Worth More Dead
Published by: eXtasy Books
Author : Carol A. Guy
Word Count :73451
Publication Date :2014-10-25
Series : Crescent Falls#3
Heat Level :
- Product Code: 978-1-4874-0227-3
Suspects abound and past secrets bubble to the surface when one of Crescent Falls’ most hated residents is murdered.Suspects abound and past secrets bubble to the surface when one of Crescent Falls’ most hated residents is murdered.
It is spring in Crescent Falls and time for the annual Thrift Store Fashion Show. Since the event will be held in the spacious social hall of the Crescent Falls United Methodist Church, amateur sleuth Adelaide McBride was acting as liaison between the church and the coordinator for the show, Gabriel, a high strung fashion buyer from out of town. But that’s not all that is going on in the quaint little village. Local landlord and ousted town councilman, Lloyd Fletcher, has decided to seek his own kind of revenge against the residents by raising rents and refusing to sell a prime piece of real estate to one of three companies interested in relocating to Crescent Falls. When Lloyd is murdered, suspects abound, including a secret current lover, a past lover and just about anyone else who has had dealings with Lloyd in the past. Of course, Adelaide is on the case, helping behind the scenes, in spite of the turbulence in her personal life. Her relationship with Vernon Dexter, who runs the pharmacy that she and her late husband owned, meets a snag as Adelaide tries to sort out her conflicting feelings for her pastor, James Preston. As the investigation into Lloyd’s death progresses, shocking surprises are revealed, not all of them having to do with the murder.
On this balmy Thursday morning, Adelaide McBride looked up at the bank of gray clouds rolling across the sky. The heavy rains of last night had stopped and she could see patches of blue. The aroma of wet earth along with the faint scent of lilacs in bloom was carried in the air. It had been a wet April so far but luckily no tornado threats.
“This is so wrong,” Adelaide’s best friend Ethel Henshaw said.
“There’s nothing we can do about it, Ethel, so there’s no sense belaboring the point,” Ethel’s husband, Carl, who was also the town mayor, pointed out.
They, along with many other Crescent Falls citizens, were standing on the north side of Mulberry Street, watching as a demolition crew prepared to raze the building that had once housed L&C Precision. Adelaide felt the same way Ethel did about what was happening. L&C, a long-time employer of many Crescent Falls citizens, had closed down with no notice over a year ago. That had been bad enough. But what followed was even worse.
“If Lloyd Fletcher had not tried to swindle the town, we’d have a nice company setting up shop here right now,” Ethel grumbled.
Adelaide glanced over at her friend. Her snow-white hair was in a little disarray and her hazel eyes blazed with anger. “We can’t change what has happened, Carl is right. But, I do agree that what he did and is still doing is inexcusable.”
Lloyd Fletcher, local real estate developer and owner of many properties in and around town, had secretly added the L&C land to his personal portfolio then had tried to make an under-the-table deal with casino owners.
“I guess Vernon didn’t have the stomach to come and watch this spectacle,” Ethel said.
Adelaide recalled how hard Vernon had fought to bring other enterprises to Crescent Falls. In fact, the entire Crescent Falls Business Development Committee, which had been formed for that purpose, had lined up three acceptable possibilities. But, once Lloyd revealed he would not sell the land to any of them and intended to tear down the building, those hopes were dashed.
Behind Adelaide and the Henshaws, a group of protestors chanted their displeasure with the demolition. They carried placards and marched in a circle under the watchful eyes of police personnel who were there to keep order.
“This is a hot topic. I’m not surprised at the turnout,” said local funeral director, Harold Purcell, as he joined Adelaide and the Henshaws.
Adelaide glanced up at Harold, who now sported a tan. “So how was your trip to Florida?”
“Dora and I had a wonderful time. I think it will be the ideal place for a winter home.”
Harold and local diner owner, Dora Carmody, had been keeping company for some time and Adelaide couldn’t be happier for them.
Carl patted Harold on the shoulder. “Good for you.”
Ethel looked at her husband. “You knew about this?” Her tone was accusatory.
Carl’s dark blue eyes twinkled a little. “About what?”
Ethel huffed. “Don’t be so obtuse. You don’t act a bit surprised. Did you know Harold was thinking about buying a home in Florida?”
“He may have mentioned it,” Carl replied evasively.
“So, Harold,” Adelaide said, “is there any other news you want to share with us?”
“I’ve been thinking about wintering in the south for some time. Now that my daughter is pretty much running things at the funeral parlor, I’ll be free to do so.” He smiled.
“With Dora? What about the diner?” Ethel asked.
Harold sighed. “That has yet to be discussed.” His tone indicated the subject was closed.
Just then, Tina Engler, owner of Tina’s Tresses, the only beauty salon in town, walked up and joined them. She was wearing jeans and a red t-shirt under a light-weight jacket.
“I see I made it in time.” Tina nodded hellos to Harold, Adelaide and the Henshaws.
Adelaide had always liked Tina. She was a Crescent Falls native who had married her high school sweetheart, Rudy. He now managed the local thrift store and food pantry. She was also the newest member of the Crescent Falls Town Council, having taken Lloyd Fletcher’s seat when he was forced to resign in February after the land swindle scandal broke.
Tina glanced over her shoulder. “I don’t suppose Lloyd will have the nerve to show his face today, what with the protestors calling for blood.”
Adelaide shook her head. “I doubt we’ll see him, which is fine with me. What about Rudy? Is he coming?”
“No. He’s meeting with Gabriel about the fashion show.”
Adelaide felt like groaning. The annual thrift store luncheon-fashion show was only days away and things were getting tense among those involved. “You know, in the past we always handled this fashion show ourselves with local people running things. Now, it’s like we’re staging a Broadway musical or something.”
Tina smiled. “Rudy seems to be taking it in stride. He likes Gabriel, and so do I, even though he’s a little high strung. And I think it is great that this year men will be modeling outfits also. Gabriel hit the nail right on the head with that idea.”