Wedding coordinator Sydney Riley never thought she’d get caught up in a murder investigation, but she became an amateur sleuth when her boss was killed during Bear Week. Now she’s back, this time as the Race Point Inn hosts Provincetown’s venerable transgender event, Fantasia Fair… and murder is once again an uninvited guest!
It’s all hands on deck at the inn as visitors arrive for the week-long event and Sydney helps coordinator Rachel Parsons organize the occasion. Guest Elizabeth Gonzalez is attending with her spouse, Bob, who–as Angela–is taking a bold first step into a whole new existence. Angela, Elizabeth, and Sydney learn the ropes and politics from other guests, some of whom have attended annually for more than forty years.
But the next day, Sydney’s detective friend summons her to one of the town beaches where Angela’s body has been found–with a knife in her back, a knife stolen from Adrienne, the Race Point Inn’s diva chef.
Fair organizers and attendees try and carry on as Provincetown is overrun with police, press, and rampant speculation. Sydney, her boyfriend Ali, her friend Mirela, her boss Glenn, and a host of Fantasia Fair participants scramble to find out who killed Angela–and why–before the killer strikes again.
Jeannette de Beauvoir grew up in Angers, France, but has lived in the United States since her twenties. (No, she’s not going to say how long ago that was!) She spends most of her time inside her own head, which is great for writing, though possibly not so much for her social life. When she’s not writing, she’s reading or traveling… to inspire her writing. The author of a number of mystery and historical novels, de Beauvoir’s work has appeared in 15 countries and has been translated into 12 languages. Midwest Review called her Martine LeDuc Montréal series “riveting (…) demonstrating her total mastery of the mystery/suspense genre.” She coaches and edits individual writers, teaches writing online and on Cape Cod, and is currently writing a Provincetown Theme Week cozy mystery series featuring female sleuth Sydney Riley. More at JeannettedeBeauvoir.com
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Julie still wasn’t answering her mobile or returning the message I finally left for her at the police station, and I didn’t know anyone else who could tell me what I needed to know. I closed my eyes and mentally roamed the streets of Provincetown, trying to visualize whether I knew anyone else who could help. At nearly nine at night.
Rachel disappeared on errands of her own, and Brian hovered nervously, going outside several times for a quick cigarette. I was just coming to the sorry conclusion that I was going to have to give it up for the night when Glenn walked in.
He’d probably never had such an effusive greeting.
Brian’s eyes were sparkling. He’s good at working reception, don’t get me wrong; but he’s very much into having a clearly defined path in front of him, preferably outlined by someone in authority, and doesn’t respond well to changes in routine. A little like a toddler, or a cat. I spared a brief thought for Ibsen, who was surely ready for dinner by now.
Glenn looked exhausted. “They’ve got him in South Yarmouth,” he said. “And no visiting until tomorrow.”
“Visiting?” I looked at him in horror.
“Yeah, visiting. What?”
“It just sounds so–permanent,” I said faintly.
Glenn shook his head. “Not if I can help it,” he said. “Do you want a drink?” He didn’t wait for an answer, led me into the Small Bar. A few people were there, none of them from the Fair; the play must still be happening up at the theater. Maryellen was behind the bar; she was at the last week of her summer season, leaving soon to go back to New York and acting school for the winter.
Glenn hoisted himself onto a barstool and pulled one out for me. “We have a lawyer,” he said. “Hey, Maryellen.”
“Hey, boss. Usual?”
“Several,” he said. Maryellen looked at me. I shrugged. “I’ll have the same thing.”
“Coming up,” she said, and started doing mysterious things behind the bar. I looked at Glenn. “Why did they arrest him?”
“No one’s saying, but Margaret thinks it’s fingerprint evidence.”
We sat together in a gloom-laden silence until Maryellen came back with our drinks. I took a good-sized sip of mine and spluttered some of it out again, feeling my throat seize up. “What the hell is this?”
“Italian Manhattan,” said Maryellen. “With a dash of something extra.”
“A dash of what?”
Glenn had already started in on his. She’d put three cherries in it, and he ate one of them, quickly, putting the stem beside his glass before taking another hard swig. “And then there’s the knife.”
“What about the knife?” I said, knee-jerk reaction, and then stared at him. “Don’t tell me it had Mike’s fingerprints on it!”
“I don’t know,” Glenn said irritably. “I don’t know what was on the knife. I only know that there are some fingerprints, somewhere, and that some guest came forward and said they’d seen Mike with the knife. That evening. The evening Angela was stabbed.”
“That’s ridiculous,” I protested. “How can anyone remember something like that? How could they know what that particular knife looked like? None of the guests ever sees Adrienne’s knives. Before all this happened, I couldn’t even tell you what Adrienne’s knives look like. I’ll bet you couldn’t, either. And, besides, Mike must have pocket knives, I don’t know, letter openers…” In fact, as I thought about it, he had easy access to lots of different murderous instruments, had murder been his intent.
Glenn let my protests wind down. “Mike’s been with us for fourteen years,” he said heavily.
“And he’ll be here for fourteen more!” I took a swig of the drink and this time didn’t spit any out. “Listen, Glenn, he didn’t do this.”
“Of course he didn’t.”
“And besides…” Okay, Sherlock, think, don’t just react. “What possible motive could he have? Seriously? Mike doesn’t even know any of the Fair people, he told me so. Except for Rachel, of course. But besides that. You don’t go around killing people you don’t know.”
“Of course not,” said Glenn. “Two more,” he said to Maryellen.
“I don’t need another drink,” I said.
“Of course you do. Two more, Maryellen.”
“You got it, boss.”
“And in case you thought that was bad enough, think again,” Glenn said. “The press has finally gotten around to the tip of the Cape.”
“As well they should,” I said grimly. What did he expect? “Two murders, a botched shooting…”
“Whose side are you on, anyway?” He scowled at me and took a slug of the Manhattan. “They’re sending people down from Boston. Two of ’em’ve already checked in.”
“Surprised they could afford our rates,” I murmured.
That got me a sharp look. “Sydney–”
I slid off my stool. Times like this…I like Glenn, don’t get me wrong. He’s a big, affable bear of a man who would do anything for people he loves. But even now, a year and a half after Barry’s death, I still wish he were the one sitting there. I could talk to Barry in ways that I couldn’t talk to anybody else, not even Ali. He would have known what to say. He would have known what to do. “I’m getting maudlin,” I announced. “I’m going home.”
He had already turned back to face the bar. Okay, fine, he wanted to play Nighthawks, not my problem. (Hopper lived on the Cape, did you know that?) “Will you let me know what happens tomorrow with Mike? If there’s anything I can do.”
He waved a hand in my direction and finished his second drink, reaching already for my untouched one. Glenn was well on the way to getting plastered.
Everybody reacts differently to death, I suppose.
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