Authors: Cindy Brown
Tags: #cozy mystery, #cozy mystery series, #detective novels, #women sleuths, #british cozy mystery, #amateur sleuth, #female sleuth
Praise for the Ivy Meadows Mystery Series
OLIVER TWISTED (#3)
“Brown mixes laugh out loud observations about the acting life with a witty and intriguing mystery. Consider yourself warned.
is a fast-paced addictive read impossible to put down until Ivy has caught the killer.”
– D.E. Ireland,
Agatha Award-Nominated Author of
Move Your Blooming Corpse
“A fun and rollicking mystery at sea with a delightfully twisty plot and a heartfelt heroine who is as entertaining as she is soulful. I highly recommend this series. More please!”
– John Clement,
Author of the Dixie Hemingway Mysteries
THE SOUND OF MURDER (#2)
“The setting is irresistible, the mystery is twisty, and Ivy is as beguiling as ever, but what I really loved was the depth and complexity of painful human relationships right there in the middle of a sparkly caper. Roll on Ivy #3!”
– Catriona McPherson,
Anthony and Agatha Award-Winning Author of
The Day She Died
“It is not easy to combine humor and murder, but Cindy Brown does it effortlessly. Who else would think of combining
The Sound of Music
with a serial killer? The result is such fun.”
– Rhys Bowen,
New York Times
Bestselling Author of
Malice at the Palace
“The author blends theater lore with a deeper psychological layer, and always on stage is her delightful sense of humor. The concept of a mash-up of
The Sound of Music
is as brilliant as it is ripe for absurdity, and readers will thoroughly enjoy this extremely fun mystery that entertains until the final curtain call.”
– Kings River Life Magazine
“The mystery kept me glued to the pages and I enjoyed all facets as each clue got me closer to the killer’s identity…had me roaring with laughter…A delightful read and I can’t wait to see what happens next in this amusingly entertaining series.”
– Dru’s Book Musings
“This gut-splitting mystery is a hilarious riff on an avant-garde production of ‘the Scottish play’…Combining humor and pathos can be risky in a whodunit, but gifted author Brown makes it work.”
Mystery Scene Magazine
“An easy read that will have you hooked from the first page…Brown uses what she knows from the theater life to give us an exciting mystery with all the suspense that keeps you holding on.”
“Vivid characters, a wacky circus production of
, and a plot full of surprises make this a perfect read for a quiet evening. Pour a glass of wine, put your feet up, and enjoy! Bonus: it’s really funny.”
– Ann Littlewood,
Award-Winning Author of the Iris Oakley “Zoo-dunnit” Mysteries
“This gripping mystery is both satisfyingly clever and rich with unerring comedic timing. Without a doubt,
is one of the most entertaining debuts I’ve read in a very long time.”
– Bill Cameron,
Spotted Owl Award-Winning Author of
Books in the Ivy Meadows Mystery Series
by Cindy Brown
THE SOUND OF MURDER (#2)
OLIVER TWISTED (#3)
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An Ivy Meadows Mystery
Part of the Henery Press Mystery Collection
First Edition | June 2016
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever, including internet usage, without written permission from Henery Press, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Copyright © 2016 by Cindy Brown
Cover art by Stephanie Chontos
Author Photograph by AJC Photography
This is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Trade Paperback ISBN-13: 978-1-63511-041-8
Digital epub ISBN-13: 978-1-63511-042-5
Kindle ISBN-13: 978-1-63511-043-2
Hardcover Paperback ISBN-13: 978-1-63511-044-9
Printed in the United States of America
To Judy Hricko
For her insight, friendship, and boundless enthusiasm
After I began writing this book, I thought, “Am I crazy? I may be a Dickens fan, but I’m certainly not a Dickens scholar. Plus, I went on one cruise ten years ago, have no Eastern European friends, know very little about epilepsy, and next to nothing about aerial dancing.” Luckily my friends—old and new—came through and provided me with information, feedback, and support. I am enormously and happily indebted to:
Luis Torres Barragan, a wonderful aerial dancer and teacher who taught me the basics of aerial dancing from a nice safe vantage point on the ground.
Cyndi Wright, Director of the SUDEP Institute at the Epilepsy Foundation of America, who is a great resource for information about SUDEP and epilepsy in general.
Veronica Nett at Holland America, who gave me a tour of the Westerdam. Thanks also to the lovely mystery author Cathy Ace, who checked all my cruise ship details, and to Josh Ferrer and Ada Harrison, who helped me see cruises through crewmembers’ eyes (BTW, Ada is very nice, unlike the Ada in this book).
Kristina Brendel, co-founder of the nonprofit “New Thing,” the largest humanitarian organization in Belarus. If my characters’ Eastern European dialogue sounds realistic, it is thanks to her.
Christopher Lord, a Dickens scholar and mystery author—how did I get so lucky?
Fellow mystery authors Bruce Cantwell and Gretchen Archer for their help with marketing (and a bunch of other things). I’d also like to thank my mentor and friend,
bestselling author April Henry for the incredible support she’s given me over the years.
My writing and reading friends who caught the plot holes and typos, and made this book so much better: Lisa Alber, Delia Booth, Holly Franko, Mary Sue Evers, Doug Levin, Ann Littlewood, Janice Maxson, Marilyn McFarlane, Erin Pawlus, Shauna Petchel, and Angela M. Sanders.
The outstanding team at Henery Press: Kendel Lynn, Erin George, Art C. Molinares, Stephanie Chontos, Anna L. Davis, and Rachel Jackson. I couldn’t ask for better editing, book design, and all-around support. And speaking of support, I want to thank my fellow Hens, who must be the most generous group of authors ever.
And as always, Hal. My books—and I—owe more to him than anyone could possibly imagine.
Summoned into Another World
“You okay, Olive…er, Ivy, or uh, should I call you Nancy?” said my uncle, sticking his foot further and further in his mouth.
I should have known Uncle Bob would be the one to blow our cover. After all, he was just a private investigator, while I was a professional actor. But I didn’t think he’d blow it so quickly. We’d been undercover on the
S.S. David Copperfield
for less than six hours and weren’t supposed to know each other. Luckily, the security guard didn’t notice that my uncle called me by my real name instead of what was printed on my nametag.
Probably because there was a dead body in the room.
nture on the high seas began early that morning on dry land (very dry land: Uncle Bob and I lived in Phoenix).
“OMG,” I texted my uncle, who stood in line in front of me at the airline gate at Phoenix Sky Harbor. “Is that a Rolex?”
He chuckled as he read my message, then my cell announced his reply: “Nice fake, huh?”
Uncle Bob had ditched his usual Hawaiian shirt and cargo shorts in favor of Wranglers, a pearl-snap-buttoned Western shirt, a big silver belt buckle, the fake Rolex, and a gold bolo tie with a steer in the center, fashioned out of what looked like diamonds. I couldn’t compliment him on his stunning ensemble because we were already undercover, and I had to act like I didn’t know him. We’d been hired to investigate a string of thefts aboard a cruise line. Uncle Bob was pretending to be a guest—a wealthy rancher—and I was posing as one of the actors in the onboard show. That’s right, we were getting paid to cruise to Hawaii (Hawaii!), plus we’d each get a ten-thousand-dollar bonus if we found evidence that would stand up in court. Nice work if you can get it.
On the plane, I settled into an aisle seat across from my uncle. Even though I couldn’t talk to him, I still liked being near him. As I buckled myself in, the elderly man who had the window seat in my row tapped me on the shoulder. “I’ll probably fall asleep,” he said, leaning over the open seat between us. “I might sound like I’m choking, but don’t worry. It’s just the way I sleep.”
I nodded, pulled out a copy of the script the cruise line had sent me, and began to reread it. I’d only had a few days to prep, but would’ve jumped on a plane right away for a chance like this. Working part-time at my uncle’s PI firm kept me financially afloat, but just barely. My car had recently failed emissions, so I was in desperate need of funds and had no acting work lined up. When I learned about the cruise, the money, and the fact that I’d play Nancy in the onboard musical version of
, I felt like I’d died and gone to Broadway.
“SNOrkLER!” said my now-asleep seatmate. Wow. Good thing he warned me.
“And what takes you to San Francisco?” The fortyish blonde sitting next to Uncle Bob drew out her words in the manner of a Western rural-dweller.
“I’m goin’ on a cruise, ma’am.”
Ma’am? And was that a drawl? Maybe acting ran in the family.
“I am too. Which cruise line are you on?”
“Me too.” The woman sounded delighted. “Thought it’d be a hoot to learn something new.”
was a high-end literature-themed cruise line designed to appeal to readers, to families who wanted their kids to take an interest in the classics, and to cruisers who wanted to feel like they were getting an education
a buffet. There were Shakespeare cruises and Jane Austen cruises and Mark Twain riverboat cruises, and…
“Did you hear about the
incident?” she asked.
On the Alaskan cruise in question, a pack of huskies got loose and ran rampant through the dining room. The dogs were rounded up, but not before eating five hundred pounds of steak dinners, several Baked Alaskas, and a mink coat.
“Yeah, but the dogs were—” Uncle Bob stopped. Pretty sure he was about to say “framed,” which was what
thought. Seven thousand dollars’ worth of goods were stolen during the doggie dinner, both off guests and from their in-room safes.
“The dogs?” The woman’s voice cracked with concern. “They were…?”
“Adopted,” my uncle said with authority. “All to good homes.”
“I’m so glad. I’m Bette Foxberry, by the way,” said the woman, whose tousled, layered, subtly streaked hair swung perfectly as she turned to Uncle Bob.
My uncle stuck out a hand. “Bob Stalwart.”
I snickered. I couldn’t help myself.
“So which ship are you on?” Bette said to the fake Mr. Stalwart. “Not that awful Poe ship, with the pendulum and all the ravens, I hope.”
“NeRRmoRR,” snored my seatmate. I had the sneaking suspicion he might not really be asleep.
“I’m on the Dickens ship, the
S.S. David Copperfield
“Me too!” she said again.
A flight attendant hovered over me, his eyes on the snoring man who had drooled a bit on the window. “Is he all right?”
“Just sleeping,” I said as he dropped little bags of peanuts on our trays.
“I love Dickens,” Bette said. “Have you read
“Please, sir, I want some—” I tried to flag down the flight attendant to get a few extra snacks for the road.
“SMmorRRRR,” said my seatmate, and slid his bag of peanuts toward me without opening his eyes.