Authors: Jennifer McAndrews
PRAISE FOR THE NATIONAL BESTSELLING STAINED-GLASS MYSTERIES
“A smashing debut mystery full of small-town chicanery, charming characters, and a plot that kept me guessing. Georgia Kelly is an adorable heroine whose clever wit and humor made me laugh out loud!”
New York Times
bestselling author of
“Georgia Kelly is a plucky heroine whose love of stained glass, kittens, and her grandfather will draw you in and keep you turning pages.
is filled with small-town characters, intelligent cops, and a heroine who feels like a dear friend.”
âNancy J. Parra, author of
“Georgia makes an appealing lead characterÂ .Â .Â . Cozy fans may want to watch how this series develops.”
“[A] sweet debutÂ .Â .Â . This cozy will snag those intrigued by the stained-glass side of the story and a gorgeous cover (can't go wrong with Tiffany).”
“A carefully plotted book, with enough suspects and possible motives to keep readers guessing throughout the bookÂ .Â .Â . This page-turner ended exactly as I had hoped it would, and I will be eagerly awaiting the next installment.”
“The mystery is a good one, with all bits and pieces coming together at the end, like a stained-glass designÂ .Â .Â . I was glad to learn more about stained glass, how Georgia selects the glass, plans the design, and blends the colors.”
âKings River Life Magazine
DEATH UNDER GLASS
A SHATTERING CRIME
An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014
A SHATTERING CRIME
A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author
Copyright Â© 2016 by Jennifer McAndrews.
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eBook ISBN: 978-1-101-62375-6
Berkley Prime Crime mass-market edition / June 2016
Cover art by Stephan Gardner (Lott Reps).
Cover design by George Long.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
I've thanked a lot of people along this journey, but this time around, I'm keeping it simple.
As always, my thanks to the team at Berkley Prime Crime for all they have done to bring Georgia Kelly and the little town of Wenwood to the world. Thanks to my family near and far, and to the writing and mystery community for their support, comraderies, and martinis. But mostly, my thanks to the readersâto those who worried about Georgia and Grandy and saw their town in the streets of Wenwood, and to those who took my words and put them in the hands of their friends and said, “Read this. You'll like it.” I wish you
he morning of the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Riverside Promenadeâ“a shopping and dining destination for friends and families”âI made the mistake of taking the weather forecast at face value. With this being my first autumn in Wenwood since a childhood visit in which my mother routinely overdressed me in anticipation of subzero temps, my cute suede waist jacket was an easy mistake to make. Sure, I'd checked the news and watched the weatherman on Channel 6 predict we were in for a seasonably cool and breezy day with plenty of sunshine. I did not realize seasonably cool could mean flirting with the freezing mark and it was only breezy if you were hiding within or beside something that blocked the gusts of biting wind. There was indeed sunshine aplenty, and I was
happy to have brought along my sunglasses “just in case,” but there was no warmth to be found in the abundant rays.
This all means I stood jaw clenched to prevent teeth chattering, hands jammed in pockets of a coat more fashionable than functional, and knees braced close beside each other to keep my warmth to myself. The wind coming in off the river repeatedly stole my breath as it blew by, and I almost, but not quite, regretted the decision to attend the groundbreaking ceremony. Almost because of the aforementioned cold, and not quite because it had gotten me out of the house and allowed me the rare pleasure of spending time with Tony Himmel during the week and in daylight. A big change from our habitual evenings and Sundays.
Unlike me, Tony seemed to thrive in sunshine and outdoors regardless of the temperature and now stood content as you please in a plaid flannel over a faded UNC sweatshirt. He had needed little convincing to take a few minutes out of his day overseeing construction at the nearby marina to meet me at the groundbreaking. I made it a point to remind myself over and over that he had been willing to walk away from the job for a bit because of his fondness for being outside, and I placed very little import on his willingness to walk away because I asked him to. Believing I was not a priority for him was much easier on me. Once burned and all that.
Scary emotions aside, Tony stood close behind me and a little to the right, my shoulder aligned with his chin, amid several dozen residents all waiting to
celebrate the first shovel full of dirt. A crisp, white party tent, its peaks reaching into the azure sky, had been pitched nearer to the water's edge than where the crowd had gathered for the ceremony. All attendees would be invited inside following the groundbreaking for some hot beverages and fancy pastries supplied by Rozelle's Bakery.
While Tony turned to talk business with a man to his right, I scanned the crowd for a sign of Rozelle's tight gray curls, which I imagined I would find peeking out from beneath a sensibly warm hat. Several women in attendance at the ceremony fit that loose description but there was no sign of Rozelle. Maybe I wasn't the only one who thought it was too cold to be standing on the riverfront.
“I love your earrings,” a woman to my left said. She was smartly dressed, with matching hat and gloves, and a scarf tucked up beneath her chin. Me? None of those things, because I hadn't realized the forecast was given in secret code.
I had no need to reach up and check what earrings I was wearing. They were narrow drops of colored glass, fashioned into a waterfall cascade. “Thanks,” I said, which was when I realized my lips had gone numb. And it was only October.
“Do theyÂ .Â .Â . Are they noisy?” She squinted a little and leaned closer.
“When they're not plastered to my cheek by the wind, yes. They sound like a fairy chime.” I stamped my foot, encouraging the blood to return to my toes, but all that
happened was the impact of the hard ground shuddering through my ankle and up my shin.
“Oh, fairy chime. I love it,” she said on a breath. “Where did you get them, if I can ask?”
I cracked a smile. “Sweets and Stones, right in the village.”
“The new shop? I'll have to check it out.”
“Sheâ” Tony began. A well-placed elbow to his midsection kept him from finishing.
“Try their mint chocolate drops, too. They're fabulous,” I said.
The woman smiled and looked away from me as a group of men made their way from their roadside limo to the site designated for the groundbreaking. The men wore suits and hard hats and the kind of smiles politicians spend years mastering. Two I recognized as members of the town council. The others I presumed to be the commercial landowner types.
In a voice meant for only me to hear, Tony asked, “Why didn't you tell her?”
I gave him a combination shrug and head shake. I had no explanation for why I didn't want to admit to the curious woman that the creator of the earrings I wore was me. Me, some jeweler's wire, and the leftover slivers and bits of years' worth of stained glass projects. I should have been eager to tell her, or anyone, that the fairy chime earrings were my creation, talk up their beauty and versatility and surprising durability. But when it came to “tooting your own horn,” as my grandfather would say, I was tootless.
“You need to learn to take credit for your work,” Tony said.
“I'll add that to my to-do list.”
I watched, along with several dozen residents of Wenwood, as the head honchos from the development company and the esteemed members of our town council reached the square of blue all-weather carpet it had been someone's sorry job to drag out onto the stretch of dirt and scrub grass and anchor with time-worn cement blocks. An aide stood nearby, a pair of shovels tied with red ribbons leaning up against his hip. And beside it all, an excavator waited to tear into the earth, teeth in the air ready to bite.
It wasn't until one of the suited men stepped forward, clearly preparing to speak, that the edge of the gathered crowd broke away. From the folds of their jackets they revealed previously concealed posters and overlarge signs. One of the men raised a poster above his head and led the group in a protest chant.
“Save our shoreline!”
Clearly prepared for such an outburst, the suited ringleader brandished a bullhorn and began to speak over the protestors. Every fourth word reached me; the rest whirled away with the wind or were buried by the protesters. I leaned back, turned to catch Tony's ear. “You've done these things before. What are they saying up there?”
“Nothing interesting,” he said. “New beginnings, great stuff ahead, a bunch of insincere thanks.” He stood so close behind me I felt him shrug.
“Insincere?” I asked, mindful of keeping my voice down, not knowing to whom the wind might carry my words.
“These guysÂ .Â .Â .” he sighed. “They were never going to take no for an answer.”
As surely as if his response had included encouragement to look at the evidence, I slid my gaze a little farther along the road and westward to the newly vacant land where all too recently strings of saltbox houses had stood. For decades the little houses were home to brickworkers and their familiesâthe hardworking founding residents of Wenwood. But when the brickworks shut down, it left a void in the local industry. After standing vacant for better than twenty years, the brickworks was undergoing a renovation, the old factory becoming home to a new marina. The promenade was the next step in what so many hoped would rejuvenate Wenwood. Sadly, that rejuvenation was to come with rezoning and a cost. And not everyone was happy to pay the bill.
“Save our shoreline!”
I focused once more on the speaker. His voice buzzed through the bullhorn, words indistinct. With a broad, bleached smile, he handed the bullhorn to the aide, and accepted a shovel in exchange. He took a few steps to his left and joined the suited men to form a loose half circle in which all the men held a shovel, blades hovering inches above the dirt.
The men all froze in place, shovels poised at the ready, smiles carved on their faces, while a smattering of bareheaded men with pro grade cameras snapped pictures.
I shivered a bit, raised my shoulders, and ducked my head to try and block the wind against my ears with the collar of my coat.
“You okay?” Tony asked.
“Freezing,” I admitted.
He chuckled and wrapped his arms around me. Pulling me back against his chest, he shifted his stance so his body kept the wind off me. “How's that?”
Warm. Thoughtful. I smiled, wished my lips weren't quite so numb. “I might claim to be cold more often.”
“Sounds good to me. It's going to be a long winter ahead.”
I shivered again, less from the cold than from the apprehension that skittered up my spine and raised gooseflesh on my skin. Winter was indeed approaching. The closer it got, the nearer the marina project was to completion. Soon enough Tony's presence there wouldn't be required at all. Periodic check-ins would suffice. I didn't want to think about what his next project would beÂ .Â .Â . or where.
He ran his hands briskly up and down my arms, the heat friction sending sudden thawing messages along my skin. “Why don't you go and see if they need a hand in the refreshment tent?”
Go into the tent? Out of the wind? Into the warm? The idea tempted me. And my earlier inability to find Rozelle in the crowd made sense at last. She would be nice and toasty inside the party tent, making sure all her cakes and cookies and assorted treats were ready for the crowd to enjoy. Maybe she really could use some help.
StillÂ .Â .Â . “Seems kind of, I don't know, disrespectful? What with that guy speakingÂ .Â .Â . aboutÂ .Â .Â . something.”
He stifled a chuckle.
“Okay, seems somehow wimpy,” I amended. “Like I should be made of tougher stuff or something.”
He leaned forward a little, his breath whispering warmth against my ear. “I like that you're made of softer stuff.”
“And I'm supposed to leave you after that proclamation?” I asked.
He laughed then, and a blast of cool air raced up my back as he shifted away from me. “Go inside. Get some coffee before the rush. I'll fill you in on all the details afterward.”
Yielding to wisdom and temptation, I slipped to the back of the gathered crowd and, shoving my hands deeper into the pockets of my pitifully lightweight jacket, headed for the party tent.
I gave a wide berth to the gaggle of protesters, shrinking inwardly from the glare their ringleader gave me. If he wanted me to join his cause, he'd do better to comb the crumbs from his mountain-man beard and invest in a coat whose elbows and pockets hadn't been patched with
-themed duct tape.
A blast of wind pushed me sideways and blew away the latest protest chant. Ahead, the coated canvas walls of the party tent bowed inward in turns as the wind curled from one side to the next. Beyond, small swells and white caps lifted on the opaque blue-green river.
Quick as I could, head bowed for some sort of aerodynamic aid, I ducked through the gap in the coated
canvas that served as a door and stepped into the brightly decorated tent. Rectangular tables draped with plastic covers in autumn hues of orange, red, and yellow filled the bulk of the area, and the fragrance of coffee scented the air.
With the sudden absence of wind, Rozelle's voice seemed unusually loud to my frozen eardrums. “No no no no,” she said. “Not that box. That's my box. The other boxes, those are for today.”
She tugged a plain white cake box from the hands of one of her regular bakery helpers, dressed today in the white blouse, black slacks, and black vest of a member of a caterer's wait staff. The dark-haired girl spun away from Rozelle, ponytail swinging and eyes raised to the overhead canopy of the tent, and slowly lifted a box from a nearby stack.
“And don't mix the chocolate chip with the oatmeal raisin,” Rozelle called. “That'll just make people cranky, and then they push the raisin ones out of the way to get to the chocolate chip ones. Makes a mess of everything.”
The helper had wandered away before Rozelle finished speaking, but I got the sense Rozelle was only talking to herself anyway.
“Need any help?” I asked as I dodged between tables and through pockets of warmth. At the center of the space and in each of the corners, outdoor heaters, coils glowing amber, kept the chill of the riverfront from disrupting the cozy atmosphere.
Rozelle glanced in my direction. Momentary confusion clouded her round face before recognition spurred a smile. “Georgia,” she said. “What are you doing here?”
She leaned sideways a bit, as though trying to peer behind me. “Is Pete with you?”
First of all, despite his age, Grandy still had almost a foot on me, so there was no way I could block Rozelle's view of him. Second, Grandy had said only a damn fool would be idiot enough to go stand out in the cold to watch someone pretend to dig a hole. But I didn't think Rozelle needed to hear that.
“He's home.” I unzipped my jacket to let more of the warmth reach me. “My mom and her husband are arriving for a visit sometime tonight, so he's, you know, getting things ready andÂ .Â .Â .”
Grandy wasn't exactly dusting in the corners and laying out the guest towels. He had more of a “you invited yourself, you clean up for yourself” policy. But along with Rozelle not needing to know Grandy's opinion regarding those of us attending the groundbreaking, she also didn't need to know that Grandy wasn't about to roll out the red carpet for his only daughter and his latest son-in-law.
Dropping the cake box on the nearest table, Rozelle lifted a hand and gave a halfhearted wave. “Don't worry about it. I understand. No matter how old they are, they're still your kids.” She pulled a small pair of scissors from the pocket of the bright blue vest she wore and clipped the string on the cake box in such a manner that the string fell neatly away from all corners. “I made some special cheese Danish for one of the men today,” she said, lifting the lid on the box. “You should bring some home for Pete.”
I held up a hand. “That's okay, Rozelle. You know he needs to keep his sugar intake low.”