Authors: Sandra Balzo
Tags: #Mystery, #Romance
Table of Contents
GROUNDS FOR MURDER *
BEAN THERE, DONE THAT *
BREWED, CRUDE AND TATTOOED *
FROM THE GROUNDS UP *
A CUP OF JO *
TRIPLE SHOT *
MURDER ON THE ORIENT ESPRESSO *
RUNNING ON EMPTY *
DEAD ENDS *
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First published in Great Britain and the USA 2013 by
SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS LTD of
9â15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM1 1DF.
eBook edition first published in 2013 by Severn House Digital
an imprint of Severn House Publishers Limited
Copyright Â© 2013 by Sandra Balzo
The right of Sandra Balzo to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
Murder on the Orient Espresso. â (A Maggy Thorsen mystery; 8)
1. Thorsen, Maggy (Fictitious character)âFiction.
4. Congresses and conventionsâFloridaâEvergladesâ
Fiction. 5. Christie, Agatha, 1890-1976. Murder on the
Orient ExpressâFiction. 6. Detective and mystery stories.
I. Title II. Series
ISBN-13: 978-0-7278-8311-7 (cased)
ISBN-13: 978-1-78010-456-0 (epub)
Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.
This ebook produced by
Palimpsest Book Production Limited,
Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland.
MURDER ON THE ORIENT ESPRESSO
Narrated by Maggy Thorsen
Cast of Characters
â in order of appearance â
Jake Pavlik, Brookhills county sheriff, as our victim, Ratchett
Zoe Scarlett, conference organizer, as the Woman in the Red Kimono
Missy Hudson, assistant conference organizer, as Mrs Hubbard
Laurence (Larry) Potter, reviewer and guest of honor, as Hercule Poirot
Rosemary Darlington, author and guest of honor, as Mary Debenham
Markus, nonfiction writer and librarian, as MacQueen
Prudence, aspiring writer, as Princess Dragomiroff
Grace, aspiring writer, as Greta Ohlsson
Carson, germaphobic literary agent, as Count Andrenyi
Danny, young writer and âsycophant,' as Colonel Arbuthnot
Boyce, coffee cart owner, as M Bouc
Pete, bartender, as Pierre Michel
Big Fred, aspiring writer, as Foscarelli
Harvey, aspiring writer and actor, as Hardman
Audra Edmonds, wife of Laurence Potter, as the second Mrs Hubbard
normal. In fact,' I swiveled my head to survey the people in the South Florida hotel lobby with us, âif it was July instead of November, we could be in Uncommon Grounds.'
Tennis togs, check. Golf shirts, check. Business suits, check. People with time on their hands and too much money in their wallets. Check, check.
Even the smells reminded me of my upscale coffeehouse back home in Brookhills, Wisconsin, though these were emanating from a small cart near the elevators. To one side of it, a stylishly dressed, fashionably slim, unnaturally endowed redhead (check, check, check) seemed to be holding some sort of planning meeting, the group around her listening attentively.
All of them were â¦ extraordinarily ordinary. âWhere are the Edgar Allan Poes with their ravens? The Sherlock Holmeses wearing their deerstalkers?'
Brookhills County Sheriff Jake Pavlik, my main squeeze â hell, my only squeeze, since my ex-hubby Ted ran off with his dental hygienist â looked down at me, blue eyes amused. âYou were expecting costumes?'
I shrugged. âI worked on GenCon when the gaming convention was in Milwaukee and you wouldn't believe the outfits. Every kind of superhero imaginable. People wearing wings and not much else.' I sniffed. âI don't even see a Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot and what would that take? Tweeds and knitting needles? Some hair wax and a fake mustache? How tough would any of that be?'
âMight depend on whether knitting needles or wings are allowed on airplanes,' Pavlik said, but he must have heard the disappointment in my voice. âSorry, Maggy, but Mystery 101 is a crime-writers' conference for people who want to write mysteries, not a fan convention for readers. However, even if it were, I doubt you'd find it resembled a gamers' event like GenCon.'
The sheriff lowered his voice as the desk clerk signaled for the next person in line. âThough if
game, I'd wouldn't mind giving the “wings and not much else” idea a whirl.'
His breath on my neck gave me goose bumps, and I couldnât stifle the moan that rose in my throat just as the dark-suited woman in front of us turned to gather up her wheelie. She glanced at Pavlik and me and then skyward, as if to say,
get a room
Which, in fact, we'd do posthaste just as soon as she moved her butt toward the registration desk.
While Pavlik had been engaged to speak at the writers' conference, the whole idea of my tagging along was for us to spend some time together away from the impending winter snows and the demands of both his job and mine. Yeah, I know â county sheriff and coffeehouse owner might seem miles apart stress-wise, but you'd be surprised.
I twisted around and tangled my fingers in Pavlik's thick dark hair. âWhat happens in Fort Lauderdale, stays in Fort Lauderdale,' I murmured before bringing his lips down to meet mine.
âA noble sentiment,' Pavlik said when we finally broke. âThough remember: the conference organizers are comping me for my travel and the hotel room you and I are sharing, and paying me a speakerâs honorarium to boot. I, at least, have to maintain some semblance of professional dignity in the lobby.'
I grinned. â“Not I, said the little red hen.” And speaking of birds, maybe instead of wings, weâ'
âJacob? Jacob Pavlik?'
I turned to see that the redhead had broken away from her dispersing planning group and was swooping down on us, her crimson wrap dress billowing as it waged a losing battle to contain her after-market breasts. Before I knew it, those puppies were pressed against my sheriff.
Pavlik looked appreciative, if startled. âYes, but â¦' His eyes narrowed and he pulled back to get a fuller perspective. âZoe?'
âOf course, silly.' The woman did a little pirouette. âDidn't you recognize me?'
âHonestly? Not at first, and I'm supposed to be a trained observer.' His eyes were bugging out of his head. âWow. You look amazing.'
âDivorce.' She posed shoulders back, right hip cocked like an Angelina Jolie wannabe. âIt does a body good.'
As did a competent plastic surgeon, I'd wager.
âWell, that's great. Good for you.' Pavlik's eyes did a fly-by up the woman's leg to her waist and past her cleavage, before landing innocently on her face.
Like many people in law enforcement, Pavlik had the uncanny ability to enter a room and take in everything without seeming to. Though, in the current example, a pair of bodacious D-cups was admittedly hard for anybody to miss.
The clerk was signaling for us to approach the desk and since everyone appeared to have forgotten I was there, I cleared my throat. âUmm, Pavlik?' I'd started calling the sheriff âPavlik' when he'd suspected me of murder â not as unusual a circumstance as that might sound â and had never gotten out of the habit.
It had become our little joke, but now, with this beautiful woman spidering all over him, my use of his last name seemed less â¦ cute. I mean, how was I supposed to mark my territory when I didn't even call said territory by its first name?