Tagged for Death
Tagged for Death
is skillfully rendered, with expert characterization and depiction of military life. Best of all Sarah is the type of intelligent, resourceful, and appealing person we would all like to get to know better. Hopefully, we will have that opportunity very soon!”
Mystery Scene Magazine
“A terrific find! Engaging and entertaining, this clever cozy is a treasureâcharmingly crafted and full of surprises.”
Hank Phillippi Ryan, Agatha-, Anthony- and
Mary Higgins Clark-award-winning author
“Like the treasures Sarah Winston finds at the garage sales she loves, this book is a gem.”
Barbara Ross, Agatha-nominated author of the Maine
“It was masterfully done.
Tagged for Death
is a winning debut that will have you turning pages until you reach the final one. I'm already looking forward to Sarah's next bargain with death.”
Mark Baker, Carstairs Considers
The Longest Yard Sale
“I love a complex plot and
The Longest Yard Sale
fills the bill with mysterious fires, a missing painting, thefts from a thrift shop and, of course, murder. Add an intriguing cast of victims, potential villains and sidekicks, and interesting setting, and two eligible men for the sleuth to choose between and you have a sure winner even before you get to the last page and find yourself laughing out loud.”
Kaitlyn Dunnett, author of
The Scottie Barked at Midnight
Kathy Lynn Emerson, author of
Murder in the Merchant's Hall
“Readers will have a blast following Sarah Winston on her next adventure as she hunts for bargains and bad guys. Sherry Harris's latest is as delightful as the best garage sale find!”
Liz Mugavero, Agatha-nominated author of the
Pawsitively Organic Mysteries
“Sherry Harris is a gifted storyteller, with plenty of twists and adventures for her smart and stubborn protagonist.”
Beth Kanell, Kingdom Books
“Once again Sherry Harris entwines small-town life with that of the nearby Air Force base, yard sales with romance, art theft with murder. The story is a bargain, and a priceless one!”
Edith Maxwell, Agatha-nominated author of the
Local Foods mystery series
Also by Sherry Harris
Agatha-Nominated Best First Novel TAGGED FOR DEATH
THE LONGEST YARD SALE
ALL MURDERS FINAL!
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.
All copyrighted material within is Attributor Protected.
the best thing that ever happened to me,
and that's no joke!
Thank you mom for reading mysteries to me when I was first learning to read. Because of that, a lifelong passion was born.
My deepest thanks go to my agent, John Talbot, and to my Kensington editor, Gary Goldstein, for trusting me with this series.
So many people advised me while I was writing this book! Elizabeth Harris helped me with my fictional PopIt app. Amanda Gruwell introduced me to the world of virtual yard sales and their conflicts. Ashley Harris (no relation, but a fabulous neighbor) answered so many questions (
!) on how to run a virtual yard sale. Ashley also got me into a virtual admin site so I could sit back and read the admins' fascinating stories. They ranged from trivial complaints to actual death threats.
I am grateful to Officer Chris of the Fairfax County Police Department for taking me on an incredible ride along. When I asked him if he wanted me to name a character after him, he said, “Just call him Officer Awesome.” So I did.
E. B. Davis, thank you so much for taking the time to read this on such short notice and for reading it so quickly. Your comments were invaluable. Also, thank you for the great interviews you do on the
Writers Who Kill
Clare Boggs, who would have thought when we took that creative writing class together all those years ago that you'd be my friend and keen-eyed beta reader? Your input makes my stories so much better.
Barb Goffman, superhero, friend . . . oh, and independent editor, I've told you more than once that this book should probably say “by Sherry Harris and Barb Goffman.” You went above and beyond your duties as an editor by letting me question you incessantly, by punching up everything, from personalities to dialogue, and by helping me with plot holes larger than the black holes in space. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Barb reads an early version so any errors are all on me.
Mary Titone, beta reader, friend, and publicist, I am so glad to be your hobby. Thank you so much for making me get out there, for pushing me to do more book signings, and for cheering me on in so many ways.
To those of you who have read my books, come to my signings, invited me to be on your blogs, and supported me in so many different ways, thank you.
I'm so fortunate to be a member of two incredible chapters of Sisters in Crimeâthe Chessie Chapter here in Virginia and the New England Chapter in, well, New England.
My fellow Wicked Cozy Authors and Wicked Accomplices, what a fabulous bunch of women, authors, and friends you are! Jessie Crockett, Julie Hennrikus (aka Julianne Holmes), Edith Maxwell, Liz Mugavero, and Barbara Ross, I treasure each of you for your uniqueness and for putting up with me. Sheila Connolly, Kim Gray, and Jane Haertel (aka Susannah Hardy), I've learned so much from each of you, on and off the blog.
Bob, you always said that someday you'd carry my books around for me. Someday finally arrived. Thanks for being my biggest cheerleader and for somehow working into almost every conversation you have with anyone that your wife is an author. (I'm sure that desk clerk, guy on the elevator, and woman waiting to cross the street worry about your sanity, but at least they have a bookmark.)
I didn't expect to start my Saturday with a cup of Dunkin's coffee and a dead body. The coffee, yes, but the cup now lay at my feet, and a stream of coffee was melting the packed snow as I stared at Margaret More's lifeless face. She sat in her car in her driveway, the long and winding kind, where her car wasn't visible from the street. A vintage tablecloth, white with bright spring flowers, was stuffed in her mouth. It had looked like such a nice tablecloth online last night. Of course, then, it wasn't a murder weapon.
It was the tablecloth I'd wanted to buy from her yesterday on my virtual garage sale site. But now I wanted to flee from it and the sight of Margaret's dead body. I slipped and slid in my haste to return to my old Suburban. I yanked open the door and grabbed my purse. I did my usual “Where the heck's my phone? This purse isn't that big” search before spotting it in the cup holder. Finally, I dialed 911.
“I have to report a death,” I said after dispatch answered. “It's Margaret. Margaret More.”
The female dispatcher gasped. “It can't be.”
“It looks like she was murdered.” My voice sounded amazingly calm and didn't reflect my growing panic or the churning in my stomach as the reality of what I'd just seen set in. I heard what sounded like a muffled sob and some fumbling.
“Hello? Are you there?” I asked when nothing else happened.
“Where's your emergency?” This time the dispatcher was male. He sounded efficient and professional. I gave him the address.
“I copy that,” he said. “But if this is some kind of sick joke, you should know there are laws against calling in false information.”
“It's not. But I get it. Who would kill Margaret More?”
“No one. That's who.” This dispatcher now sounded almost as choked up as the first one. He managed to run through the normal list of questions: “Are you safe?” “Are you injured?” “Is anyone else there with you?” After I answered all his questions, he hung up. I stared at my phone for a minute. So much for professional.
My phone chimed. It was a reminder that the Congregational church in Ellington was having a rummage sale today to raise money for organ repairs. I deleted the reminder as I made my way back up to Margaret. Somehow leaving her alone didn't seem right. Not to mention after my brief conversation with dispatch, I was starting to doubt my own story. This time I walked carefully, trying to step only in the spots where I'd slipped and slid as I'd hurried to get to my phone. I studied the snow around me. It was only about an inch deepâFebruary had been unusually mild this year. There was a mishmash of footprints around Margaret's car. Some poor sap would be taking casts of all of them.
I braced myself and looked back in the car. Margaret's thick silver hair hung in a neat bob around her face. Her age-spotted hands lay in her lap. Two giant diamond rings, one on each hand, sparkled in the sunlight. Part of me hoped I'd been wrong and had called the police for nothing. But Margaret was definitely dead. And unless she'd calmly stuffed the tablecloth in her mouth and sat there, waiting to die, I was right that she'd been murdered. I tried to open the driver's car door, but it was locked.
“Oh, Margaret, you'll be missed by so many.” Margaret traced her roots back to the
, and her family was one of the first families to settle in Massachusetts. She was the president of the Ellington Historical Society and had a large extended family in the area.
I studied the interior of the car, something I knew police officers did when they pulled someone over. I'd picked up a fair bit of police know-how from my ex-husband, CJ, first while he served for over twenty years in the air force security forces and now as the chief of police of Ellington, the small town we lived in.
A traffic stop could easily change to something more if drugs, money, or weapons were in sight. And that happened far more frequently than most people realized. But Margaret's car was neat as a pin. A black pocketbook sat on the front passenger seat.
Pocketbook! Good grief.
I was starting to use the native lingo. Nothing else seemed out of place. It didn't look like she'd been robbed, given the rings on her fingers and her purse sitting next to her.
My phone chimed again. I pulled it out and glanced down. I'd received a photo through PopIt, a popular picture-sharing app that lots of teens and twenty somethings used. I was far older than this app's typical user, but Lindsay, a former teenage neighbor from nearby Fitch Air Force Base, had gotten me hooked. I'd been using it to post items I wanted to sell on my virtual garage sale site, as well as to direct business to the site. It was also a fun way to stay in touch, and Lindsay always sent funny photos. Right now I could use a smile. I pressed the button to view the picture.
I could barely take in what I saw before the screen went blank. The photo was a shot of me standing by Margaret's car, looking in the window. Someone else was here.