Scent to Her Grave

Scent to Her Grave

4.2 8
by India Ink

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From custom blended oils to relaxing spa services, the store Venus Envy takes care of all the beauty needs of Gull Harbor, Washington. Behind the counter is Persia Vanderbilt, a woman with a nose for mixing scents—and a mind for solving murder.


From custom blended oils to relaxing spa services, the store Venus Envy takes care of all the beauty needs of Gull Harbor, Washington. Behind the counter is Persia Vanderbilt, a woman with a nose for mixing scents—and a mind for solving murder.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The pseudonymous Ink's first bath and body mystery introduces an appealing, credible heroine. In the wake of a failed marriage, 31-year-old Persia Rose Vanderbilt returns home to scenic Gull Harbor, Wash., where she helps out at her independent aunt Florence's bath and beauty shop, Venus Envy. When a disgruntled customer, ill-tempered beauty queen Lydia Wang, is found bludgeoned to death in the shop, the evidence implicates a valued Venus Envy staff member. The smart and savvy Persia must track down the real killer while dealing with demands from her difficult ex-husband and the more welcome attentions of the local police chief. A second murder ups the ante, propelling the well-paced plot to a fitting climax. Under her real name, Yasmine Galenorn, the author writes the Chintz'n China mystery series (Murder Under a Mystic Moon, etc.). Agent, Meredith Bernstein. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Bath & Body Series , #1
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.70(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page





Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

The sweet smell of success . . .

My fragrance counter sat to the far right of the shop, next to the hall leading to Auntie’s office. We’d planned it so that I’d be out in the open, to encourage clients to ask about custom-blended fragrances. From where I sat, I had a good view of Venus Envy.

Lydia was waiting, impatiently tapping her foot. I sighed as I slipped into my chair. Blending specific fragrances wasn’t simply a matter of dumping several oils into a bottle, giving it a shake, and then slapping a name on it. I found the process fascinating—a dance of scent and reaction. It was up to me to make certain that the fragrances worked in rhythm with both my client’s body chemistry and personality, not always an easy task when I was working with someone who was abrasive. Considering Lydia’s character, I’d have to be careful or I’d end up with a fragrance that smelled like skunk cabbage. Or maybe just the skunk itself . . .

Bath and Body Mysteries by India Ink


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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.




A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author


Berkley Prime Crime mass-market edition / October 2005


Copyright © 2005 Yasmine Galenorn.


All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.


eISBN : 978-1-101-01053-2


Berkley Prime Crime Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

BERKLEY PRIME CRIME and the BERKLEY PRIME CRIME design are trademarks belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.






“It’s the friends you can call up at 4 AM that matter.”
—Marlene Dietrich



With that thought in mind, I dedicate this book to Alexandra Ash.


As always, I owe so much to my beloved Samwise, who, through the years, has proved a stalwart, loving, and faithful friend and husband, giving me the best encouragement that I could hope for. I love you, don’t you ever forget that. And a fuzzy thank-you to my four “gurlz,” who purr me to sleep, meow me awake, and generally make life livable.

Thank-yous go out to: my critique partner, Carolyn Agosta; my agent, Meredith Bernstein; my editor, Christine Zika; all my beloved WWBW Warpies; and friends who have encouraged and supported my efforts.

And lest I forget, thank you and a gentle nod to Aphrodite and Venus, who embody the essence of Beauty and all that it encompasses. And as always, to my beloved Mielikki, Tapio, Rauni, and Ukko.

To my readers: I hope you enjoy this new series, and though I write it under an “alter ego,” India Ink is just another mask of mine. You can reach me via my Web site:

~ the Painted Panther~

Yasmine Galenorn, a.k.a. India Ink


The recipes in this book are my own concoctions. I’ve spent many years blending magical oils, and here I give you—perhaps not magical recipes—but ones to heighten your senses, and bring new experiences into your lives.

Essential oils can be expensive, so yes, you may use synthetics if you can’t afford the pure ones, but bear in mind the fragrance may end up differing slightly. However, this should not be a significant problem. Also, some oils may irritate the skin, so if I make a note to the effect of “do not get on your skin,” I mean it. Cinnamon can irritate the skin. Black pepper and other oils can burn delicate tissue.

The oil and other bath recipes are obviously not for consumption, but I am stating it here to clear up any potential miscommunications: Don’t eat them or drink them. They’re meant to be used as fragrances, for dreaming pillows, sachets, potpourris, and the like.

“. . . thou who hast the fatal gift of beauty . . .”
Lord Byron, 1788-1824

From the Pages of Persia’s Journal

Lite Dreams Oil

Created a great blend for a relaxation oil this week. Works like a charm and invigorates the spirit while calming the nerves. My insomnia has decreased ever since I started using it. I’ve been using Lite Dreams oil to scent dreaming pillows, homemade bath salts, unscented soap, sachets, potpourri. Aunt Florence thinks it will go over big, so we’re marketing it with a checklist of hints for restful sleep:

• Change your sheets and pillowcases and add a vase of fresh flowers to your nightstand.

• Dot your dreaming pillow or a sachet with Lite Dreams Oil and let set for an hour to absorb the oil. Tuck inside your pillowcase.

• Take a long, warm bath in lavender bubble bath.

• Spend ten minutes on slow, even stretching to relax the muscles in your body.

• Read a soothing book or magazine while sipping a cup of lemon tea.

• Cover closed eyes with slices of chilled cucumber for ten minutes.

• Slip into bed before midnight, to allow your body to catch the most restful hours of sleep.

Blend and store this oil (as with all oils) in a small, dark bottle. You will need a bottle and stopper or lid, an eyedropper, and the following:

1/4 ounce almond or apricot kernel oil (a good
unscented base)
25 drops sandalwood oil
25 drops lilac oil
10 drops lavender oil
12 drops lemon oil
8 drops carnation oil



dried lemongrass clippings (5-10 pieces, about 1/4
inch in length)
a small piece of rose quartz or amethyst (you can use
chips off a gemstone chip necklace)


Using an eyedropper, add each fragrance oil to the almond oil, gently swirling after each addition to blend the scent. After adding all the oils, cap and shake gently. At this time, add a few clippings of dried lemongrass and/or a piece of rose quartz or amethyst to the bottle for added energy, if so desired.

Rose quartz crystals promote peace, happiness, and love. Amethyst promotes healing. The lemongrass clippings will intensify the scent and add a decorative touch. Keep oil in a cool, dark place—if left in the sun it will lose potency. As always, remind customers to avoid eating or drinking this oil, and to keep it out of the reach of children and animals.

Chapter One

When I found myself flat on my back, staring up at the ceiling with the edge of a stair jutting into my shoulder blades, a premonition told me that the week was about to be shot to hell, but I never expected to end up embroiled in the middle of a murder case.

My lack of foresight was probably a good thing, considering my tendency to jump in feet first, damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead. After all, my nickname when I was a little girl was Imp, short for “impetuous.” Over the years, I’ve learned the hard way that there’s no escaping your destiny, and if the fates want to roast you over a fire and serve you on a platter, you might as well just open your mouth for the apple. So when destiny comes knocking, I yank open the door and invite her in, suitcases and all.

“What the heck do you think you’re doing?” I leaned my head back to stare at Delilah, who flicked her tail at me from her perch on the landing above.

She’d darted under my legs as I headed down the stairs, then looped around back up to the landing. At least I hadn’t gone tumbling down the entire flight. Instead, when I tripped, I flailed, regained enough balance to grab hold of the railing, then toppled backward, like tall timber, rather than face first to the waiting hall below. Yeah, a typical Monday, all right.

The inky spot on her squashed-in nose seemed to pulsate with a life of its own in stark contrast to the rest of her white fluffball of a body. Sixteen years old and well on her way to senility, Delilah had considered me “the enemy” ever since I’d moved back home. She was certain I was trying to usurp her place in Aunt Florence’s heart and I couldn’t convince her otherwise.

I pushed myself to a sitting position. My lower back popped and I grimaced. That sore spot hadn’t been there before. I glanced over my shoulder at Delilah, whose eyes were positively sparkling.

“You’re crazy as a bedbug. You know that, cat?”

With a thwap, her tail smacked the floor and she turned to sashay up the stairs to my aunt’s room, her work for the day complete, her bloomers swaying with every delicate paw-step.

I tested myself for any broken bones. Nope, none that I could find. I had a background in Aikido and Tai Chi, but neither had left me prepared for the machinations of a jealous cat. Moving my shoulder again, I decided that the only damage done was a couple of bruises from where I’d managed to catch myself on the railing. At least I didn’t break my neck. I’d live. Yeah, Mondays sucked rocks.

With a quick shake to scatter the dust bunnies that now complemented my black jeans and tank top, I dashed down to the kitchen. I was running late and didn’t have time for breakfast. As I yanked open the refrigerator, a sandwich in a Tupperware container caught my eye. Yay! Auntie had left me a sandwich. She knew that without food I’d be a basket case by midmorning. Grateful, I snagged up the ham and cheese along with my purse and hit the door. Twenty minutes late and counting. Not good. Not good form to keep customers waiting. Not good business juju.

I edged the odometer up a notch, running through my to-do list for the day. Tawny had scheduled four appointments for me at Venus Envy, my aunt’s bath and beauty shop. And we were out of Lite Dreams oil; I needed to whip up a new bottle. That in itself wouldn’t take long, but blending it into the lotions, soaps, and bath salts we sold in the Dream-Song line, well, that required a little more skill. Maybe I could snare—oh, shit. I hit the brakes and swerved over to the shoulder of the road.

As I fumbled through my tote bag, my stomach twisted. I’d lost the lesson plan I’d written up for the self-defense class I had recently began teaching at the local community college on Sunday evenings. I knew that I’d put it in my tote bag yesterday, and I didn’t remember taking it out.

I closed my eyes, trying to recall the last time I’d seen it. An image of lamb chops drifted through my mind, distracting me briefly. Yum, I could go for a lamb chop, grilled medium rare with rosemary and garlic.

With a shake of my head, I brought my attention back to the matter at hand. The image of the lamb chops reminded me where I’d left my notes. Last night, I had dinner with Barb at the Book Wich. While searching for my credit card, I placed the lesson plan next to me on the seat of our booth and forgot to put it back in my purse. Since the Book Wich ran a barebones lost-and-found box, chances were good that it had been recycled. Anything that looked like a pile of papers had probably ended up in the trash.

With a sigh, I pulled back onto the road and shifted into high gear. That lesson plan would take me a good two hours to reconstruct and, like an idiot, I’d also left the handouts on the table. To add insult to injury, I hadn’t bothered to save it on my laptop after printing it out. Aunt Florence had warned me, and I’d laughed her off. I printed it out, why should I bother saving it? Stupid, but par for the course.

Thoroughly ticked, I didn’t notice the cruiser hiding behind the blue spruce at the corner of Oakwood Avenue and Lake Park Boulevard. The siren startled me out of my thoughts and, with a groan, I pulled over to the shoulder again, brushing the hair off my face where the wind had blown it into my eyes.

A glance in the rearview mirror confirmed that today was indeed the day from hell. Kyle Laughlin, Gull Harbor’s ever vigilant chief of police, swaggered over to my Sebring. Joy, joy, and more joy. Kyle and I had never been on the best of terms. When I was in seventh grade, Kyle had developed a crush on me, but I’d been after his cousin Jared, who was in my homeroom class. And when I accepted Jared’s invitation to the Gull Harbor Harvest Dance after turning down Kyle, it caused a rift that had lasted until I left for college.

Six months ago, when I’d returned to Gull Harbor, I’d hoped that the intervening years might have taken the edge off their rivalry, but apparently I’d been wrong. Even though his cousin had come out of the closet, Kyle still acted like I’d refused him yesterday. He was still playing king of the hill with Jared, who now worked over at Gull Harbor Community College. Jared and I had rekindled our friendship when I moved back to town, but Kyle had remained as sour and prudish as he’d been when we were kids.

“Well, hello Leadfoot,” he said, leaning down to peer in my window. “You taking lessons from your aunt? With her, I look the other way because Miss Florence is an institution in this town, but I’m afraid I just can’t do that with you. Come on, out of the car.”

Grumbling, I grabbed my registration and insurance card, and dug through my purse for my license. I handed them to him as I stepped out of the car and leaned against the Sebring, wondering how much this little faux pas was going to cost me.

He glanced at them and then grinned. “I’ll just call these in and be right back. Don’t go anywhere.”

“Call them in? You know who I am, Kyle!” I squelched an impulse to wipe that smirk off his face. He didn’t have to call in my info! Everybody who owned a police scanner would hear the call and I’d be the talk of the town as far as gossip went, especially if old Heddy Latherton got wind of it. She’d make Auntie miserable, gloating over the fact that her nieces never got ticketed.

Kyle shrugged and sauntered over to his cruiser, where he got busy on the radio. Within less than a minute he returned, thumbed open his ticket pad and commenced writing me up. A gleeful look spread over his face. “The speed limit on this stretch is forty. You were zipping along at fifty-five.”

I flashed him a cold stare. “Kyle, you are two years older than me, so quit playing Big Daddy and wipe away that smug look. You aren’t funny and this isn’t an episode of Cops.”

“Feisty as always, aren’t you?” His eyes narrowed and his voice took on an unpleasant tone. “You might want to remember that I’m the law on this island. Maybe you can find a touch of respect somewhere in that jaded little heart of yours?” He leaned toward me and waggled his finger in my face. “That snot-nosed attitude might have worked in Seattle, but around here? I don’t think so.”

If there’s one thing I hated, it was having some local yokel patronize me. Without thinking, I snapped at his finger and he yanked it back just in time to prevent my teeth from making contact. Oh shit! I swallowed and glanced at his startled face, wondering what the punishment was for trying to bite a cop. Not exactly a bright idea, even though we had been schoolmates.

“Uh . . . Kyle?” Was he going to throw me in jail for attempted assault? I wouldn’t put it past him.

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Scent to Her Grave 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was good. It was a fast read. The character are original and the plot was good. It kept me in suspense until the end. I would recommend this series. The only problem is you have to order it on line. This series is not available at the barnes & noble store.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Her live-in-lover, the ¿nice¿ Elliot, was arrested for embezzling and quickly turned state¿s evidence on his employers for money laundering. Persia Vanderbilt left to return home to Gull Harbor on Puget Sound¿s Port Samanish Island. There she works for the woman who raised her, her Aunt Florence, owner of Venus Envy, a business that creates custom blended oils and spa services. --- Lydia Wang, the winner of the Radiance Cosmetics Beauty Contest, asks Persia to make a special scent for her. While she is waiting, Lydia is nasty to the store¿s gardener, her ex-boyfriend Trevor Wilson. She also gets into a fight with the beauty contest runner up Colleen and Colleen¿s friend Debbie who has an inferiority complex. The next day when Persia opens the business, she finds Lydia¿s murdered body the police arrest Trevor because they found the murder weapon contained his prints. Neither Persia nor her aunt believes Trevor is guilty and Persia sets out to prove it, almost losing her life in the process. --- India Ink has written a clever, often humorous and definitely complex amateur sleuth mystery. The protagonist is a martial arts expert who is a very feminine, feisty and independent woman. The murder victim had many enemies due to her abrasive and cruel attitude so it is impossible for readers to figure out who killed her until the author chooses to reveal that person¿s identity. SCENT OF THE GRAVE is a very disciplined and unusual mystery, the start of what smells to be a winning series. --- Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DaleneH More than 1 year ago
I was excited to start a new series with a new theme. I had not read anything with this type of theme before and was really excited. The setting was quaint and identifiable. Persia and her aunt are a great combination for owning the bath and body store. Their relationship is very unique in that they only have each other. Persia is just back to the small town from having lived away for some time, and has to work through issues of the past. Her aunt is a great reminder of the fact that things are different now. Persia is also faced with a murder in her Aunt’s story and does not want it to affect the business. Obviously this is both her and her aunt’s means of financial support. Taking on trying to solve the crime herself, as she doesn’t really trust the Police Chief, she also faces problems from her ex. There are lots of recipes for bath salts and oils and suggested uses. It would be a lot of fun to whip some of these up and use during reading time. Persia is a very modern sleuth and diverse character. I liked the freshness of this aspect, as well as the theme. The story was a little slow in parts, but overall a good crime to be solved. Recommend to those cozy reader mysteries who are looking for a new theme.
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sailorSC More than 1 year ago
love the book and the series was great not too sure about the author sudo name twisted and refreshing