at least the first eight generations. “See here? Scottish.” I showed them the line from two of my grandparents. “It’s that way all around.” I didn’t mention the Native American, the French, or the German ancestors, but they couldn’t have handled anymore anyway.

Their faces looked like their brains were fairly about to pop as it was.

I casually wandered into the living room and the men followed me. “And you said it was the ‘Dutch man‘ goldmine, right?”

They nodded.

“I’m am happily female. Not a man.” I shrugged. “In conclusion, I am not lost, not Dutch, and not a man. But I do have a goldmine.” I neared the crate where my silent dog lay. Bright orange with tan markings, my Rosie can easily be described as gold.

I unlatched the door and flung it open. She immediately advanced on the trio with her protective bark and growl performance. “Madam Barksalot is my own personal goldmine.”

The men backed up, fairly falling over each other. “Cain’t you get her to quit.”

“Believe me, boys,” I shout over her earsplitting tirade. “I have tried.” Many times, but not so much in this case.

Rosie escorted them to the door. The post office deliverer was on the other side of the street, way down on the east end. I had to think of something quick before they noticed the truck. “You might give Denise Barela a holler. She lives out in California, and at one time, they had quite a lot of gold out there.” It was the first thing that I thought of and purely by accident. I really expected the police to have been here by now. They’re usually so quick.

The men glanced at each other one last time as a distant siren blared. Then they scrambled out the door and ran west, down the street and around the corner.

I gave my neighbors a wave and a thumbs-up as the siren grew closer. Then I shut the door and went to my daughter’s room. I tapped on the door and opened it a crack. “What did you tell the dispatcher, so I can connect the dots.”

She whirled around and pulled an earbud from one ear. “Did you need something?”

So much for the cavalry. And sure enough, the siren faded as he obviously passed my neighborhood. Thankfully, I hadn’t needed him.

But if the map they’d mention did end up here… well, Denise was pretty creative. She’d figure out what to do with it once she moved those fellows along. Check-in with Denise Barela tomorrow to see how she works with them.

I love these blog hops for the Ever After series! And these mysteries are so much fun. This blog hop celebrates the latest release from Rebecca Jones, The Lost Dutchman’s Secret. Here’s a little about the book:

There’s a deadly secret in them thar hills—and gold, or so they say.

Deeply in debt to a wealthy local, Charles Sinclair, Dorothy Hodges’ father finally promises she’ll pay and in gold, no less. If only Dorothy could take to take the promises he spins out of thin air and turn them into that gold, all would be well.

With the help of a strange, rumpled man, Dorothy does manage to bring payment to one of Sinclair’s sons only to discover it won’t pay off the debt. Will the next payment be enough?  The next?

When Charles Sinclair ends up dead, Dorothy is the obvious prime suspect, but Sinclair’s son isn’t so certain. Together they work to clear her name and find the real murderer of the Superstitions, but will they find the answers buried in those hills?

Find out in this next book in the Ever After Mysteries, combining beloved fairy tales and mysteries. The Lost Dutchman’s Secret offers a retelling of “Rumplestilskin” that requires more digging than a miner searching for The Lost Dutchman Mine.

The Lost Dutchman’s Secret is available. And don’t miss entering the giveaway at the link below for an Amazon gift card! Yea!

https://promosimple.com/ps/142a5/the-lost-dutchman-s-secret-marji


Leave a comment

Can You Dig It?

This trip was becoming more and more disorienting. How could they ever get to Chicago, let alone the Empire Theater? They didn’t even seem to be in the 1920s anymore.

This time when the train stopped, Freida Tilley was the first off. Her brother Hans had about smothered her with his protection, hardly even letting her see anything at the last stop. She clutched her beaded necklace in her right hand and scampered toward an empty building. Where were the people waiting for the train?

“Freida, wait.” Hans had caught up with her.

Eleanor followed him down the steps. “Where are we?”

Frieda halted on the other side of the empty train station, staring out at an endless expanse of ocean. “Well, we aren’t in Chicago.” She stepped off the platform and into sand. The gold sequins and fringe of her costume shown in the bright sunlight and she reached down and slipped off her shoes. Holding them in one hand and securing the beaded headband that held her short blond bob in place, she scanned the area around her as the others joined her on the sand.

“Dis is baloney, dis is.” Ivan Moss, already in his clown costume and make up came up beside her, though he stood almost a foot shorter. “And lookie that.” He pointed to a lot full of… were those cars? Bright colors and most of them without lids.

Back toward the ocean, a large group of people were gathering near a little stage. “Let’s find out where we are.” Eleanor passed her, trotting off toward the group.

Frieda ignored another protective call from Hans and followed Eleanor. This place was strange. If nothing else, the costumes were… well, she thought her costume was a little on the racy side. It didn’t touch what the women around her were wearing, or rather not wearing. Little bitty… unmentionables? Is that what they wore?

A man bumped into her. “Whoa there, Chickie.” A very muscular, very shirtless man, and his britches were rather small as well.

She averted her eyes, but the man turned back to her gave her a strange look, his gaze traveling from her face to the hose rolled down past her knees and back again. She was used to men looking at her, but not with such open bewilderment.

He cocked his head to the side. “Hey, sweet cheeks, you look a little bummed out. You here with the band?”

She recognized the word band, but it didn’t register. “Uh . . .”

Eleanor stepped alongside her. “What did he say?”

Frieda had no idea, but the man pointed up at the stage. A group of men with shaggy, sun-bleached hair made their way onto it, some of them carrying various guitars. One sat behind a Jazz-er-up drum system, and all of them were barefooted and almost as unclothed as the rest of the people on the beach. Though they did have the sense to wear short jackets over their bare chests.

“Let’s get a groove on,” one of the men near her called up to the stage.

The men strummed their guitars and started singing. Not like the crooners she was used to, and even though they had harmonies, they weren’t at all like the barbershop that her old man had sung in. She hadn’t expected such loud drumming or the fast-paced, rollicking music. The men sang about things she didn’t understand, but she caught the words hamburger, library, and radio. What that all had to do with some bird that got taken away, she had no idea.

A woman next to her shouted at them. “I can dig it.”

In this sand, it wouldn’t be that hard, but Frieda had no intention of joining her in that effort.

The people around her started jumping around, bobbing, and jiggling. She caught Eleanor’s eye and they traded smiles. Nobody jiggled or shook as well as the two of them did in their fringed gowns. Grabbing her friend’s hand, she jumped up onto the stage and began matching the odd dance that the people around them were doing. Not like the Charleston in that it didn’t seem to have any regular steps, but she recognized the hip action. And she shook her fringe for all it was worth.

“That’s a gas,” the guitar player next to her called out.

“It’s a gas, gas, gas,” replied the other one.

Frieda didn’t have time to try to muddle through their need for petroleum. Hans and a few of the others had reached them on the stage. Her brother took her hand. “We’re already behind the eight-ball. We have to get back on the train.”

The moment of uninhibited freedom had passed. Frieda glanced back at the man who had bumped into her. He lifted two fingers spread out. She copied the symbol back in his direction.

Is that where they were, someplace called, Two?

* * *

The troubles with the Ever After mysteries continue! This time it’s Cathe Swanson’s Murder At The Empire. Here’s a little about the book:

Gayle Wells is a killer organist, but does a killer have her in his sights?

They call him the Emperor.  John Starek fills his theater with fine artwork and treasures. He’s particularly pleased to have one of the country’s first female organists – and he thinks Gayle Wells is the bee’s knees.

Despite pressure from her social crusader mother, Gayle isn’t interested in changing the world. She just wants a car of her own – and a career playing the organ at the Empire movie palace would be especially ducky.

Then the Empire’s treasures start disappearing and employees start dying. Are a few pieces of art really enough motive for the string of murders? Will Gayle be next?

Murder at the Empire brings the Nightingale into an elegant movie palace in the roaring 20’s – but the real excitement is all off-screen.

You can get your copy here!

Lost in Time!

Can the before-show acts get to the Empire on time to perform? Follow along this week and find out which decade they are found. And play along for your chance to win a giveaway.

Note: Some links in this post are affiliate links that provide me with a small commission at no extra cost to you.

ENTER INTO THE GIVEAWAY

Where, or maybe the better question is… WHEN, did Freida and the others land? Enter for my giveaway

HERE!


1 Comment

Who Stole Cinderella’s Slipper?

Today is the fifth day of the release fun for the Ever After Mystery series. You can find the beginning of this mystery HERE on Cathe Swanson’s blog! I’m so excited as mine is the second book to be release, A Giant Murder. All the stories have their roots in a fairy tale. Can you guess mine?

The first release, The Last Gasp is available now HERE. Squee! The Last Gasp is based on Cinderella, so to celebrate that book release, all of the Ever After authors are doing a short blog hop – complete with a mini-mystery and prizes.

Someone has stolen Cinderella’s glass slipper.

Why Rebekah Jones thought it was me, I’ll never know. (Read her post about it HERE!) But I was sure shocked when an officer showed up at my door.

“You are Marji Laine?”

“Yes.” I peeked across the street where Mrs. Myers was pretending to water her plants with an empty pitcher. Ugh. Gossip central. I stepped outside and waved in her direction as if I hadn’t a care in the world.

The officer barely paused. “And you picked up and have in your possession a glass slipper belonging to Cinderella?”

Mrs. Myers shot me a suspicious look and went back inside her house. At least, if I did hear gossip, I would know where it came from. “Yes and no.”

“You did not pick up the slipper?” The short man lifted an eyebrow and pierced me with a suspicious gaze.

“I picked it up all right. I hate spiders.”

“Excuse me?” Obviously, I had lost him, but I had no idea how. Seemed perfectly clear to me.

“I was wearing sandals when I visted that mine. I didn’t want to take the chance that the creepy bug would skitter onto my toes.” And that little thing was speedy, too. “The glass slipper was just there on one of the displays at the little souvenir store. I picked it up and smushed that bug, quick as a wink.”

He looked at me like he was waiting for more.

I glanced back toward the Myers’s house just in time to see the blinds on one of her windows drop back into place.

“And.”

I let my head roll back and looked up at the ceiling of the porch. “I didn’t mean to take it. I didn’t even know it was in my bag. It had slipped down to the depths of my mammoth purse and I didn’t even uncover it until I got off the plane at DFW airport.”

“Then?”

“Well, I couldn’t take it all the way back. And I didn’t want to keep it. I might be willing to murder a wandering bug, but I’m no thief.” Of all the nerve. “Besides, if the thing got busted, I’d have felt horrible!”

“So?”

If I didn’t get this man out of here, my whole neighborhood would be spinning stories in no time. “I took it into the airport restaurant and left it next to a pile of menues. That’s all I know about it.”

The eyebrow rose again as he jotted something into his notepad. “Can anyone corroborate your story?”

I lifted my chin and raised an eyebrow at him for a change. “As a matter of fact, April Hayman can. She was seated next to the hostess stand where I put the slipper. I left it there, found my baggage, and zipped back home.” So there.

As you can see… I am not the guilty party.

Thankfully, the officer left and Mrs. Myers was robbed of her juicy, spreadable tidbit.

But apparently, some princess’s prom shoe is still missing. Maybe April knows something about it? You can find out what she has to say on her blog HERE, tomorrow!

Follow the clues each day to discover the culprit. And click THIS LINK to enter to win an Amazon gift card!