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Authors: Denise Swanson

Tags: #Fiction, #Mystery & Detective, #Cozy, #Women Sleuths, #General

Nickeled-And-Dimed to Death

BOOK: Nickeled-And-Dimed to Death
12.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Praise for

Little Shop of Homicide

“Veteran author Swanson debuts a spunky new heroine with a Missouri stubborn streak. . . . Readers will like this one for its slightly zany, multigenerational take on small-town mores.”

Library Journal
(Starred Review)

“A new entertaining mystery series that her fans will appreciate. . . . With a touch of romance in the air, readers will enjoy this delightful cozy.”

—Genre Go Round Reviews

“Swanson has a gift for portraying small-town life, making it interesting, and finding both the ridiculous and the satisfying parts of living in one. I wish Dev a long and happy shelf life.”


“A top-notch new mystery . . . all the right ingredients for another successful series.”

Romantic Times

Praise for the Scumble River Mystery Series

“Endearing . . . quirky . . . a delight.”

Chicago Tribune

“Bounces along with gently wry humor and jaunty twists and turns. The quintessential amateur sleuth: bright, curious, and more than a little nervy.”

—Agatha Award–winning author Earlene Fowler

“Charming, insightful.”

—Carolyn Hart, author of
Death Comes Silently

“[A] lively, light, and quite insightful look at small-town life.”

Hartford Courant

“A fun and fast-paced mystery. . . . As always, Skye Dennison and Scumble River provide a reliable, enjoyable mystery. Reading about Scumble River is as comfortable as being in your own hometown.”

—The Mystery Reader

“Top-notch storytelling, with truly unique and wonderful characters.”

CrimeSpree Magazine

“Smartly spins on a solid plot and likable characters.”

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

“Denise Swanson keeps getting better and better. . . . She knows just how to add humor and warmth to her books, making them unforgettable reads!”

—Roundtable Reviews

“A magnificent tale written by a wonderful author.”

Midwest Book Review

“Denise Swanson hits all the right notes in this brisk and witty peek at small-town foibles and foul play.”

Romantic Times
(Top Pick)

“Another sidesplitting visit to Scumble River . . . with some of the quirkiest and most eccentric characters we ever have met.”

Butler County Post

“An endearing and realistic character . . . a fast-paced, enjoyable read.”

The Herald News


Mysterious Women

“Another delightful and intriguing escapade.”

—Mystery News

“More fun than the Whirl-A-Gig at the County Fair and tastier than a corn dog.”

—The Charlotte Austin Review

Also by Denise Swanson


Little Shop of Homicide


Murder of the Cat’s Meow

“Not a Monster of a Chance,” short story in

And the Dying Is Easy

“Dead Blondes Tell No Tales,” e-book novella in

Drop-Dead Blonde

Murder of a Creped Suzette

Murder of a Bookstore Babe

Murder of a Wedding Belle

Murder of a Royal Pain

Murder of a Chocolate-Covered Cherry

Murder of a Botoxed Blonde

Murder of a Real Bad Boy

Murder of a Smart Cookie

Murder of a Pink Elephant

Murder of a Barbie and Ken

Murder of a Snake in the Grass

Murder of a Sleeping Beauty

Murder of a Sweet Old Lady

Murder of a Small-Town Honey

Nickeled-and-Dimed to Death

A Devereaux’s Dime Store Mystery

Denise Swanson


Published by New American Library, a division of

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 Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2,

Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)

Penguin Group (Australia), 707 Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3008,

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, Auckland 0632,

New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

Penguin Books, Rosebank Office Park, 181 Jan Smuts Avenue,

Parktown North 2193, South Africa

Penguin China, B7 Jaiming Center, 27 East Third Ring Road North,

Chaoyang District, Beijing 100020, China

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices:

80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

First published by Obsidian, an imprint of New American Library,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

ISBN: 978-1-101-60409-0

Copyright © Denise Swanson Stybr, 2013

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.

OBSIDIAN and logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.


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 Web sites or their content.



Also by

Title Page




Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25



Preview of Murder of a Stacked Librarian

Thanks to all my Facebook peeps, who answer my questions, wade in with their opinions, and encourage me to write the next book.


mentally tapped my toe as I waited for Miss Ophelia to make her selection from the glass candy case. As the foremost authority on etiquette in Shadow Bend, Missouri—population 4,028—she’d been whipping the future generations of my hometown into excruciatingly correct behavior for the past fifty years. And since I had bought the dime store ten months ago, it had become her habit to stop in to purchase a single treat for herself every Saturday afternoon. Her last class on the proper way to dine, dance, and flirt with the opposite sex ended promptly at three thirty, and she arrived at my store exactly seven minutes later.

While Miss Ophelia dithered between a hand-dipped dulce de leche truffle and this month’s signature candy, a red velvet bonbon, I glanced at the vintage Ingraham schoolhouse regulator hanging on the wall behind the front counter. Although the clock was manufactured in the 1920s, its beautiful carved oak case, convex glass, and brass pendulum still looked brand-new, and it kept perfect time. It was now 3:52.

Eight more minutes and my weekend clerk, Xylia Locke, and I could shoo out the loiterers, flip off the neon
sign, and bolt the door. Devereaux’s Dime Store and Gift Baskets closed at four on Saturday, and today I wasn’t letting the customers linger a single second longer. I had smoking-hot plans for the evening, and only ninety minutes to make myself beautiful enough to fulfill them.

After a lengthy verbal debate with herself, Miss Ophelia finally made her choice—completely changing her mind at the last minute and going with the butter crunch toffee. While Xylia was ringing up the older woman’s purchase, I began the process of herding the stragglers toward either the register, for those who wanted to make a purchase, or the exit, for those who were sitting at the soda fountain, using the free Wi-Fi and socializing.

My clerk had one foot over the threshold as she said good-bye to me, when an attractive thirtysomething brunette carrying a large package rushed past her into the store. I called out that we were closed, but the woman either didn’t hear me or ignored my admonishment. Xylia raised a questioning eyebrow, but I waved her away. Whatever the last-minute shopper wanted, she’d have to come back on Monday.

I locked the door behind my assistant, not wanting another eleventh-hour customer to sneak in, then said to the brunette standing near the cash register, “I’m sorry, but we’re closed for the day.”

“Do you own this store?” the woman demanded, making no move to leave.

“Yes.” Considering the cardboard carton in her arms, I wondered if she had a complaint about a previous purchase. “I’m Devereaux Sinclair. And you are . . . ?”

“Elise Whitmore.” She thunked the box down on the marble counter, and I heard a metallic clinking sound. “I understand you like old stuff.” She scrutinized me, her expression clearly indicating that she found wanting my less-than-fashionable jeans, yellow sweatshirt with
embroidered across the chest, and frizzy cinnamon gold hair scraped into a ponytail. “Is that true?”

“If you mean vintage and antique items, yes, I am interested in them. I both collect them and use them for the gift baskets I make.” When I had purchased the dime store, I had added the basket business.

“Good.” Elise unfolded the carton’s flaps and reached inside.

My treasure-hunting curiosity was piqued.

“I’ve got some old chocolate molds I want to sell.” Elise pulled out a pair of metal Easter Bunny casts. “What do you think?”

One bunny was close to a foot tall and had a basket attached to his back, and the other bunny, about half the size of the first, was carrying a mushroom. I loved them. They would be perfect for my Easter window display and for the traditional basket orders I had for the holiday. The erotic baskets I made needed a vastly different type of merchandise.

“They seem nice,” I answered neutrally, hoping to keep the price within a range I could afford. “How much do you want for them?”

“You can have the whole box for a thousand bucks.” Elise put down the ones she was holding, then lined up three more Easter-themed molds—a girl bunny, a set of four eggs, and a rabbit riding a duck.

I didn’t know much about these particular collectibles, but I had a hunch this was an extremely good deal. “Can you give me a second?” When she nodded, I slipped into the storeroom, bent over my computer, and typed
According to several of the Web sites I clicked on, the largest rabbit alone was worth 950 dollars.

Suddenly afraid that the woman would leave or change her mind about selling the molds, I hurried back out to the sales floor and, keeping my voice cool, said, “Since they’re a seasonal item and there’s only three weeks left until Easter, I’ll give you seven fifty.”

BOOK: Nickeled-And-Dimed to Death
12.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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