Murder the Tey Way: A Golden Age of Mystery Book Club Mystery (The Golden Age of Mystery Book Club Mysteries 2) (5 page)

BOOK: Murder the Tey Way: A Golden Age of Mystery Book Club Mystery (The Golden Age of Mystery Book Club Mysteries 2)
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“Did Lionni act weird while he was working in your house? Did he seem to be casing the place?”

I thought back and shook my head. “No. He was polite. Didn’t speak much. And he knew what he was doing. He fixed a leaking pipe in the bathroom and saved me a visit from the plumber.”

“Uh-huh,” Brian said, jotting down what I’d said in his notebook. When he finished, he cocked his head and grinned at me.

“Interesting, your landlord hadn’t seen to those repairs. I thought you two were on pretty close terms.”

My face grew warm. “I didn’t want to bother Al. He was kind enough to let me have the house for a very low rent.”

“And when were you planning to tell me your sister paid you a visit last night?”

“I was going to tell you, of course, but it slipped my mind. Gayle left early this morning.”

“Did she see Lyons’ body out back?”

“No! That is, I’m sure she didn’t since she didn’t mention it.” Now my face was blazing as if I were standing close to a five alarm fire.

“How did
happen to notice it?”

“I just did.”

“When you woke up? While you were eating breakfast?”

I blinked as Brian shot questions at me faster than I could answer. “While I was eating breakfast, I suppose.”

“You suppose?”

My pulse speeded up with every question. I had the weird feeling my head was about to explode.

“I mean, of course I noticed it while I was eating breakfast. I glanced out the window and there it was. So I went outside and checked it out.”


“Of course alone! I told you, Gayle left early.”

“Without eating anything?”

“She wanted an early start to visit her friends.”

“Where do they live?”

“She didn’t say.”

Brian’s eyes bore into me. “Hard to believe. She’s your sister, right?”

I drew a deep breath. “Gayle and I lead very different lives. The truth is, we don’t keep in touch as often as we should. I hadn’t spoken to her in months when she called, and it’s about six years since last we got together. I don’t know her friends so I can’t help you there.”

“Is she running from something or someone?”

“Of course not! What makes you ask?”

“Your answers. They’re the weirdest.” Brian let out a grunt of exasperation. “You tell me the two of you are practically estranged, yet she drives all the way to Long Island from Utah. She arrives at night, then takes off early the following morning to places unknown. And you’re as hyper as a jumping bean.” He pointed an accusing finger. “You tell me how it sounds.”

I pressed my hands together to stop their trembling. “I’m telling you what happened. I’m nervous because someone killed a gangster in my backyard, and you’re accusing my sister of—I don’t know what!”

He reached across to stroke my arm. The unexpected gesture set my body tingling.

“Lexie, when you’re ready to talk, I’m here to listen.”

Brian asked me for Gayle’s cell phone number. I gave it to him. If she’d done as she’d promised, her phone was in pieces miles from here.

“I haven’t heard from her,” I said defensively.

“I believe you. Please call me when you do.”

He squeezed my shoulder and took off, leaving me terrified for my sister. The fact that Len was connected, as they say, could only mean he’d gotten word that Gayle was heading for my house and had been instructed to kill her. After all, wasn’t the mob one big company with each “family” controlling a specific area? That dirty cop in Utah must have put the word out, and fast.

Only someone intervened and killed the killer. I paced up and down the living room as I thought. Who could that someone be? Len had done repair jobs for the Billingses and for Tim. He could have seen where they kept their keys, taken an impression, then returned to rob them at his convenience.

I shuddered. What if Evan or Tim put two and two together then decided to kill Len? But why in my backyard? Unless…

My questions only spawned more questions. I had to get out of the house! The sane part of me wanted, no
to tell Brian what Gayle was running from, but I’d made a promise. And right now that promise took precedence over the legal system and my erratic romance with Brian Donovan.

I called my best friend, Rosie, who lived in Old Cadfield, a twenty minute drive from here.

“Can you meet me tonight?” I asked the minute she answered the phone.

“And hello to you, too.” When I didn’t respond, Rosie asked, “What’s wrong, Lexie?”

“I’ll tell you later.”

“Sure you don’t want to come for dinner? I’m making salmon the way you like it, and roasted vegetables.”

“Sounds yummy, but I can’t eat,” I admitted.

“It’s that bad?”

“Worse,” I told her. “Can you meet me at the bar in the bowling alley on Jericho Turnpike?”

“Sure. I can get there at seven-thirty, since Hal promised to be home early.”

I smiled, thinking how successful my old college boyfriend had turned out. “Give him a hug for me.”

“He’ll be disappointed when he finds out you’ve refused dinner. We haven’t seen you in weeks.”

“I’ll stop by soon,” I promised. “As soon as this storm passes.”

“How about Friday night?” she pressed. “Seven o’clock?”

“Sure.” I sighed, knowing when I’d been bested.

“Lovely!  And tonight we’ll talk and you’ll get everything off your chest.”

Knowing I’d soon be spilling everything out to my no-nonsense best friend helped put me in a better frame of mind. I fed Puss, nibbled on a few slices of turkey and cheese, and was just changing into a long-sleeved sweater, when the phone rang. I ran to get it, hoping it was Gayle.

“Hi, Lexie. Hope I didn’t catch you at a bad time.”

“Hi, Al. What time is it there?”

“Midnight.” His voice sounded amazingly clear, considering that it was coming across the Atlantic Ocean. “I just got in from a meeting.”

“Which went well, I gather, from your upbeat tone.”

“The CEO and other officers of the company like my plans for the new building.

Surprisingly smooth sailing for this project, so far.”

“I can’t say the same is happening here. A local hood who worked as a handyman was killed in my backyard during the night or early morning. The odd thing is, last night he was seen looking in the window at our book club meeting. I’ve no idea what he was after.”

“Lexie, I can’t believe you’ve gotten yourself mixed up in another murder!”

Was that a note of criticism I heard? Al knew that the murders in Old Cadfield this past summer had nothing to do with me. I opened my mouth to issue a retort when I decided he was probably worried about me.

“You must be terribly upset,” he said. “Do the police think it’s safe for you to stay in the house by yourself?”

“Brian didn’t seem concerned. Oh!” I clapped my hand over my mouth, but it was too late.

“Brian Donovan’s in charge of the case?” Al asked, an edge to his tone.

“He is a homicide detective,” I reminded him. “At this point no one knows much of anything. Though from what I’ve gathered, the victim has burgled the homes of some of the book club members.”

“Lexie, promise me you won’t play detective again. Last time, you came close to being severely injured.”

I hid my annoyance as best I could. “I don’t intend to play at anything. And now I must cut our conversation short or I’ll be late. I’m meeting Rosie. It’s been ages since we’ve gotten together.”

“Keep safe. Make sure all the windows and doors are locked. And use that alarm system I installed.”

“I will,” I promised, thinking how vulnerable we all were if someone wanted to kill us.

“We’ll talk again soon. Love you.”

“Love you, too,” I said automatically, and hung up.

Did I love Al?
I pondered the question as I climbed into my car. I cared for him and I was glad he cared for me, but I felt neither lust nor an overwhelming romantic yearning to be with him, both of which I’d experienced in the past and now regarded as bothersome addictions.

I wanted Al in my life, but I didn’t want to marry him. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to live with him. So maybe I didn’t love him—yet. He was kind and level-headed, a mature man capable of taking part in a mature relationship. The kind of man I
be involved with at this point in my life.

I backed out of the garage. Darkness had fallen, so I edged carefully into the street to avoid hitting any walkers. A car door closed as I was about to pass the Roberts’ house. A sleek black Lincoln zoomed out of their driveway, just missed ramming into me, and sped down Magnolia Lane. I slammed on the brakes and squealed to a stop, furious at the driver’s arrogance. Corinne, dressed in one of her power suits, approached. I lowered the car window.

“Who the hell was that!” I demanded. “He almost crashed into me.”

“I’m sorry, Lexie. My friend and I had a disagreement. He has a short fuse. I’ll give him hell when I call him later.”

Her apology took most of the wind out of my sails. “Just tell him to be more careful when he backs up.”

“Don’t worry, I will,” she said, her tone flat but oddly menacing. She gestured with her chin to my backyard. “That was some hell of a sight you must have woken up to. The place was lousy with cops and techies when I left for work this morning. All they would tell me was that the victim was a male in his thirties.”

“His name’s Leo Lionni. He fixed a few things for me when I first moved in, but I’ve no idea why he was spying on us last night—unless he was planning to rob me. I heard he was in the mob.”

Corinne’s eyes opened wide in astonishment. “Really? Who told you that?”

“I can’t remember,” I lied. “So many people have called to talk about it.”

She lowered her voice. “This commotion has Felicity totally strung out. She couldn’t go to work today. I offered to stay home, but she insisted she’d be fine.”

“I wish you would have called me. I would have looked in on her.”

The front door opened and Felicity appeared in a bathrobe, her face pale without lipstick.

“I heard a car drive up, but you never came inside,” she said querulously.

Corinne rushed over to her sister. “Sorry, love. I was talking to Lexie.” She waved to me and shut the door behind them.

There’s something odd about those two,
I thought as I drove away, though I couldn’t put my finger on it. But maybe I was overly suspicious, given the events of the day.
A murder in the neighborhood leaves us feeling vulnerable.
That word again
. We’re terrified of becoming the killer’s next victim.

Though my neighbors were odd, I wished I could comfort my sister as easily as Corinne had comforted Felicity. Instead, I’d handed over her cell phone number to Brian like a passive bovine. I prayed she’d destroyed it, because if Brian decided to put out an alarm for her, that Shawn Estes might see it and get to her first!

I pulled over to the side of the road and called Gayle. Nothing. A good sign, I told myself. She’d gotten rid of her phone! Still, I wanted to hear her voice. Make sure she was safe. Frustrated because I couldn’t do anything more, I headed for the bowling alley.

Brian wouldn’t be so intent on contacting Gayle if he had a few solid suspects right here in town. I had no idea if Leo Lionni had been spying on one of the book club members, or if he’d been casing my house and planning to rob me. Regardless, the members were my only lead, and I had to start from there.





Rosie downed the last of her apple martini and set the glass down with a thump.

“Ask your pal Joy. I bet she can uncover all sorts of dirt about the other book club members. Maybe even find a hidden link between one of them and the dead man.”

“Joy was at the meeting last night,” I pointed out, “which makes her a suspect like everyone else. She’s strong, fearless, and lives two houses from me. She could have killed Leonni, slung him over her shoulder, and dumped him on my lawn.”

“True. But why would she want to kill the guy?” Rosie burped. “Sorry. I’m not used to this high powered stuff.”

“Which is why I’m drinking slowly. See.” I sipped my martini.

Rosie let out a snort. “So speaks the woman who, in our college days, could drink every guy under the table. Returning to our subject, Joy is your friend. She has no reason to incriminate you by leaving the body on your back lawn.”

“I’m glad you think she’s innocent because she’s my friend,” I said.

“It’s common sense, dodo. From what you’ve told me, she has enough on her hands without setting out to murder someone first thing in the morning.”

Rosie held up her left hand to tick off her fingers. “First off, she has three young kids. I can’t see her leaving the house to meet some gonzo at dawn. Her husband or one of the older kids might have awakened and followed her outside”

I nodded. “Maybe.”

“Second of all, she’s preoccupied with her husband’s affair.”

“The bastard,” I mumbled. “And Mike seems like such a nice guy.”

“If she was planning to kill anyone, he’d be her target.”

“And finally,” finger number three, “she’s former FBI. They say anyone’s capable of homicide, but FBI agents are trained to protect us. It’s in their blood. And your friend Joy sounds like a good gal.”

“I like to think so,” I agreed. “Rosie, these are all good reasons for me to put my trust in Joy, but none is foolproof.”

Rosie shrugged. “What’s foolproof? Dead people are foolproof.”

“Right. I’ll drink to that.” I drained my glass and raised my hand to catch the waitress’s attention.

“I’ll have another—” I began when the waitress appeared, but Rosie overrode me.

“We’d like something to eat,” she told the young woman. “May we see a menu?”

I pressed my lips together so I couldn’t ask why Rosie who, unlike me, had eaten dinner, was about to eat again. She’d never lose those thirty pounds she kept talking about.

“We don’t have menus,” the waitress said. “We serve hamburgers, cheeseburgers, turkey club and tuna salad sandwich. Only the tuna’s all gone.”

We both opted for a cheeseburger, medium rare, one order of fries very well done, and two colas.

BOOK: Murder the Tey Way: A Golden Age of Mystery Book Club Mystery (The Golden Age of Mystery Book Club Mysteries 2)
3.66Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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