Killer Honeymoon (Savannah Reid Series #18)

Killer Honeymoon (Savannah Reid Series #18)

4.5 19
by G. A. McKevett
     
 

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Now that plus-sized P.I. Savannah Reid has finally walked down the aisle, she's ready for a romantic island getaway with new husband Dirk Coulter. The trip is supposed to be a blissful week of rum drinks and sunshine--but finding a dead body on the beach can be a real killjoy. Welcome to the honeymoon from hell. . .

Savannah and Dirk were hoping for a little

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Overview

Now that plus-sized P.I. Savannah Reid has finally walked down the aisle, she's ready for a romantic island getaway with new husband Dirk Coulter. The trip is supposed to be a blissful week of rum drinks and sunshine--but finding a dead body on the beach can be a real killjoy. Welcome to the honeymoon from hell. . .

Savannah and Dirk were hoping for a little honeymoon excitement, but eye witnessing a cold blooded murder wasn't exactly what they had in mind. To their surprise, the recently deceased is none other than Amelia Northrop, the popular L.A. anchorwoman whose super sexy looks landed her a super wealthy husband. Savannah's no expert, but she's pretty sure Amelia won't be hosting tonight's evening news; she'll be the lead story.

When the local police make it clear that they don't want Savannah's help, she decides to do a little digging on her own--and what she discovers could blow the case wide open. It seems Amelia led a far more twisted life than her cheery on-screen persona suggested, and crossed more than a few powerful people along the way. The question is, who hated Amelia enough to shoot her dead in broad daylight? Savannah isn't sure, but she suspects Amelia found out the hard way that fate has a way of settling old scores--and karma can be a girl's worst enemy. . .

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
McKevett’s charming 18th Savannah Reid mystery (after 2012’s Buried in Buttercream) takes PI Savannah Reid and her new husband, Det. Sgt. Dirk Coulter, to Santa Tesla, an island off the California coast, where their honeymoon quickly turns into a busman’s holiday. When the newlyweds see a blonde woman running along an isolated beach felled by gunfire, Savannah rushes to her aid. The mortally wounded woman turns out to be TV newscaster Amelia Northrop. Who had it in for the popular and beautiful Amelia, and why does the local police chief, Charlotte La Cross, try to cover up the crime? Savannah’s colleagues at her Moonlight Magnolia Detective Agency—Tammy Hart, Ryan Stone, and John Gibson—join the hunt for the truth, ably abetted by Granny Reid and brother Waycross. Cozy fans will enjoy the laugh-out-loud dialogue and Southern witticisms, as well as the surprise Dirk gets at the end. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
Murder disrupts a newlywed detective's shot at connubial bliss. At their long-awaited nuptials, private eye Savannah Reid (A Decadent Way to Die, 2011, etc.) agreed to take her longtime admirer, police detective Dirk Coulter, for better or worse. Grumpiness? Fine. Snoring? OK. But starting the first day of their honeymoon on the island paradise of Santa Tesla by watching a woman die of gunshot wounds? Unacceptable! Even worse, Savannah and Dirk hear TV reporter Amelia Northrop's death described by Eyewitness News as "an accidental drowning." When they confront Charlotte La Cross about the cover-up, Santa Tesla's police chief is more than a little evasive. So Savannah and Dirk have no choice than to haul their crew--Tammy Hart, John Gibson and Ryan Stone, along with Savannah's brother Waycross and of course Granny Reid--over to Santa Tesla to help them investigate. Stalker Burt Ferris looks like a good suspect. So does Ian Xenos, whose multimillion-dollar designer knockoff business Amelia recently busted. But when Amelia's husband, William, a developer with plans to build a casino on one of Santa Tesla's pristine beaches, confides that he too was the target of a mystery shooter, attention turns to the Island Protection League, an environmentalist group dedicated to stopping the project cold. Only Savannah would have a honeymoon featuring a cast of thousands, proving once more that enough is enough, but too much is fantastic.
Library Journal
Savannah and Dirk's blissful island honeymoon goes suddenly stormy when a dead body—a celebrity at that—turns up on the beach. The plus-sized PI tackles her 18th case (after Buried in Buttercream).

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780758276513
Publisher:
Kensington
Publication date:
03/26/2013
Series:
Savannah Reid Series, #18
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)

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Killer HONEYMOON

A SAVANNAH REID MYSTERY
By G.A. McKevett

Kensington Publishing Corp.

Copyright © 2013 G.A. McKevett and Kensington Publishing Corporation
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7582-7651-3


Chapter One

Those darned cats were hogging the bed. Again.

As Savannah lay on her side—half-dreaming, half-waking— she felt Diamante draped—furry, warm, and heavy—across her thigh. Cleopatra was sprawled across her waist. Without even opening her eyes, Savannah knew which was which.

Since they were kittens, both had tried to sleep on her head, or at least on her pillow. Savannah had demanded they stay down by her feet. Over the years, they had negotiated this compromise. It worked, for human and feline alike.

Except for the snoring.

Cleopatra snored. Loudly.

She might be named after an Egyptian queen; her glossy coat could shine like fine black velvet, and her eyes glow like the most majestic mini-panther in the jungle. But Cleopatra snored like a cartoon bear. This morning was the worst that Savannah had ever heard. Plus she smelled like Old Spice.

Savannah woke fully with a start and tried to flip over onto her back, but she was thoroughly pinned. With her newfound consciousness, she realized these were not simple kitty cats—not even the miniature leopard style—holding her down.

She ran her fingers over the hard, hairy arm wrapped around her waist. Then she investigated the harder and hairier object across her thigh. It was her husband's leg.

Yes. Husband.

She had one of those now.

The memories of yesterday's vows and the two rings on her left hand made it quite official. As did the presence of a man in her bed and the sound of his snoring that reminded her of a Georgia tornado, whirling a few inches from her ear.

Savannah Reid was a married woman; and normally, that thought might have alarmed her. But his familiar smell and the blissful heat of his body pressed against hers reminded her—it was Dirk. Not just her husband, but her best friend and partner for more years than she cared to count.

So it was okay. In fact, it was much more than okay.

"Hey, good morning, wifey," he said, nuzzling her ear, his breath tickling her neck. His arm tightened around her waist, pulling her even closer against him.

"Good morning to you, hubby," she replied with a giggle. "First time I ever said that."

He kissed a sensitive spot over her temple. It gave her delicious shivers. "Well, get used to it. This is a life sentence."

"Wouldn't have it any other way."

As she snuggled in, a feeling swept over her that she could only describe as wondrous, warm, and cozy. Better than a dark chocolate gourmet truffle savored lingeringly on the tongue. More delicious than a sip of the smoothest cognac that slid like liquid fire down the throat to the belly and then set every cell in the body to tingling.

Ah, it was heavenly.

Then he went back to sleep and started to snore. Much louder than before.

A moment later, her leg went numb. She tried to gently slip out from beneath him and couldn't. That big, hard, muscular thigh she had admired so much the night before weighed a ton.

She looked around the motel room and felt a bit homesick. She missed her lace curtains and her pink sheets. She missed Diamante and Cleo's soft, feminine purr-snores.

And Savannah realized that what her blessed granny had told her for so many years was true: Sometimes love was sacred, the most holy and powerful force in the universe. Sometimes it was a warm, fuzzy feeling. Occasionally it was a wildfire of passion that, like cognac, inflamed every cell of your body.

And sometimes it was just a decision. Plain and simple.

At that moment, lying in her new husband's arms, she knew that this big bear of a man would willingly die for her; and even more important, only yesterday, he had vowed to live for her.

With his arm and leg draped protectively over her, cutting off her circulation, she felt her soul fill to the brim with "warm and fuzzy."

And she decided, once again, to love him forever, just as she'd promised to do yesterday in front of God and everybody she knew.

Now ... if she could only get back to sleep.

In an effort to get away from it all—"all" being Savannah's enormous family, who had decided to camp out in her house for a Southern California vacation following the wedding—Savannah and Dirk had hopped a ferry and escaped to the tiny, picturesque island of Santa Tesla. Twenty-four miles from their own native San Carmelita, and fifty-one miles northwest of Los Angeles, Santa Tesla was a world away and a kingdom unto itself.

With its lush, tropical greenery, brightly colored houses decorated with white gingerbread trim, and grass-roofed huts, the place reminded Savannah of pictures she had seen of Polynesia and Key West. While she had never been to either—poor little girls from Georgia and grown-up, but underpaid, private detectives didn't do a lot of traveling—Santa Tesla looked exactly the way Savannah had always imagined those romantic locales.

As she and Dirk left their shabby little motel and strolled, hand in hand, along the waterfront, she breathed deeply, taking in the delicate scent of honeysuckle wafting on the salt sea air, blending with aromas from the various food establishments they were passing.

She looked around her, enjoying the treats that nature had to offer, from the brilliance of the bougainvillea and hibiscus, which bloomed in profusion, to the giant palms swaying gently in the breeze, the glistening waves as they rolled onto the sand, and the white seagulls circling the beach.

Farther away, the harbor was lined with every sort of boat, yacht, and ship imaginable. And in the distance, a giant cruise ship lay at anchor, waiting while her passengers explored the island and sampled its exotic foods and drinks, hiked nature trails, went diving and snorkeling, parasailed, fished, and deepened their tans on the beaches.

She turned to her groom, gazed lovingly into his eyes, and said, "Don't you just love it here? It's pure romance. Perfect for a honeymoon."

"I liked it better before that dude at the motel told me how much taxis cost here. What a bite in the ass!"

Okay, she thought. So much for loving gazes and pure, unadulterated romance. It's not like you didn't know he was grumpy and cheap when you married him, Savannah girl.

He pointed to the closest thing resembling a "transportation hub" on the island—a bicycle-rental hut. "Yeah, we're gonna have to rent a couple of those."

Looking around her at the steep, steep hills, rising from the beach area to the distant mountains, some soaring to nearly two thousand feet, she reminded herself of her early-morning platitude about love being a choice, a decision, a determination to commit.

"And sometimes it's a vow not to smack 'im silly with the nearest heavy, metal object," she muttered under her breath.

"What?" he asked.

"If you think I'm gonna spend my honeymoon pedaling all over tarnation on a bicycle, buddy, you best reconsider."

"But it'll save us a fortune!"

She turned to him with a look that was sans adoration and brimming with "Get real."

In her thickest, most deep-down-in-Dixie accent, she said, "Last night was wonderful, amazing, all I ever dreamed of, and more."

He beamed.

"But such unaccustomed activity has left me with an aching need to park my butt on a hot-water bottle, not a bicycle seat—if you catch my drift."

He stopped beaming. "Oh. Right. Gotcha."

As she looked up and down the beach with its seaward-facing shops and concessions, she spotted what she was looking for—a golf cart rental. "Now, that is more like it. I always wanted to drive one of those things."

He brightened as they headed toward it. "Yeah, that looks like fun, but I wanna drive."

"Nope, I thought of it."

"But I'm the husband. Husbands do the driving."

She grinned up at him, slapping him on the back. "Darlin', we need to get you the latest edition of the Husband Handbook. Obviously, the one you've been reading is badly out of date."

* * *

A few moments later, as Dirk was filling out the rental form for the cart and Savannah was sliding her California driver's license back into her wallet, she noticed something inside her purse. A creamy white envelope with beautiful script on the front.

Dirk walked up to her and dangled the cart's key in front of her nose. "Possession's nine-tenths of the law," he said, far too proud of himself.

Ordinarily, she would have snatched the key away from him, or at least tried. It might have even ended in an all-out tussle there in front of the tourist hordes. But she was too distracted by the envelope.

She pulled it out, turned it over in her hand, and studied the front. Savannah and Dirk had been written in a hand she knew very well. In all her life, she had only met one person with penmanship that perfect, and who wrote with an antique fountain pen.

"Whatcha got there?" Dirk asked, taking her arm and propelling her toward their waiting, freshly rented cart.

"It's from Ryan. I think it's a card." She paused, trying to remember. "I have a half-memory of him handing it to me in the Bentley, when he and John were driving me to our wedding. It's a little hazy. I was a bit discombobulated."

"Yeah, well, I was about to pee my fancy tuxedo pants. I was so nervous waiting for you to get there. I was already wondering how I was gonna explain it to the rental joint."

She hardly noticed when he tucked her into the passenger seat and stuck himself behind the wheel, because she was busy unsealing the linen vellum, tissue-lined envelope.

"It's from Ryan and John," she said as she pulled out the card and opened it. "'Dearest Friends,'" she read aloud. "'While we trust you two are having a wonderful first night, reminiscing in your motel of choice, we thought you might enjoy a more romantic venue for the remainder of your island honeymoon. Forgive us for taking the liberty of arranging an alternative, which you are more than welcome to accept or refuse.'"

Dirk slipped the key into the cart's ignition switch. "Cool. I wouldn't mind having better digs than that one we just stayed in."

"You told me you wanted to stay there," she said. "Sentimental reasons, and all that."

"Seemed like a good idea at the time. Since we didn't do anything the other time we slept there, it was sorta like making up for lost time. But I think I got a fleabite on my leg last night."

"Get used to it. You'll be sleeping with flea-bitten felines for the rest of your life."

He grinned at her and stomped on the pedal, causing the cart to lurch forward. "As long as it's Cleo and Di. They're my girls, fleas and all."

As they bounced away from the hut and onto the street, she gave him an annoyed, sidewise glance. "Driving as smoothly as always, I see."

"Hey, you're talking to a manly man here, and we manly men are hell on wheels." He nodded toward the envelope in her hands. "What else does it say?"

She continued to read, as best she could, considering the bumpiness of the road and Dirk's erratic swerving to avoid pedestrian tourists, dressed in eye-searing tropical prints. " 'Take this card to the gift shop at the base of the lighthouse and tell Betty Sue we sent you. Love and best wishes overflowing, John and Ryan.' "

Savannah closed her eyes for a moment and savored the thought of her precious friends, whose love and devotion had sustained her over the years. Tall, dark, and outrageously sexy Ryan Stone and his genteel British gentleman partner, John Gibson, had brought more elegance and charm into her life than she could have ever imagined. It looked as though they were providing still more.

"Whatever our surprise is," she told Dirk as he swerved to avoid a couple of old hippies in tie-dye, "it's bound to be wonderful."

"Knowing Ryan and John, it'll be classy. Hope it ain't too highfalutin. Us manly men have a reputation to uphold."

She pointed toward the end of the island where the Santa Tesla Lighthouse towered above all other landmarks, both manmade and natural, glistening white and stately against the perfect blue sky. "Point this jalopy that-there direction. Let's go and find out what Miss Betty Sue's got for us in her gift shop."

About two hundred yards from the lighthouse, in a quaint little shop, Savannah and Dirk found Betty Sue standing behind the counter, amid a jungle of seashell-festooned wind chimes. She peeked out at them from between dangling starfish, bits of sparkling sea glass, and delicate sea horses, which danced on the breeze that floated through the cozy store.

Like Savannah, Betty Sue bore a name that suggested she might be a fair daughter of the Confederacy. But she was no dainty Southern belle. With her silver hair cropped to less than an inch, her skin darkly leathered by the sun, her baggy men's work shirt, and her faded denim overalls, she looked more like a deep-sea fisherman than a down-in-Dixie debutante.

But her smile was bright and her pale blue eyes sparkled when she greeted them. "I was expecting you two to pop in about this time," she said. "Ryan and John told me that the new bride would be as pretty as a picture. Shiny, dark, curly hair and eyes bluer than mine—that's the way they described you, Savannah."

She gave Dirk a quick glance. "And they mentioned you'd be comin' along, too."

"Yeah, we grooms tend to hang out and make a nuisance of ourselves on our honeymoons," he grumbled in return.

Betty Sue walked around the counter, winding her way through displays of kites, straw hats, and plaques with nautical themed quotes like, Life's a Beach. In her hand, she held a large skeleton key and a smaller one, both attached to a chain with a skull-and-crossbones medallion dangling from it. The keys and the ornament looked ancient—tarnished and rusty.

When Betty Sue placed them in her hand, Savannah felt a slight chill, of the delicious type, shiver down her back. If only her friend and assistant, Tammy Hart, were here, she would be thrilled. These artifacts were straight out of an old Nancy Drew book. In her imagination, Savannah could envision the title—The Mystery of the Skeleton Keys—and the cover copy, encouraging the reader to Discover what terrors lurk behind the doors, unlocked with these sinister keys.

"So, what're those?" Dirk snapped. "The keys to a dusty ol' crypt or some vampire coffin?"

Betty Sue chuckled. "Oh, no. Something much nicer than that. Follow me...."

Betty Sue led them out of the shop and along a dirt walkway, which cut across a small field. As Savannah followed her, keys in hand, through a profusion of natural vegetation—wild sage, golden marguerites, orange poppies, and the occasional pear cactus— she could see that their path could only lead to the lighthouse itself.

She glanced back at Dirk, who was a few feet behind her, and gave him a questioning look. He shrugged, but he looked as intrigued as she.

When they arrived at the majestic tower, Betty Sue steered them toward the two-story white-stucco cottage with a red tile roof, nestled against its base.

Both the lighthouse and the cottage appeared quite old. Their doors were arched and built of heavy, dark, distressed wood. The freshly polished brass hardware shone brightly, but looked as though it had weathered years of sea storms. Instead of being perfectly clear and smooth, the glass in the windows of the house had tiny seed bubbles, striations, and imperfections that hinted at its age.

At the upper-story windows and downstairs, as well, redwood window boxes added a graceful charm to the cottage, spilling over with salmon-colored geraniums, white petunias, and maidenhair ferns.

"This is the lightkeeper's cottage," Betty Sue told them. "It was built at the same time as the lighthouse itself, back in 1853."

"Wow, pre–Civil War," Savannah said as Betty Sue took the keys from her hand.

"Yes. President Franklin Pierce ordered it built after a notorious shipwreck on the reefs over there." She pointed toward the water to a row of jagged rock teeth, some of which jutted above the surface, while others, looking just as sharp and ominous, lurked below.

"Wouldn't wanna run aground on those things," Dirk said. "They'd grind you up and spit you out—turn you into shark bait."

"That's pretty much what happened to the crew and passengers of the Lillyan Suzanne." Betty Sue stepped to the door of the cottage and fit the smallest key into the lock. "She was a steamer, transporting a bunch of guys from San Francisco to Panama. They'd just struck it rich in the gold rush up there and were carrying their fortunes with them. The ship hit the reefs, and it was every man for himself. In the melee, they were more interested in stealing each other's gold dust than rescuing the survivors."

"Tough group," Dirk replied. "Reminds me of our police department barbecues when the supply of ribs runs low."

Betty Sue turned the key and opened the cottage's door. It creaked loudly on its hinges, and Savannah thought, What else would you expect from a door opened with a skeleton key?

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Killer HONEYMOON by G.A. McKevett Copyright © 2013 by G.A. McKevett and Kensington Publishing Corporation. Excerpted by permission of Kensington Publishing Corp.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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