Table of Contents
Barry Award- Winner of the Molly Doyle Mysteries
“Lively fun, laced with sharp writing and obvious knowledge, make this a series worth bidding on.”
“Superior storytelling... Flinn smoothly combines details of the antiques business and the varied personalities that the trade attracts into a solidly plotted amateur-sleuth mystery.”
Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel
“A crackerjack mystery novel from beginning to end.”
Carmel Pine Cone
“The cast of characters that winds through this and the previous mysteries is among the most appealing going. The fascination emanating from the relics of yesterday shines through Flinn’s style.... You’ll have a fine old time. Guaranteed.”
Maine Antiques Digest
“Flinn knows Carmel like the back of her hand, and this familiarity allows her to create an instantly recognizable sense of place.... But what really carries the book is the strength of Molly’s voice.... The plot clips along as Molly charges into danger in the search for justice. Flinn’s wit and sense of story make
one of the best cozies I’ve read in a while.”
—Reviewing The Evidence. com
“As always, Flinn’s sly wit, skillful plotting, and gift for character raise her work above the norm.”
ALSO BY ELAINE FLINN
Dealing in Murder
Tagged for Murder
This is a work of fiction. Characters, places, and events are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to real people, companies, institutions, organirations, or incidents is cntirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2007 by Elaine Flinn
All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America
A PERSEVERANCE PRESS BOOK
Published by John Daniel & Company
A division of Daniel & Daniel, Publishers, Inc.
Post Office Box 2790
Distributed by SCB Distributors (800) 729-6423
Cover painting by Cie Goulet
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LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA
Deadly vintage : a Molly Doyle mystery / by Elaine Flinn.
ISBN-13: 978-1-880284-87-2 (pbk. : alk. paper)
ISBN-10: 1-880284-87-1 (pbk. : alk. paper)
1. Doyle, Molly (Fictitious character)- Fiction.
2. Antique riealers---Fiction.
3. Wineries- Fiction.
4. Carmel (Calif.) Fiction.
For Donna Kalafatis,
a wonderful friend of forty years,
and for Max, my beloved Siamese cat.
I miss you both.
As always, my thanks to my family for putting up with the perils of living with a writer. A special thank you to my husband, Joe, for becoming such a terrific cook. And to my daughters, Sharon and Kelly, and daughter-in-law, Karen—the real models for Molly Doyle: were I as bold and courageous! To my son, Pat, for telling his mom to keep rockin’, and to my grandson, Dymund, whose wit and maturity I’ve borrowed for Emma.
Thank you to Meredith Phillips for welcoming Molly and me with open and generous arms. Not just an editor, but a wonderful friend, and a true lady who offers her expertise with grace, humor, and a light touch. My appreciation to John and Susan Daniel for their enthusiasm, which I hope they will not find misplaced.
To my mystery community friends just knowing all of you has been worth the trip. A special thanks to Maili Montgomery for allowing me to use her name as a continuing character. Maili’s appearance this time was brief but that was only because she was busy elsewhere. And to my delectable lap dancing volunteers from DorothyL: Coco Ihle, PJ. Goldren, Alma Faye, and the inimitable Del Tinsley (madam extraordinaire)—thanks for offering to appear. You were stunning, ladies!
And last, but certainly not least: I am indebted to the many readers who have embraced Molly and Emma—and whose e-mails, letters, cards, and greetings at conventions and signings have made the hundreds of hours in front of the computer worth every single moment. Many, many thanks!
MOLLY DOYLE was placing a lot of faith in the power of positive thinking as she set the CLOSED sign in the front window. She was afraid she was going to need it when Carla Jessop arrived in a half hour. When Carla had called earlier to say there were some problems, Molly’d bet it had to do with Carla’s husband’s objection to hiring her. Molly had hoped they would be finalizing the commission to redecorate and refurbish the wine-tasting room of Carla Jessop’s family winery in Carmel Valley, but now she had her doubts. Add that to the bad day she’d had so far, and Molly was ready for Murphy’s Law to rear its ugly head. She crossed her fingers that Todd Jessop wasn’t coming.
The first meeting last week had been a disaster. Jessop had made it clear he was against hiring her. He’d not been subtle when he’d insinuated she was a small-town dealer hardly up to handling so large a project. With her Irish under control, Molly prepared a list of former New York clients to present to him when they’d met again at the Jessops’ home the following evening. Having to hold back a smug smile when Jessop had read the list and recognized two names from the Fortune 500 hadn’t been easy. His silence confirmed she’d made her point. Jessop was a newly rich dot-com dropout. Desperate to mix with the big boys, he maintained a small office and assistant to keep the illusion he was still a serious player. He should have been duly impressed.
Todd Jessop, while not a part of the family business was, Molly quickly determined, a control freak and was against his wife’s vision of a Mediterranean mood in the tasting room. He was campaigning for the sleek, modern look he’d had in his Silicon Valley offices and insisted on using his former designer. But Molly knew Carla Jessop had strong will and wasn’t a wilting flower. Holding that thought as hope for the future, she made a last check of the portfolio she’d prepared. The photos of several Italian and French antique tables, chairs, sideboards, and vintage wine accoutrements she’d gathered were neatly stacked. Price, measurements, provenance, and availability were noted on the back of each photo. And now, after Carla’s telephone call, Molly feared all her hours of work might be ready for the wastebasket.
Her Saturday had actually started out well. For once, she had managed to open Treasures, the antiques shop she managed in Carmel, at ten and had found a group of five tourists at the door. For almost an hour they’d kept her busy answering questions and writing up sales. Molly’s good fortune was brief. Sometime during the day, a lovely set of alabaster bookends, two Royal Doulton figurines, and a small brass coach-style clock had been stolen. Molly had thought of asking Emma, her young niece, to come down from their apartment upstairs to help keep an eye out, but she hadn’t wanted to interrupt her homework. And with Bitsy Morgan off to Palm Springs and Molly’s part-time clerk also out of town, Molly needed four sets of eyes and six pairs of hands just to stay on top of things.
The loss from the stolen merchandise was particularly annoying because it was Molly’s own merch and had set her back seven hundred bucks. Not a great way to start the weekend. Max Roman, the owner of the shop, and Molly’s early mentor, had encouraged her to offer her own buys. It was a generous gesture, and meant to help Molly build a nest egg. Besides, Max knew Molly’s eye was unerring and anything she might add to the inventory could only enhance his stock.
Setting the portfolio aside, Molly checked her watch. She still had time to tidy up her desk and to send Max an e-mail asking for a price sheet for the two truckloads of new merchandise he’d sent from San Francisco yesterday. Moving aside the stack of today’s mail, her eye fell on a postcard peeking out from between two envelopes. Molly picked it up and smiled. The photo of London’s Big Ben brought back memories of buying trips to England when she and Derek Porter, her runaway husband, were still together. Molly quickly dismissed thoughts of Derek. That chapter in her life, when her husband and his girlfriend had been caught selling fake antiques, was not a memory she wanted to relive. They were still fugitives from the law, and the day they were caught would be one of celebration. Turning the postcard over, Molly was surprised to find it blank. It was addressed to the shop on one of those computer-printed mailing labels. But the message section was blank. Strange, she thought, but then she had made that same mistake herself once or twice. On a trip, in a hurry, trying to keep promises of postcards to friends was often a pain in the neck. Setting the card aside to ponder its mysterious sender another time, Molly put the mail in the desk drawer, then headed for the small storage room off the main floor to freshen up before her meeting with Carla Jessop.