Read Ding Dong Dead Online

Authors: Deb Baker

Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Mystery & Detective, #Women Sleuths, #Large Type Books, #Mystery Fiction, #Murder, #Crime, #Investigation, #Murder - Investigation, #Birch; Gretchen (Fictitious Character), #Dolls, #Dolls - Collectors and Collecting, #Collectors and Collecting

Ding Dong Dead

BOOK: Ding Dong Dead
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Table of Contents
 
 
Praise for
Dolled Up for Murder
“A quick-paced mystery . . . and a wonderful peek into the not-always-genteel world of doll collecting!”
—Monica Ferris,
USA Today
bestselling author of the Needlecraft Mysteries
 
“A fun, frantic, and thoroughly engaging mystery set against the fascinating backdrop of doll collecting.”
—Sandra Balzo, Anthony Award-nominated author of
Bean There, Done That
 
“A charming cozy that brings into the light the dark side of doll collecting . . . A great opening book to what feels like a charming new mystery series.”—
Midwest Book Review
 
“Baker has strung together not only dolls but also a sharp and entertaining mystery. Writing in true ‘whodunit’ fashion, she keeps us guessing right up to the end. Even readers with no expertise in doll collecting will still be drawn into this story of intrigue that explains the lucrative and very serious business of a collector.”

Curled Up with a Good Book
 
“[A] quick-paced story with engaging characters and a solid mystery . . . This first in a new series holds great promise for more fun to come.”—
Armchair Interviews
“Fast-paced and will keep you guessing up to the last chapter.”—
Cozy Library
 
“An entertaining series . . . A fun book with a lot of doll lore and a smart mystery . . . Sure to entertain.”

The Mystery Reader
 
“Quick-paced and satisfying. I can hardly wait for the next one . . . A wonderful new series.”
—Green Bay (WI) Press-Gazette
 
“[Stars] a trio of smart, independent women . . . The peek into this world is fascinating.”
—Romantic Times
 
“An engrossing tale packed with information about doll collectors and dolls—all included in a puzzling mystery filled with charm as well as suspense.”
—Who Dunnit
Berkley Prime Crime titles by Deb Baker
DOLLED UP FOR MURDER
GOODBYE, DOLLY
DOLLY DEPARTED
DING DONG DEAD
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, North Shore 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.
 
DING DONG DEAD
 
A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author
 
PRINTING HISTORY
Berkley Prime Crime mass-market edition / December 2008
 
Copyright © 2008 by Deb Baker.
 
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.
 
eISBN : 978-1-440-64413-9
 
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 BERKLEY PRIME CRIME design are trademarks of Penguin
Group (USA) Inc.
 
 
 

http://us.penguingroup.com

1
Doll museums can be found in the most unlikely places. Doll shop owners know how to locate the museums that aren’t publicly advertised. Shops tend to be family affairs. Grandma might have been a serious collector who had a private collection on display for friends and family. You never know when a door will open and you will have the opportunity to view a rare and valuable museum-quality collection.
—From
World of Dolls
by Caroline Birch
 
 
 
Gretchen Birch looked down at the ten-card spread, wishing her aunt had chosen a different preoccupation. Nina wore a head scarf for dramatic effect. “You drew all bardo cards!” she whispered in her husky voice. “Out of a deck of seventy-eight tarot cards, only thirteen of them are negative. How could this happen?”
Nina stared at the cards, worry creased on her forehead.
Gretchen glanced over at the contemporary doll reference book she had been using to research a one-of-a-kind Shirley Temple. That was before Nina had burst into her workshop with her tiny diva dog, Tutu, and distracted Gretchen from her real work. She was a doll restoration artist and needed to restyle a unique Shirley Temple doll’s hair exactly as it had been in the 1930s. The customer expected the doll back today.
Nina cleared her voice. “You are in imminent danger unless you overcome external influences. The cards show despair and futility!”
Despair. Futility.
Gretchen glanced sharply across the table at her aunt. Old-fashioned words coming from the New Age queen.
“Your unconscious mind picked the cards,” Aunt Nina said. “You can’t blame me.”
The tarot deck illustrated full scenes, complete with figures and symbols. Gretchen’s ten cards, all faceup, depicted steely swords and women wearing blindfolds, their arms pinned to their sides with bindings. Had Gretchen believed in this stuff, she would have been concerned. She pointed at one of the cards. “Three swords slicing through a red heart. What does that mean?”
“Sorrow and strife. It’s your final outcome card, the results of the other influences, and your destiny, if you don’t change your path.”
Wobbles, Gretchen’s companion cat, stretched out on the sofa, watching the two women. The black tomcat was missing a back leg, consequences of a hit-and-run car accident, but he had adapted well to his disability. He stared at Gretchen without blinking.
“Aren’t you supposed to give me positive guidance?” Gretchen asked. “This is all doom and gloom.”
“I’m only the interpreter. I can’t help it that you selected negative cards.”
“Can we reshuffle?”
Nina shook her head. “No. See this?” She held up a card. “The nine of wands. This card means you have a hidden enemy. My advice is to quit your present path.”
“How do I do that?”
“Don’t do the museum project, or at least turn it over to someone else.”
“I can’t do that.” The Phoenix Dollers Club was hard at work on a luncheon and play presentation to benefit a house that they were converting into a museum, an unexpected opportunity they couldn’t pass up. “We’ve started rehearsals,” Gretchen said. “The play must go on.”
“I can’t force you, of course. You’ve always been willful. But I’m warning you, Gretchen. Don’t take a passive approach to your life. You can change your future.”
Aunt Nina had come a long way with her readings. Last month she’d still been using an instruction booklet. She didn’t need it any longer. “After the information presented in these cards, I’ll have to stay close by and protect you from yourself.”
“I’m a big girl, Nina.”
“Even big girls make mistakes.” She held up one of the other cards on the table.
“The nine of swords,” Gretchen’s aunt said. “Misfortune! Ruin! Pain!”
2
May Day. May 1. Instead of dancing around a maypole with multicolored ribbons streaming behind her, Gretchen was crouched on the rough ground, surrounded by desert shrubs and cacti. Yet in spite of her surroundings, Gretchen felt like the May Queen.
“There,” Matt said, squatting on the ground next to her. The wonderful and familiar aroma of his Chrome cologne wafted through the air. “That’s the spot.” She heard excitement in his voice. She was right there with him, feeling it, too.
She could think of worse things than spending the final hour right before dusk on the hard earth of Phoenix’s Camelback Mountain beside the man she’d been lusting after. Not that she would ever admit to lusting. But she was.
In fact, she was lusting this very minute. Three months into their relationship and they still were performing the opening act of the mating ritual, as they had agreed. First-base kid stuff. Both of them were recovering from bad relationships; Gretchen from discovering that her longtime lover had a fidelity problem, Matt from a marriage to an unfaithful wife that had ended in a messy divorce. They had agreed to take it slowly, not rush into anything too intimate.
Slow was okay with Gretchen, but according to Nina this was getting ridiculous. “You’re adults,” she’d said. “Not teenagers. Lose the clothes.” At the moment, lying prone next to Matt on a secluded ridge on the mountain, Gretchen agreed with her aunt.
She should be savoring every moment of the romance, all the richness and wonderfully complex emotions that go with it. Instead, the sexual tension was growing between them every day. Matt had to be feeling it, too, but it wasn’t a subject she felt comfortable discussing with him.
BOOK: Ding Dong Dead
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