Table of Contents
Praise for the Grime Solver’s Mystery Series
“[A] charming, lighthearted cozy . . . [an] intense whodunit that subgenre fans will appreciate.”
—The Mystery Gazette
Scene of the Grime
“[A] delightful, sassy tale filled with eccentric, interesting characters that add to the whodunit.”
—The Best Reviews
“The first Grime Solvers Mystery, introducing cleaning expert Sky Taylor, has lots of promise—an interesting main character, a charming Massachusetts town with plenty of secrets, and several possible love interests for Sky. Readers will enjoy getting to know Sky and the people of Pigeon Cove. Several great cleaning tips are also included.”—
“Scene of the Grime
is a well-written, fun, delightful novel. The characters are vividly drawn and the dialogue sparkles. . . . I very much enjoyed reading this book and look forward to the next Grime Solvers Mystery.”—MyShelf.com
“[A] light, enjoyable read—and the cleaning tips [are] spot on.”—Gumshoe
Also by Suzanne Price
Scene of the Grime
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First published by Obsidian, an imprint of New American Library,
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First Printing, April 2009
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In loving memory of Noni Kosinski.
An angel while here, now on the other side.
Thanks to our good friend Will Weiss for his indispensable proofreading of the Spanish dialogue in this book. We’d hate to think what Sky and Orlando would have done—or
to each other—without him.
Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers for the Disabled is an actual nonprofit organization serving quadriplegics and other people with severe spinal cord injuries or mobility impairments. Based in Boston, it provides highly trained capuchin monkeys to assist with daily activities. Those who wish to learn more about this fantastic program may do so at its official Web site,www.monkeyhelpers.org
A tip of the broom goes to our agent, John Talbot , for his professional guidance and advice, and most of all for his friendship.
Our editor, Kristen Weber, has definitely earned the Golden Spray Bottle Award—or
kind of award, anyway—for patience above and beyond the call of duty. Her enthusiasm and gentle hand in shepherding this series along is deeply appreciated.
Finally, the Grime Solvers novels owe a great deal to the humor, wisdom, and kindness of Suzanne’s late mother, Noni Kosinski, who was endlessly providing us with new cleaning tips for these books, and loved them more than any we’ve written. Noni was reading an advance copy of the previous entry in the series,
, when she unexpectedly left us. Of the loss of a mother, a good friend said, “There’s before and there’s after, and every day for the rest of your life is after.” Nothing could be truer.
We honor her as best we can by moving forward with optimism and determination.
Spring had arrived in the town of Pigeon Cove. Well, spring with an asterisk. The snow was gone, the grass was green, and tulips lined our garden paths like cups of brightly colored paint.
It was cold, though. Not just sort of. It was c-c-
. The coldest spring Covers could remember.
That’s why the shivery asterisk, if you’re wondering. Since moving to New England, I’d found out that overcoat weather could stick around until the Fourth of July or so.
Still, I was primed for the new season despite a lingering case of the sniffles. This was partly because I was also good to go for my first official romantic date with dashing police chief Alejandro Vega—or Alex, as he kept asking me to call him—with not a thought in my mind about Mike Ennis.
Okay. Let’s add another of those pesky, clingy little asterisks to the word “not.”
But I’ll get to Mike in a while.
Now, with hesitant spring and tentative romance in the wishfully seasonable air, I, Sky Taylor, was pretty darned ready for dinner and whatever might happen afterward with Chief—um, Alex.
And if it sounds like I was indecisive . . . I can tell you I was very open to persuasion about the
part. I know how quickly things can be taken away from us, and that’s taught me to live life to its fullest.
More on that later too.
Happily, I’d found my sexy but too-light-for-the-weather clothes the slightest bit loose as I’d put together my outfit for the evening. Thanks to hours of self-inflicted torture at the Get Thinner gym, I was at my all-time slimmest despite a winter of noshing on hearty stews, creamy chowders, and sugary cakes and muffins—making me feel downright glamorous in a pair of skinny black pants, high-heeled chocolate ankle boots, and my mother’s latest fashion concept, the so-called kite tunic.
If you haven’t caught on to Betty’s new chicychic , retro, hippie-dippie designer-clothes Web site, I should explain that her tunic—item number five on her e-catalog’s “Asian Vibrations” page—was actually a tapered tuxedo shirt dyed pink and then hand painted with dozens of pastel origami-type cranes flying through the air. And while I’m explaining things, I might as well mention that there was a special reason for my Japanese-inspired style that evening. This being that Chief Al and I were having dinner at a Japanese restaurant.
It wasn’t just your average old sushi bar.
An old waterfront manor renovated in the style of a traditional Japanese home—known as a
—Shoko’s Minka was the most popular new eatery on the North Shore. Though the food was scrumptious, its atmosphere was responsible for a lot of the hoo-ha about it, and made up a big reason there were no open reservations till Saint Swithin’s Day . . . unless you happened to be the police chief or some other local VIP.
Of course, going out for Japanese is never just about the meal. Or shouldn’t be. It’s about an aesthetic too—doing more with less to maintain the balance of nature’s beauty. At Shoko’s, with its spacious interior and mix of low traditional tables and American-style teakwood table and chair sets, diffuse lighting through rice paper shoji doors blurred the lines between the dining room and the landscaped garden outside.
The chief—that’s to say, Alex—had arranged to have one of the traditional tables set aside for us, thinking we should have the total experience. But when our lavish, delicacy-filled bento boxes arrived, he seemed mildly worried about his choice.
“You’re sure you think it’s comfortable on this mat?” he said, patting the tatami underneath him. “If you’d rather have a chair, I’ll ask for a regular table.”
“This is wonderful. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” I said, which was absolutely true. In fact, I’d never known there’d be a hibachi built right into the table to keep us toasty warm even with the patio door open.
I dabbed a seaweed-wrapped rice ball with some wasabi, popped it into my mouth, and devoured it. Chief Alex, meanwhile, looked as if I’d only partially eased his concern.
“How about your leg?” he said. “It’s okay now? I mean, okay enough for us to sit on the floor like this?”
“The leg’s been fine for ages.” I resisted the urge to do a demonstrative knee flex and show I was fully rehabbed after the Christmas whacking I’d gotten from a drunken fisherman. “Bry deserves serious credit.”
“The kid who came to the rescue when you were attacked?”
“Bryan Dermond, right.”
“Doesn’t he handle the Internet stuff for the newspaper?”
“Used to,” I said. “He went full-time as my assistant two, three weeks ago.”
“Ah-hah.” Vega nodded. “That explains why he’s been answering the phone at your new office . . .”
“Answers the phone, manages my Web site, and handles some of my more physical cleaning jobs. You name it. Thanks to Bry, I can take things a little easier these days.”
That was also the unadulterated truth. My sweet but frightfully pierced and studded side-kick had turned out to be a
help, proving to be as creative as he was reliable, especially when it came to using fewer chemical cleaning products in his effort to go green, something he’d likewise convinced me to do.
Chief Alex picked up a shrimp with his chopsticks. My own chopsticks swooped at the
, a grilled beef-and-scallion roll I’d been eyeing since the waitress brought our meal. I’d wanted to hold off on it till the red-hot wasabi cleared my stuffy nose—and restored my sense of taste so I could appreciate the morsel’s delicate flavors.