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Murder for Love (Molly Sutton Mysteries 4)

Murder for Love (Molly Sutton Mysteries 4)

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Cozy mystery, PG-rated, suspense without giving you a heart attack :)

Cozy mystery

Immerse yourself in French village life

CHAPTER 1

July 2006

Molly woke up first, thanks to Bobo’s wet nose in her ear. The morning was warm and she had been sleeping without any covers, so it was easy enough to slip out of bed without waking Ben.

“Come, Bobo,” she whispered, to keep the speckled dog from leaping on the bed. Molly went straight for the coffee press and put the water on while Bobo danced around the kitchen hoping for something delicious to fall from the sky.

All things considered, it had been a blissful few months in Castillac. Order had been restored after the Valerie Boutillier abduction, and the village was its usual lively summer self, with fêtes and informal get-togethers and everyone in a generally sunny mood. Bookings at La Baraque were excellent.

And of course…there was Ben.

Molly had arrived in Castillac in part to recover from a divorce. It hadn’t been a dragged-out, mud-slinging, litigious kind of divorce, but still, it had been painful to have her dream of a cozy family shattered. Molly thought that a change of scenery—all the way from the suburbs of Boston to Castillac, France—would help her get over it. And it had, with the help of new friends and a lot of pastry.

She had most certainly not been looking for romance. She was nearly forty, after all, and already on the road to making peace with the fact that her love life (not to mention childbearing years) might well be behind her. Ben Dufort was a bit younger and the attractive former chief gendarme of the village. He had hardly swept her off her feet; instead, their friendship had deepened slowly, over time, almost without their realizing it. And now that they were together, with everyone in the village knowing about it—and mostly approving, villagers judging these matters freely—Molly was happier than she could remember being in a long, long time.

Just as she was pouring her first cup, she heard a quick rapping on the front door that she recognized as Constance, who helped clean the gîtes on Changeover Day. Quickly Molly slurped some coffee and drank it down, then again. It was wise to have a bit of fortification before facing Constance first thing in the morning.

“Molls!” Constance exclaimed, moving quickly into the foyer when Molly opened the front door. Her shoulder-length hair was pulled back into a ponytail, the hairstyle she wore when she was ready to get to work.

“Bonjour, Constance,” said Molly, drinking more coffee.

“Thérèse is out! Gone! Just like that!”

Molly blinked. “What are you talking about? Gone where?”

“Our gendarme, Thérèse Perrault!” said Constance impatiently. “Come on, Molly, wake up! I heard she got notice of a new posting but didn’t tell anyone. Didn’t want a fuss, I guess, though why anyone would pass up a going-away party is beyond me!”

“Are you saying she’s left the village already?”

“Yes, Molls, that’s exactly what I’m saying! Wake up, little cabbage!”

Molly frowned. Thérèse had said she wouldn’t be able to stay in Castillac much longer—the gendarmerie liked to move its officers around, in an attempt to keep them objective—but she hadn’t said a word about the move being imminent. Molly would sorely miss her. For one thing, Thérèse had respect for Molly’s sleuthing abilities and wasn’t shy about slipping her information in order to get Molly’s help on difficult cases. It was Thérèse who had told Molly about the note taped to the gendarmerie door saying that someone had seen Valerie Boutillier.

“Want some coffee?” she asked, a troubled expression on her still-sleepy face.

“No thanks. Any chance your guests have cleared out yet? I’d like to get going and finish cleaning early. Thomas wants to take me somewhere for a picnic,” she added, grinning.

“It’s not even nine, Constance.”

“Can’t we do something to pry them out of there?”

Molly laughed. “No, you goose. I want their last moments at La Baraque to be happy ones, so that they leave leave feeling wistful and want to come back! Not cursing the cleaner who was knocking on their bedroom window and playing loud music, or whatever it is you have in mind. And speaking of happy moments, I should zip into the village and get some pastry for their last breakfast. You have any other tidbits of news for me? Everything staying relatively harmonious in the village?”

Constance held her chin and looked up at the ceiling, thinking it over. “Yep! No divorces, no burglaries, and no dead bodies. Castillac is an ocean of calm!”

“It’s early yet,” said Molly, under her breath. Not because she was hoping for mayhem, but because she was learning that no place stayed free of it for long.

A beautiful corpse. Zero clues. Peace in Castillac shattered once more.

When another native of the French village is found dead, Molly and the gendarmes are stumped. Complicating matters, Ben is hired to defend Molly’s prime suspect. Uh oh, mixing romance with detective work can be a dangerous business…or at least, it can lead to some unsteady conclusions.

Will Molly figure out where she’s gone wrong in time to nail the killer? Or will her scheme to unmask the murderer at Lawrence’s disco birthday party fall apart?

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