As a mortician beautician and housekeeper, Mercedes is no stranger to corpses or messy bathrooms. But the last thing she expects to find in a client’s bathtub is a dead body! Now she’s a murder suspect and it seems like her life is going down the drain. She turns to local lawyer Walker Boone to get her out of hot water.
But Walker has his own surprising connections to the dead man in the tub, and now he needs Reagan’s help to clear his own name—and keep him alive…
Includes a preview of the Consignment Shop Mystery, Demise in Denim.
Praise for the Consignment Shop Mysteries:
“Brown deftly spins the tale of Reagan’s many misadventures while sleuthing, fills her story with Southern eccentrics, and offers up a magnolia-laced munificence of Savannah color.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch
“A hilarious romp through a consignment shop where customers may end up with more than they bargained for.” —Janet Bolin, author of the Threadville Mystery series
Duffy Brown is the author of Pearls and Poison, Killer in Crinolines, and Iced Chiffon in the Consignment Shop Mystery series. She has two cats, Spooky and Dr. Watson, and works at a consignment shop when she’s not busy conjuring up whodunit stories.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
“See, there he is, Mr. Boone,” Mercedes said to me. “Just like I told you on the phone, Conway Adkins dead as a fence post in his very own claw-foot bathtub and naked as the day he was born.”
“I take it you added the washcloth?” I said to Mercedes, both of us standing in the doorway and staring at the corpse.
“Couldn’t be having the man lying there with his shriveledness all exposed to the world now could I? Not proper for a man his age.”
“Or for the rest of us,” I added. “So, did you get me over here for bragging that you did the deed or complaining that someone beat you to it?”
“Not that the old fart wasn’t deserving with the way he treated people, but I’m here to tell you that this ruins cleaning day. Every Monday like clockwork I do Mr. Adkins’s house and now this. Messes up my schedule something fierce.”
“I’d say take him out and shoot him for the offense but . . .”
“The bigger problem is with me being on probation and the police getting more than a tad upset if I keep company with dead folks unless, of course, they happen to be lying flat out on my table where I usually come across them over there at the House of Eternal Slumber.”
Mercedes parked her hands on her well-rounded hips covered in a white maid’s apron and cut her eyes back to the tub. “All I know is that it’s going to take a considerable amount of putty to patch those holes so we can lay him out proper-like. The going-in diameter isn’t bad but the coming-out part’s a different story. Mercy.” Mercedes made the sign of the cross.
Mercedes was a housekeeper by day, a mortician/beautician by night, and a once-upon-a-time madam. The madam part is what got us together. Not that I engaged her services but I did keep her out of jail for that particular offense and now she keeps my house and a few others. The mortician part explained why she wasn’t freaking out over a dead man and, considering her credentials, the putty statement was probably dead-on. Eight in the morning was early to be discussing washcloths and putty but one of the joys of being a lawyer in Savannah is I never know what’s coming around the corner.
A knock sounded from below, Mercedes jumping a foot. Guess the mortician part hadn’t made her immune after all. “Did you call the police?” I asked.
“Lordy, no. In times of stress and anxiety I’m prone to be saying all sorts of things I shouldn’t to the law enforcement establishment, which is why I got you over here to Conway’s house right quick.” Mercedes walked to the bathroom window and peered out. “Well, you can be forgetting about the cops. It’s Reagan Summerside down there on the stoop this fine spring morning. She sure is a sight for sore eyes.”
Before I could stop her, Mercedes leaned out waving. “Howdy, girl, up here. How y’all doing? Haven’t seen you since we broke into Dozer’s construction company a few months back. Now that was something, wasn’t it? That guard dog nearly ate us alive.” Mercedes cut her eyes back to me and made a deep sigh. “See what I mean about having run-on of the mouth in times of stress. Wonder what brings Reagan here at this hour.”
“The way things are going, it sure can’t be anything good,” I said to myself more than Mercedes as Reagan yelled from below, “Is Mr. Adkins up there? We have an appointment. Tell him I’m on my way.”
“Honey, you should know he’s not exactly in a meet and greet frame of mind,” Mercedes called with me adding, “Go away, Reagan.” Not that I expected it to do any good.
Two years ago I represented Reagan’s ex in their divorce, and she came away with a rundown Victorian house and a fistful of bills, wanting nothing more than my head on a platter. Of course, the outcome had more to do with the fact that she’d signed an airtight prenup than with me being an ace attorney. At the moment we were sort of enemies. The divorce accounted for the enemy part, that we shared a dog named Bruce Willis and a kiss or two accounted for the sort of part. Reagan was the double espresso with a shot of Red Bull part of my life . . . energy, excitement with hair-raising consequences.
I heard the door open downstairs, then footsteps echoing through the big house that dated back to when Sherman had parked his unwelcome mangy Northern butt in our town, and Reagan Summerside joined us in the bathroom. She had on black slacks, a white blouse probably from her consignment shop located in that Victorian she now owned, and she was carrying that big ugly plastic purse the color of a Yield sign. Business garb. Usually she was in something denim, hair pinned up like she forgot what a comb looked like and a sprinkled doughnut in her hand. During a heat wave last August she wore short shorts and a halter top that caused a five-car pileup over on Whitaker and was oblivious to it all.
“Boone, it is you,” Reagan said. “Thought I heard your irritating voice. What are you and Mercedes doing up here in the bathroom? It’s nice and all but where’s Mr. Adkins? I’m here to give him a price on furniture he wants to sell over at my shop and— Sweet Jesus in heaven!”
Not breathing, Reagan looked from Conway to me then slowly slouched against the tile wall. “What did you go and do?”
“You had issues with him and then some.”
“So did half the people in this town.”
Sirens sounded in the distance and Mercedes smacked her palm to her forehead. “Now the fly’s in the butter for sure. Think it’s too late to make a run for it?”
The sirens stopped outside the big white frame house, followed by the door opening, someone yelling “Police!”, more footsteps up the staircase, and Detective Aldeen Ross and two uniforms crowding into the tight space.
“A dead guy in a tub, it must be Monday,” Ross groused, taking in the scene. “So, are you all holding a convention in here or what ’cause forensics is going to have themselves a hissy over corrupting the crime scene like this. It’ll take a month of Sundays and a bucket of fried chicken from Sisters to calm them down, I can tell you that.”
Ross was “born short and squashed flat,” as my grandma Hilly used to say. Ross gave new meaning to yo-yo dieting and that she had powdered sugar on her blue suit suggested skinny Ross the Cranky was headed back to Ross the Pleasantly Plump.
“You do this?” Ross said to me and pointed at a fancy blue pillow on the floor with holes on both sides, suggesting the killer shot through it to muffle the sound.
“I know there’s talk about me and Adkins,” I added before Ross could. “We didn’t get along, but murder is a whole lot of not getting along.”
“The man never was a saint sitting on a cloud in anyone’s book.” Ross said, then added, “Della Mae next door called saying she heard shots is what got us here. Mostly she wanted to tell the female contingent down at the police station that you showed up wearing our favorite jeans with the blue pinstriped shirt.”
“Favorite jeans?” I repeated trying to keep up.
“Like it or not, lawyer boy, you’re fine eye candy and we all truly do appreciate it early in the morning like this.” Ross turned to Mercedes. “I just saw Reagan here over at the Cakery Bakery getting a sprinkled doughnut so that makes you a prime suspect at the moment. Care to enlarge on the situation?”
Mercedes held up her hands. “Well, there you go. I get the finger-point and this time I’m innocent as new driven snow. But I do have my suspicions who done the old boy in.”
Mercedes huddled us together. “Not to be tooting my own horn, you see, but I think the culprit in all this happens to be a wannabe customer of mine. Ya see, the oldsters around here hire me on to clean their places knowing that I always spiff them up right nice when their time comes to meet their Maker. It’s an extra little perk I throw in for treating me good while they’re still kicking. The word’s gotten out that I offer up this bonus. Been right good for business I’ll tell you that. But I only got so many cleaning spots available bein’ that I work over there at the Slumber.”
The two uniforms exchanged you gotta be kidding me looks and Ross asked, “Let me see if I got this right, you’re saying that someone would kill to get you to clean their house so you’d make them look good at their funeral?”
“Oh, honey.” Mercedes tisked. “Did you ever see what the wrong foundation does to the dearly departed under those god-awful funeral home lights? Why Fanny Elkins was the color of a toad last week at her lay-out and Janis Wilkes wound up right there on YouTube, casket and all, captioned ‘It ain’t easy being green.’”
Nodding, Reagan held out her hands. “Word on the kudzu vine is that Jeanette Laylaw’s the one who pushed Henry Wentworth down the steps at St. John’s Church last month because she was next on your house-cleaning list.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3.5 stars The Consignment Shop Mysteries feature the shop owner, Reagan Summerside, as the main character and sleuth but Dead Man Walker is a departure, told from the point of view of Reagan's kinda sorta occasional boyfriend, Walker Boone. When cleaning lady Mercedes is in danger of being accused of murdering a client, Walker steps in and, before long, he's identified quite a few people who had varying reasons to want Conway Adkins dead. Unfortunately, he's also made himself a target for a few attempts on his own life and found out a startling piece of news. Next thing he knows, Detective Aldeen Ross is on her way to arrest him for killing Conway. This novella is a nice introduction to some of the characters in the series and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Readers should be aware that this particular crime is not resolved as this is a lead-in to the next full-length novel, Demise in Denim, coming out in April. I'm looking forward to continuing the sleuthing then. Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, January 2015.
Just to mix things up a bit, this story is told from Walker Boone's prospective. You pick up a few more tidbits about Walker's background plus a tidbit or two about Big Joey and the Seventh Street Gang. Conway Adkins turns up dead and Mercedes, Boone's housekeeper and part-time beautician for one of the Funeral Parlors finds the body. There is also a new person from Charleston in town and he definitely appears to up to no good. As usual, Boone, Aunt Kiki and Reagan are right in the middle of everything and the action never stops.
Savannah in springtime is lovely. The only imperfection is the murder of Conway Adkins. Mercedes, the housekeeper/mortician, calls Walker Boone for help when she discovers the body. Walker is a slick lawyer who has no love for the victim. Regan Summerside shows up and wants to find the killer. Conway was going to consign some furniture with her and she would make a nice profit. She has no love for Walker or so she says. Who killed cranky old Conway? This novella is filled with familiar quirky characters that add charm and drama to this mystery. Dead Man Walker won't tell you who done it, but it will whet your appetite with a multitude of suspects. Someone wants Walker out of the way. When they don't succeed in killing him, they frame him for the murder. Thank goodness he has friends and enemies who are willing to help him. The dialogue is snappy and humorous. I love the dry and snarky humor. I'm anxiously waiting to see how Walker will do not that he's on the run from the law. I enjoyed this fast paced mystery. I need to know who killed Conway Adkins and why.
One of my favorite series continues with the release of the fourth Consignment Shop Mystery novel. Local Savannah lawyer Walker Boone has been called upon to help Mercedes, housekeeper by day/mortician-beautician by night, clean up a rather disturbing mess in a client’s bathroom. Though mess might not be the best way to describe a dead man in a claw-foot bathtub, the ‘permanent’ rest-room discovery leads to a barrister on the run. In tight jeans from his ‘genes’ … you have to read the story … Definitely recommend reading the series in order - the first three were written from Consignment Shop owner Reagan’s point of view; this novella is from Walker’s point of view. Reagan has a love/hate relationship with Walker - he represented her ex in their divorce. Now she shares custody of Bruce Willis, a mutt who found his way from under her porch and into her heart, with Walker. They also share a mutual attraction and are a magnet for trouble. Warning: Dead Man Walker has a kiss, er, cliffhanger! The fifth, Demise In Denim, will be released in April.
Dollycas’s Thoughts I have seen this listed as Book 3.5 and Book 4 depending which site you’re on. What I call it is a prequel to Book 4, or teaser, or torture!! It is so good! but man Duffy and Berkley! this is so hard! Demise in Denim comes out April 7 and I am virtually standing here tapping my foot waiting for that day to arrive. I absolutely llloooovvvvvveeeee these characters and look forward to visiting them so much. This time Walker has himself in a bathtub load of trouble and Reagan is doing everything she can to get him out of it. But she may land herself in trouble right along with him! What really makes the book fun was that it is told Walker’s point of view instead of Reagan’s. He sees things like a man which as women know is totally and completely different. They seem to find unusual things of great importance and twist things more to their own advantage…right? It had to be very interesting for Duffy to write. As you can see this story is really a novella and believe me it ends much too soon but I know Duffy will reward our patience tenfold but my foot is still tapping :) I highly recommend you grab a copy of this very fast read with this warning – be prepared to laugh out loud and get ready to join me impatiently waiting for Demise in Denim. We may need to start a support group.
Since this is a novella it is short but boy is it packed with action. It is a fun read being told as Walker instead of Reagan. We get murder, some romance, humor and plenty of twists, very enjoyable I just wish that it had been longer. Definitely continuing with this series.
another laugh out loud journey through Savannah Dead Man Walker by Duffy Brown A Consignment Shop Novella There are two sides to every story. When it comes to the Consignment Shop mysteries by Duffy Brown we've only heard Reagan Summerside's version of things, including her thoughts on that low down, albeit sexy, sometimes helpful, scum of a lawyer, Walker Boone. Until now. Duffy Brown has given us Dead Man Walker, a novella that acts as a bridge between last year's Pearls and Poison and the upcoming Demise in Denim. For this novella Boone has taken the reins. Dead Man Walker is told from Walker Boone's point of view and we finally see what he really thinks about Reagan. Dead Man Walker starts with a naked corpse in a bathtub. From there things get interesting. Man hungry twins, a snake in the grass developer, society players, and the unwanted "help" of Reagan keep Walker Boone on his toes. As Boone looks into the murder he delves into the life of a hated man and discovers some secrets from his own past. Dead Man Walker is another laugh out loud journey through Savannah with a myriad of lovable eccentric characters. Having the story told from Boone's point of view changed the flavor somewhat, but I enjoyed the change; not quite as wacky (unless Mercedes or KiKi are involved) but still wittily sarcastic. There are two sides to every story and I'm glad we got to hear Boone's.
This delightful novella was just the thing I needed to fill the void while waiting for Duffy Brown’s new full length Consignment Shop Mystery, DEMISE IN DENIM. Unlike like the other books in the series, this novella, DEAD MAN WALKER, is told from the point of view of attorney Walker Boone instead of series protagonist, Reagan Summerside. I found this to be very fun! It was nice to be in a different character’s head and see how he viewed things. Don’t let the length of this story fool you. Ms. Brown packed a lot of mystery, charm, and excitement into this shortened version from her series. Her writing is up to her usual standard, and her wit just as sharp. Fans of the Consignment Shop Mysteries are going to love this short story. NOTE: If you don’t have an eReader, both A and Barnes & Noble have free apps you can load to your computer that will enable you to read this book.