Read Murder the Tey Way: A Golden Age of Mystery Book Club Mystery (The Golden Age of Mystery Book Club Mysteries 2) Online
Authors: Marilyn Levinson
MURDER THE TEY WAY
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and events are either a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to persons living or dead, or to actual events or locales is purely coincidental and beyond the author’s intention.
All rights reserved. With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any existing means without the author’s permission.
Copyright © 2014 by Marilyn Levinson
Cover design by Polly Iyer
Formatted by IRONHORSE Formatting
For my granddaughter, Olivia Brooke Levinson:
I hope you grow up to love books as much as I do.
Mystery & Romantic Suspense:
Murder a la Christie
Murder in the Air
A Murderer Among Us
Giving Up the Ghost
Novels for Young Readers:
No Boys Allowed
Rufus and Magic Run Amok
Getting Back to Normal
And Don’t Bring Jeremy
Table of Contents
Other Books by Marilyn Levinson
“Who’s clever enough to solve a fifteenth century murder by studying a portrait in his hospital bed?” I asked in my most professorial tone.
No one answered, of course, since I was alone in my car.
“Josephine Tey’s Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard is who, in her unique and unforgettable novel
The Daughter of Time
A damn good opener for tonight’s meeting of the Golden Age of Mystery book club, I decided as I exited Mondale University and headed for home. I was in a glorious mood. This morning my “Shakespeare’s Comedies”
“Chaucer’s Tales” students surprised me with their insightful observations, leaving me hopeful that literature, as we academics know it, will continue to thrive, even when read on electronic devices.
I made a quick mental review of the food supply in my refrigerator and pantry, and concluded that I needn’t stop for groceries. Home these days was a modest three-bedroom ranch house in Ryesdale, Long Island. I was paying a ridiculously low rent because the house belonged to my boyfriend, Allistair West. I’d lived in a state of transition this past year, ever since my estranged second husband burned down my house and managed to incinerate himself in the process. Al wanted to take our relationship to the next level. I balked at moving in with him just as I’d balked at buying a home of my own.
If I were being totally honest, I’d admit the state of transition suited my comfort zone. The few times I’d opted for commitment and permanence had ended badly. Still, as my forty-ninth birthday grew near, some latent nesting instinct kept urging me to settle down.
I joined the flow of light traffic traveling east on Northern State Parkway and exited twenty minutes later. I bypassed downtown Ryesdale, which consisted of three long blocks of shops and restaurants, made a few turns, and followed Magnolia Lane almost to the dead end.
I drew to a stop in front of my neighbor’s house. “Hey, Felicity,” I called through the passenger’s window. “Your decorations are awesome.”
Felicity Roberts looked up from her crouched position. She was setting up a festive Halloween scene in her rock garden. She’d already staked in a goblin and a green-faced witch, and had placed three ghosts of white sheeting in the nearby tree. I felt a twinge of guilt for not having put so much as a pumpkin on my top step, though Halloween was a few weeks away.
“Do you think so?” A note of anxiety sounded in Felicity’s little-girl’s voice, making her seem much younger than her twenty-something years. “Corinne claims I make too much of Halloween. She says I’m not a kid anymore.
“But the children love my Halloween decorations,” she said earnestly, as if I’d sided with her older sister. “Besides, Halloween’s my favorite holiday after Christmas.” She grinned. “I can’t wait to dress up in my vampire costume and put in my fangs when the kids come by for Trick or Treat.”
“Sounds like fun,” I told her, though inwardly I wondered, and not for the first time, if Felicity was all there. She held down a part-time job at a local children’s clothing store and shared the large, rambling house with her older sister, a practical, no-nonsense sort of person and vice president of a bank in a neighboring town. Both sisters belonged to the mystery book club.
“Bye. See you tonight,” I called out.
It was a good thing I hadn’t driven on, because Felicity chose that moment to run toward the car and lean into the open passenger window.
“Do you think every murderer leaves evidence behind?” she whispered, though no one was around to hear us.
I smiled at her earnestness and couldn’t resist. In a low, conspiratorial tone, I asked. “Did you kill someone, and you’re worried the police will catch you?”
“Of course not!” Felicity’s blush covered her ears and her neck, making me regret having teased her.
“I finished reading
The Daughter of Time
last night, and it got me thinking,” she explained, giving her little-girl laugh. “I know I’m being silly and it’s only a novel, but if Inspector Grant could prove Richard the Third didn’t kill his nephews five hundred years after the fact, then it seems to me any murder can be solved.”
I cleared my throat and felt my professorial persona take over. “I believe everything we do leaves a trail of crumbs, so to speak, especially murder and other criminal actions. Tey didn’t come up with the theory that Richard was innocent, though her novel certainly popularized it.” I smiled. “I’m glad you find the subject intriguing. We’ll talk about it at our meeting tonight.”
Felicity hunched her shoulders. A tremor ran down her skinny frame as she stared down at the ground. “Lexie, don’t be angry, but I can’t make the meeting. Something’s come up.”
“Oh,” I said, embarrassed because she was such an awful liar. “That’s okay, Felicity. This isn’t school. You can miss a meeting if you like.”
“But Corinne’s coming,” she added quickly. “I know she’s looking forward to seeing everyone tonight.”
I waited until Felicity returned to her Halloween decorations, then turned into my driveway. Puss, my friend Sylvia’s Russian Blue tom I’d adopted after she died, greeted me with a plaintive meow meant to inspire guilt. I fed the nagging feline, then made myself a sandwich for lunch. In the spare bedroom I’d set up as my office, I flipped through my notes for this evening’s presentation and realized I didn’t need them.
The Daughter of Time
was one of my all-time favorite mysteries.
For once I had no papers to grade or administrative paperwork to complete for my anal department head. I was free to devote the next few hours to my Work in Progress.
I’d started writing a woman’s literary novel some years ago. This past summer I deleted all 220 pages and began a mystery. But facilitating a mystery book club, even having hands-on experience solving real-life murders, hadn’t improved my fiction-writing skills. I’d been stuck on chapter three since August. Still, I refused to give up! I was intelligent! I had a PhD! If all those writers out there could complete a manuscript and get it published, then I could too!
I turned on my laptop. Minutes passed while I stared at the first page of Chapter One. I changed a few words then changed them back again. The phone rang. It was Al.
“Hi, Lexie. I’m off to the airport. My limo should be here within the hour.”
“I told you I’d be happy to drive you.”
“It’s better this way. You might run into heavy traffic coming home from Kennedy. And you have a meeting tonight.”
Thoughtful Al. One of the reasons I liked him so much.
He paused. “I know it’s premature—and we needn’t act on it as soon as I’m home again—but I’d like you to think about our moving in together.”
I swallowed. “I’ll think about it, Al.”
I heard the smile in his voice, when he said, “I know we’ll be happy, Lexie.”
His use of the future tense instead of the conditional sent a
of anxiety along every nerve in my body. I cared about Al, but after two failed marriages I was far from certain I wanted to share quarters with him or any male, for that matter.
A doorbell rang at his end, sparing me further discussion along these lines. “Time to go,” he told me a minute later. “The limo driver’s taken my luggage. Why do they always arrive so early?”
Now someone was ringing my doorbell. I suddenly wished Al hadn’t taken on the architectural project that would keep him in England for the next two months. “I’m going to miss you,” I admitted.
“Me, too, but we’ll talk on Skype. We’ll text and exchange emails. I’ll be home before you know it.”
I sent him a kiss and put down the phone. The doorbell rang more insistently. I flung open the door to find my friend, Joy—former FBI agent and current soccer mom—jogging in place. Though the weather was cool for mid-September, Joy wore racing shorts and a sleeveless polo as though it were still July. She slipped into the house, panting and sweaty.
“What’s up?” I asked. “Want a cup of coffee?”
She shook her head as she led me into the kitchen, where she continued to jog in place. “I have five minutes. Mrs. Horton leaves at two sharp. She’ll give me hell if I’m home one minute late.”
I burst out laughing. “A tough gal like you afraid of a little old lady?”
“You’re damn straight I’m afraid—terrified she’ll stop sitting for us and take up with a punctual on-time mommy. My two older kids consider her their third grandmother. Brandon stops crying when he hears her voice.”
“Al just called to say good-bye. He’s on his way to Kennedy.”
Joy grinned. “You still have that sexy homicide detective to fool around with.”
A quiver of excitement tinged with guilt shot through me.
“I’ve seen Brian Donovan exactly three times since I moved here—if you count the night he got called away before we even touched our main course. I don’t consider him relationship material.”
“Says who? Cops make damn good spouses when they set their minds to it.”
I smiled, picturing her teddy-bear of a husband carrying their six-year-old on his shoulders. “Except your Mike went into security work so he could keep normal hours.”
Joy nodded. “’Family first’ is Mike’s motto. Did you hear? There was another break in last night.”
“No? What happened?”
“A couple who lives on Thornton, three blocks away, came home to find their home burgled. She kept all her jewelry in a wall safe. Everything was taken. Mike’s former partner said it looks like an inside job.”
I bit my lip. “It almost makes me glad I have nothing to steal.”
“On a lighter note, do you have everything you need for the meeting?”
“I think so.”
“Including gluten-free cookies for Marge Billings?”
I pressed my hand to my cheek. “I forgot Marge has celiac disease! I’ll run out to Stop & Shop. They carry the cookies she likes.”