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Just Desserts (Bed-and-Breakfast Series #1)

Just Desserts (Bed-and-Breakfast Series #1)

3.5 75
by Mary Daheim

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When the garishly grotesque clan of wealthy carpet-sweeper magnate Otto Broadie sweeps down upon Judith McMonigle's Hillside Manor Inn, it looks like there'll be a wild night of drinking, dining, and fortune-telling in the offing. But when their soothsayer-for-hire Madame Gushenka drops dead after someone douses her tea leaves with bug killer, harried hostess


When the garishly grotesque clan of wealthy carpet-sweeper magnate Otto Broadie sweeps down upon Judith McMonigle's Hillside Manor Inn, it looks like there'll be a wild night of drinking, dining, and fortune-telling in the offing. But when their soothsayer-for-hire Madame Gushenka drops dead after someone douses her tea leaves with bug killer, harried hostess Judith and her irrepressible cousin Renie are left to clean up the mess. One of the Brodie bunch would dearly love to sweep the Madame's murder under the rug, however, and that might mean eliminating the nosy Ms. McMonigle as well. But with the help of her one-time beau, policeman Joe Flynn, Judith is determined to rattle the dust off some closeted family skeletons, in order to coax a killer out of hiding before coffee is served.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Bed-and-Breakfast Series , #1
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.64(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Judith Grover McMonigle thrust the phone away from her ear a good two feet, knocked her coffee mug off the kitchen counter, and booted her cat, Sweetums, into the open cupboard under the sink. At the other end of the line, Oriana Bustamanti Brodie was covering every note of the scale, beseeching Judith to change her mind.

"We're fumigating," Oriana wailed. "Carpenter ants. It smells. It's impossible. And Otto is counting on this weekend with the family!"

A disheveled Sweetums was eyeing Judith with open hostility. His orange fur bore traces of chili beans and apple peel. Any other cat would have ignored revenge for the sake of cleanliness. In Judith's opinion, Sweetums was as unnatural as he was filthy.

"I'm sorry," Judith said, for the third time, bringing the handset up to her mouth while she threw a dish towel onto the spilled coffee and began swirling it about with her foot. "I'm booked, have been since November. "

"But you told me January wasn't a busy month!" Oriana had launched into her full-throated Act Four, Scene Three voice.

"It isn't," Judith agreed as Sweetums put a paw in the coffee, sniffed, and choked up a hairball. "Only two of the four rooms are taken, but you'd need all of them for your ... family, right?" Somehow, "family" wasn't a word she readily associated with Otto and Oriana Brodie; "horde" sprang more easily to mind.

The sigh that heaved over the phone line possessed seismic force. "Otto will be sooooo disappointed." The mezzo-soprano voice that had mesmerized indiscriminating opera lovers in second-rate houses dropped several notches. "We would have paid extra for the short notice."

"Another time, maybe," Judith said pleasantly, if firmly, and replaced the handset as Sweetums slipped out through his cat's door into the back yard. As much as she hated turning guests away, Judith was relieved. The Brodies might be considered by many on Heraldsgate Hill to be prominent personages, given his wealth as a carpetsweeper mogul and her fleeting fame in the music world. But Oriana's demands conveyed a hint of desperation which put Judith off.

Not that she had either the time or the inclination to indulge in speculation on neighborhood eccentricities. Widowed for almost three years, she had hurled herself into establishing the family home as a bed-and-breakfast known as Hillside Manor. At the moment, she barely had time to finish mopping up the mess left by the coffee and Sweetums before her mother came thumping into the kitchen on her walker.

"Where's my Turns?" she demanded, giving the walker an extra whack for emphasis.

"Up your nose," muttered Judith, grateful that Gertrude Grover was nearly deaf as a post. More loudly she said, "Try your housecoat pocket, left-hand side." She checked the Caesar's Palace coffee mug for cracks with -one eye, while watching her mother with the other.

"Damn," breathed Gertrude, "how'd they get there?" The telephone saved Judith from having to answer. It was Dorothy Dalgleish, calling from Pinetop Falls, a small logging community some fifty-five miles to the northeast.

"0h, Mrs. McMonigle, I'm so sorry!' wailed Dorothy Dalgleish. "We're going to have to cancel this weekend. Homer is sick."

"That's a shame," said Judith with feeling, though more for herself than the ailing Homer. "I hope it's nothing serious. "

"It's always serious with Homer," Dorothy responded with a touch of annoyance. "Bronchitis, this time. He will work out in the woods in the worst weather. But that's the life of a gyppo logger. You're on your own, with no big timber company behind you . "

Judith could sympathize, at least with Homer's private initiative. "Tell him to take care. You, too. Mrs. Dalgleish."

"He will. We will," asserted Dorothy. "In fact, put us down for next weekend. If you can . "

Judith could and did, filling Hillside for the first weekend of February. A glance at her reservation book gave her mixed pangs of satisfaction and apprehension. Since opening the B&B in May, she was already discovering a pattern to bookings: Weekends up through October were generally full; so were most weekdays during the summer. Business revived in mid-November, but dropped off dramatically after New Year's. St. Valentine's had been taken since early December, but there were a lot of blank spaces until April. Maybe she should add catering to her repertoire. Or try to book more wedding receptions. Perched as it was on the steep hill on a dead-end street, the big old house was ideal for romantic getaways and for visiting shoppers who didn't want the hassle or expense of a downtown hotel. Tourists, however, had yet to beat down Judith's door. Perhaps that would change if she could get listed in one of the national guidebooks. She'd made various contacts, from AAA to specialty publishing companies, but so far without any payoff. Patience, she told herself; patience -- and the cultivation of a tough hide -- had gotten her through eighteen years of marriage.

"Where's Mike?" Gertrude inquired, her pugnacious jaw thrust out above the gaudy green and red of her housecoat collar.

Judith was somewhat startled by the question. Her mother might be ornery, even absentminded, but she was hardly senile. "Away at school," she replied in a much less certain voice than she usually employed.

"Of course he's away at school," growled Gertrude. "What do you think I am, daffy?" She rummaged in her other pocket and pulled out a package of cigarettes. "I meant, where is he at school? I thought he was off on some half-assed field trip. "

"Oh! " Judith ran a hand through her prematurely graying hair. "Idaho, some place. Priest Lake? " She knew, of course, but momentarily went blank. As a forestry major, her only son had already been on several field trips which seemed to focus on how much...

Just Desserts. Copyright © by Mary Daheim. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Mary Richardson Daheim is a Seattle native with a communications degree from the University of Washington. Realizing at an early age that getting published in books with real covers might elude her for years, she worked on daily newspapers and in public relations to help avoid her creditors. She lives in her hometown in a century-old house not unlike Hillside Manor, except for the body count. Daheim is also the author of the Alpine mystery series, the mother of three daughters, and has three grandchildren.

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Just Desserts (Bed-and-Breakfast Series #1) 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 75 reviews.
Kasia_S More than 1 year ago
First in the famous Mary Daheim Bed & Breakfast Inn series, this is a must read for cozy mystery lovers because it's a truly delightful experience! There's the perfect atmosphere and ambiance, Inn full of crazy family members with hidden agendas, secrets, affairs - you name it, and all that topped with healthy servings of delicious food, mouth wateringly described through out the book, it was enough to keep me glued to the book but the mystery itself was so entertaining and had so many clues that it was the star of the book.

The story reminded me of my favorite type of Agatha Christie mystery; house full of guests/family members who are somehow involved in a murder, but no one knows who did it. Close family ties through marriage and blood make it tougher of a crime to be solved since one of the dear members is the killer, but whom? Widowed Judith is running the Inn with the occasional help of her grumpy mother Gertrude and help from her good friend and cousin Renie and the last thing she needs is a murder on the grounds. When a celebrity couple Otto and Oriana drop in with their grown offspring and other family members, she is pestered for fancy liquors and creative cooking with requests for cream puffs for dessert. All goes well during the family dinner until Madame Gushenka, card reader and entertainer hired by Oriana drops dead mid sentence. Upon closer inspection some truth comes out that shines new light on the crime and people guilty of being related to it. This was such a creative and twisted plot, very original and a total blast to follow.

I adore cozy mysteries, they are best savored in one or two sittings, short and sweet they make ma laugh and brainstorm and I rarely figure out the culprit but it's so much fun following the clues - and there are tons here - to see who the killer is. One of the best parts was how zany the Inn guests were! Each was memorable and interesting whether flawed or not and it made for a fun read. The only complaint I have is how the mystery was solved, I felt that the reader never got some of the info and it appeared magically at the end, making sense but something I couldn't catch on my own. I all ready started getting the other books in the series and will read them in order, mmm.. can't wait!

- Kasia S.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book kept me interested and entertained but it got me confused keeping up with how everyone was connected. I liked the cost of this novel but will wait to get the others (2-24) when their cost decreases considerably. Great job.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really did enjoy this book and recommended it to my mother. Even with the dated setting the personalities were current and fun. It had some good humor in it although I never laughed out loud. It also had an excellent reality based romance tied in without being trashy. It was well written and a good mystery. I look forward reading more of this series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've been aware of this series for forever and have had it recommended multiple times but have just now gotten around to actually reading it. And I'm sorry I've waited so long! I enjoyed her sense of humor and her building of the story, can't wait to start the next one! :)
nancydrew123 More than 1 year ago
This had all the ingredients of an Agatha Christie novel. A Bed & Breakfast with lots of prime suspects set in a small town. I liked the main characters Judith and her cousin Renie. Some reviewers thought Judith was mean.... I didn't get that from this book. I enjoyed the gourmet cooking and the description of the B&B. I didn't like the way the author depicted Judith's mother Gertrude. We never find out why she is so grumpy. The characters were zany and plot offered a few good twists and turns. It was fun following the clues. I didn't guess who the killer was until the end. Great start of a great series.
luluPL More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book and look forward to the next one. The characters are funny, the story is pretty much what any mystery is, BUT it doesn't turn out like you thought it would.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lots and lots of cussing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There are so many characters in that house and they are all related in one way or another. I was just confused in the end. Books should require that you have to work this hard to comprehend them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mean. This book was just plain mean. Judith, the lead, is mean to her grumpy mom, mean to the cat, mean to everyone. The garish clan - well they are certainly garish. Only redeeming thing about this book - at least I didn't pay for it (got it from the library). Cozy mysteries are loved because they are just that - cozy. They leave the reader in a cozy mood. But this book - ugh. Cozy it isn't. If you want cozy, try the Barking Detective series by Waverly Curtis and the Bailey Ruth series by Carolyn Hart.
LyndaLB More than 1 year ago
She did her usual complicated group dynamics story. The end was a twist of course. My not being a 'name' person I get confused by the large number of characters sometimes called by their first or last or nicknames! It's always fun to read about how and where people live their lives though. Light reading when you're tired of some of the explicit nastiness that we have so much of today.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well developed mystery with the usual twists and turns. Good character description. I would read another novel in Mary Daheim's series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this was a cute story and easy to enjoy
lovesbooksBW More than 1 year ago
Amazing what goes on at bed-and-breakfast establishments. A must read for everyone.
Anonymous 8 months ago
This was an easy read but was complicated to find the murder. Too many details to figute out. It was stil enjoyable.
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This book was all over the place; disjointed, poorly planned and the characters spent the whole book in search of a story.
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