In Meier's fizzy 15th holiday-themed cozy (after 2008's St. Patrick's Day Murder), reporter Lucy Stone, of Tinker's Cove, Maine, knows that the victim of a shooting murder, Tina Nowak, was feuding with Barbara "Bar" Hume over the popularity of their respective 16-year-old daughters, Heather and Ashley. Tinker's Cove is still reeling from the disappearance 10 months earlier of a teen youth counselor, and Bar's arrest is almost as shocking. In digging for answers regarding the alleged "killer mom," Lucy uncovers some icky revelations about Bart Hume, Bar's philandering cardiac surgeon husband. Meier's mix of family concerns and mystery turns darker than usual after Bart's mistress is killed in a suspicious car accident, and Lucy and Sara, Lucy's high school freshman daughter, are caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse. Along the way, Lucy must also deal with fears about Sara's first prom date and the sleepless nights all moms must face. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Mother's Day Murder (Lucy Stone Series #15)by Leslie Meier
Two of her four kids may be out of the nest, but Lucy Stone knows only too well that mothering is a lifetime commitment. At least she gets to kick back and enjoy a fancy Mother's Day brunch with her broodthat is, before the festivities are interrupted by a nasty scene courtesy of Barbara Hume and Tina Nowak. Opposites in every way, the only thing these mean… See more details below
Two of her four kids may be out of the nest, but Lucy Stone knows only too well that mothering is a lifetime commitment. At least she gets to kick back and enjoy a fancy Mother's Day brunch with her broodthat is, before the festivities are interrupted by a nasty scene courtesy of Barbara Hume and Tina Nowak. Opposites in every way, the only thing these mean moms have in common is the need to best each other at every turn, using their teenage daughters as pawns in elaborate games of one-upsmanship
Even after witnessing the women's claw sharpening rituals, Lucy never expects to see actual blood spilleduntil Tina is shot dead on the public tennis court. Now Lucy is determined to unravel the close-knit knot of suspects. But when the threads threaten to entangle one of her own, Lucy will come face-to-face with a killer who has a thing or two to learn about motherly love. . .
"As charming and enjoyable as ever." Romantic Times
Small-town life in Maine should be quiet and safe, but feuding families, high-school bullying, and the murder of a missing 16-year-old girl makes Tinker's Cove residents overprotective of their children and suspicious of one other. Another murder places Lucy Stone (St. Patrick's Day Murder), part-time reporter and mother of four, in the thick of things.
Jo Ann Vicarel
Read an Excerpt
Mother's Day MURDER
A Lucy Stone Mystery
By LESLIE MEIER
Copyright © 2009
All right reserved.
Chapter One The photo on the front page of the Sunday paper was familiar. NO MOTHER'S DAY FOR CORINNE'S MOM read the headline above the plump, sad-eyed woman holding a photo of her pretty teenage daughter. Lucy Stone didn't have to read the story; as a reporter for the weekly Pennysaver newspaper, she knew all about it. Corinne Appleton, who had a summer job working as a counselor for the town recreation program in nearby Shiloh, had disappeared minutes after her mother dropped her off at the park. The story had been front-page news for weeks, then had gradually slipped to page three and, finally, to the second section as other stories demanded attention. But now, ten months later, Corinne was still missing.
"How come you're looking so glum?" demanded her husband, Bill, as he entered the room. "Aren't you enjoying Mother's Day?"
Lucy quickly flipped over the paper, hiding Joanne Appleton's reproachful face.
"My mother always said Mother's Day was invented by the greeting card companies to boost sales," she said, beginning the struggle to get into a pair of control-top panty hose.
"I always heard it was a creation of the necktie manufacturers," complained Bill, who often declared he never regretted giving up suits and ties and Wall Street for the T-shirts and jeans he wore as a restoration carpenter in the little Maine town of Tinker's Cove. "I finally found this in the coat closet downstairs," he said, holding up a rather rumpled tie, the only one he possessed.
"If you think a tie is torture, you ought to try panty hose," said Lucy, who usually wore jeans and running shoes, practical attire for her job. Today she was squeezing into heels and a suit for a Mother's Day brunch at the fancy Queen Victoria Inn. "I don't want to seem ungrateful, but I liked it better when the kids gave me homemade cards and plants for the garden."
"And I'd cook breakfast, and you'd get to eat it in bed."
"Eventually," laughed Lucy. "I'd be starving by the time it actually arrived."
"That's because they had to pick the pansies and make the place mat and decorate the napkin," said Bill. "It was quite a production. And then they'd fight over who got to carry the tray." He looked across the bed at his wife, who was standing in front of her dresser, putting on a pair of earrings. "Those were the days," he said, crossing the room and slipping his arms around her waist and nuzzling her neck.
His beard, now speckled with gray, tickled, and Lucy smiled. "Those days are over," she said. "Our little nest is almost empty."
It was true. Only Sara, a high school freshman, and Zoe, in fifth grade, remained at home. Toby, their oldest, lived with his wife, Molly, and their son, eight-week-old Patrick, on neighboring Prudence Path. Elizabeth, their oldest daughter, was a student at Chamberlain College in Boston.
"Can you believe we're grandparents?" continued Lucy, tickling Bill's ear.
"You're still pretty hot," said Bill, appreciatively eyeing her trim figure and cap of glossy dark hair.
"It's a battle," sighed Lucy, leaning forward to smooth on her age-defying makeup.
Bill grabbed her hips and pressed against her, but Lucy wiggled free. "We'll be late," she said, reaching for her lipstick. "Besides, now that I'm actually in these panty hose, there's no chance they're coming off."
Bill sighed and headed for the door.
"But I appreciate the gesture," she added.
Out in the hallway Bill was knocking on the girls' bedroom doors. "Bus leaves in five minutes," he said. She heard him go downstairs, followed by the clatter of the girls in their dressy shoes.
Lucy was the last to join the group in the kitchen. Bill was handsome in his all-purpose navy blazer, the girls adorable in flowery dresses that bared their arms and shoulders. They'd freeze but there was no point telling them; they'd been planning what to wear for weeks, ever since Toby came up with the idea of treating his wife and mother to the Mother's Day brunch. "It's Molly's first Mother's Day," he'd said. "We should do something special."
Unspoken, Lucy suspected, was his concern for Molly, who was making a slow recovery from a difficult pregnancy that ended abruptly on St. Patrick's Day, several weeks earlier than expected. Little Patrick hadn't appreciated his sudden entry into the world and was a cranky and fussy baby, demanding all his exhausted mother's attention. Lucy helped as much as she could with household chores and meals, but only Molly could breast-feed the hungry little fellow, who demanded a meal every couple of hours, day and night. Toby did his best to help, too, but he was putting in long hours on the boat, getting ready for lobster season.
The new parents were already seated when they arrived at the inn's sunny dining room. Patrick was propped in a baby seat between them, sound asleep.
"What an angel," cooed Lucy, stroking his downy cheek. Even in his sleep, his lips made little nursing motions.
"More like a barracuda," complained Molly. She was still pudgy from her pregnancy, her face was splotchy, and she needed a haircut. Nevertheless, she'd made an effort, and although she was still wearing maternity pants, she'd topped them with a pretty pastel sweater. Seeing her, Lucy was reminded of the terrifying days after Toby's birth, when she was afraid of dropping him on his head or sticking him with a diaper pin or starving him or overfeeding him and thereby proving her incompetence as a mother.
"The first three months are the hardest," said Lucy. "But you're obviously doing something right. He looks great."
"He's much too skinny," said Molly. "Even though I nurse him constantly, I don't think he's getting enough."
Lucy sat beside Molly and took her hand. "He just looks skinny to you, believe me," she said. "Look at those little creases on his wrists. He's positively chubby."
"That's what I've been telling you," chimed in Toby.
"He's the cutest baby I've ever seen," declared Zoe. "When will he be old enough to play?"
"Around six months," said Sara, causing everyone at the table to look at her in surprise. "What?" she responded defensively. "I took that baby-sitting course, remember?"
"I remember. I'm just surprised you do," said a familiar voice.
Lucy turned around and saw Elizabeth, city chic in tight black jeans, stilettos, and streaked hair. "I thought you were in Boston," she exclaimed, jumping up to hug her daughter.
"I took the bus. I couldn't miss brunch at the Queen Vic," Elizabeth said, taking the last seat. "I used to work here, remember? Today they're waiting on me!"
"Well, now that we're all here," announced Bill, "let's hit the buffet."
It was really a moment to savor, thought Lucy when she returned with a plateful of favorite foods: fruit salad with melon and berries, eggs Benedict, smoked salmon, and a croissant. And that was just to start. The buffet featured a raw bar with shrimp and oysters, stuffed chicken breast, ham, roast beef sliced to order, vegetable medleys, and salads, plus a lavish tiered display of desserts, set up in the middle of the elegant dining room. But while the food was delicious, there was only so much a body could eat. It was spending time with her family, especially Elizabeth, whom she didn't see that often, and the new baby, that was most precious to her.
Seeing them like this, with clean faces and dressed in their best clothes and minding their manners, was priceless. She couldn't help but be proud of them. Toby, with his broad shoulders and easy smile; Elizabeth in her sophisticated clothes and city haircut; Sara, who had shed her baby fat and emerged as a graceful will-o'-the-wisp; and Zoe, with her sweet round face and big blue eyes. And they didn't just look good: they were good citizens. Toby was recognized by the other fishermen as a hard worker and a capable seaman, Elizabeth not only had top grades but had been chosen by her college to be a resident advisor, Sara was an honor student and cheerleader who also volunteered at the local animal shelter, and Zoe was the delight of her teachers and a keen member of the youth soccer team.
She looked across the table at Bill, who was about to eat an enormous piece of sausage, and smiled at him. She was a good mother, but she couldn't have done it without him.
"What are you smiling about?" he asked, spearing a piece of bacon with his fork.
"I'm just happy. It's really special to be here with you all," replied Lucy.
"I can't believe the baby is sleeping," said Molly. "I was afraid he'd scream his head off. This is special."
Toby made eye contact with his father and, receiving a nod, pulled two pink envelopes out of his jacket. "Dad and I wanted to make it even more special," he began, "so we got these for you."
Lucy opened the thick envelope, which was lined with glossy pink paper, and withdrew a card printed with raised letters: PURE BLISS. Opening it, she found a gift certificate entitling her to a facial, body wrap, massage, manicure, and pedicure at the fabulous new spa everybody was talking about that had recently opened at the ritzy Salt Aire Resort and Spa.
"You shouldn't have," she said. She was about to add that the gift was too expensive but bit her tongue just in time. This present, this Mother's Day, wasn't about her. It was for Molly, and she realized that her gift certificate came with a string attached: to make sure Molly got to the spa. "This will be fun, won't it, Molly? A whole day of pampering."
"I can't leave the baby for an entire day," Molly said, shaking her head.
"Sure you can," said Toby. "I'll take care of him."
Sara chimed in. "We'll help, too, won't we, Zoe?"
"I can't wait," agreed Zoe.
Molly shook her head. "You can't feed him...."
"They can, if you pump in advance," said Lucy. "And you won't be gone all day, especially if we tell them to put us on the fast track."
"Well," Molly said, sighing, "it does sound fabulous."
"I can't wait. Let's book our appoint-," began Lucy, but she was interrupted in midsentence by a strident, complaining voice that cut through the hum of conversation and the tinkle of silverware to silence the entire room.
"This is unacceptable, simply unacceptable. When I made the reservation, I specifically requested the table in the corner with two windows."
Lucy recognized Barbara Hume, who was standing in the doorway with her husband, Bart, and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Ashley. Today, as usual, the family projected an image of perfection. Bart, actually Dr. Barton Higginson Hume, was a noted cardiac surgeon. Tall and reedy, he towered over his petite wife. Barbara, who preferred to be called Bar, "just like Mrs. Bush, the first Mrs. Bush," never seemed to have a single shellacked hair out of place. Today she was as trim as ever, in a pale green suit and bone pumps with matching bag. Ashley was standing behind her parents, and even though she was perfectly turned out in a pink, pleated miniskirt and matching jacket, she was slouching awkwardly, with her toes turned in.
"I demand to see Jasper," continued Bar, her voice growing even louder and more authoritative. Everyone in the room turned to watch as the inn's longtime maître d' hurried over.
"Is there a problem?" he asked.
"I'll say there's a problem. I was promised that the corner table, that one with the two windows," said Bar, raising a perfectly manicured hand and pointing with her pink-tipped finger, "would be reserved for us."
Lucy also recognized the family occupying the table, the Nowaks, who were making a point of ignoring the fuss. At least Tina was. She was a large, sporty woman and was shoveling in forkfuls of food, intent on getting her money's worth out of the buffet. Her husband, Lenny, a slight, serious man with a mop of curly gray hair, who wore oversize tortoiseshell eyeglasses, was staring at his plate and pushing his food around with his fork, looking distinctly uncomfortable. In contrast, their sixteen-year-old daughter, Heather, was staring contemptuously at Bar, just as you might expect from a talented figure skater who competed regularly and wasn't afraid of a challenge.
"It's a family tradition," continued Bar in a voice that carried to the farthest corners of the room. "We come here every year for Mother's Day, and we always sit at that table."
Jasper cleared his voice and folded his hands. "I am so sorry. There must have been some confusion. We have some new staff members from Ukraine...."
"The person I spoke to was not Ukrainian. She spoke perfect English."
"I regret the mistake," continued Jasper, "but as you can see, the table is occupied. I will be happy to seat you someplace else."
"I did not reserve a table 'someplace else,'" snapped Bar. "I demand that you move those Nowaks from the table that should have been reserved for us and reseat them." Bar glared at Tina. "Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if somebody hasn't done this on purpose, just to slight me."
If she was hoping to get a response from Tina, she was disappointed.
Bart, however, cleared his throat, perhaps signaling his wife to cease and desist. If he thought such a subtle hint would calm Bar, he was mistaken.
She snapped her head around to face him, eyes ablaze. "Darling," she began in a tone that was hardly loving, "perhaps you should slip the maître d' a little something so we can get the table we want."
At the Nowaks' table, Tina's face reddened, but she continued to concentrate on her food. Her husband, Lenny, looked as if he was ready to abandon ship and vacate the table. He half rose from his chair but, receiving a sharp glance from Tina, sat back down. Heather was smirking, evidently finding the entire episode just another example of parental foolishness.
Jasper assumed a pained expression. "That will not be necessary," he said. "Now, since it is impossible-"
"Nothing's impossible," declared Bar, eyes blazing. "Since you've gone to the trouble of importing all these Ukrainians, temporary workers, I presume, who will be returning to their native villages at the end of the summer?"
"Absolutely," said Jasper, with a nod. "They all have temporary work visas."
"You'd better see they do. The country's already got twelve million illegal aliens, you know, and we don't need any more. Especially since most of them don't even bother to learn English."
"We screen our temporary workers very carefully, and I can assure you they all speak English."
"Well, that's something. Now, why don't you put them to work and have them reseat those people"-she pointed at the Nowaks-"so we can have our table."
Jasper's professional veneer of patience was wearing thin. "We cannot disturb the other diners," he said. "I'll be happy to seat you at another table."
"Come along, Bar," said Bart, taking his wife by the elbow. "How about that table over there? It's by a window, too."
"But it's not the corner," replied Bar. "It's not our table."
Bart was firm. "It's a window, and I'm hungry."
"Oh, all right," Bar said, with a sigh, dramatically rolling her eyes. "I don't want to make a fuss."
"Right, Mom," muttered Ashley, sarcastically, as the group was ushered past the desired corner table.
Tina waited until Bar was behind her chair, and then she spoke to her husband. "Don't you think it was rude of Bar to make such a fuss?" she asked in a loud whisper. "Especially for someone who thinks she's the next Emily Post."
Bar pretended not to hear the comment but seemed to flinch slightly as she followed Jasper to the small window table adjacent to the Stones' large round one. Jasper made an elaborate show of pulling out chairs for Bar and Ashley and even placed napkins on their laps with a graceful flourish and snapped his fingers to attract the water boy's attention. He was filling their glasses when Bar took her revenge.
"You know," she began, placing her hand on her husband's arm and leaning toward him, speaking in a low tone that nevertheless carried across the room, "sometimes when I'm target shooting, I imagine Tina Nowak's face on the target." She giggled and smoothed her napkin. "It's a surefire way to get a bull's-eye."
Excerpted from Mother's Day MURDER by LESLIE MEIER Copyright © 2009 by Leslie Meier. Excerpted by permission.
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.
Meet the Author
Leslie Meier is the acclaimed author of fourteen Lucy Stone mysteries and has also written for Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. She lives in Harwich, Massachusetts, where she is currently at work on the next Lucy Stone mystery.
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In Tinker's Cove, Maine, right wing republican Tina Nowak and left wind democrat Barbara ¿Bar¿ Hume are fighting but not over politics. Instead the pair is disputing over the relative merits of their sixteen years old daughters, Ashley and Heather as the teens compete for valedictorian.
Their war spills over to a Prom committee in which Pennysaver reporter Lucy Stone plays peacekeeper keeping the felines from a cat fight. Unfortunately, Lucy gets distracted by a high school baseball star asking her freshman daughter Sara to the prom, her daughter-in-law¿s suffering with postpartum depression and spending time with her newborn first grandson. Lucy is stunned to see what looks like Bar Shoot Tina on a tennis court. Lucy investigates the feuding families only to learn the mistress of Bar¿s philandering spouse Bart died in a car crash. Her inquiry places mother and daughter in jeopardy from someone using the feud to cover a homicide.
The latest Lucy Stone holiday cozy (see FATHER¿S DAY MURDER, NEW YEAR¿S EVE MURDER and ST. PATRICK'S DAY MURDER) is a fun whodunit filled with several subplots that compete for top gun even with a homicide, but ultimately converge into a nice and cozy Maine investigative thriller. Lucy is terrific as she goes from harassed to witness to doubter to investigator. Fans of the series will enjoy Leslie Meier¿s fun tale.
I love the Lucy Stone series. An "insider's "view of the Stone's family life, and the solving of an awful murder, wrapped up in one neat package. A very believable, yet likeable story.
LESLIE MEIER NEW BOOK IS VERY INTERESTING AND I DIDN'T WANT TO PUT THE BOOK DOWN UNTIL I WAS THROUGH WITH IT. I AM ANXIOUSLY WAITING FOR HER NEXT BOOK.
Mother's Day Murder was my first of her books. I have since gone back and purchased all of her books. I started form the begining and now on book number seven. I hardly want to quit reading her books and read the daily newspaper
I perfered this author's book St. Patrick's Day Murder better, however Mother's Day Murder had a good story line. Lucy Stone may have two of her children are out of the nest but she still has two more at home. When Lucy is reluctantly shoved into helping with the after party for the prom, she has no idea two mothers are going to have a clawing fight. One mother will come up dead shot in front of Lucy. When Lucy decides to take the story and run it with her newspaper she works for she is quickly yanked fromt he story and her boss takes over, but Lucy has bigger fish to fry than writing that story. It will be up to Lucy to sort through the list of suspects that wanted the mother dead and Lucy herself will come face to face with the killer. A Good twisty turn book.