Cold Front: A Tory Bauer Mystery


Death is a Party Pooper

Waitress Tory Bauer is good at dishing out food and dishing out gossip. Now it's her steamy secrets that are being dished out all over town. But it's New Years Eve in tiny Delphi, South Dakota, one of the few fun dates on the local calendar. And, bad-mouthed or not, Tory's determined to have a good time partying down. . .even if it kills her! As it turns out, she's not the one who doesn't make it beyond the stroke of ...

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2000 Mass-market paperback New. Mass market (rack) paperback. Glued binding. 352 p. Tory Bauer Mystery. Audience: General/trade.

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Death is a Party Pooper

Waitress Tory Bauer is good at dishing out food and dishing out gossip. Now it's her steamy secrets that are being dished out all over town. But it's New Years Eve in tiny Delphi, South Dakota, one of the few fun dates on the local calendar. And, bad-mouthed or not, Tory's determined to have a good time partying down. . .even if it kills her! As it turns out, she's not the one who doesn't make it beyond the stroke of midnight.

Suave and handsome Ian O'Hara had only been in town less than a day when his trip was abbreviated by his untimely murder. During his few fateful hours in delphi, however, he had managed to make several "love connections"--including one with Tory's roomate, Del. With pretty much the whole town nursing January 1 hangovers, ever-inquisitive Tory is ready to start her new year off right by hunting down a lothario slayer. But it's the killer's resolution not to get caught. . .and Tory might just be amateur sleuthing herself into an early grave!

'I'll visit South Dakota any time Troy Bauer's around as a guide."(— Miami Herald)

"Delightful"(— Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

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Editorial Reviews

Toby Bromberg
The picture of small town life portrayed in Cold Front is uproariously funny and deadly accurate. Tory Bauer is a delightful creature and you couldn’t hope for a zanier bunch of supporting characters. Although the novel is a bit lengthy, this is an all round fun read.
Romantic Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380812042
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/1/2000
  • Series: Tory Bauer Mystery Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 4.16 (w) x 6.74 (h) x 0.95 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One
When it Snows, it Pours

New Year's Eve

I've heard that Eskimos assign to each variation of snow its own distinct and descriptive name. In their assorted languages, the splotchy flakes that fall gently from a slate-gray sky have nothing in common with the deep powder accumulations prized by the owners of ski resorts. And except for a color and temperature similarity, neither of the former bear the slightest relation to the frozen granules that pelt anyone unfortunate enough to stand next to large northern bodies of water in the middle of winter.

English, on the other hand, is not so specific. Whatever the size and texture, most Americans lump all cold, white precipitation into a single meteorological category.

But Delphi is not most of America. In our comer of northeastern South Dakota, we have a few distinct and descriptive terms for snow too.

"Piss, shit, goddamn," Del said, glaring out the cafe window. "Fuck."

It had been cold, bitterly cold, with daytime highs well below zero and wind chill factors exponentially lower. We'd had blowing and drifting snow and a winter storm warning in place for several days already, with another cold front scheduled to hit just before midnight.

I didn't care. The best entertainment Delphi had to offer on New Year's Eve was karaoke and drinks for a buck at the bar—an enticement that left me more than satisfied to burrow in at home with a book, even without a blizzard.

Del, however, had a date coming up from Sioux Falls—a guy she'd met through a personal ad in the newspaper. She'd regaled us for two weeks about this paragon of desirablemanliness: flashing his picture and speculating wildly on his other attributes.

In fact, his photo showed him to be of better than average build and looks. We'd all memorized his stats long before Del read his perfectly charming letters out loud for the twentieth time, and could quote right along with her his claim to be a divorced professional man with a fondness for children and dogs and translating French poetry, not to mention a craving for long walks on the beach at sunset.

While maintaining indifference to the whole enterprise, Alanna. Luna, ex-stripper and new co-owner of the cafe, managed to broadcast frequent warnings about the stupidity of meeting losers culled from the newspaper. But Rhonda, our twenty-year-old relief waitress/temporary cook's helper was delighted at the possibility that the well-traveled, forty-something Del might finally setde down with one man. An unmarried one at that.

Neither young nor naive enough to subscribe to that notion myself, I still had to admit that I was looking forward to getting a peek at the paragon who was set to arrive soon with a white carnation pinned to his coat.

If he could only get here.

Del's highly anticipated, and minutely discussed, New Year's Eve First Date was now endangered by the governor's mandate to restrict highway traffic to emergency vehicles only. Ian Douglas O'Hara (who even had a handsome, manly name) needed to travel one hundred miles of drifted interstate before turning onto another hundred-mile stretch of badly plowed two-lane in order to arrive before five P.M.

"I wouldn't worry," I said to Del as she continued to peer anxiously out the window. "A man with the intestinal fortitude to appreciate unadulterated Baudelaire should be more than equal to a blizzard."

"You know, Ted Bundy was smart too," Alanna drawled innocently, from behind the counter as she refilled the napkin dispensers.

"Yeah, and so was the Unabomber," Ron Adler laughed, blinking.

Small and trim, with an undershot chin and a receding hairline, wearing insulated coveralls unzipped and peeled to the waistline, Ron drank coffee, told bad jokes, stared at Alanna's overhung bosom, said sarcastic things to Del, and in general wasted time as he waited to be paged again. His garage/gas station had been inundated with service calls to start frozen vehicles all day. His pickup sat warm and idling, jumper cables at the ready, diagonally parked in front of the cafe.

I used to think that the facial tic that caused Ron to blink wildly every third word was triggered by proximity to Del and his long-term unrequited crush on her. But since that particular itch had been scratched to no one's satisfaction a few months ago, and then rescratched every so often since with the same result, while the blinking continuing unabated, I had to conclude it was just one of his more lovable traits. Along with the need to prove to one and all that twenty-five years of mooning notwithstanding (most of that as a married man), he had never really been attracted to Del in the first place.

I sometimes wondered why Ron still spent so much dine in the cafe given his newfound and obvious dislike of Del.

But mine was not to wonder why. Mine was to wander with a pot of regular in one hand and a pot of decaf in the other filling up cups, hoping against hope that the nastiness would not escalate beyond a few verbal jabs.

"So whose picture did you use to lure him here?" Ron continued for the cafe's benefit. "Raquel Welch?"

It was proof of Del's superhuman restraint that she had yet to pour a pot of coffee on his head.

Not that it hadn't occurred to her.

Or me, come to think of it.

The sporadic laughter in the cafe withered under Del's glare, though Ron continued to chuckle weakly to himself, and Alanna grinned behind the counter.

Bad weather notwithstanding, it had been a busy shift, with people rubbing chapped hands, blowing red noses, and stomping new snow off old boots in the doorway all day. As the afternoon wore on, the local businesses closed early, because of both the snow and the impending holiday. The cafe filled with local lollygaggers waiting for enough time to pass so they could have that first celebratory drink without feeling guilty.

Not everyone felt the need to wait.

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