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Authors: Joelle Charbonneau

Murder for Choir

BOOK: Murder for Choir
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“Joelle Charbonneau brings a professional’s eye and experience to
Murder for Choir
, and readers will enjoy her heroine Paige Marshall’s take on high school show choirs. Music and drama lovers who can’t get enough of Rachel, Finn, Kurt, and the gang will have enormous fun with this delightfully witty take on ‘Murder, She Sang.’ Encore, encore!”

—Miranda James,
New York Times
bestselling author of the
Cat in the Stacks Mysteries

No recital today…

Everything was quiet as I walked through the door that led to the back of the theater. The houselights were dark, but the work lights illuminated the grand piano on the stage. The lid was upon the piano, making it hard to tell if someone was seated behind it.

I walked down the steps toward the stage. Sure enough, I could see feet. Someone was sitting at the piano. I climbed up the escape stairs, walked around the piano, and felt the world tilt on its axis.

A backstage door slammed, and it echoed in the theater. On a normal day, the sound might have made me jump. Today, my feet were rooted to the floor. Slouched over the piano, head resting on the keys, was North Shore High’s choir director, Greg Lucas. A microphone sat on the piano keys a few inches from Greg’s mouth. I doubted he’d be speaking into the microphone anytime soon, seeing as how the microphone’s cord was wrapped tightly around his throat…

Murder
for Choir

JOELLE CHARBONNEAU

BERKLEY PRIME CRIME, NEW YORK

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) • Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England • Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.) • Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.) • Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India • Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.) • Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

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 websites or their content.

MURDER FOR CHOIR

A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author

PUBLISHING HISTORY

Berkley Prime Crime mass-market edition / July 2012

Copyright © 2012 by Joelle Charbonneau.

Cover illustration by Paul Hess.

Cover design by Rita Frangie.

Interior text design by Laura K. Corless.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

ISBN: 978-1-101-58107-0

BERKLEY
®
PRIME CRIME

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

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

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

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

10   9   8   7   6   5   4   3   2   1

If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is
stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the
author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”

ALWAYS LEARNING

PEARSON

For my students who inspire me each and every day.

Acknowledgments

Like any stage production, publishing requires a large cast to turn a manuscript into a book. I consider myself the luckiest girl ever that I am surrounding by amazing people who have helped bring this book to the shelves.

First and foremost I have to thank my family for all of their encouragement and support. I especially need to thank my mother for her smiles; Andy for his willingness to be my first reader (no matter how painful that sometimes might be); my son, Max, for his laughter; my father-in-law, Joe, for his unfailing belief in my talent; and my aunts, uncles, cousins, and extended family for their amazing cheerleading abilities.

Every day I thank my lucky stars to have the support and guidance of my amazing agent, Stacia Decker, and the entire team at Donald Maass Literary. Your unwavering faith in me is appreciated more than I can say.

I also owe a huge thank-you to my wonderful editor, Michelle Vega, for her love of this story and insightful help in making it stronger. Also, much gratitude to Natalee Rosenstein for her leadership, Paul Hess for his awesome art, Rita Frangie for the amazing art design (my cover rocks!), and to the entire Berkley Prime Crime team. You are all amazing.

Last, but by no means least, I want to extended my heartfelt thanks to the booksellers, librarians, and readers who pick up this book. You make everything possible.

Table of Contents

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

If Dante ever added a tenth circle of hell, this would be it. Prospect Glen High School’s field house was packed for the third day of show choir camp. Choir students from four different high schools were tripping over their feet doing jazz squares, and I was stuck in the middle of it.

Two girls with bleach-blonde highlights and glitter makeup strutted by me, pointed, and giggled. Great. Even the high school kids were treating me like an outsider. I didn’t think they were from my school’s show choir program, but they might be. After two days on the job, I could only spot the fourteen kids in the top choir. They were the ones I was responsible for. The rest were assigned to Larry. As far as I was concerned, he could have them all. Too bad I needed the job.

“There you are, Paige.”

I turned to see Prospect Glen’s glamorous answer to Martha Stewart walking toward me. Felicia Fredrickson’s brown eyes peered at me from under her frosted bangs. “Larry is
looking for you. He could use a little help with the vocal clinic in the choir room. I think it’s getting a touch out of hand.”

Oh God.

Yesterday, a group of kids pushed the piano up against the storage room door with Larry in the room. Two hours passed before anyone realized he was missing. I could only imagine what was happening now.

According to Felicia, the camp was supposed to foster goodwill and bonding among the students. So far the Larry debacle was the only group bonding I’d seen.

I turned and hurried down the hall, Felicia trailing behind me. The music room was located in the Fine Arts wing of the high school, clear on the other side of the massive building.

“We really need to talk about this year’s costumes.” Felicia’s heels clicked against the linoleum floor. “The last coach insisted the girls wear orange dresses with purple sequins. I don’t care how good they sing, only a blind man or a football coach would award first place to a team wearing those colors. But there was no talking her out of it.”

I tended to agree, but what did I know? Show choir was definitely not my area of expertise. Singing was. Real singing with good pitch and dynamic changes. From what I had heard so far, show choir singing was deemed impressive if it shattered eardrums.

“I don’t mean to pester you, Paige, but we really do need to select costumes by the end of this week. While I was in Florida for the summer, I came up with the idea of using black and white with electric green and blue accents. North Shore High School wore black and pink last year, which means those colors are taboo this season.” I must have given Felicia a blank stare because she reverently added, “They
won most of the first-place trophies in the Midwest competitions.”

BOOK: Murder for Choir
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