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Authors: Avery Aames

As Gouda as Dead

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PRAISE FOR THE CHEESE SHOP MYSTERIES

Days of Wine and Roquefort

“Like a fine wine, this series just gets better with each new addition . . . You can't help but get pulled right into the story. I found it very hard to put down. Avery Aames does not disappoint. She provides plenty of suspects and red herrings to make you read the book all that much faster. Plus she always provides some very delicious recipes. So if you like your mystery a little cheesy, then you should be reading
Days of Wine and Roquefort
.”

—MyShelf.com

“This was an enjoyable addition to the Cheese Shop series. Readers were treated to info about wine
and
cheese this go-around and Aames knew what she was talking about. Her research gives authenticity to the series. Read it; you'll like it!”

—
Debbie's Book Bag

To Brie or Not to Brie

“A mouthwatering mystery with characters as colorful as its autumn setting and a plot that twists and turns, keeping the reader guessing right up until the end. Enticing and intriguing, I was thoroughly engaged from the very first page.”

—Jenn McKinlay,
New York Times
bestselling author

“An engaging murder mystery starring a courageous amateur sleuth.”

—
Genre Go Round Reviews

“Entertaining and informative . . . [An] education in all things cheese. Deserves a spot on your To-Be-Read list.”

—
Gumshoe Review

Clobbered by Camembert

“For those who are unfamiliar [with the Cheese Shop Mysteries], we strongly recommend that you give these books a read.”

—
Culture: the word on cheese
magazine

“The setting may be winter but that makes this a perfect cozy to curl up in front of the fire to read.”

—
Escape with Dollycas

Lost and Fondue

“Avery Aames has cooked up a delectable culinary mystery with a juicy plot and a tasty twist.
Lost and Fondue
is fun, flirty, and full of local flavor. Take an engaging, sassy protagonist willing to do anything for friends and family, add a delicious yet mysterious hero, mix in a yummy setting, top it all with a scrumptious plot with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing to the very end—and voilà! A tasty morsel of a mystery that will leave you hungry for more.”

—Kate Carlisle,
New York Times
bestselling author of the Bibliophile Mysteries

“Absolutely delicious! This is the triple cream of the crop: a charming heroine, a deceptively cozy little town, and a clever cast of characters. This is more than a fresh and original mystery—Aames's compassion for family and friends shines through, bringing intelligence and depth to this warm and richly rewarding adventure.”

—Hank Phillippi Ryan, Agatha Award–winning author of
The Other Woman

“The charm of the story is greatly enhanced by a very rich cast of characters.”

—
Booklist

“Avery Aames delivers another deliciously fast-paced, twisty mystery filled with lovable, quirky characters and Charlotte's delightful attempts at amateur sleuthing. Come sample what Fromagerie Bessette has to offer. I guarantee you'll be back for more.”

—Julie Hyzy,
New York Times
bestselling author of the White House Chef Mysteries and the Manor House Mysteries

“Fans of Aames's
The Long Quiche Goodbye
will be just as pleased with the latest mystery . . . Settle in with a nice cheese, a glass of wine, and enjoy
Lost and Fondue
.”

—
Lesa's Book Critiques

The Long Quiche Goodbye

Agatha Award Winner for Best First Novel

“Avery Aames's delightful debut novel . . . is a lovely Tour de Fromage. It's not just Gouda, it's great!”

—Lorna Barrett,
New York Times
bestselling author

“A delicious read. Charlotte Bessette is a winning new sleuth, and her gorgeously drawn world is one you'll want to revisit again and again. More, please.”

—Cleo Coyle,
New York Times
bestselling author of the Coffeehouse Mysteries

“Rich characters, decadent cheeses, and a scrumptious mystery. A bold new series to be savored like a seductive Brie.”

—Krista Davis,
New York Times
bestselling author of the Domestic Diva Mysteries

“Avery Aames serves up a yummy mystery featuring cheese purveyor Charlotte Bessette, an adorable new character whose love of family rivals her love of good food. Fans of amateur sleuths, prepare to be charmed.”

—Joanna Campbell Slan, author of
Death of a Dowager

Berkley Prime Crime titles by Avery Aames

THE LONG QUICHE GOODBYE

LOST AND FONDUE

CLOBBERED BY CAMEMBERT

TO BRIE OR NOT TO BRIE

DAYS OF WINE AND ROQUEFORT

AS GOUDA AS DEAD

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) LLC

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

USA • Canada • UK • Ireland • Australia • New Zealand • India • South Africa • China

penguin.com

A Penguin Random House Company

AS GOUDA AS DEAD

A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with Chucklin, Inc.

Copyright © 2015 by Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

Excerpt from
Fudging the Books
by Daryl Wood Gerber copyright © 2015 by Daryl Wood Gerber.

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

Berkley Prime Crime Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group.

BERKLEY® PRIME CRIME and the PRIME CRIME logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) LLC,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

eBook ISBN: 978-0-698-15008-9

PUBLISHING HISTORY

Berkley Prime Crime mass-market edition / February 2015

Cover illustration by Teresa Fasolino.

Cover design by Jason Gill.

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.

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The recipes contained in this book are to be followed exactly as written. The publisher is not responsible for your specific health or allergy needs that may require medical supervision. The publisher is not responsible for any adverse reactions to the recipes contained in this book.

Version_1

To my loves:
Jackson, Jill, Craig, Kevin, and your families.
You bring me tons of joy!

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

“Flaming enthusiasm, backed up by horse sense and persistence, is the quality that most frequently makes for success.”

—D
ALE
C
ARNEGIE

Thank you to my family and friends for all your support. Thank you particularly to my husband, my first reader. I love your insight and enthusiasm. Thank you to my talented author friends, Krista Davis, Janet Bolin, Kate Carlisle, and Hannah Dennison, for your words of wisdom and calm. Thanks to my brainstormers at Plothatchers: Janet B., Janet K., Kaye, Marilyn, Peg, and Krista for all your input. Thanks to my blog mates on Mystery Lovers Kitchen and Killer Characters. Love you all!

Thanks to those who have helped make A Cheese Shop Mystery series a success: my fabulous editor, Kate Seaver, as well as Katherine Pelz and Danielle Dill. Thank you to my copyeditor, Rob Farren, and my cover artist, Teresa Fasolino. Great work!

John Talbot, thank you for believing in every aspect of my work. Sheridan Stancliff, you are an Internet and creative marvel. Kimberley Greene, I appreciate everything you do for me. I am so blessed.

Thank you librarians, teachers, and readers for sharing the delicious world of a cheese shop owner in a quaint, fictional town in Ohio
with your friends.

And last but not least, thanks to my cheese consultant, Marcella. May your new direction in life bring you years of fulfillment.

CONTENTS

Praise for the Cheese Shop Mysteries

Berkley Prime Crime titles by Avery Aames

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Acknowledgments

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 9

CHAPTER 10

CHAPTER 11

CHAPTER 12

CHAPTER 13

CHAPTER 14

CHAPTER 15

CHAPTER 16

CHAPTER 17

CHAPTER 18

CHAPTER 19

CHAPTER 20

CHAPTER 21

CHAPTER 22

CHAPTER 23

CHAPTER 24

CHAPTER 25

CHAPTER 26

CHAPTER 27

CHAPTER 28

CHAPTER 29

CHAPTER 30

CHAPTER 31

CHAPTER 32

CHAPTER 33

CHAPTER 34

CHAPTER 35

CHAPTER 36

CHAPTER 37

CHAPTER 38

CHAPTER 39

Recipes

Note to the Reader

Special Excerpt from
Fudging the Books

CHAPTER

“Where are you taking me?” I asked. “And don't ‘Hush, Charlotte' me again.” I hate being blindfolded, hate not being able to see. Even as a girl, I despised it. I remembered one time when my oh-so-sly cousin coerced me into following him into a cave. We encountered shrieking bats and spiders and—
ick
—something creepy-crawly with a long tail that skittered across my foot.

“Hush, Charlotte,” Delilah said. The moment I'd arrived home from work, she and Meredith, my other best friend, had kidnapped me.

“It's Thursday night, for heaven's sake. I've got to open Fromagerie Bessette early tomorrow. We have so much to do to prepare for next week's Lovers Trail event before I—”

“We're going to a party.”

“A bachelorette party,” Meredith added.

“Yours.” Delilah pushed me at the small of my back. “Now, move it.”

“Look.” I tried to dig in my heels, to no avail. “I'd be game for whatever you have up your sleeves if I didn't have things to do.”

Tons of things: decorations to put up and gift baskets to create for the Lovers Trail event. Not to mention all the things I needed to do for my impending nuptials: a hem to stitch, boutonnieres to fashion. Did my sweet friends care? Not a whit. They were giggling too hard to care about anything.

A brisk gust of February wind attacked me. I shivered from the cold. “Where are we?” I demanded. Delilah had escorted me out of her car a minute ago; we were on foot. On cement. A sidewalk, I was pretty sure. I heard light traffic. I detected the faint smell of cinnamon and coffee. Were we near Café au Lait, a delicious coffeehouse designed with a French flair? I could use a cup of coffee. “At least take the blindfold off. It's tugging the back of my hair.”

“No, ma'am,” Delilah said.


Ma'am
,” Meredith sniggered. “That's right. You're going to be a ma'am soon. Maybe we should continue to call you
Miss Charlotte
for a while longer.” More giggles erupted from Meredith. How had Delilah talked her into this escapade? Meredith was usually the reliable and sane one. Sure, back in high school, she had been sneaky, but now? “Sounds like something right out of
Gone with the Wind
,” she continued. “
Miss Charlotte
. Hmm. Which do you prefer,
Miss
Charlotte or
Mrs
. Jordan Pace?”

I didn't know who, where, or what was on the agenda for tonight, but in three days, on Sunday, I was moving forward with my life and marrying the man of my dreams—Jordan. A sizzle of desire shot through me just thinking about him. Prior to moving to Providence, Jordan had been the chef and owner of an Italian restaurant in upstate New York. One night outside the restaurant, he saw two thugs attack a third man. Without hesitating, Jordan, a former military man, sprang to the third man's defense. Days later, Jordan entered the WITSEC program to testify against the survivor, whose buddies had been the lynchpins of a gambling ring. Entering WITSEC had landed him in Providence, Ohio. Lucky me.

“This way, Miss Charlotte.” Delilah steered me to the right.

A door opened and I breathed easier. I recognized the jingle of the chime above the door. We were entering Fromagerie Bessette. The aroma of a potent Irish Cheddar cheese—our last sale of the day—hung in the air. I detected a hint of the quiche I'd made in the morning, too—apple bacon Gouda. It had been rich with a smoky, savory flavor.

“Let me go and tell me which way to go.”

“Uh-uh,” Delilah said.

“C'mon.” I could navigate blindfolded through the shop without their help. I often dreamed about Fromagerie Bessette—or as the locals called it, The Cheese Shop—and its displays of cheeses, honey, mustards, and specialty crackers. Yes, I was a major cheese geek. Being a cheese shop proprietor was a dream job. I had inherited the shop from my grandparents, who had migrated from France to the States after World War II and had raised me to love the shop as much as they did.

Delilah joggled me. “Oops.”

Although I would have been safe if I'd been allowed to grope along on my own, with Delilah as my guide, I instinctively reached out in front of me. Good thing I had. My foot hit something hard. “Ow.” I grasped what had attacked me—a display barrel, the old oak cask kind with metal struts. “You did that on purpose.”

“Did what?” Delilah guffawed.

“Shh,” Meredith cooed. “Charlotte, just a few more feet.”

Gingerly, I shuffled across the hardwood floor praying I wouldn't wind up with ten stubbed toes. At least I was wearing a pair of Ugg boots; they were padded and perfect for the winter. I still couldn't understand a girl wearing them in the summer, but I wasn't a fashion guru.

“Where are we headed?” I asked. “The annex?” The wine annex, which my cousin managed and stocked with some of the finest wines this side of the Rockies, was situated to the right through a stone archway. “Ooh, are we having a wine tasting?” I was always up for one of those.

“Sort of,” Meredith said.

I had known Meredith and Delilah since I was in grade school. The two of them were like night and day. Meredith was blonde and sun-kissed with freckles; she had a rosy disposition. In contrast, Delilah had dark curly hair, striking features, and a wicked sense of humor. Meredith was an elementary teacher and soon would run the Providence Liberal Arts College. She was married to my cousin, and stepmother to my pre-teen twin nieces—I referred to them as my nieces; they were really my first cousins once removed. Delilah ran The Country Kitchen diner across the street. She had returned to Providence after her career on Broadway stalled. Weekly, the three of us and a few other women went out for girls' night. I imagined tonight's bachelorette soiree was going to be an entirely different kind of event.

“What are we going to do at the party?” I said.

“It's a secret,” Delilah answered.

“How many people?”

“Just a few of us.”

“All girls?” I asked.

“No boys allowed,” Delilah said.

“Well, almost no boys.” Meredith snorted.

What had gotten into her?

A chilly wisp of air tickled my nose. Abruptly Delilah pivoted me and ushered me in the direction of the cold. Good thing I'd worn a cashmere sweater and corduroy trousers. I knew where we were headed. Downstairs, into the cellar. My cousin and I, with Jordan's help, had installed a wine and cheese cellar. It was one of the best investments we had made. Even after cheese makers shipped wheels of cheese to us, we preferred to age some of them a tad longer.

I stepped down the stairs, drinking in the luscious perfume of cheese. The temperature in the cellar ranged from a cool fifty-five degrees to a toasty fifty-eight. Heat affects the speed with which wine and cheese age. We had painted the cellar white and had fitted it with wood racks. In addition, we had commissioned a local artist to paint a faux window with a view of the rolling hills of Providence in the eight-foot, semi-round alcove. Below the painting stood an oak buffet as well as a mosaic-inlaid table with chairs. Perfect for a small gathering.

My left foot touched the cellar floor. “C'mon, ladies, out with it. I smell something nutty with a hint of charcoal and fresh herbs. Are we having a cheese tasting party?”

I heard more tittering. Not from my guides. From other party members already in the cellar.

“Please say something,” I pleaded. “Wait, do I also smell . . . suntan oil?”

Meredith brushed my arm with something furry.

I recoiled. “Ew, what is that?”

“It's a paintbrush, silly.”

I moaned. “We're having an art party?” I'd heard about them. They were very au courant. “I'm not an artist,” I protested. “Isn't this supposed to be all about
me
?”

“No, you goon,” Delilah said. “This party is about all of
us
giving you a fabulous sendoff into married life. Get with the program.”

“Don't worry,” Meredith reassured me. “None of us are artists.”

“You are, Meredith,” Delilah chimed.

“I'm not sure about
this
kind of art.” Meredith pinched me.

“What do you mean ‘this kind of art'?” I cried, truly hating being in the dark . . . about anything. “Take off my blindfold. Now!”

“Don't get snippy.” Delilah released my hand and moved behind me. She started to untie the scarf she had slung around my head. “One, two, voilà.”

“Surprise!” the other party guests yelled.

When my eyes adjusted to the light, I realized each was wearing a cream-colored artist's smock over warm winter clothing, and each held a glass of sparkling wine. A gorgeous spread of appetizers was laid out on a long table behind them: biscuits stuffed with ham, mini quiches, and one of my all-time favorites, a cranberry crusted cheese torte.

“Turn around,” the women said in unison.

When I did, I couldn't believe what I saw.

BOOK: As Gouda as Dead
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