Read Murder on a Silver Platter (A Red Carpet Catering Mystery Book 1) Online

Authors: Shawn Reilly Simmons

Tags: #murder mystery series, #english mysteries, #british chick lit, #amateur sleuth, #mystery books, #Women Sleuths, #craft mysteries, #murder mysteries, #culinary mysteries, #food mysteries, #murder mystery books

Murder on a Silver Platter (A Red Carpet Catering Mystery Book 1)

BOOK: Murder on a Silver Platter (A Red Carpet Catering Mystery Book 1)
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Praise for the Red Carpet Catering Mystery Series




“Delicious! A great read written by someone who knows the behind the scenes world of filmmaking...A winner!”

– Kathryn Leigh Scott,

Author of the Jinx Fogarty Mysteries


“Loved this book! The characters are well-drawn and it’s cleverly plotted. Totally engrossing…I felt as though I was actually on a movie set. The author is well-versed in her setting and she is able to keep the reader in suspense. I can’t wait for the second book in the series.”

– Marianna Heusler,

Edgar-Nominated Author




“This nicely woven drama once again gave us an insight into catering (what a hard job) while keeping me intrigued in a mystery with some twisty currents that was hard to put down. With a nice island flavor, a nice puzzling mystery and a great cast of characters, this was a very enjoyable read.”

– Dru’s Book Musings


“The writing is fun, quirky and engaging. The character development between the lead character and her love interest is well done and believable. This book has several of my favorite things at the forefront: movies, murder, and food prep.”


Books in the Red Carpet Catering Mystery Series

by Shawn Reilly Simmons





(June 2016)

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A Red Carpet Catering Mystery

Part of the Henery Press Mystery Collection


Second Edition

Trade paperback edition | February 2016


Henery Press, LLC


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever, including internet usage, without written permission from Henery Press, LLC, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.


Copyright © 2015 by Shawn Reilly Simmons


This is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.


Trade Paperback ISBN-13: 978-1-943390-57-1

Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-943390-60-1

Digital epub ISBN-13: 978-1-943390-58-8

Kindle ISBN-13: 978-1-943390-59-5


Printed in the United States of America



To Matthew and Russell,

who make everything possible.



Thanks from the bottom of my heart to everyone who helped make this dream a reality. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and I’ve found the same thing applies to writing a book.


None of this would have been possible without my mom, Stephanie Reilly, who encouraged me from the start to pursue my dreams, wherever they may take me. She’s a “Go Big or Go Home” kind of mom, and that encouragement has pushed me through the years to reach for and fully pursue my goals and passions. Mom’s love of books, especially crime fiction and mysteries, was passed on to me at a very young age, and for that I’m forever grateful.


Huge thanks goes out to my sister, Erin Reilly Hawkins, for bringing me along as her assistant chef to all of those dinner parties, and for getting me hired onto the theatrical catering crew. We’ve had a lot of fun in the kitchen, even when the food started flying.


I would not be the person I am today without Malice Domestic, and I’d like to thank the entire Board, past and present, for their constant support and encouragement. I must give special thanks to Verena Rose, Harriette Sacker, Marian Lesko, Angel Trapp, Anne Murphy and Tonya Spratt-Williams for their love, for being my family, there whenever I need you.


I could not even begin to list all of the mystery authors who have encouraged me to pursue this dream. I am so grateful to be part of this hugely supportive community of writers. You all know who you are, and you have my heartfelt thanks.


I am fortunate to be surrounded by a smart and quirky group of gals, who I’ve come to rely on for support, a laugh or some good advice, pretty much daily. Thanks to Krista L, Julia B, Kelly L, Stephanie B, Kimberly G, Melanie B, and Martha B, for all the happy hours, funny texts, bottles of wine, dirty jokes, book recommendations and random movie quotes that keep me going on a daily basis.


Thanks to Ildy Shannon for being my first reader, and for all of your sage advice. Thanks to Colleen Shannon for being my biggest cheerleader, and for doing most of my worrying for me.


My undying gratitude and thanks go to Kendel Lynn, Art Molinares and everyone else at Henery Press for taking a chance on me and Penelope. I’m so thrilled to be a part of your ever-growing empire. The support and guidance from Rachel Jackson and Erin George, editors extraordinaire, leaves me speechless. I’ve never worked with a more positive, upbeat group of people and I’m grateful beyond words.


This book would not have happened without Matthew and Russell, who are convinced I can do anything, even when I’m not so sure. Their love and support is everything—they are my heart.


This book is about family, the one you’re born with and the one you create as you go. I’d like to thank everyone in mine, near and far, here and gone, with all my heart.

Chapter 1


He’d done it again. Torn off into the freezing night without a care in the world, disregarding the feelings of everyone he’d left behind, oblivious to how they would worry about him being alone out in the cold.

“Damn dog,” Arlena muttered, clouds of steam puffing from her lips.

Penelope nodded stiffly, her body rigid against the cold. “You can say that again.”

Their boots crunched through the sparkling white snow as they made their way down the road, ponytails swinging. One of them shouted “Zazoo!” every few steps.

Zazoo had scampered off right after the electricity went out, the outage conveniently disabling the electric doggie door in the kitchen and the invisible fence that surrounded their property. Zazoo had slipped out and his sapphire studded white leather collar didn’t zap his neck as he passed over the barrier he had memorized at the edge of the lawn. After that he ran as hard and as fast as he could, his tiny little legs kicking against his belly as he scampered down the road, led only by the scents of the night and various calling cards from his canine neighbors.

“Zazoo! I can’t believe he did this to me again,” Arlena said. She darted her flashlight beam around as they walked. “Thanks for looking for him with me.”

Penelope held her hands together in front of her mouth, wishing for warmth and breathing hot air through her mittens. “Not a problem,” she said, even though it kind of was. Maybe more of an inconvenience. It was definitely the worst night and time to be out on the road. The power had been out for several hours and the snow plows had only been down the streets once or twice to push aside more than eight inches of heavy snow. Penelope had no idea how they were going to find the little Bich-Poo. Zazoo was fluffy and white, blending in with the snow, and without any functioning street lamps to guide the way, it was almost impossible to see anything. Penelope thought it was unlikely they’d find the little five-pound dog out here in the dark. It would be a miracle if they ended up finding him before he froze to death.

They heard a plow somewhere far off and both glanced towards the sound. The sidewalks hadn’t been shoveled yet, so the two of them trudged down the middle of the road. A row of magnificent houses closed tight against the cold sat on their right, tall iron gates guarding their long driveways. The back end of Glendale’s country club and golf course sat on their left, now just a wide open field covered in white. The moonless sky offered no help and it was difficult to see much around them. Penelope didn’t want to say so out loud, but she hadn’t noticed any footprints or signs of anything living.

“I can’t believe he would run off like this again. I do everything for him and he takes off the first chance he gets.” Arlena’s big brown eyes began tearing up. Penelope couldn’t tell whether her friend’s tears were from Zazoo’s acts of betrayal or the bitterly cold air. She didn’t think Arlena’s dog was smart enough to actively plan elaborate escapes. He was an opportunist at best.

“He always comes home eventually,” Penelope offered, rubbing her friend’s arm. Arlena’s stylishly sleek ski jacket made a whooshing sound under her mitten. Arlena Madison always looked polished and put together, even in a lost dog crisis on a deserted New Jersey road. Tight black leggings hugged her calves and her feet were warmed by fur lined Michael Kors snow boots, which perfectly highlighted her long toned legs. She topped off her dog searching outfit with an on-trend knit deerstalker hat in soft pink with matching scarf and gloves. Her long black hair hung in a shiny silk ponytail and her makeup was perfection, expertly applied.

Penelope had thrown on a puffy coat also, but hers was faded red, a few seasons old and didn’t fit quite right. It was actually one of Arlena’s castoffs from an apparent grunge phase. She had the clothes on from when she had been comfortable in the den before they headed out: yoga pants, a slouchy sweater and big fuzzy socks. She’d been curled up in front of the fireplace in her cozy chair, a glass of wine in her hand and an Agatha Christie novel in her lap. Then the power had blown and she’d been recruited to leave the house on a dog hunt. As they headed out to look for Zazoo she’d stuffed her thickly socked feet into her well-worn, salty black snow boots and pulled a simple blue knit cap over her straight blond hair, which she’d tied in a messy ponytail at the base of her neck, never once thinking about coordinating her outfit. Penelope looked like she was heading out for a deep sea fishing excursion while Arlena could be heading to the hottest club in the city.

“Why don’t I head back towards the house and you keep going? Maybe if we split up we’ll find him faster,” Arlena said, her words chattering out through her perfect white teeth and painted pink lips. Penelope was momentarily distracted when she noticed that Arlena’s lipstick perfectly matched her hat and scarf. She absentmindedly swiped a cherry lip balm wand she found in her coat pocket across her lips.

“That’s a good idea. Maybe he’s already home. Watch out for cars on the road. They might not see you,” Penelope warned.

“Do you want the flashlight?” Arlena asked.

“That’s okay. I have a flashlight app. I’ll be fine,” Penelope said, waving her phone halfheartedly at Arlena.

“Thanks again, Pen,” Arlena said before they headed off in opposite directions.

“Call me if you find him,” Penelope said over her shoulder after she’d walked a few feet. She could feel the cold coming in through her yoga pants and wished she had taken the time to put on some long johns. Feeling her knees start to numb, she pressed on with a renewed determination to find the little yapper and get home to her fire, wine and book.

Zazoo was one of the major prizes in Arlena’s latest breakup. She’d won custody of him after her split from Vance Reynolds, the A-list movie star. Arlena and Vance dated for less than two years, but that was long enough for her to net some serious time in the celebrity big leagues, walking red carpets, going to parties and vacationing in all the right places. Arlena was devastated when they split, especially since Vance wasted no time making a fresh start with a new leading lady. She insisted on keeping Zazoo, who they had picked out together when he was a puppy. Vance agreed willingly, mostly because he was headed off to a film set in Istanbul and couldn’t take Zazoo along. They’d yet to work out any visitation arrangements.

Penelope reluctantly trudged on a half-mile farther and was considering giving up her search when a lump in the snow up ahead caught her eye.

“Oh no,” she said under her breath. A fuzzy white puff lay motionless beneath a tree in the plowed up bank of snow at the edge of the golf course.


Penelope looked back towards the house but Arlena was out of sight. She stood for a moment, staring at the mound in the snow, willing it to move. Or better yet waiting for her eyes to re-focus and realize it was just a plop of snow fallen from the tree and not the dead body of Arlena’s beloved dog. After a few moments of squinting and trying to make out the figure, she decided it definitely hadn’t moved at all since she noticed it.

Penelope sighed and pulled her knit cap farther down on her head. She walked closer to the tree to get a better look, wishing the whole time that she had been the one to turn back towards home. She hated the idea of finding Zazoo, dead or injured, and breaking Arlena’s already fragile heart.

The closer she got the more convinced she was that she was seeing the lifeless body of Zazoo, the spunky little dog who would launch himself straight up in the air over and over whenever he was happy to see someone. Penelope had never had a dog of her own but she felt she shared custody of Zazoo, feeding him his homemade organic diet regularly and walking him when Arlena didn’t take him to the set dressed in one of his little doggie outfits.

“Zazoo?” she said, squinting and edging closer. “Come on, buddy.” She moved in to investigate, the snow rising farther up her calves with each step. She pulled her boot up out of the snow to take one last large step towards the fuzzy lump. As she bounded forward, she tripped on a tree root buried beneath the snow, causing her to fall forward into the snow bank, her face almost landing on top of the semi-buried dog.

“Ugh!” She scrambled to get up, her thin pants soaking up the freezing moisture like a dry sponge. Her legs began to throb with the cold almost instantly. As she struggled to stand up, she slipped again, landing once more into the snow and onto something hard.

“Great,” she sighed, shaking her head. She took a deep breath and reached out her soaking wet mitten to grab the dog. As she pulled, she realized too late that what she grabbed was way too light. Her arm did an exaggerated yank straight up into the air, a white puff waving at the top of her arm.

“Oh my God. Help! Help!” Penelope screamed horror-movie style, filling the cold night air and the space between her ears with a jangling chorus. She did not recognize her own voice as it bounced off of the trees into the dark nothingness just beyond. “Help!” Penelope felt her throat closing up, tightening against her cries. She lay rigid and helpless in the snow, unable to move.

Arlena came running down the road, the beam of her flashlight bouncing wildly in the dark. When she turned the bend, she saw Penelope lying face down in a snow bank, soaking wet and screaming, waving a fluffy white ski cap in the air, her face inches away from that of a dead girl’s.

BOOK: Murder on a Silver Platter (A Red Carpet Catering Mystery Book 1)
5.2Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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