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Death in Darkness (Molly Sutton Mysteries 8): Ebook

Death in Darkness (Molly Sutton Mysteries 8): Ebook

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Immerse yourself in French village life

cozy mystery

Read a description of the series

Boston girl Molly Sutton moves to a village in France to heal after a divorce--but then a girl goes missing. Follow the intrepid expat as she uncovers secrets and chases down murderers in charming Castillac, eating a few pastries along the way.

Read chapter 1

2007

“Watch out!” Molly shouted, as she looked up from pulling weeds in the front border in time to see an impending disaster—Constance on her bicycle, Bobo the dog, and a small truck all converging at high speed at the end of the driveway.

The driver of the truck slammed on the brakes. Constance jerked the bike to one side and landed in the ditch; Bobo ran to her and licked her face.

“Are you okay?” Molly said, running over. She waved and smiled at the truck driver, who she hoped was bringing the first load of materials for a new renovation project at La Baraque, her two-year-old gîte business.

“Yeah, but no thanks to that dude,” grumbled Constance, as she brushed off her jeans and then looked at the front wheel of her bike, which was no longer perfectly round. Her hair was pulled into a tight ponytail, her usual get-down-to-business hairstyle, and her young, fresh face went without makeup.

“Go inside, get something to drink, and relax. I’ve just got to talk to Boris for two seconds and then I’ll be right with you.”

Constance glowered. “I’m supposed to be on a day-trip with Thomas, you know. He wanted to drive over to Bordeaux and show me off. His words, isn’t that so adorable? But I told him no way can I miss changeover day, Molly is counting on me.”

“And I appreciate that, Constance. Nothing’s broken, no sprains? Go on in, I’ll be there in two seconds. Then let’s have a little gab before we start work.”

The prospect of a bit of gossip and hanging out in Molly’s living room cheered the housecleaner up a bit, and she went inside without further grumbling.

“So,” said Molly, turning to Boris, who was patiently waiting in the cab of his truck. “Bonjour! You nearly gave me a heart attack just then. My dog— like most dogs, I suppose—is not that smart when it comes to cars and trucks.”

“Bonjour, how are you?” said Boris, and without waiting for Molly to say how she was, which at the moment was rather irritated, added, “Tie it up, then,” gesturing to Bobo.

She opened her mouth to tell him what she thought about people who don’t like dogs, but then closed it again, realizing that her opinion was hardly going to change his mind. She took a breath and tried for better footing. “I’m having the old stone barn rebuilt, it’s back that way,” she pointed, “behind the house…it might be better to go back to rue des Chênes and then drive across the meadow from the road. Of course, the closer you get to the worksite, the better.”

“Is there going to be a separate driveway for the barn?”

She hadn’t thought of that. “No. At least I don’t think so. The building will be divided into three gîtes, and the parking is here,” she said, gesturing to the large area between her house and the cottage.

“People won’t want to carry bags that far,” said Boris.

How annoying it is when people you don’t like say sensible things! Molly thought.

“All right, well, I’ll sort all that out later on. For now, please go down the road to the left, away from the village, and go about two hundred meters or so. You can see the ruined barn from the road, though it’s so covered with vines it looks like a big green lump. If you get to the small stone building close to the road, you’ve gone too far. It’s been fairly dry and the meadow drains well in any case, so I’m not worried about the truck getting stuck or even causing ruts.”

Boris saluted and backed up onto rue des Chênes. That salute—it had to be ironic, right? Smirking? Molly felt like chasing after Boris and giving him a piece of her mind, but she squared her shoulders, called Bobo, and went to find Constance. They were old friends by this point, Molly having hired the younger woman to help with cleaning when Molly first arrived in the village several years earlier. 

The main house at La Baraque was very old, by American standards, as well as rambling, having been added onto over the centuries in a haphazard way. But Molly had instantly fallen in love with its disorganized charm when she saw it listed on an internet real estate site, and had hustled over to Castillac and bought the place, just like that. What followed had, thus far, been the happiest years of Molly’s life: she had made good friends and solved a handful of crimes, and unexpected—and unlooked for—romance had bloomed in that sensual Gallic atmosphere.

Constance was lying on the sofa holding a glass of lemonade. “Who was that guy?” she asked, reaching down to rub her knee somewhat theatrically, and groaning softly.

“Never met him. He’s delivering materials for the work on the barn. Hey, I thought you knew everyone,” said Molly, pouring herself another cup of coffee though she had drunk two already.

“Pretty much,” said Constance. “I do have news on that score,” she said, throwing out a little bait and grinning.

“What score? About Boris?”

“No, silly, about someone new to Castillac. Two someones, actually. No, make that three.”

“My heavens, the floodgates have been opened! You’ve met these new people?”

Constance shrugged and sipped her lemonade, which Molly took to mean no.

“Well, who are they? What have you heard?”

“I can’t believe you’re not more plugged in,” sad Constance, wanting to prolong the pleasure of Molly’s ignorance.

Bobo stood by Molly’s chair and Molly fiddled with her soft ears while waiting patiently for Constance to get on with it.

“Okay,” Constance said, unable to hold back any longer, “I’ll tell you even if you won’t beg. Ben hasn’t said anything at all?”

“Constance!”

“Okay, okay! What I hear is: Maron is out, and we’re getting a new chief!”

Molly’s eyes widened. “What?”

“Well, it’s no big surprise. You know the gendarmerie rotates people around all the time. They don’t want the gendarmes getting too cozy with the people who live in their district or whatever.”

“Right. I just…I was finally feeling like Maron and I were on pretty good terms.”

“You mean he let you muck around in all the interesting cases,” said Constance with a cackle. “You’ll be very lucky if the next person lets you get away with that.”

“You’re probably right,” said Molly, her spirits sinking. “I don’t think this is good news for Dufort/Sutton Investigations.”

“Why isn’t your name first, anyway?”

“Alphabetical order. And because Ben is the one who knows everybody, so it just made sense.”

“Does it bug you though, having to be second?”

“No! I swear, Constance, sometimes I think you work overtime just trying to stir up trouble.” Bobo jumped up in Molly’s lap, causing coffee to spill onto the arm of the chair. “Honestly, Bobo, you’re not a puppy anymore! Okay, who else? You did say three new people?”

Constance tapped her chin, thinking. “I’m not positive about that. Could be more. Let’s say: three with an asterisk. Because it’s a family and there might be children. My information is a little sketchy at the moment. You know that manor out rue de Fallon? It’s back from the road behind some trees, so you might not have noticed it. Really nice place though it could use some TLC.”

“That’s the new family’s house?”

“Am I so hard to follow? For an ace detective you can sometimes be a little slow on the uptake, Molls.”

Molly stood up and wrenched the stained slipcover off the armchair, the irritation she had felt at Boris coming back with a vengeance. “Okay, fine. I’m getting started. It’s already ten, and you know how guests are, they can show up at unpredictable times.”

Constance finished her lemonade, feeling equally annoyed. It was disappointing when you had some juicy tidbits and they went completely unappreciated.

“You hear anything about who the new chief is going to be?” Molly asked, as they gathered up pails, vacuum cleaner, and mop.

“Not yet. Sure wish Ben would take the job again. I mean, I didn’t hate Maron. But he wasn’t likable either, you know? You never had the feeling you knew what he was thinking.”

Molly shrugged. Dufort/Sutton Investigations solved an important case back in June, but there had been precious little going on since then. The news about Maron’s leaving put her in a sour mood, and she flung herself into cleaning as though getting every last speck of grime off a window would magically bring a friendly chief to the village, someone cheerfully disposed to collaborate with her and Ben. 

But she was quite clear, even as she thought it, that it was only a wish, and unlikely to come true.

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A disturbed wife. A nanny. And a pack of cowardly, lying friends.

Simon Valette, a cultured and successful Parisian, moves his family to Castillac looking for peace and quiet. Before they've had a chance to settle in, someone is found murdered in their library. Molly and Ben work double-time to disentangle all the lies--including those told by their own friends. Will they manage to trap the killer before another victim trusts the wrong person and winds up dead? View full details