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Authors: Shelley Freydont

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Shelley Freydont - Celebration Bay 03 - Independence Slay

BOOK: Shelley Freydont - Celebration Bay 03 - Independence Slay
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Shelley Freydont - Celebration Bay 03 - Independence Slay
Celebration Bay Mysteries [3]
Shelley Freydont
Berkley (2014)
Tags:
Mystery: Cozy - Event Planner - New York
Mystery: Cozy - Event Planner - New Yorkttt
With Independence Day fast approaching, Liv Montgomery is swamped coordinating one of the town’s biggest festivals. In addition to the traditional July 4th events, the town stages a spooky Revolutionary War reenactment that can’t be missed. Every year, the ghost of local war hero Henry Gallantine—played by his eccentric descendant of the same name—appears at the top of the family mansion, kicking off the night’s revelries.
But Henry’s annual cameo goes awry after the ghost signals SOS instead of his traditional cue. When Liv rushes to the rescue, she finds Henry missing and a real dead body instead of a fake haunt. Now she will have to hunt down both a murderer and a missing person quickly before unwanted political fireworks ignite and someone else winds up as local history.

Praise for
Foul Play at the Fair

“All the charm of a Norman Rockwell painting, but with a much more colorful cast of characters!”

—Cynthia Baxter, author of the Reigning Cats & Dogs Mysteries

“Celebrate Shelley Freydont’s new mystery series in Celebration Bay, a city of festivals where the event coordinator plans everything. Except solving murders.”

—Janet Bolin, author of the Threadville Mysteries

“Event coordinator Liv Montgomery is doing her best to squash any obstacles to a successful Celebration Bay Harvest Festival, and when a body crops up, she’s not going to let her plans be plowed under.”

—Sheila Connolly,
New York Times
bestselling author of the Orchard Mysteries


Foul Play at the Fair
is a fun romp of a story about Liv Montgomery, who gives up her irritating life of handling bridezillas and finds the perfect job in Celebration Bay, New York, with her Westie, Whiskey. A delicious read filled with interesting characters and good times.”

—Joyce Lavene, coauthor of the Missing Pieces Mysteries

“I fell in love with Liv Montgomery and the citizens of Celebration Bay from the very first page.”

—Mary Kennedy, author of the Talk Radio Mysteries

“The fun first Celebration Bay Mystery is an engaging whodunit starring a burned-out protagonist who, though she fled the city, remains in a constant state of stress.”


Genre Go Round Reviews

“Liv Montgomery is a terrific new amateur sleuth, competent, intelligent, with a few surprising skills. Freydont introduces an interesting cast of characters as residents of Celebration Bay, people who will be fun to see again in future stories.
Foul Play at the Fair
just leaves me wishing to return soon for more of Liv’s adventures in a community that capitalizes on its small-town atmosphere.”


Lesa’s Book Critiques

“If you like small-town gossip, long-buried secrets, and festivals galore, you’ll love this new series. The mystery is well developed and proceeds nicely. This is a promising new series with colorful characters and seasonal festivals that create endless possibilities for future story lines.”


RT Books Reviews

“I recommend
Foul Play at the Fair
for anyone who enjoys an amusing book with a rural setting.”


The Season

Berkley Prime Crime titles by Shelley Freydont

FOUL P
LAY AT THE FAIR

SILE
NT KNIFE

INDEPENDENC
E SLAY

Specials

COLD TURKEY

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) LLC

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

USA • Canada • UK • Ireland • Australia • New Zealand • India • South Africa • China

penguin.com

A Penguin Random House Company

INDEPENDENCE SLAY

A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author

Copyright © 2014 by Shelley Freydont.

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

Berkley Prime Crime Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group.

BERKLEY
®
PRIME CRIME and the PRIME CRIME logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) LLC,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

eBook ISBN: 978-0-698-14316-6

PUBLISHING HISTORY

Berkley Prime Crime mass-market edition / June 2014

Cover art by Robert Crawford.

Cover design by Lesley Worrell.

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.

Version_1

Contents

Praise for Foul Play at the Fair

Also by Shelley Freydont

Title Page

Copyright

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

Chapter Twenty-two

Chapter Twenty-three

Chapter Twenty-four

Chapter Twenty-five

Chapter One

Liv Montgomery slapped at her cheek. “Ugh. This might be my least favorite thing about summer in Celebration Bay.”

“Told you to spray on some deet,” her assistant, Ted Driscoll, told her. “Not to brag, but in July upstate New York is the capital of biting bugs. The mosquitoes here are so large—”

“I get it,” Liv said. “Please hand me that bug spray.” She traded him her clipboard for the spray.

“And it only gets worse around sunset.”

“Great.” Liv spritzed the vile-smelling spray on her hands and patted it on her face. She handed it back to Ted, who slipped it in his pocket. “What about later, when it’s dark? Or will we all be eaten alive while we watch the Battle of the Bay reenactment and fireworks?”

Ted shrugged. “Hopefully this will be the last of them. The county sprayed already. That got most of them, and we have volunteers whose job is to eliminate any standing water and to keep the lakeshore cleared so people can enjoy the reenactment without being constantly assaulted by the little bloodsuckers.

“They probably disturbed the last hangers-on while clearing out this underbrush.” He motioned to the edge of a thick wooded area where teenagers from the local community center were hauling out underbrush.

“Do they get paid to do that?” Liv asked.

“No, they’re all volunteers. Henry gives a contribution to the teen program. And they clear out debris for the reenactment and become lunch for the mosquitoes they stir up.”

The two of them surveyed the wide lawn of Henry Gallantine’s mansion, home to the Revolutionary War patriot as well as the current Henry Gallantine.

The original Henry had been hung as a traitor, though he was exonerated years later. The imaginative residents of Celebration Bay, New York, had gleefully appropriated the ghoulish story for its Fourth of July celebrations.

Liv had looked up the Battle of the Bay when she’d taken over as event coordinator for the quaint destination town. The closest battle she’d found was the Battle of Valcour Island, which had taken place farther north and hadn’t involved any cannonading of British ships.

But heck, what was a little reinvention with your reenactments when it attracted tourists from all over the Eastern Seaboard?

Liv slapped at her face again and scratched her ankle with her other foot.

“You must have missed a place… or two.” Ted smiled complacently, his blue eyes twinkling. He was wearing a tasteful red, white, and blue plaid sports shirt, navy slacks, and a lot of bug spray.

Ted loved his holidays. The whole town loved their holidays. Even Liv loved their holidays, but she hadn’t quite perfected the art of theme dressing.

As a Manhattan event planner, Liv had worn basic black with four-inch heels; here she opted for Topsiders in fall and spring, snow boots in winter, and colorful flats in the summer. Though today she was wearing a pair of running shoes. Not that she thought she’d get any running in today or at all until the Fourth of July weekend was over.

Until then she would be running errands, running resistance, and running her committee heads crazy with last-minute checks and double checks.

She had dressed down in lightweight slacks and a boat-neck T-shirt and pulled her hair—which Dolly Hunnicutt, the local baker, had once compared to the color of burnt sugar—back into a high ponytail, finished in a messy bun.

Not exactly a corporate look, but then neither was she—not anymore. Her desperate housewives, mad men, and overspent fathers of the bride had been replaced by bakers, quilters, nurserymen, and farmers, who had their moments of less-than-stellar behavior but who were, for the most part, great neighbors and friends.

She was still getting used to the theme attire that everyone seemed to favor. Today, the only thing about her that remotely resembled red, white, and blue were her eyes, which were blue and bloodshot from lack of sleep.

“There’s old Jacob Rundle coming this way,” Ted said. “Ignore his charming manners. He’s been gardener and dogsbody for Henry Gallantine forever. He’s not the friendliest man in town, but then, neither is Henry.”

“But Henry lets the town use his property for the reenactment.”

“Just because he’s a crank and a recluse doesn’t mean he isn’t a good citizen. Plus he leaves town for the whole summer as soon as it’s over so he won’t be bothered by the tourists.”

“I just met him the one or two times when we were confirming the event. He was perfectly charming.”

“One-on-one with a beautiful woman.”

“Why thank you, Ted. Are you saying that Henry is a womanizer?”

“Just the opposite. Women fall over themselves when he’s around. Another reason he keeps to himself. He was a child star in Hollywood. Still a good-looking guy, keeps fit and well groomed.”

This from a man who had to be in his sixties—though Ted had never admitted to any age—and looked pretty darn good himself.

“He has a gym and a lap pool in the house. The only people invited in are his hairstylist and personal trainer, who always come to him.”

“In case of making a comeback?”

“Don’t laugh. I think, for Henry, hope springs eternal.”

“Anything I would have seen him in?”

“Only if you watch reruns of fifties movies or television.”

Liv hardly had time for television of any decade.

While they were standing there, a slightly stooped, raw-boned man ambled toward them. He was wearing khaki pants and an old button-up shirt. Stringy hair was topped by a gimme hat bearing the logo of a local machine shop. Obviously the gardener and not the dapper Henry Gallantine.

“Ted,” he said in a gravelly voice. “Ma’am.” He touched the bill of his hat but didn’t take it off. Which was just as well; his hair looked like it might not have been washed in a long time.

“This is Liv Montgomery, the new event coordinator,” Ted said. “Liv, Jacob Rundle.”

“How do you do, Mr. Rundle.” Liv didn’t offer her hand, since he was holding a nasty-looking pair of secateurs.

“Heard someone took Janine Tudor’s job.”

Ted stifled a grin. Liv gritted her teeth. She hadn’t taken Janine’s job. Janine had been a volunteer and not a very efficient one. The town council saw the need for hiring a professional, and Liv had applied for the job. But after nearly a year, Liv had stopped trying to explain this to people. She just smiled back at the gardener.

“How’s it going?” Ted asked.

“Slow.”

“Looks like you’ve got a good crew.”

“Dang kids. That pastor over at the Presbyterian church got Mr. G to let them take over the cleanup. Half of them don’t have an ounce of sense. Gotta tell them every dang thing. Faster to do it myself.”

He looked around at the workers. Most of them, teenagers from the community center, carried cut branches and brush and leaf clippings out to a line of big barrels.

“You there, what the heck are you doing with those?”

The teenager, who had been carrying an armload of branches, stopped. Looked warily at Rundle, saw Liv and Ted.

“Hiya, Miss Montgomery.” He raised his hand in greeting, dropping half his load of weeds. “How’s Whiskey?”

Liv recognized the young man who’d entertained her Westie terrier, Whiskey, while she’d attended the Christmas
Messiah
sing-along. Leo was “a gentle soul,” according to Pastor Schorr. Gentle and slow, though no one had mentioned that he had any neurological problem. “He’s fine, but he’s staying with Miss Ida and Miss Edna today.”

“I like him.”

“He likes you, too.”

Rundle raised his fist. “What’s the matter with your brains, boy? Look what’cha done. Now stop jawing and pick all that stuff up. And take it over to the blue barrel. Blue. You know what color blue is?”

Leo nodded and quickly knelt down to gather up the weeds again. Liv was about to go help when Roseanne Waterbury, another teenager who sometimes volunteered at the center, ran over and began to help Leo collect his bundle.

Rundle turned back to Liv and Ted. “Boy don’t have good sense.” He pointed to his temple.

“Well,” Ted said. “We won’t keep you; just came down so I could show Liv the schematic of the battle.”

Rundle nodded slowly. “Seen the ghost last night.”

“Did you?” Ted said. “That makes four sightings so far.”

“’Cause he ain’t happy.”

Liv narrowed her eyes. Was he playing a part? Who actually played the ghost each year was a well-kept secret, which was nearly an impossibility in Celebration Bay. And her assistant, who was Gossip Central, had sworn for months that he didn’t know, not that she believed him. Ted knew all the gossip, but he also knew how to keep a secret.

Liv figured the ghost had to be the current house occupant, Henry Gallantine. After all, it was his ancestor who’d given the signal. It was so obvious, but it had taken months to get anyone to let her in on the secret.

“Why isn’t he happy?” Liv asked. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Leo stop gathering up his branches and stare at the gardener.

“Things going on.”

For the first time, Ted actually looked concerned. “What kind of things?”

“Bad things. People comin’ round asking questions. He was wandering down by the lake. Looking for something. The treasure maybe.” Rundle shot an ominous look at Roseanne and Leo.

Leo’s eyes rounded and more twigs and leaves fell to the ground.

Roseanne frowned at the gardener. Today her cinnamon-colored hair was stuck under her cap, and she was wearing a long-sleeve shirt to ward off the deer ticks. “Don’t pay any attention to those stories about ghosts, Leo. It’s just somebody dressed up in a costume for the reenactment. Like at Halloween.”

“He was looking for the treasure,” Rundle said, taking, Liv thought, a malicious pleasure in scaring the boy.

Roseanne stood up. “If he was looking for the treasure, he wasn’t the ghost, because the ghost would already know where it was. Only there is no ghost. Come on, Leo, let’s get this trash thrown out.” She pulled Leo to his feet and hurried him away.

“Girl don’t know nothing.” Rundle’s mouth curved into a smile that Liv wished she hadn’t seen. There was nothing friendly about it. “Nothing at all.”

“Let me guess, gold stolen from the British ships?” Liv said.

“Or the document. It weren’t never found,” Rundle said mysteriously. “The blue barrel! Dang kids.” He jogged off toward Roseanne and Leo.

“Document?” Liv asked, keeping an eye on Rundle. Roseanne seemed to have things under control, but Liv didn’t like the way the gardener treated the volunteers. Someone should ask Pastor Schorr if he was aware of how Rundle was acting.

Ted was looking, too, and he said distractedly, “Some people persist in the belief that there’s a chest of gold; others are positive there’s a secret document that either truly exonerates Henry and names the real traitor, or proves he really did the dastardly deed they claim he did.”

Rundle stood over Leo and Roseanne while they dumped their trash, then, after a few more orders, he walked away.

“Which was warning the British about the attack?” Liv asked as she watched Rundle disappear around the far side of the house. “Are you sure this is a good environment for the community center kids?”

“He’s gruff but not usually this mean with the kids. He just doesn’t seem to like Leo. Had a little dustup last month when Leo was delivering some groceries. I’m not sure it’s a good idea to have the kids here with only Rundle to oversee their work. I think I’ll give Phillip Schorr a call when we get back to the office.”

“I was just thinking the same thing.”

“Anyway, rumors have always circulated about treasures and secret documents.” He broke into a grin. “Over the years the truth, or what they thought was the truth, got mixed up with speculation and imagination. Gallantine
was
hanged as a traitor and later exonerated, but it wasn’t about gold. Or a battle. It was worse. He informed on a group of patriots planning a proclamation against King George.”

“The Declaration of Independence?”

Ted shrugged. “Let’s just say it might have turned into the Declaration of Independence if any of them had lived to complete it. But they were slaughtered on their way to meet with other revolutionaries while they were secretly bivouacked with an army patrol.”

“Ugh. I think I prefer the parade. Let’s do this and get back to the office.” Liv took the clipboard that held the map of the reenactment.

She turned so she was facing the river. “So the bleachers will be behind us over there,” she said, pointing to a flat piece of lawn between her and the street. “And the ships…”

Out on the lake, the wooden depictions of the British ships floated on the water. They weren’t actual ships at all but mock-ups attached permanently to docks, from which the fireworks would be discharged.

“This is perfect,” Liv said. The trees that lined each side of the property were thick enough to hide the boathouse, the garage, and the neighboring houses, and made the tableau on the water look just like a stage set. “We’re lucky Henry Gallantine is so amenable to letting us use his property.”

Ted nodded. “We’ve been holding it here in one form or another for the last ten years. There was never a question of holding it anywhere else.”

“I can definitely see why.” Liv turned to the right and peered up the façade of the old stone house. It looked more like a gothic castle to Liv, with a turret on one side and a huge chimney on the other. Various sections were stacked like building blocks made of stone, until the last one rose in a peak toward the sky. Dark windows gave it a sinister feel even in the daylight.

“Where does Henry, the ghost, stand to give the signal?” Liv asked.

Ted pointed about a third of the way up the three-story mansion, where a wide flat roof was surrounded by a stone parapet. “Henry G stands facing the crowd and flashes the signal with a lantern. Well, to be accurate, with a powerful LED lamp that can be shuttered and opened so he can ‘one if by land, two if by sea’ it in style.”

“I think that was Paul Revere.”

“Whatever works. Ours is more elaborate; a virtual light show of ‘the British are coming.’”

“And this is already rehearsed?”

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