Sunday, June 30, 2013

Not a Whisper by Donna B McNicol

Chapter 5

Wednesday wasn't the usual meeting day for the Klondike Breakfast Club but most mornings found at least a couple of the members stopping by for coffee. Today wasn't much different except for the number of people gathered around several tables, conversation flowing as freely as the coffee that Kat kept pouring. She'd already recruited Janie earlier, asking her to fill in as a waitress.

Today's group included Tom and Edy Wiggins, Merry Jenkins, Pansy and Cherie, Sarah Duncan, as well as a new addition, Marie Hilliard. Sarah's husband, Jeff, was working his shift at the Bradford Hospital and Marie's husband, Mike, was on his way to Cleveland. The chatter stopped briefly as Gary Patchett and Ed Williams walked in and pulled up a couple of chairs, joining the group.

"Anyone hear anything more about the fire and Corey?" Ed asked the group.

"Nothing that I know of," answered Tom. "You hear from him yet, Pansy?"

"Nope. Cherie and I are going over to his place today. We need to check on Miss Kitty and leave a note for Corey."

"You know he's the major suspect in the fire," Gary spoke up.

Pansy shifted uneasily, "Yeah but I still don't think it was him. What would he have to gain? He'll turn up. Probably left something on that shouldn't have been and headed off with some bimbo. 'The girls all get prettier at closing time,' ya know." She giggled, knowing she had been on the receiving end of that phrase more than once.

Merry looked up from her plate, "I just don't get it. If the body isn't Corey, then who is it? Did Jeff hear anything at work?"

Sarah looked around before speaking, "A little, but I'm not supposed to know so you can't tell anyone. He said Mary already determined that it was the body of a teenager and that the death wasn't from the fire. It's scary to think someone might have hurt a youngster, someone from our own neighborhood."

"Don't jump the gun there, Sarah. We don't know it was anyone from here. Heck, that body could have been there for years. No one ever went into the basement.” Gary took the last sip of coffee and held his cup up to Janie, asking for a refill. “The stairs were too fragile for anyone over 20 pounds to navigate safely. I doubt anyone has been there since the last fire."

Edy chimed in, "I wonder if Bob Johnson will get to work the investigation. I know he and Alan Baumann don't get along after the mess at the Carlyle fire. Of course Bob is all wrapped up in getting the date for the special election moved up. Don't know why, he's the interim chief, what difference does it make?"

Gary and Ed exchanged looks "What, do you guys know something we don't?"

Gary cleared his throat and Ed spoke first, "Well, there are rumors that the state is calling for an audit of the VFD's books. Might have something to do with that. As interim Chief, Bob doesn't have access to any financial records. He can buy stuff, order things but he can't see the books."

"Well now, that's an interesting tidbit," Cherie mumbled as she wrote in her notebook. "How long has he been the interim Chief?"

"Bout two years now. Nothing moves quickly around here," Gary chuckled as the others nodded.

"That's ridiculous, he could have done a lot of damage in that time," Cherie replied.

Tom snorted. "I don't think so. He's a pretty harmless guy. Probably worried he'll lose his beer fund."

Kat wandered out from the kitchen, wiping her forehead on her apron. "Hey guys, how's it going? Sorry I've been too busy to say hi before now. This fire has brought in a lot of lookie-loos, what with the talk of a dead body and arson. Thank goodness Janie's been able to help.” She pulled up a chair and plopped down, looking around the table expectantly. “So catch me up on the gossip."

When Cherie Marshall catches her fiancé and best friend in a compromising position, she cancels her upcoming wedding and jumps at the chance to escape to quiet Klondike, Pennsylvania to care for her elderly aunt. She thought her biggest issue would be adapting to life in the middle of a National Forest, so very different from her upbringing in the deserts of Arizona.
But that was before she met State Trooper Fire Marshall Jamison "Jazz" Maddox at the scene of a mysterious fire. As they both become acquainted with the close-knit Klondike residents, things get complicated as Cherie and Jazz find themselves in the middle of a local crime wave where arson, kidnapping, embezzlement and a decades old murder are just the tip of the iceberg.

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Genre – Cozy Mystery

Rating – PG

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