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CANDY, MURDER and ME.
Here's the scoop!
CANDY, MURDER, AND ME is an 80,000-word cozy
mystery set in Florida, in and around a dress design company, which co-stars Sigmund Freud, a psychoanalyst dachshund.
When full-figure dress designer and candy addict Cookie Berelli discovers the PI she hired to clear her of embezzlement
charges dead in her design studio, she investigates, to wacky results. For example, is Eugene Gemstone involved? After all,
he is her number one fabric cutter at Florida Fashions, and he did start acting overemotional after he wore one of the dresses
she designed into the ladies’ room at Chez Riso and got arrested. He's especially suspect now that he's disappeared
with all of Cookie's candy stash. Then again, it could be that cute PI, Andy Shea, who shows up at the funeral of her
dead PI, and makes her hear the love song from GONE WITH THE WIND in her head, or it could be just about anyone else on the
Everyone's starting to look suspicious now, especially Yuri Yarutski, who owns a sports bar in the
bad part of town and wants to go a few rounds with Cookie, the woman who lives in a tree (who in Florida can live withoutair
conditioning?), and even Bernadette Humphreys of Bernie's Tattoos who comes up with the weirdest body art. Okay, yes,
Cookie did find the body, in fact two of them,and so she has to clear herself, but does that mean the murderer has to go after
Recipes from her Norwegian and Italian heritage including Grandma Berelli’s Pralines (“Worth
going to jail for”), Cookie’s Maple Candies (“So good they’re criminal”), Nana’s Kringlas
(“To kill for”), Cookie's Chocolate Cover-Up Fudge ("Perfect for spying activities"), and Blood
Red Spaghetti Sauce with Bad Boy Meatballs, among others, are available throughout the story to break up the mayhem.
Here's an excerpt from the book:
Candy, Murder & Me
I should have sensed something was wrong when I heard
my assistant squeal. Mind you, Eugene squeals a lot, but this one had a decidedly different feel to it. Huffing and puffing,
I ran down the corridor as fast as my rather ample body would let me, until I finally made it to the door of Queendom, my
clothing design studio for full-figured women."
“Watch out, Cookie,” Eugene Gemstone, my assistant, number one fabric cutter, and barometer for strange and
off-the-wall happenings, warned me that warm February morning as he opened the door to my studio for me. Ever since he wore
one of the dresses I designed into the ladies’ room at Chez Riso and got arrested, he's been tuned into things gone
Upon completion of 100 hours of community
service for his indiscretion in the ladies' room by helping out Gretchen Peppercomb and her Pancake, Yoga, and 12-Step
Program, I'd promoted him to my assistant. “What now?” Visions of a disastrous
spring line flooded my brain. My imagination had nothing on what I saw when I stepped inside. Streams of taffetas and silks
unwound from their bolts. Tipped over, half-clothed steel-mesh design models lay on their sides next to knocked-over cutting
been in here.”
Trust Eugene to mention the obvious. He grabbed
hold of a model on wheels and cradled it in his arms. “Be careful of Gladyce.” He loved the thing as if it were
alive. She wore a silver satin dress he’d been begging me to let him borrow.
“I always watch out for
Gladyce.” I hadn't meant to be so snippy, but disorganization always rattles me.
Gold-sequined dresses, flannel
tuxedo pants, and bias cut slip dresses for my Spring into Fashion Show layered my arms. With my right hand, I grasped a plastic
container of Cajun chicken I’d brought from home for lunch. That made it nearly impossible to see what was in front
of me, so I felt my way along with my feet.
Out of the corner of my eye, I spied my diploma from the Sloan
School of Design and Drapery, an online college with a misty history of accreditation. It hung off the wall, ready to crash
onto the floor at any moment.
“Surprised they didn't steal that.
What else is missing?”
Lanky and tall, Eugene stared at me with startling blue eyes. “Who knows?”
His shirt and trousers shouted at me in a spice market of crimson, saffron and chocolate.
He made me look drab in one of my designs, a Kelly green suit that matched my eyes. I can't help describing and sometimes
analyzing what people wear. It's an occupational hazard.
“Everything okay with you?”More
than messed-up surroundings bothered him. I hoped he hadn’t gone to Chez Riso again and especially not in one of my
He gave me a disgusted look and nudged me forward a step. “I’m fine, but what is that big thing
on the floor behind your desk? I’m afraid to look.”
“Don't get excited.” I blew
a clump of auburn hair out of my face, and the cover on my Cajun chicken slid off and clattered onto the floor.
An expression of horror pasted
on his face, Eugene looked like he was screaming, but nothing came out of his mouth. He pointed to speckled splatters on the
Nearly hidden behind a swath of purple chiffon, a man lay sprawled out, face up.He didn't look like he
was breathing.The worst thing was, I knew him.
His name was Sam Falcone.When I saw the patches of bright red on the
front of Sam's jacket at heart level, my teeth started to chatter. “I think he’s been shot.”
“Who is that?” Eugene
grabbed the clothes out of my arms and put them in front of his face to cover his eyes.
I shivered as energy drained
out of my body. “It’s my PI.”
“You have a private investigator?” Hands shaking,
he set the clothes on an ironing board, and slid into my chair. His face turned so white that if he stood against the magnolia-colored
wall, it would look like only clothes hanging there.
My boss had never treated me right from the day he hired me and
stuffed me into a too-small suite that felt more like a sweatshop. I'd done my best to make things comfortable for my
helpers and models, no thanks to Kiekofer.
I took a deep breath. “I
hired a PI when our boss accused me of embezzling.”The color came back into Eugene’s face at the mention of our employer’s shenanigans.
“Kiekofer? That sleaze. I heard about the embezzling thing. He probably took the money himself and blamed it on you.
You wouldn’t believe all the nasty things that man's done. I could write a book.”I stared down at the floor and let out another gasp, shocked to
see Sam so still.
Tears rolled down my cheeks as I remembered the crush I’d
had on the guy. Besides being a PI who dealt with danger, which always adds a dimension of excitement, he was so good-looking.
Not only that, Sam knew how to treat a woman, opening doors for me, offering me coffee, and giving my tale of woe his full
attention. More than I could say for the men I dated.
“Maybe you should look closer.” Eugene covered his
eyes with one hand and waved his other hand at me to go look. “He could still be alive, you know.”
I bent down and tried to find
the pulse at Sam’s neck, using the nurses’ aid skills I’d practiced while putting myself through design
school. “Nothing.” I shook my head and grabbed Sam’s wrist.
Eugene took his hand away from
his face and peered at me. “Well?”
“No pulse here, either.”
“He must have
found out something that somebody didn’t like. We better get out of here. I can’t go to prison. I don’t
look good in orange.”
“We can’t just leave. Like you said, he might still be alive.”
“Oh, all right, but he doesn’t look like he could be breathing. In the movies, they hold a mirror to their
nose to see.”
“Hand me my purse.” When it arrived, I jammed a hand inside and dug past a wallet. I found malted
milk balls and the usual female fix-it stuff.“No mirror.”
“Maybe I have one.” He reached
into his bag. “You can never find a mirror when you want one.” He yanked out a compact and held it up in the air.
“I found it.” He opened it and handed me the mirror.
My hands shook, making the mirror wobble
below Sam’s nose.“No
fogged-up glass. Eyes glazed. No pulse. Not breathing.” I tried to hand Eugene back his compact and felt tears rolling
down my jaw.
“Oh, no. He’s dead. Did it touch him? Throw it away.
”For some reason, Eugene’s
hysteria calmed me. “Have you looked in the mirror lately? You’re white as a ghost. You’re going to need
this. Here, it didn’t touch him.”
Eugene took the compact and stared at himself in the mirror. “Oh
fudge, I almost look as bad as he does.” He put some powder on his face and dumped the compact back into his bag. “Are
you sure it didn’t touch him? If you’re not, I’m going to have to throw all this stuff out and get a new
looked down at the floor again. “What’s he doing here anyway? Doesn’t he have an office of his own to die
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