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Authors: Sara Rosett

Moving Is Murder

BOOK: Moving Is Murder
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Praise for Sara Rosett and
MOVING IS MURDER!

“A fun debut for an appealing young heroine.”

—Carolyn Hart

“Armed with her baby and her wits, new mom and military spouse Ellie Avery battles to unmask a wily killer in this exciting debut mystery. A squadron of suspects, a unique setting, and a twisted plot will keep you turning pages!”

—Nancy J. Cohen, author of the Bad Hair Day Mystery series

“Everyone should snap to attention and salute this fresh new voice. Interesting characters, a tight plot, and an insider peek at the life of a military wife make this a terrific read.”

—Denise Swanson, Agatha Award nominee, nationally best-selling author of the Scumble River Mystery series

“An absorbing read that combines sharp writing and tight plotting with a fascinating peek into the world of military wives. Jump in!”

—Cynthia Baxter, author of
Dead Canaries Don’t Sing

“Reading Sara Rosett’s
Moving Is Murder
is like making a new friend—I can’t wait to brew a pot of tea and read all about sleuth Ellie Avery’s next adventure!”

—Leslie Meier, author of the Lucy Stone mystery series

“Mayhem, murder, and the military! Sara Rosett’s debut crackles with intrigue. Set in a very realistic community of military spouses,
Moving Is Murder
keeps you turning pages through intricate plot twists and turns. Rosett is an author to watch.

—Alesia Holliday, award-winning author of
Blondes Have More Felons
and
Email to the Front: One Wife’s Correspondence With Her Husband Overseas

“A cozy debut that’ll help you get organized and provide entertainment in your newfound spare time.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“Packed with helpful moving tips, Rosett’s cute cozy debut introduces perky Ellie Avery … an appealing heroine, an intriguing insider peek into air force life.”

—Publishers Weekly

“Ellie’s intelligent investigation highlights this mystery. There are plenty of red herrings along her path to solving the murderous puzzle—along with expert tips on organizing a move. The stunning conclusion should delight readers.”

—Romantic Times

Moving Is
Murder

Sara Rosett

KENSINGTON BOOKS
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.
http://www.kensingtonbooks.com

All copyrighted material within is
Attributor Protected.

KENSINGTON BOOKS are published by

Kensington Publishing Corp.
850 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10022

Copyright © 2006 by Sara Rosett

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the Publisher, excepting brief quotes used in reviews.

If you purchased this book without a cover you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the Publisher and neither the Author nor the Publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”

All Kensington titles, imprints and distributed lines are available at special quantity discounts for bulk purchases for sales promotion, premiums, fund-raising, educational or institutional use.

Special book excerpts or customized printings can also be created to fit specific needs. For details, write or phone the office of the Kensington Special Sales Manager: Kensington Publishing Corp., 850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022. Attn. Special Sales Department. Phone: 1-800-221-2647.

Kensington and the K logo Reg. U.S. Pat. & TM Off.

eISBN-13: 978-0-7582-7280-5
eISBN-10: 0-7582-7280-4

First Hardcover Printing: April 2006
First Mass Market Paperback Printing: March 2007

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Printed in the United States of America

Chapter
One

L
ight bled across the horizon, but it was still night below the towering pines where the figure in black slipped up the driveway toward the slumbering house and slithered under the parked minivan. A small flashlight beam illuminated the engine and its hoses. The beam found the right hose and followed it until it was within reach. Metal glinted in the light. A small prick, not a slash, produced a drop of brake fluid that bubbled out and dripped to the ground. The figure twisted around and repeated the procedure on the other hoses. The person allowed a small smile as tiny puddles formed.

With a backward push, the dark form emerged from under the van, grabbed the knife, and shoved it into a deep pocket before joining the early morning joggers trotting through the still neighborhood.

Nothing had gone wrong—yet. It made me nervous. Something always went wrong when we moved. There was the time our mattress became a sponge in the mover’s leaky storage unit and another time our handmade silk rug vanished from our shipment but, so far, our move to Vernon in Eastern Washington State had been uneventful.

I set down a box brimming with crumpled packing paper that threatened to spill over its edge like froth on a cappuccino and watched the moving van lumber away. Its top grazed the leaves of the maple trees that arched over Nineteenth Street, making the street into a leafy tunnel. Sweat trickled down between my shoulder blades.

My fingers itched to get back inside our new house, rip open the butterscotch-colored tape on the boxes, and bring order out of chaos, but inside the heat magnified the smells of fresh paint, floor wax, and dusty cardboard from the boxes that were stacked almost to the coved ceiling.

The heat wasn’t as bad outside because there was a breeze, but it was still ninety-nine degrees. Since we didn’t have air-conditioning, stepping outside was like moving from inside a heated oven to the fringe of a campfire.

I pushed my damp bangs off my face as a black pickup slowed in front of our house. The driver draped his arm over the open window and called to my husband, “Mitch Avery, is that you?” A bright shoulder patch contrasted with the olive drab of the driver’s flight suit. “I didn’t know you were moving into Base Housing–East,” he continued.

“Steven?” Mitch trotted down the sidewalk. I followed
Slowly. I’d probably heard him wrong. We were miles from base housing.

Mitch’s friend parked his truck on the curb beside a pile of wardrobe boxes that needed to go to the shed since our bedroom closet was roughly the size of a matchbox. Patches on our visitor’s chest and upper arms identified him as Captain Steven Givens, a member of the 52nd ARS, or in real language without the acronyms, the 52nd Air Refueling Squadron, Mitch’s new squadron. They did the guy equivalent of air kisses: a handshake and a half-hug with slaps on the back.

Mitch introduced Steven.

“This is my wife, Ellie,” he said. “And this is my daughter, Olivia.” He patted Livvy’s head, barely visible in the BabyBjörn carrier I had strapped on my chest.

Steven smiled and shook my hand in a firm, eager grip. “This is great that you’re moving in. We live on Twentieth.” He had thick burnt almond–colored hair cut neatly to regulation above sincere hazel eyes. His smooth complexion made him look young, even though I knew he had to be older than Mitch.

I glanced at Mitch. His smile was relaxed, so apparently he didn’t mind that Steven lived one block away.

“So what do you think of Base Housing–East?” Steven asked, gesturing to the empty street.

Mitch and I looked at each other blankly.

“You didn’t know half the squadron lives up here?” Steven asked.

“Here? In Vernon?” I asked.

“Right here, on Black Rock Hill. Most everyone lives within a few blocks,” Steven said.

So much for our flawless moving day. Mitch and I exchanged
Glances. This was much worse than damage to our household goods.

“Well, it won’t be like living on-base. We’re not next door to each other, right?” Mitch asked.

“No, but Joe, our ‘C’ Flight Commander, and his wife live across the street from you. The McCarters are on Twentieth with us. There’re too many to count, probably ten or fifteen couples, now that you’re moving in.” Steven beamed like this was the best news he could give us. Why hadn’t my friend Abby, who had also just moved here, mentioned this?

“At least the squadron commander is still on-base,” Mitch joked.

“No, with the remodeling going on in base housing they don’t have many houses open. Colonel Briman lives down your street.” Mitch looked like he’d been punched in the stomach.

Steven thumped him on the shoulder. “Welcome to the neighborhood.” Steven hoisted up a box, spoke around it. “Where do you want this? I can help you out for a few hours. I was coming home to meet Gwen,” he glanced at me and explained, “that’s my wife, for lunch. But she’s tied up at work. She’s the manager at Tate’s and has a heck of a time getting away from there.”

“So the old bachelor finally got hitched?” Mitch seemed to have recovered from Steven’s bombshell. A smile tilted up the corners of his mouth as he kidded with Steven.

“Yeah. I gave in.” Steven shrugged.

Mitch’s smile widened as he transferred his gaze to me, but spoke to Steven. “It’s great, isn’t it?”

“Sure is. Now, where do you want this box?”

Mitch pointed to the shed. “Over there. Anywhere inside.”

I touched Mitch’s shoulder to hold him back from following Steven. I kept my voice low. “I can’t believe we bought a house in the wrong neighborhood,” I said. “I mean, we’ve moved how many times? Four?”

“In five years,” Mitch confirmed. I felt a sigh bubble up inside me. I squashed it. When I married Mitch I knew we’d have to move. After all, he was a pilot in the Air Force. Moves came with the job. We’d talked about our next assignment and I’d pictured somewhere exotic and foreign, Europe or Asia, Germany or Japan. Not Washington State. And certainly not Vernon, Washington, during a heat wave. And my vision of our next assignment
definitely
hadn’t included living next door to everyone else in the squad.

I needed chocolate. I dug into my shorts pocket and pulled out a Hershey Kiss. Chocolate makes even the worst situation look better. It was mushy from the heat, but I managed to peel the foil away and pop it in my mouth. I felt as weak as a wet paper towel.

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