Caught in the Act (Amhearst Mystery Series #2)by Gayle Roper
Perpetual bad-hair days, not one but two romantic entanglements, a selfish coworker -- life is already complex for reporter Merrileigh Kramer. But when she finds her coworkers' ex-husband dead at the couple's home, Merry realizes that the complications are just beginning. Who would want to kill a nice guy like Arnie Meister? It turns out the list is long and getting longer. And just when the clues suggest a suspect, something or someone throws Merry off. In a case full of red herrings, the big question soon becomes, Who couldn't be guilty? Meanwhile, the rest of life isn't exactly on hold -- particularly since it includes a new, potential Mr. Right. Merry finds herself smack in the middle of a bewildering maze or romance, personal choices, and murder. And only faith in God and her own instincts can help her solve not just the mystery of Arnie Meister's death, but of her own heart.
Author Biography: Gayle Roper is the author of almost 30 books, including Caught in the Middle and Caught in the Act, books one and two in the Amhearst Mystery series. She has been reading and writing mysteries for years. A member of Mystery Writers of America and former director of the St. Davids Christian Writers Conference, she speaks at women's events and writers' conferences all over the country. Roper lives with her husband and two children in southeastern Pennsylvania.
Read an Excerpt
I have to stop going places with Jolene Meister. Every time I go, catastrophe results.
"Merry, could you drop me off at my parents' after work?" she asked as we left The News office for lunch. She waited while I pushed open the front door and held it for her. "My father brought me in this morning."
It sounded a reasonable request to me. I'd only have to go out of my way a couple of blocks.
"Sure. No problem," I said. "I don't have anything I have to do until eight when I'm supposed to take a picture of the committee for the Amhearst Annual Christmas Food Project." Or AAC-FOP, as Mac, our editor, irreverently called it.
And that easily and innocently I precipitated my involvement in murder.
Jolene and I walked to Ferretti's, the best eating our small town had to offer. The winter wind on this dingy December Tuesday bit through my new red coat, and I suspected my nose was turning almost as rosy as my wool blend. The two scars on my nose that I'd gotten in a bike accident when I was eight years old would be turning a contrasting blue.
Ah, well, I thought. If I smile, I can have a patriotic face: red nose, white teeth, and blue scars.
Gene Autry was serenading downtown Amhearst about Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer over a tinny public address system set up by Santa's little house. How come a cowboy had made millions off a deer's red nose, I wondered, and all I got from mine was a color scheme?
We were seated by Ferretti's hostess, a brassy blonde named Astrid, whom Jolene knew.
"How do you know Astrid?" I asked. It never ceased to amaze me how everyone in Amhearst knew everyone else. As a recent arrival I found it both cozy and unnerving.
"I went to school with her younger sister Elsa. She's a real dingbat."
"Who? Astrid or Elsa?"
Jolene thought for a minute. "Both."
Knowing Jolene as I did, that probably meant that both women were very nice and rather intelligent.
"Does anyone ever move away from Amhearst?" I asked as our waitress, an older lady whose nametag said Sally, came to take our order.
"Sure," Jolene said. "Sally's daughter Caroline moved to California to be in the movies, right?" She looked at Sally.
"Yeah," Sally said. "But she came home last month and I think she's staying. Astrid's sister Elsa got her a job as receptionist at Bushay's. Elsa's Mr. Bushay's administrative assistant." Didn't sound like dingbat territory to me, but it sure sounded like Amhearst. "So, what'll you have?"
I ordered an Amhearst version of Caesar salad (there were bacon bits and red cabbage in it and not an anchovy in sight) and Jolene ordered a huge plate of eggplant parmigiana.
Sally disappeared with her order pad and I looked at Jolene.
"And how do you know Sally?"
"She and my mom were in the PTA together."
"And you know Caroline, the would-be movie star?"
"Sure. She was three years ahead of me in school."
"See?" I said. "Weird."
Jolene shrugged. "Small town." She pressed her hands to her cheeks. "Do I look flushed to you?"
"Like you're getting sick, you mean?"
She nodded. Jolene was a hypochondriac.
I looked at her big brown hair and bangs, her bright brown eyes, her flawless skin. "It's just reaction from walking in the cold. You look great to me." In an overblown sort of way.
Soon Sally arrived with our lunches and I looked from my salad to Jolene's spicy, cheesy, greasy dish. "How can you eat that and not gain weight? It's swimming in oil. It's not fair."
"Fair?" she said, leveling a forkful of dripping eggplant at me. "Fair? Is it fair that you have two gorgeous men chasing you? Huh?" She snorted, a noise that sounded decidedly odd coming from her delicate nose. "Don't give me fair, Merrileigh Kramer. I'm not listening."
I grinned at her like an idiot. I'd never in my life had one man chasing me with any real enthusiasm, and suddenly I had two. It made me feel nervous. It made me feel powerful. It made me giggle.
It also made me check over my shoulder constantly because Jack was in town and Curt didn't know it yet. I hadn't quite figured out how to break the news to my new boyfriend that my old boyfriend, suddenly ardent, had come a-courting. And what was worse yet, Jack didn't even know that a warm, delightful, and charming man named Curt Carlyle existed.
My brother's favorite nickname for me wasn't Marshmallow Merry for nothing. No spine. No guts. No idea how to keep this wonderfully ego-boosting situation from turning into a roast-the-marshmallow pyre.
"So you're saying that Jack just showed up at your door on Sunday?" Jolene said as she buttered a piece of Italian bread with real butter.
I crunched a particularly large chunk of Romaine and nodded. "You go with a guy for six years and he refuses to make a commitment," I began.
"Six years?" Jolene's voice squeaked with disbelief.
I held up a hand. "Don't ask. Just accept my word that he's charming and I was stupid. Anyway, I'd hardly heard a word from him since I moved to Amhearst in September, and boom! There he was. Although I guess it really wasn't boom, now that I think about it. Four months is hardly boom."
"Merry Christmas, my Merry," he'd yelled when I'd opened my door Sunday afternoon. He pushed a giant silk poinsettia into my hands, smiling broadly at my confusion. Then he grabbed me and hugged me tightly, crushing the poinsettia painfully between us. Obviously he thought he'd brought me a wonderful gift, and he wasn't thinking of the flower.
"What are you doing here?" I'd demanded, ever gracious.
"Is that any way to greet your sweetheart come this great distance just to be near you?"
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Let author Gayle Roper take you on the adventure of your lifetime. A great cast of charters, Merrileigh will have you struggling to choose between two romantic interests. And if that doesn't keep you at the edge of your seat a murder defiantly will. Jolene is a purely selfish coworker, with crazy parents, a dead husband and secret boyfriend. I was keep guessing who the murder was until the very surprising end. This is a great read for anyone who likes a little romance, laughs and mystery. This is a great book with surprises around every corner.