Authors: Kendel Lynn,Diane Vallere,Gigi Pandian
Tags: #amateur sleuth, #british mysteries, #cozy mysteries, #detective stories, #doris day, #english mysteries, #fashion mystery, #female sleuth, #humor, #humorous fiction, #humorous mysteries, #short stories, #anthologies, #novella, #mystery novella, #mystery and thrillers, #mystery books, #mystery series, #murder mystery, #locked room, #private investigators, #romantic comedy, #traditional mystery, #women sleuths
Praise for OTHER PEOPLE'S BAGGAGE
“A cozy triple-scoop that tastes divineâ¦the pleasantly contrasting novellas make it easy to finish off a story in one sitting, plus each novella serves as a prequel to the respective author's full-length work.”
“Lost luggage has never been this fun! With well-drawn characters,
Other People's Baggage
is your first class ticket to three fast-paced adventures full of mystery, murder, and magic.”
â Elizabeth Craig,
Author of the Southern Quilting Series
“What do you get when you mix Doris Day with a dash of Texas two-step, then stir in a smidgen of Edinburgh, secret chambers, and magic? A recipe for fun entitled,
Other People's Baggage
. Although mixed up luggage is the thread that connects this trio of globetrotting novellas, it's snappy dialogue, clever storytelling, and charming characters that are the real common denominatorsâ¦I'm already hooked on their three new mystery series, and I've only read the prequels!”
â Maddy Hunter,
Bestselling Author of the Passport to Peril Mystery Series
“Those who enjoy travel and mysteries like myself will definitely enjoy reading
Other People's Baggage
, three novellas about female sleuths who solve two thefts and a murder while coping with an airport mixing up their three bags. The mix-ups are a creative theme for tying the stories together, and I loved seeing how each sleuth dealt with the problem. A very fun collection!”
â Beth Groundwater,
Author of the Claire Hanover Gift Basket Designer s
and RM Outdoor Adventures Mystery Series
Praise for the Mad for Mod Mystery Series
“Make room for Vallere's tremendously fun homage. Imbuing her story with plenty of midcentury-modern decorating and fashion tipsâ¦Her disarmingly honest lead and two hunky sidekicks will appeal to all fashionistas and antiques types and have romance crossover appeal.”
“A multifaceted story...plenty of surprises...And what an ending!”
â Mary Marks,
New York Journal of Books
“If you are looking for an unconventional mystery with a snarky, no-nonsense main character, this is itâ¦Instead of clashing, humor and danger meld perfectly, and there's a cliffhanger that will make your jaw drop.”
â Abigail Ortlieb,
RT Book Reviews
“All of us who fell in love with Madison Night in
will be rooting for her when the past comes back to haunt her in
That Touch of Ink
. The suspense is intense, the plot is hot and the style is to die for. A thoroughly entertaining entry in this enjoyable series.”
â Catriona McPherson,
Agatha Award-Winning Author of the Dandy Gilver Mystery Series
“Diane Vallereâ¦has a wonderful touch, bringing in the design elements and influences of the '50s and '60s era many of us hold dear while keeping a strong focus on what it means in modern times to be a woman in business for herself, starting over.”
Praise for the Elliott Lisbon Mystery Series
“A solid and satisfying mystery, yes indeed, and the fabulous and funny Elliott Lisbon is a true gem! Engaging, clever and genuinely delightful.”
â Hank Phillippi Ryan,
Agatha, Anthony and Macavity Award-Winning Author
“Kendel Lynn captures the flavor of the South, right down to the delightfully quirky characters in this clever new mystery series. Elli Lisbon is the Stephanie Plum of the the South!”
â Krista Davis,
New York Times
Bestselling Author of the Domestic Diva Mysteries
“A cross between an educated, upper class Stephanie Plum and a less neurotic Monk. Put this on your list for a great vacation read. Five stars out of five.”
â Lynn Farris,
National Mystery Review Examiner at Examiner.com
“Elliott is smart and sassy, takes no guff and pulls no punches. Packed with humor, romance, danger and adventure, this is a good mystery full of plot twists and turns, with red herrings a plenty and an ending that I found both surprising and satisfying.”
Cozy Mystery Book Reviews
“A mystery full of humor and the mannerisms unique to the South, that combine into a fun-filled ride. Elli proves that her skills as a detective are on the level of the exasperating lieutenant and rival her talents at balancing the egos of the rich and not-so-famous.”
Kings River Life Magazine
Praise for the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series
“Forget about Indiana Jones. Jaya Jones is swinging into action, using both her mind and wits to solve a mystery...Readers will be ensnared by this entertaining tale. Four stars.”
RT Book Reviews
“I applaud author Gigi Pandian for unearthing the forgotten history of India's first immigrants to the United States and serving it up with plenty of suspense, humor and bhangra beats. If you are searching for a spicy new amateur sleuth series, this is the one.”
â Sujata Massey,
The Sleeping Dictionary
and the Rei Shimura Mysteries
“Globe-trotting historian Jaya Jones is off on another treasure huntâ¦
is fast-paced and fascinating as Jaya's investigation leads her this time to India and back to her own family's secrets.”
â Susan C. Shea, Author of the Dani O'Rourke Mysteries
“If Indiana Jones had a sister, it would definitely be historian Jaya Jones.”
“How wonderful to see a young, new writer who harks back to the Golden Age of mystery fiction.
is witty, clever, and twistyâ¦ Do you like Agatha Christie? Elizabeth Peters? Then you're going to love Gigi Pandian.”
â Aaron Elkins,
Edgar Award-Winning Author of the Gideon Oliver Mysteries
is a treasureâ¦a page-turning, suspenseful story.”
â Penny Warner, Author of
How to Host a Killer Party
Books by Series
Mad for Mod Mysteries
by Diane Vallere
MIDNIGHT ICE (prequel novella)
PILLOW STALK (#1)
THAT TOUCH OF INK (#2)
WITH VICS YOU GET EGGROLL (#3)
Elliott Lisbon Mysteries
by Kendel Lynn
SWITCH BACK (prequel novella)
BOARD STIFF (#1)
WHACK JOB (#2)
SWAN DIVE (#3)
Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mysteries
by Gigi Pandian
FOOL'S GOLD (prequel novella)
PIRATE VISHNU (#2)
OTHER PEOPLE'S BAGGAGE
Three Interconnected Mystery Novellas
Part of the Henery Press Mystery Collection
Digital epub edition | December 2012
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever, including Internet usage, without written permission from Henery Press, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
“Midnight Ice” Copyright Â© 2012 Diane Vallere
“Switch Back” Copyright Â© 2012 Kendel Lynn
“Fool's Gold” Copyright Â© 2012 Gigi Pandian
Cover Artwork by Fayette Terlouw
This is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Printed in the United States of America
INTRO: In the not-so-distant pastâ¦
A major storm coupled with a computer glitch stranded thousands of passengers at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport. As the passengers searched for their mislabeled luggage and scrambled for new flight connections, three lives intersected thanks to identical vintage suitcases.
These are the stories of what happened when three women with a knack for solving mysteries each picked up the wrong bagâ¦
A Mad for Mod Mystery Novella
MIDNIGHT ICE: ONE
I started my getaway on the floor. And by floor, I mean the beige speckled linoleum tile squares that covered the ground by the Monterey Airport baggage claim. A fragile-looking Chihuahua broke free from the grasp of a young girl and ran over to sniff me. The girl moved toward the dog but her dad held her hand tightly. She started to cry. I tried to roll over again, but a stab of pain shot through my knee cap and I flopped back onto my butt. My face flushed with embarrassment, not over the fact that a group of official looking men and a steady stream of travelers had seen the turquoise cotton panties I wore under my early sixties aqua sheath dress but because I knew I needed to ask someone for help getting back up and I didn't like to ask for help strangers, official-looking or otherwise.
The passengers around me gave me a one foot berth, enough to indicate I was woman down, but not enough to give up their prime spot for retrieving their luggage as it came off the beltline.
A man in a black suit approached me. He corralled my crutches to the side with his foot, then stood behind me and put his hands under my arms. I held the end to the Chihuahua's leash in my hand as I stood, then crutched to the little girl, her dog trailing behind me, and returned her charge. The official-looking man stood by the luggage conveyor belt watching me.
“You okay?” asked the man who had helped me up. Now that we were face to face I noticed he was not much taller than I was. He was tan, with a mole under his left eye. His longish sandy-blond hair was parted on the side and tucked behind his ears. He held a piece of paper that said Day.
“Reservation for Day? That's me. Give me a second to get my suitcase and we can go.”
The crowd of travelers had thinned significantly, and only a few bags were left on the luggage belt. My blue and white 1950's hardback suitcase was one of them. I anchored the crutches under my arms and moved closer to the belt. It didn't take a rocket scientist to realize I couldn't pick up my suitcase while balanced on the crutches.
“Which one's yours?”
“The blue and white one,” I answered.
He pulled the suitcase from the conveyor belt and turned away from me. He walked fast, faster than I would have expected considering he was well aware of my crutch-handicap, I didn't ask him to slow down. I was going to function the way I always functioned, post-knee injury or no post-knee injury.
The driver and I reached the parking lot within twenty seconds of each other. When I arrived at the car he was shutting the trunk with my luggage inside. He opened the back door of the sedan and waved for me to go inside.
“Ms. Day,” he said with a nod.
“Actually, it's not Day, it's Night.” His eyebrows and his mouth turned down at the same time, as if little puppet strings from somewhere below us controlled is expression. “Madison Night,” I added, turning my introduction into a James Bond-ism.
“Madison Night?” he checked his clipboard. “I have a reservation for D. Day.”
“I didn't want to travel under my own name. If you check your paperwork, you'll find my name matches the name on the credit card used to hold the reservation.” His suspicion was obvious but I ignored it. My knee throbbed from the fall by the baggage claim and now, to add insult to injury, my underarms ached from the speed-crutching I'd done to keep up with him.
I pulled the crutches out from under me and pushed them into the back seat, then followed them into the dark black interior. I slid my license and credit card from the wallet inside the quilted leather bag I had slung across my body and waited for the inevitable request to see them. Instead, he shut my door and walked around the other side, then climbed in behind the wheel.
“Forgive me, Ms. Night. When I saw a reservation for D. Day, going to Carmel By-The-Sea, well, I thought I might be having a brush with fame.”
“To tell you the truth, Doris Day is why I'm going to Carmel. She's like aâ” I stopped talking abruptly, realizing I didn't know how to finish the sentence to a stranger.
“You know her?” he asked.
“She's kind of like a Godmother.”
“So I guess I am having that brush with fame. Doris Day's Goddaughter.”
I knew right then and there I should have corrected him, let him know I didn't really know Doris Day. That if she was like a godmother, it was of the fairy Godmother type. Ever since I'd learned of her in my teenage years, after discovering we shared the birthday of April third, I'd developed more than a passing interest in the actress, copying her look, her style, and most of all, her integrity. It was that bubbly personality that had carried her through so many tragedies in her own life that I responded to, that I used as a guide for how to live my own life. When I'd gotten out of the hospital in Pennsylvania, knowing I was alone in my recovery, I knew there was one place I could go to restore my emotional strength and start to move on.
Cypress Inn, Doris Day's hotel in Carmel By-The-Sea.
I'd booked the reservation while on my way to the Philadelphia airport. My timing, though spontaneous, was perfect. The hotel was under renovation so it would be ready for the annual art festival in a few months. Something about the renovation rang a bell with me, but I didn't know what. I'd read off my credit card number to hold a room, then sat back and tried to forget why I wanted to get away.
We arrived at the hotel twenty minutes later. Traces of the pain killer I'd taken between flights at the Dallas airport were still in my system and the grogginess hadn't yet worn off. I was eager to get to my room and finally relax.
I checked in relatively quickly while a porter stood nearby, waiting for my room number to be assigned so he could deliver my bag. Posters from Doris Day movies lined the walls of the concierge desk and the small reception area. Two chubby ladies in pastel linen suits walked behind me, both led by dogs on leashes. The woman in the lilac wore a matching hat with a bit of netting over her face. Her dog, a Yorkie, pranced next to a white Peek-a-poo who belonged to the woman in sea-foam green. Nearby, a cat was curled up on a floral sofa, napping in a spot of sunshine.
“Ms. Night, your room is 319,” said the handsome concierge. A plastic nametag reading Harrison was pinned to the lapel of his light tan suit. He had salt and pepper hair that looked as if it had been recently cut, revealing a small border of untanned skin by his hairline. If he were the sort to dye his hair he would have looked younger, but I immediately liked that he wasn't and didn't. “Lionel will take your luggage to your room for you. We have sherry at four every afternoon in the lounge, jazz in the courtyard from seven to ten, and Terry's Lounge is open until eleven for dinner, or drinks if you fancy a nightcap.”
“Thank you,” I said to Harrison. Lionel went one direction with my suitcase and I went the other.
The elevator lobby was at the end of a small carpeted hallway that ran past the restaurant. A large mirror hung on the wall above a marble table with a hotel phone and an ugly, squat, adobe-colored lamp that failed to complement the hotel's mid-century modern dÃ©cor. The lamp hadn't been turned on and the small waiting area was dark.
I felt for the knob on the lamp and clicked it repeatedly but nothing happened.
Voices from men waiting for their elevator floated to me from around the corner. They seemed not to notice my presence.
“She's here. I haven't seen her yet, but she's here. The message said she'd be available tonight, after ten,” said the shorter man.
“Is that when you're going to see her?” asked the man in the suit. “And what about the last guy? Is he showing up to make sure she's in good hands?”
“I hope so. I've been waiting a long time. I hope she's as pretty as she sounds.”
I crept forward and looked at the men. The taller one was in a grey suit with a white shirt unbuttoned at the neck. He wore glasses without the rims, and smelled like expensive aftershave. The other man, shorter but more muscular, had on a striped shirt and tie under his sport coat and blue jeans.
I tried to pretend I wasn't listening in on their conversation, considering they didn't know I was standing there. I half-turned, thought about stepping back into the shadows until after they'd gotten on the elevator, but that's when they spotted me.
Grey suit nodded his head at me. “I bet that sounded funny to you, ma'am,” he said.
“To be honest, I wasn't paying attention. I'm a little lost in my thoughts,” I lied.
“First time in Carmel?” asked Blue Jeans.
“You picked a nice hotel. Doris Day's hotel, but by the looks of you, I'm betting you already knew that.”
I looked past the men to my reflection in a decorative mirror. He was right. In my vintage aqua double knit sheath dress and coordinating ivory jacket lined in matching aqua silk, I looked like an Avon Lady from the early sixties, not the carefree vacationer I was trying to be. But this was how I was comfortable, in my vintage ensembles. Drop me in a mall and I'd have a panic attack trying to put together the kind of outfit that might be featured in a recent fashion magazine.
I ran my fingers through my short blond hair, trying to bring back the pouf that I'd started with before I'd caught the plane in Dallas. “Your bet would have paid off. I've been a fan of hers my whole life.”
“A fan? I would have guessed you're related. You look just like she looks on that poster.” He pointed to the
Lover Come Back
poster on the wall. “Minus the silly hat.”
The men laughed.
I could have introduced myself. I could have elaborated on Doris Day as style icon. I could have told him I owned that very hat. Instead, when the bell to the elevator chimed, I maneuvered my way inside.
The two men followed.
“Three,” I said. I didn't know whether it was the way I'd left Pennsylvania, like I was running from someone or something, or the fact that grey suit didn't hit another floor's button after he hit the three, that put me on alert.
When the car arrived on the third floor, both men stepped out. Maybe we were all on the third floor, I thought. But when they let me pass them, I knew I was being watched, and I didn't like the feeling. About ten feet down the hall I stopped to study the plastic signs that indicated which room was where, then went the direction opposite 319. The elevator door was still open, but the men weren't in the hallway. I couldn't control the sound of the crutches even though I was on carpet. Plunk, creak, step. Plunk, creak step. As I passed the elevator, I looked inside. The two men stood there, blue jeans on his cell phone. Grey suit smiled at me.
“I got turned around, I guess.”
“Happens to me all the time,” he replied.
I couldn't be sure, but it seemed like he took his finger off the button and the doors slid shut. I rounded the corner and leaned against the wall, counting silently to myself, waiting to see if the doors would reopen. They didn't.
In a matter of minutes, I arrived at my room. The suitcase sat on a luggage cart by the end of my bed. The sun filtered through the sheer white curtains and I could see the water from my window. I'd requested a room with a view and this room didn't disappoint. I wanted to shower, to change clothes, and to relax on my balcony with a glass of wine from a local vineyard. I wanted to start to forget.
I undid the brass clamps on the suitcase and flipped it open. And that's when I realized I had a whole other set of problems.