Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Death Comes eCalling (Book 1, Molly Masters Mysteries) by Leslie O'Kane Excerpt

Death Comes eCalling (Book 1, Molly Masters Mysteries) by Leslie O'Kane 

Meet Molly Masters, a zany mother and accidental sleuth who owns a one-woman business that creates humorous eCards. After a twenty-year absence, Molly has relocated her family to her childhood home in a suburb of Albany, NY, only to have her husband's reassignment abruptly changed to overseas.

Molly's least-favorite high school teacher dies on the very same day that Molly receives both a letter from that teacher and an anonymous email that threatens Molly's life. All too soon, Molly finds herself knee deep in gossip...and murder.


They were dead. All of my mother's perennials. Gone. So were the annuals I'd planted just last week. They had been nibbled to dirt level by the rabbits, leaving only the plastic identifiers as miniature tombstones.
    Frustrated, I scanned the neighborhood's manicured lawns and picturesque flowerbeds as I continued down the driveway to the mailbox. How long would it take my neighbors to catch on if I were to "plant" silk flowers?
I grabbed a handful of mail and sorted through it as I wandered back toward the house. Amid the advertisements and bills was a crisp parchment envelope addressed to Miss Molly Peterson. I hadn't called myself a Miss nor a Peterson for more than ten years. Though I didn't recognize the bold, looping handwriting in black ink, I did recognize its implement: a fountain pen.
    Oh my God. It's her. I've only been in town for three weeks. Who told her I was back?
    I ripped open the envelope and read:
Dear Molly,
    You have no doubt grown wiser during the many years that have transpired since you graduated from Carlton Central. Perhaps, if you have been lucky, you have gained enough wisdom to balance your wit. If so, you have learned that one can only conquer one's demons face to face, not by outrunning them.
    I hope, my dear, that you no longer consider me a demon. In any case, rest assured that I am not as fleet of foot as I once was. Please contact me as soon as possible. It is of the utmost importance. We have much to discuss, and I have precious little time. Yours truly,
Mrs. Kravett (Phoebe)
    Oh, Mrs. Kravett, you were never my demon. Even seventeen years ago, I realized that much. You just held up the mirror.
    But what did she mean by "precious little time?" Was she ill? I glanced at the postmark. It had been mailed three days ago, last Friday.
"Where should I put this, Mommy?" Nathan asked, jarring me from my thoughts. He was carrying an aluminum pie plate filled to the brim with sand.
    "Are you going to make mud pies with that?" I asked hopefully. I'd been watching for signs that my five-year old was outgrowing his neat-nick stage. If he'd learn to appreciate mud play, maybe he'd be less of a fussbudget around the house.
    "I have to hurry. I'm going to drop it!"
    "Just put it down, then."
    I winced as he set the pan on the tallest remaining petunia stem.
    "It's for bird footprints," he explained. "Like those people in Hollywood who make footprints in sidewalks."
    "Oh, I see. What a fun idea. Are you going to put some bird food on it?"
    "It's not a birdfeeder," Nathan said firmly. "It's for bird footprints."
    "I realize that, but birds are more likely to walk across a plate of dirt if it has bread crumbs on it." Unless the rabbits get to the crumbs first, I thought sourly and headed toward the house.
    On the front porch, Karen, my seven-year-old daughter, was jumping rope, her teeth clenched in concentration. She stopped her whirling rope and grinned at me.
    "You're getting really good at skipping rope."
    She nodded: "Now watch how long I can do it backwards." She took a deep breath, purposefully set her angelic features, and mistimed her first jump. She giggled, rolled her eyes, and said. "Wait, Mom. I can do better than that."
She started jumping again and I watched, though my thoughts were with Mrs. Kravett. Precious little time. At about the thirtieth jump, the rope caught on Karen's feet. She panted but smiled broadly.
    "That's really good. I've got to make a phone call. Be right back."
    I glanced again at the letter and its envelope. No phone number. No return address. This was so like Mrs. Kravett.         More than once she'd answered a student's question with: "You expect me to do your research? Do I have Encyclopedia Britannica written on my forehead?"
    I chuckled at the memory. Her number was listed in the phone book. I dialed. To my disappointment, there was no answer. I wanted to see her. I wanted to express my gratitude for the difference she'd made in my life. And I had a heartfelt apology to express as well. One that was long overdue.

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