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Authors: Jessica Fletcher

Martinis and Mayhem

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Table of Contents
 
 
DANGEROUS CROSSING
I’d been walking for half an hour. That should have put me at midspan. Judging from the cluster of people there, that was exactly the point I’d reached. Dozens of cameras were pointed in every direction.
 
I slowly turned to take in 360 degrees of my surroundings. To my left were the hills of Sausalito and Marin County. With my back to the bridge railing, I could see over the traffic to the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean. And then I returned to my original position, peering out over San Francisco Bay and across to the City by the Bay. It was like an Impressionist painting.
 
What happened next was hardly impressionistic. It was more out of the school of “Art Brute”—brutal realism.
 
I felt the strength of a hand, connected to a strong arm, grasp the back of my neck and shove me forward. Simultaneously, another hand—presumably belonging to the same person—grabbed the bottom of my Windbreaker and attempted to pick me up and over the railing....
For Ted Chichak, who gives all agents a good name
 
SIGNET
Published by New American Library, a division of
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,
New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 10 Alcorn Avenue, Toronto,
Ontario M4V 3B2, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices:
80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England
First published by Signet, an imprint of New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
First Printing, December 1995
 
Copyright © 1995 Universal Studios Licensing LLLP.
Murder, She Wrote
is a
trademark and copyright of Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.
REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA
 
 
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
PUBLISHER’S NOTE
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.
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.
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eISBN : 978-1-440-67355-9

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Chapter One
People who don’t know Maine suffer from the delusion that it never gets hot there. They have this vision of perpetually cool summers and bitterly cold winters. But never heat, at least the way it’s experienced farther south, and in the big cities.
Their assumption is wrong. Sure, it seldom heats up in Cabot Cove as it does in New York City, or Newark, or Washington, D.C. (no place gets as hot as Washington, D.C., in the summer, except perhaps Bombay, or Death Valley).
But we do have our moments. As evidence, I offer August 17 of last year. It was 70 degrees when I awoke at six. I didn’t catch the humidity reading, but my damp skin told me the air had reached its saturation level. One more percentage point of moisture and the dam would burst. It was a Maine heat wave, pure and simple, one of those days when my hair wouldn’t need artificial resuscitation to bring its curl back to life.
We’d been in the grips of record-breaking heat for three days, and it had begun to make people edgy. Everywhere I went I heard complaints: “Godfrey mighty! Ain’t this heat a killer? Haven’t seen anything so jo-jeezly since eighty-seven.”
It’s all in the mind, I reminded myself as I put on the kettle for tea, and settled in my den to watch
The Today Show.
Willard Scott, my favorite weatherman, was tipping his toupee to a woman in Georgia celebrating her 106th birthday. His enthusiasm was contagious; I started to laugh as he switched to interviewing kids, whose mixed-breed dogs were entered in a show for non-purebreds, my favorite animals. And then it was on to the weather map, and his “pick city” of the day:
San Francisco.
I let out a small cheer because the weather in that jewel of a city was forecast to be a crisp, delightful 71 dry degrees, and was expected to remain that way throughout the weekend and into a good part of the next week.
The reason for my armchair cheer was that I would be there to enjoy it. I was scheduled to leave for San Francisco the following morning to publicize my latest murder mystery,
Blood Relations.
The lure of San Francisco is always strong for me. But considering the difference in weather between there and Cabot Cove, the contemplation of the trip was especially delicious. A vision of enjoying succulent crab claws on Fisherman’s Wharf, and watching the cool, mysterious fog envelop the Golden Gate Bridge brought a smile to my face. “Better pack,” I said aloud as I peeled myself from the burgundy vinyl recliner in response to the whistling tea kettle.
Usually, I’m packed well in advance of a trip. But the heat and humidity had been a deterrent. The past couple of days had been marked by a distinct lack of productivity in all things. Not much is air-conditioned in Cabot Cove, including my house (I suppose even
we
buy the myth of heat waves only happening in other places, despite knowing better). I’d dug out fans from the attic and set them up in strategic places. They helped; at least they kept the hot, heavy air moving.
I went into the kitchen and poured the steaming water into a large copper pitcher already filled with several herbal tea bags. The room was now a sauna with the additional steam from the kettle. I went outside and placed the pitcher on a table on my brick patio, where the sun would steep it to perfection. After that it would go into my refrigerator. By lunchtime, I’d have an ample supply of homemade iced tea that would impress even Martha Stewart. My iced tea had earned quite a following in town. If I bottled it for sale, the advertisement would read:
Steeped the natural way in the glorious, bountiful Maine sun.
And probably have the FTC after me.
Still in my nightgown, I was in the process of dragging a large suitcase from a hall closet when the doorbell rang. I peeked through lace curtains covering my front bay window and saw the patrol car belonging to Cabot Cove’s sheriff, Mort Metzger, parked in my driveway. Even though Mort and I have been friends for years, and he’s pulled into my driveway hundreds of times, my heart always skips a beat when I see his official car arrive, afraid that this is the one time he’s not paying a social call, but is bringing some sort of bad news.
I threw on a pastel pink robe over my nightgown, and opened the door.
“Gorry, Jess, it’s hot,” he said, dramatically wiping his forehead with the back of his hand. “Eight-thirty in the morning and already it’s eighty-five. Can’t hardly breathe with the humidity. Not fit for man or beast.”
“Especially beasts,” I said. “With all that fur. Come in. The fans are going full tilt.”
He continued to complain as he stepped inside. “I’ll tell you one thing, Jessica, timing is everything, like they say. You are one lucky lady to be leavin’ this tomorrow. Give anything to climb on that plane with you. Watched
The Today Show
this mornin’. Willard Scott, he picked San Francisco as havin’ the best weather in the whole dam country. High out there only supposed to get up to about seventy.”
“Seventy-one,” I said, smiling.
“Well, whatever,” he said. “I was on my way to work but couldn’t stop thinkin’ about a cool, tall glass of Jessica Fletcher’s iced tea.” He took off his hat and headed straight for the kitchen table.
“You’re right, Mort. Timing is everything. And you’re too early. The iced tea won’t be ready until lunchtime.”
“I suppose a tall glass of ice water would do,” he said grumpily, sitting and plopping his broad-brimmed tan Stetson hat on the table.
BOOK: Martinis and Mayhem
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