Authors: Meg London
“Sweet iced tea, a cast of charming Tennessee characters, and a vintage-lingerie store
help this debut go down easier than a mint julep in July. Readers who like their cozies
with a Southern flavor will enjoy getting to know Emma and her aunt, Arabella, as
they try to catch a killer as slippery as a satin peignoir.”
—Lila Dare, author of the Southern Beauty Shop Mysteries
“Filled with Southern charm, this is a flirty mystery you’re sure to find alluring.”
—Riley Adams, author of the Memphis BBQ Mysteries
“Meg London has hit the right note with the characters…and the setting…Vintage-lingerie
details and Southern charm add to the atmosphere of this appealing first cozy.”
The Mystery Reader
“Entertaining…Meg London captures the essence of a small Southern town’s quirkiness.”
Genre Go Round Reviews
“Like the name of the store, this mystery is very sweet. With a very interesting cast
of characters…this was a fun debut into the life of Emma and the town of Paris, Tennessee,
and I’m looking forward to more books in the series.”
Cozy Mystery Book Reviews
Berkley Prime Crime titles by Meg London
LACED WITH POISON
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
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LACED WITH POISON
A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author
Copyright © 2013 by Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed
printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage
of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized
Berkley Prime Crime Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group.
PRIME CRIME and the PRIME CRIME logo are
trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
Berkley Prime Crime mass-market edition / July 2013
Cover illustration by Nathalie Dion.
Cover design by Rita Frangie.
Interior text design by Laura K. Corless.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the
of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual
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
author or third-party websites or their content.
To my wonderful husband, two beautiful daughters and the best sister in the world.
Your never-ending support and encouragement mean the world to me.
I would like to thank my editor, Faith Black, who takes my raw material and helps
me turn it into a book, and my agent, Jessica Faust, who helped me fulfill my dream
of becoming an author.
I’d also like to thank my friends Laura Alden, Janet Bolin, Krista Davis, Kaye George,
Daryl Wood Gerber and Marilyn Levinson for their brainstorming, hand-holding and support.
EMMA Taylor stood behind the counter of Sweet Nothings, her aunt’s vintage lingerie
shop in downtown Paris, Tennessee. It was almost the end of September, and Emma was
reviewing the month’s sales before opening for business. She twirled a piece of dark
brown hair around her finger as she studied the black-and-white figures on the computer
printout. Sales had been good. Customers were coming from as far away as Nashville
and Memphis to check out their one-of-a-kind pieces, and they were doing a brisk online
business, too, since Emma’s friend Liz had gotten their web site up and running for
Unfortunately, though, they were still in something of a hole. Emma worried her lower
lip between her teeth. Someone had thrown a brick at their front window—the police
were never able to discover who, although Emma and Arabella suspected it was someone
whose feathers they’d riled
while investigating the murder of Emma’s ex-boyfriend—and replacing that enormous
pane of glass had cost a small fortune.
Emma ran a finger down the column of numbers. Things were definitely improving, though,
and hopefully a robust Christmas season would put them back in the black again.
Emma glanced at her watch. Almost time to open. She looked around the shop. Everything
seemed to be in order—stock was tidied and ready, a Lucie Ann gown hung from the open
door of one of the white distressed armoires Emma had ordered for the shop when they
renovated and a Jenelle sheer lace nightgown in a soft rose graced the mannequin.
Sweet Nothings was ready for business.
Emma unlocked the front door, switched the sign from
and was putting away the computer printouts when she heard the front door ping. “Can
I help you?” she said, looking up.
“It’s just me, dear.” Arabella bustled into the shop, two enormous shopping bags in
one hand and the leash for Pierre, her French bulldog, wound around the other. She
had the jacket of her pale gray pantsuit over her arm and had untied the bow at the
neck of her cap-sleeved white blouse. “It’s getting quite warm. There’s not a cloud
in the sky and that sun is still strong even if it is September.” She tucked a strand
of her silver hair back into her French twist.
Emma’s aunt might have been in her late sixties, but she was as stylish as anyone
Emma knew half her age. Emma had always been intrigued with her and remembered spending
many pleasant evenings on Arabella’s porch listening to tales of her travels to Europe,
India and the Far East. Emma never knew what had made her aunt decide to return to
Paris in the ’70s, settle down and open her lingerie shop.
Emma indicated the two shopping bags. “Let me take those for you.”
Emma took the bags, and Arabella bent down to unclip Pierre’s leash. He made a beeline
for his black-and-white toile dog bed where he immediately stretched out, the occasional
twitch of his black ear or white ear his only movement.
“Wait till you see what I have in there.” Arabella grinned and pointed at the bags.
“Did you and Francis go shopping?”
Arabella had spent the weekend in Jackson, Tennessee, about an hour away, where Francis
Salerno lived. He was an agent with the TBI—Tennessee Bureau of Investigation—and
Arabella had met him when he was helping the local police look into the murder of
Emma’s ex-boyfriend. Arabella had had to brave the wrath of her old friend Sally Dixon
when Francis began asking her out. Sally thought she was owed first dibs, but it wasn’t
Arabella’s fault that she had been the one to catch his eye. He was tall, with dark
hair streaked with gray, and always reminded Emma of the actor who used to play the