Authors: Sharon Love Cook
Tags: #Mystery: Cozy - Newspaper Reporter - Massachusetts
|Sharon Love Cook - Granite Cove 01 - A Nose for Hanky Panky|
|Granite Cove Mysteries |
|Sharon Love Cook|
|Mainly Murder Press (2010)|
|Tags:||Mystery: Cozy - Newspaper Reporter - Massachusetts|
A Nose for Hanky Panky
A Granite Cove Mystery
Sharon Love Cook
Mainly Murder Press, LLC
PO Box 290586
Wethersfield, CT 06109-0586
Mainly Murder Press
Copy Editor: Paula K. Knudson
Executive Editor: Judith K. Ivie
Cover Design: Patricia L. Foltz
Cover Illustration: Sharon Love Cook
All rights reserved
Names, characters and incidents depicted in this book are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of the author or the publisher.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Mainly Murder Press
Copyright © 2010 by Sharon Love Cook
eBook edition published in the United States of America
Mainly Murder Press
PO Box 290586
Wethersfield, CT 06109-0586
For my parents,
the late Mame and John Love
The murder had all the ingredients to create a buzz: attractive professional woman, wealthy Chestnut Hill family, famous (in pharmaceuticals) father, and last but not least, sex. The only missing ingredient was a Kennedy. Thus, I didn’t begrudge the media for descending on our town like a flock of seagulls at a clambake. After all, I cover the news, too.
My job as reporter for the Granite Cove Gazette takes me many places, most of them not worth visiting twice. I cover events such as the Beautification Society’s house tour and the Senior Citizens’ Chowder Fest. When we need to fill space, I’ll even throw in the latter’s bowling scores.
We’re a weekly with a staff of four. Until the murder, our biggest story was the salmonella poisoning at the mayor’s picnic. Imagine how overwhelmed we were, covering a murder. Not only that, the victim wasn’t some brawler from one of the harbor-front bars but a prominent citizen. With her Ivy League degrees and office at the
Harbour Building, she was the last person you’d expect to end up murdered.
I’d been working at the newspaper for three years since quitting my job teaching high school English. Although writing for a small town paper can be tedious, it beats explaining the difference between simile and metaphor to a bunch of bored teenagers. Today, when folks speak of the “enormous rewards” that come from working with young people, I think,
they can have it.
And lately the title “journalist” is applied to anyone owning a steno notebook. Even Beth, our college intern who writes the obits, calls herself a journalist. I, on the other hand, consider myself a reporter reporting on our citizens. Thus, when Dawnette Vicari won Miss Northeast Seafood, I not only covered the pageant, I included her beauty tips, e.g., a clam shell for exfoliating the skin.
In any event, our staff met the challenge of covering the murder. We worked hard getting that issue out. Even Stew, the part-time sports writer, worked around the clock. For the first time in history we sold every copy of the Granite Cove Gazette. Needless to say, there were no bowling scores that week.
As I mentioned, the victim wasn’t your average townie. No, she was a paragon who drove the perfect car, a glossy, midnight blue BMW convertible. Its doors sported nautical flag decals meaningful to those who sail. Many times she’d roar past me on Route 128 as I chugged along in my pre-owned Jetta. I’d yell out the window, “Up your exhaust pipe!” Although my words were blown away by the wind, I felt righteous.
Newcomers claim they chose Granite Cove for its proximity to Boston and its cultural offerings, which they ignore unless the Red Sox are in first place. Nonetheless, our town has its attractions, such as a natural harbor and excellent beaches. My favorite, Cape Hedge, is rock strewn and popular with mothers. Yet when the temperature hits ninety, I don’t mind a few bloody toes and soccer moms.
Despite its physical beauty, Granite Cove lacks the glamour of other North Shore towns. Twenty years ago and fresh out of college, I blamed the dull, plodding citizens and their preoccupation with high school football and the fishing industry. Today, having lived in an upscale suburb of Saab-driving professionals, I’ve come to appreciate plodders.
Lastly, Granite Cove has its rewards, but you must dig for them, like the clams at Schooner Flats. Stick around long enough and you’ll find what you’re looking for, providing it’s not a Starbucks. Outside of posh Hemlock Point, the town is basically no frills. It’s not cozy or trendy. It’s a place to leave when you are young, and when you’re older, a place to raise a family. Those who leave only to get their butts kicked are welcomed back, no questions asked.
Granite Cove is all that and more. Yet there’s one thing we never imagined, not in a million years. It’s also a place where people get murdered.
I first heard about the murder on Tuesday, normally a bad day for reporters. No one returns calls on Tuesdays. While you can get an interview on Wednesday or later in the week, Tuesdays are black holes for news.
To make matters worse, I had a hot story, by Granite Cove standards, and in order to provide balance, I needed a quote from Mayor Froggett. When I called city hall, Janis Topp, his secretary, put me on extended hold. Time to ruffle some feathers—not one of my strengths, alas.
I called back and mentioned to Janis that my story concerned the mayor’s recent purchase of an SUV from Moles Used Motors. Does Mayor Froggett assume the taxpayers don’t know that his wife, the former Sandy Moles, is Buster Moles’ sister? Isn’t that called a conflict of interest?
Janis played it cool. She’s had a grudge against me ever since I wrote about the salmonella outbreak at the mayor’s picnic. Two senior citizens from the Council on Aging ended up hospitalized. I mentioned that Janis Topp’s potato salad was a possible culprit after the public health director cited it. Janis was enraged, as if I’d accused her of attempted seniorcide.
In any case, with a deadline looming I called the city treasurer who informed me that Buster Moles had given the town a break on the SUV’s price. According to him, the citizens should be pleased.
My hot story was losing its sizzle. Not that it mattered in the long run. Mayor Froggett ignores negative press. Year after year he’s had no opposition for office. As a result, he assumes the citizens will overlook everything, including his toupee and tacky affair with a school crossing guard. As far as Ken Froggett is concerned, giving taxpayers’ money to his brother-in-law is good business.
Yet I wouldn’t abandon the story. One of these days our readers will become fed up with the sleazy shenanigans at city hall. While I don’t expect a riot, I’m hoping they’ll produce a worthy candidate for the next election or at the very least, an angry letter to the editor.
In that frame of mind I decided to take a break and go visit my dad. After leaving Yvonne a note saying I was going out to price software, I grabbed my bag and headed for the door. Five minutes later I pulled into the parking lot at Stella’s Sausage Kitchen.
Stella’s is an anomaly. You wouldn’t think a sausage joint would prosper in a seacoast town, but it’s where the locals and the tourists go. Maybe it’s the down-home atmosphere of knotty pine booths and Formica counters. Maybe it’s big Stella herself, manning the grill with her giant spatula. Newcomers are intimidated; they don’t know that Stella’s prickly exterior hides a mushy center.
As usual, the parking lot was crowded. I found a space below the restaurant’s landmark, a trio of pink plastic pigs. The giant porkers sit on a riser inside a chain link fence to discourage theft. Last year they were targeted by the high school seniors during Prank Night. Not only are the pigs a tourist attraction, they’re a landmark as well. When giving directions to downtown, folks say, “After you pass the pigs on the left, Main Street will be your third right.”
Stella waved her spatula when I walked in. Her hair, the color of scrambled eggs, was frizzled around her broad face. I stood at the end of the take-out line. A new waitress, a young blonde in a ponytail, zipped back and forth from the counter to the four tables in the dining area. Despite the lunch rush, she appeared calm. Before giving her my order, I said, “It looks like you’re handling things nicely.” I offered my hand. “I’m Rose McNichols, a friend of Stella’s.”
“Hi, Rose, I’m Brandi.” She gave my hand a brief shake. “Stella’s given me a chance. One day at a time I’m paying her back.”
“Stella knows a winner,” I said and recited my order: a grilled egg sandwich with sausage, mustard, and Velveeta Cheese. It’s my dad’s favorite despite Doc Moss’s dietary restrictions.
Stepping aside, I looked around the room. The lie I’d told Yvonne to escape the office nagged at me, so I decided to put my time to good use. Fishing a notebook from my bag, I scanned the crowd for suitable candidates to interview.
At the end of the counter, two fifty-ish women were attacking their baked macaroni and cheese as if they’d never heard of the South Beach Diet. I approached, apologized for intruding, and introduced myself. Before they could say “bacon bits,” I asked their opinion of the mayor’s SUV purchase.
One gave a shrug and returned to her plate. Her companion wiped her mouth with a napkin and said, “I hear Buster threw in an extended warranty and snow tires.”
As I hadn’t verified that nugget of information, I said, “Be that as it may, do you think the mayor should be doing city business with family members?”
She nudged her companion who was ogling a Boston cream pie inside a glass dome. The woman swiveled on her stool and said, “Honey, it’s simple. If the mayor gets a break, the city gets a break.”
“I see.” I snapped my notebook shut. So much for citizens’ outrage.
Back inside the car with the grease-stained bag perched on the console, I drove away from the downtown area. On Route 127, I took a right at the sign for the Granite Cove Senior Life Center. I’d driven fifty yards when I spotted my dad walking on the sidewalk.
I pulled over and blasted the horn because he’s deaf as a haddock in his left ear. He stooped and peered in at me for the longest time. Tucking his cane under his arm, he opened the passenger door and got in. “I thought you were Mrs. Masucci, my neighbor. She’s after me.”
“You think everyone’s after you, and do I look that old?”
“I left my glasses at home.”