Read Elizabeth C. Main - Jane Serrano 02 - No Rest for the Wicked Online

Authors: Elizabeth C. Main

Tags: #Mystery: Cozy - Bookstore - Oregon

Elizabeth C. Main - Jane Serrano 02 - No Rest for the Wicked

Elizabeth C. Main - Jane Serrano 02 - No Rest for the Wicked
Jane Serrano [2]
Elizabeth C. Main
Lava River Press (2011)
Tags:
Mystery: Cozy - Bookstore - Oregon
Mystery: Cozy - Bookstore - Oregonttt
In Juniper, Oregon, con artist Hunter Blackburn is found dead in the trunk of a rental. Sheriff Arnie Kraft thinks the late Hunter's former wife, Wedding Belle Bridal Shop owner, Alix Boudreau, killed the grafter who targeted the elderly.
At Thornton's Books, Alix's friend Jane Serrano and her Murder of the Month Book Club members think otherwise. One of the group participants Minnie Salter decides to follow her Bible and investigate. Velda Kubek joins Minnie as an excuse to escape her caregiving of her elderly aunt.
Jane, whose daughter works for the prime suspect, knows many of the older Thornton customers and other Juniper residents lost money to Hunter's schemes, so while Arnie fumbles, she looks in that direction.
Jane and company look like amateurs by fumbling on the case, but next to the sheriff, they look like pros.

 

Main /
No Rest for the Wicked

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NO REST FOR THE WICKED

A Jane Serrano Mystery

Elizabeth C. Main

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


There is no peace, sayeth the Lord, unto the wicked.

 


Isaiah 48:22
(King James Bible)

Prologue

 

Deputy Brady Newman yawned and fiddled with the scanner as the Russell County cruiser rolled slowly down the back road. Nothing going on, as usual. Just him and the crows. Wishing he’d sprung for a bigger coffee at the drive-through, he lowered the window. Maybe some fresh air. He yawned again and reached for his Egg
McMuffin.

Later, he told friends it was just as well he hadn’t seen the tan 2008 Sentra on his first pass. Tucked behind a gnarled juniper, it’d all but disappeared into the neutral tones of the
c
entral Oregon scrubland. The delay gave him a chance to enjoy the two apple pies that completed his breakfast.

On his return patrol twenty minutes later, the glare of sunlight reflecting off the Sentra’s windshield caught his eye. A couple hunkered down for some summer fun? He pulled to a halt, dust enveloping the cruiser as he did so. After the air settled, he jotted down the car’s license. A rental.

The figure in the driver’s seat didn’t move. After a moment’s hesitation over whether to call in the plate, Brady stepped from the cruiser and approached the Sentra cautiously. The sight of the smashed driver’s
-side
win
dow stopped him cold. Not good.

Still no movement from inside the car, just a buzzing sound. The jagged hole allowed flies easy access, and the sun had already driven the inside temperature to
one-hundred-and-twenty
degrees. As Brady leaned close to peer through the ruined window, the stench hit him. He was through with food for the rest of the day.

Chapter 1

 

Everybody wanted me to be Nancy Drew, or maybe Jessica Fletcher. Trust me, I wasn’t cut out for either role. At age forty-three, I
was
located between the two chronologically, but, unlike them, I possessed not a single adventurous bone in my body. I’d solved my one and only mystery ten months earlier purely by accident. Unfortunately, so far I’d been unable to convince others of this significant difference between the legendary amateur sleuths and myself.

While fleeing a killer last August—and let me emphasize that this was not my activity of choice for the evening—I’d jumped from the second floor of Thornton’s Books and landed right in the national news.
USA Today
came up with a headline that rocketed around the Internet and pursued me to this day:

Bookstore Heroine Leaps to Right Conclusion.

Since that fateful evening, I’d nursed a broken ankle from the fall, testified in court, and read enough fan mail to convince me that people had way too much time on their hands.

I was tagged the

bookstore heroine,

and that was that. Fans from all over the country, as well as an amazing number right here in Juniper, Oregon, solicited my help in solving crimes. Now I ask you, how should I know who stole the cooling cherry pie off
the
Thomason
s’ windowsill?

Okay, I’m not being quite honest here. I’ll admit that at first I was flattered at being thought a super sleuth, but the novelty
has
long since worn off. So much so that when yesterday’s edition of the
Juniper Journal
featured the gruesome story of a man found shot to death near town, my first reaction wasn’t distress for the poor victim, but,

Oh, no. The crazies will rea
lly be after me now.

I know. Truly an unworthy thought when some poor human being had lost his life, but this celebrity business had proved exhausting
,
and I’d had more than my share. In my defense, I’ll say that I was right about the crazies. Tyler and I had been fielding calls and e-mails at Thornton’s all day from people wanting to know whether I’d identified the murderer yet. It was shaping up to be one of those weeks.


I can’t believe it,

I muttered, pushing away from the computer and standing up to brace my hands on the polished mahogany counter before me. As I felt its cool perfection under my fingertips
,
I remembered that this gorgeous piece of wood had started life as a bar years ago when Juniper was still a rough timber town. And now people were salivating over another murder.

What do these people want, a return to the Wild West?

Marcus T. Konig, a successful saloonkeeper and original occupant of this mansion, had possessed more money than taste, much to the chagrin of his Eastern-bred third wife. Over her objections, he’d crammed a discarded bar into their home as a spectacularly inappropriate sideboard. His dream of buying his way into society, such as it was in those days, came a cropper when he was shot to death during a crooked card game in his own remodeled saloon. His wife commissioned an imposing monument to her late husband, shuttered the mansion, and hustled with the bulk of his money back East.


You say something?

Tyler Kincaid’s head popped up from behind the bookcase where he was restocking the latest bestsellers. Tyler was the sixteen-year-old grandson of Laurence Thornton, the owner of Thornton’s Books. A retired University of Virginia Classics professor, Laurence had had a dream, too, only it wasn’t to sell whiskey over this bar, but fine books. He’d converted the mansion, combining the parlor, dining room, and front hall in the process. The massive bar continued to provide the focal point, dominating the center of the newly
created space. It was flanked by a graceful staircase on one side and a perfectly proportioned room featuring floor-to-ceiling solid oak bookshelves and a comfortable bay window on the other. I patted the bar.

Just thinking. Maybe Juniper hasn’t changed all that much since Marcus T.’s day.


You mean like that guy getting shot?

Tyler asked.

Good idea. Put yesterday’s front page in the window or something, make a display out of it.


That’s downright obscene. Making money off some poor guy’s death. You can’t be serious.

The June sun streamed through the oversized windows behind Tyler, shadowing his face and making a halo of his shaggy blond hair, so I couldn’t tell whether he was smiling.

It’d be great for business. And you know Minnie and Bianca and Alix will say the same thing. I’ll ask Grandpa.


You’ll do no such thing.
What are you, a ghoul or something?

Tyler nodded and lowered his voice.

Okay. Gonna tell me who killed him then?

I squinted in the sunshine.

You know, with the sun coming from behind you like that, you look like an angel. How could anyone look like that and be so, so—

He
sauntered
to the counter and smiled down at me.

Haven’t solved the case yet or just keeping the murderer’s identity under wraps? You can tell me.

He raised his hands in a mock defensive gesture.

Don’t blame me for asking. Everybody wants to know. Price of fame. It’s not my fault you jumped out that window.

When had Tyler become so tall? A year ago, he’d been a skinny fifteen-year-old kid about my height of five feet five inches. Now I had to tilt my head up to talk to him. His shoulders had broadened considerably, too, though he was still lean. No wonder more high school girls had been giggling their way through the bookstore lately.


It was a door, not a window,

I replied absently,

and that’s old news now anyway.


Not with a murder on the front page of the paper. Get real. It’s already on everyone’s mind. Why, a window display would probably qualify as a public service right now. What’s wrong with that? And we still have some of the
T
-shirts and postcards from last year. All the calls we’ve had today? We could clear

em out quick. Face it, Jane, your public needs you. They’re crying out for your help in solving this heinous crime. That poor man, lying dead … and you’re just gonna turn your back? The Bookstore Heroine?


I wondered how long it’d take you to get to that. You’re shameless. I have half a mind to walk upstairs and jump out that door again.


Too bad it’s boarded
over
.

Tyler considered the matter.

It’d make a nice follow-up


The ringing of the phone saved me from the rest of his latest brainstorm, but I narrowed my eyes and faked a glare at him as I answered. Hard to reconcile this self-assured young man with the sullen, withdrawn kid who’d landed in Juniper a year ago for what was supposed to be a temporary stay with his grandfather, whom he hardly knew. I’d dragged Tyler into our mystery book club as a favor to Laurence, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Alix didn’t bother with a greeting.

I’m still with a client, but Bianca just left.


Well, hello to you, too. You’ll be here later?

No answer. The silence lasted just a beat too long,

Everything all right?


What? It’s just that … well, of course I’ll come.

Was it strain I heard in my friend’s voice, or just divided attention? I kept my tone light.

You’d better hurry if you want to save me from our young marketing genius. Tyler here is waving that ghastly front page of yesterday’s
Journal
around, threatening to make it into a window display.

Tyler leaned across the counter and chimed in loud enough for Alix to hear.

It’d work. Whip up interest again in Murder of the Month.


See what I mean?

I turned my back to the counter.

I need reinforcements. Minnie has her heart set on reading another true-crime about a homicidal plumber
,
and I can hardly wait to hear what Bianca wants.

I pressed.

Come on, friend. Give me something to work with. Didn’t you want Julia Spencer
-
Fleming? An ex-Army Episcopal woman priest ought to be weird enough for you.


Start without me.

For the first time ever, Alix didn’t rise to the bait. Her voice flat, she said,

You choose.

What was going on?

Are you sure there’s nothing wrong?

Another pause. I could practically hear the gears grinding in Alix’s normally agile brain. She cleared her throat and finally said with unaccustomed formality,

Would you be willing to stay after the meeting? I’d like to talk to you, alone.

Anticipation of my date with Nick warred with my inclination to say yes. Alix rarely asked for anything. If only I hadn’t already put Nick off several times, I’d have agreed in an instant. As it was, I hesitated.


Never mind,

Alix said with sudden energy.

It’ll keep.


Are you sure?

But I was talking to an empty line.


What was that all about?

Tyler asked.


I have no idea,

I said slowly,

and I’ve never known Alix to pass up a chance to make a wisecrack about Minnie’s book selection.


She was probably bowled over by my brilliant idea about the window display.


Sure, she was.

I wanted to shrug off Alix’s manner, but something from yesterday had just flashed into my mind. I’d been running late for our regular lunch at Corey’s Bistro, but when I’d finally slid into the comfortable booth, I’d found Alix staring into space, holding her fork in a death grip.


Afraid that Caesar is going to attack you?

I
’d
asked.


What? Oh, no.

She’d looked at the fork and the salad as though she’d never seen either of them before.

I went ahead and ordered. Can’t sta
y long.

Her voice trailed off.


Sorry. The UPS delivery came just as I was locking up. Go ahead, eat.


Okay.

But instead of digging into her salad, Alix dropped her fork and started crumbli
ng her sourdough bread instead.

Before I could say anything else, a shadow fell over the table. I looked up to see a flushed middle-aged woman in a wrinkled muumuu hovering over me.

Excuse me, but aren’t you
t
he
Bookstore Heroine?

Judging from the camera dangling from her neck, I surmised that she and her equally bedecked and eager friend were yet another set of tourists, mystery fans who’d identified me from the framed
USA Today
picture that Corey Simmons proudly displayed behind the cash register. Corey’s Caesar salad was the best east of the Cascades, so Alix and I took the risk
of running into fans there
once a week. Though we both knew Thornton’s could use all the publicity my celebrity status could generate, I usually skulked into the booth, hoping no one would notice me.

On the other hand, Alix was a businesswoman first, a loyal friend second, so I knew she’d sell me out.

Why, yes, she is. How clever of you to recognize her.

Last year Alix had put her own business on hold and stepped in to run Thornton’s while I chased a murderer and Laurence lay helpless in the hospital. She’d determined in an instant that Laurence needed some tough love to make the store profitable. Ever since, she had joined Tyler and Bianca to take every opportunity to set me up with my adoring public.

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