Even more murder in the Hamptons, from New York Times bestselling author Carrie Doyle After the craziness of August, the end of summer is supposed to bring peace and tranquility to the posh seaside enclave of East Hampton, New York, not murder! Cozy mystery fans and lovers of Louise Penny, Agatha Christie and Alexander McCall Smith should pour themselves a lemonade and settle in for a juicy read! Antonia Bingham, chef and proprietor of the town's prestigious Windmill Inn, has been lining up new recipes to try in the quiet, golden days of September, and looks forward to putting murder and mayhem behind her so she can focus on herself and her business. But when a Labor Day visit by two slick Wall Streeters ends with their gruesome deaths in a summer rental house, Antonia is pulled back to the dark side. With mysterious guests (and possible suspects) popping in and out of the inn, Antonia has no choice but to put back on her sleuthing cap and try to decipher who butchered these men. Wading through social media, the local nightclub scene, share houses, and other unfamiliar haunts of the young and glamorous is an eye-opener for Antonia—and a major time commitment. And the timing couldn't be worse, because Nick Darrow, Antonia's movie star crush, is back in town, available and ready for a commitment...while Antonia's sinister ex-husband is making his presence known in her life again, too. The high season may be over but Antonia has never been busier, juggling work and crime—and fighting for her own life, too.
About the Author
Carrie Doyle is the former editor at Harper’s Bazaar and Harper’s Bazaar Russia. She is the author of the Hamptons Murder Mysteries. She lives in New York City.
Read an Excerpt
Antonia Bingham paused at the threshold of her inn to make sure she was not tracking in any sand with her shoes. She had completed her morning walk along Georgica Beach proceeding as far as Wainscott, before doing a one-eighty to return home. She now felt completely energized and her pockets were filled with bounty: the ocean-smoothed slivers of sea glass that she had discovered near the shore. After a busy summer season she was ready to slow down, take better care of herself, and burrow into fall. Although off-season meant a reduction of guests at the inn and therefore less income, fall symbolized new beginnings and a freshness that she relished. Besides, she was eager to have time to catch up on all of the repairs and paperwork that she had neglected for three months. An added bonus was that autumn was butternut squash season! Antonia couldn't wait to start trying out new recipes in the kitchen. Her mouth watered just thinking of maple- glazed squash dotted with chunks of Gorgonzola, toasted walnuts and thin, almost transparent, ribbons of prosciutto.
"Antonia, Sergeant Flanagan is here to see you," chirped Connie from the front desk as she checked out a departing couple from Texas.
"Thanks, Connie. Where can I find him?"
"He's in your office,"
Antonia's already pink cheeks reddened. "My office? Oh fiddlesticks, it's a mess! I wish you'd put him in the parlor!"
Connie's laugh was lighthearted. She had a cheerful disposition and an easygoing attitude that made her a perfect fit for the reception desk. "I know, I tried, but he said he wanted someplace less public."
Antonia patted her lustrous but windblown black waves into a semblance of order and shrugged. "Oh well, I suppose he's seen my office before."
Antonia was not alarmed that a police officer awaited her. Unfortunately, she had been involved in a few murder cases in recent months — thankfully as a crime solver rather than a suspect (or victim) — and she assumed that the sergeant needed to dot the I's in one of her statements or another.
As she moved along the hall of her antique Georgian-style inn — the three-story shingled structure was built in 1840 — she ruminated over how much her attitude toward cops had changed in recent years. After a terrible marriage to a police officer in California she had been left with little trust in and pretty much total disdain for anyone in law enforcement. She couldn't forgive her ex-husband's colleagues for turning a blind eye to the violence and suffering he had inflicted upon her and her family. Fortunately she had found that the police in East Hampton were different. She was even starting to develop a wary faith in them, particularly Sergeant Flanagan, who, if she was completely honest, had given her a few outs when she had meddled in things when she shouldn't have. True, he thought her a giant pain in the rear, but she knew that he had a grudging respect for her.
"You know, you're allowed to sit when you wait for me," teased Antonia as she entered her overflowing office.
The seasoned cop in his well-pressed uniform turned and gave her a wry look. He had dark, close-cropped hair, was extremely fit and always stood erect like a soldier, as if sitting somehow compromised his authority.
"There's nowhere to sit."
"Oh, nonsense," said Antonia, scurrying to remove a pile of folders from the guest chair that stood opposite her desk. "You could have moved these or you could have parked it in my seat."
"There are a lot of risks in my job, but a visit to your office is the most hazardous."
"Ha, ha, is that police humor?" asked Antonia as she plopped down in her chair.
"Does police humor exist?" asked Sergeant Flanagan looking down at her with a raised brow.
"Well, Sergeant Flanagan, I think this is the most banter we've had in our entire acquaintance." Antonia smiled.
Flanagan brushed away some invisible dust from the seat opposite Antonia and sat down precariously. "Sadly, it has to end here. I have some questions for you."
Much to Antonia's delight she noticed that Soyla, who worked in the inn's restaurant, had left a plate of freshly baked blueberry mini muffins and a teapot of steeping Earl Grey on a corner of Antonia's full desk. Those morning walks always made Antonia hungry! She held up the plate and offered it to the sergeant, but he demurred with a wave of his hand. It must be how he stays so fit, thought Antonia as she took a bite of the still-warm treat. What kind of a person turns down freshly baked blueberry muffins? And the berries were local and in season, too — plump and sweet as they burst in her mouth. It took an extraordinary amount of self-control for him to refuse them, Antonia concluded. Something she was sorely lacking.
"So what's up?" asked Antonia after she had swallowed her third bite. "Is this about Susie Whitaker?"
Antonia had recently helped solve a cold case involving the murder of a sixteen year-old girl back in the 1990s. It had been very tragic but thankfully the killer was now behind bars.
"Actually, no," Sergeant Flanagan responded. "It's about a double homicide that occurred in the Northwest Woods last night."
Antonia nearly choked on her breakfast. "What? Another murder?"
"Double murder," Sergeant Flanagan corrected. "I am unable to divulge much information about the victims, pending notification to their families, so I need to ensure your utmost discretion. What we know so far, through an Uber receipt we found in one of the victim's wallets, is that he was at The Windmill Inn last night. Perhaps both of the victims were."
"Here?" gasped Antonia. "Oh my goodness, were they staying here?" This would be terrible for business.
"I don't know, you tell me." Sergeant Flanagan held up a color copy of two driver's licenses: Shane Adam Boskin and Gary Vincent DiAngelo.
Antonia squinted but neither looked familiar, nor did the names ring any bells.
"Let me check the reservation log."
Antonia clicked onto the computer in front of her and scanned the room list. No one with either of those names had been registered at the inn. She even did a search for past reservations, but found nothing.
"They didn't stay here, at least under those names. Let me check the dinner reservations list and see if they ate here."
She clicked over to another file, but again neither name appeared. "They might have been eating here, but as guests of someone else who made the reservation. Otherwise, perhaps they were at the bar? We haven't gone through receipts yet from last night. But I can check with Jesse the bartender and Glen our maître d'."
"Are they here now?"
"Actually, Glen should be."
"Let's go see him."
* * *
"Those guys? Yeah, I saw them," said Glen, who was squinting at the picture that Sergeant Flanagan held. They had found Glen seated at a leather booth in the restaurant going through the previous night's receipts. "Let me guess, they got into a bar fight after they left."
"Worse than that," said Sergeant Flanagan. "They're dead."
This got Glen's full attention. "What?"
"Murdered," interjected Antonia.
"No way, that's horrible." When he spoke candidly, Glen's strong Long Island accent was in full bloom, so words like "horrible" were pronounced more like "HAW-rubble." "What happened?"
"Tell me what they were doing here," said Sergeant Flanagan, ignoring Glen's question.
A lock of Glen's thickly gelled hair fell in front of his eyes and he quickly swept it away. "They came in toward the end of the night, to the bar. It was obvious they'd already been out drinking and this was just a pit stop. I didn't pay much attention to them when they came in because the restaurant was slammed, but they got louder and louder the more they drank, and I told Jesse to cut them off and make sure they had a ride home."
"Were they talking to anyone else?"
"I didn't really notice. But I think they had a girl with them."
"A girl?" asked Antonia.
Sergeant Flanagan turned and gave her an irritated look. "Miss Bingham, please allow me to do the questioning. You're only here in case you can add to the discussion."
"Fair enough," said Antonia. She sat down in the booth across from Glen in a form of capitulation, while Sergeant Flanagan remained standing.
"Not a girl, a woman," Glen clarified.
"What did she look like?" asked Sergeant Flanagan, whipping out his brown leather notebook and a pen.
"You know ... I'm not sure. Brown hair? Wait, maybe blond."
"Which is it?"
"I'm not sure, I can't say definitely. Don't put me on a witness stand!" said Glen holding up his hands in a surrender pose.
"Clearly, at the rate we are going, I won't. Can you tell me her approximate age?"
"Um, twenties? Thirties?"
"Anything you can specifically remember about how she dressed?"
"I really didn't see her."
"Would you be able to identify her voice?"
"What, like, if she's at the restaurant?"
"No. In a nine-one-one call."
"She made the nine-one-one call?" Antonia asked with interest.
Sergeant Flanagan shot her a look of warning. Antonia slid her fingers across her lips as if she was zipping her mouth closed.
"I don't know. I doubt it. You should ask Jesse, he probably could tell you more."
"I will talk to him. But in the meantime, is there anything you can add? Was anyone else seated around them that engaged with them?"
"I don't think so."
"Anyone strange at the bar?"
Glen rubbed his chin distractedly. He had angular features, long eyelashes and was very well groomed, causing female customers of all ages to flirt with him. He in turn would flirt back, which always secured him extra tips. He was the perfect point person for the restaurant, although he was incredibly high maintenance and constantly needed Antonia's commendations and commiserations.
"There was one big guy ... I don't know if he was strange. ..."
"Oh? What was it about him?" asked the sergeant.
"I'm not sure ... it's something I wouldn't have thought twice about, but now that you're asking, it was kind of weird. He was sitting alone at the bar, and he seemed very tense, you know, he had a nervous energy about him, like he wasn't there to have fun and he wasn't there to get drunk, he was just ... there. And then someone bumped into the back of his chair by accident and he got really triggered and yelled to back the you-know-what off. It was really out of nowhere, and we're not that kind of place."
"Was it one of the victims that bumped into him?" "No. No, actually it was a woman. And her boyfriend then got triggered also and said, like, 'what's your problem? it was an accident; she was just getting her coat on' and the big guy looked angry, but then Jesse and I defused the situation and the couple left."
"What did the big guy look like?"
"You know, big. I'm tall but he was like six foot four. Had a big head. Probably late twenties. He looked like a dumb football player."
"Did it seem like he was doing business at the bar?"
"What do you mean, like selling drugs?" At this Antonia chimed in and stated firmly, "No one sells drugs in my inn."
"We've never had that problem here," said Glen in an offended tone. "We keep a clean house."
"Do you have credit card receipts for this guy?" Glen shook his head. "He paid cash. I remember that because not that many people do these days, I always make a joke, like, hold up the bill and say 'what is this?' when people pay, because, you know, money is going extinct."
"When did he leave?"
Glen looked up at the ceiling. "You know what, I think he was one of the last to go. It was the victims and their lady friend and this guy at the end. They all left around the same time. But I can't be certain. You can ask Jesse; he may remember more."
* * *
"No way, those guys are dead?" Jesse mused in disbelief half an hour later. He clutched the photocopy of their licenses in his hand and shook his head.
"What can you tell me about them?" continued Sergeant Flanagan.
Antonia had called Jesse and asked him to come into work right away, and he had arrived somewhat bleary-eyed and sleepy, clad in a T-shirt and jeans, his hair going in all different directions. He was a recent college student who was working only for the season, before he moved out west in October and got what he referred to as a "real job." Antonia was sorry to see him go, as he was easygoing and, if she were to be totally honest, also easy on the eyes. She was certain that's why her bar business had gone up by ten percent this summer and seemed to have been discovered by young twenty-somethings.
"Those guys had been partying. They were pretty lit by the time they got here."
"What were they drinking?" asked the sergeant.
"We don't serve people if we think they've had too much," interjected Antonia.
Sergeant Flanagan turned toward her. "Thanks, Miss Bingham. I'll take it from here. Why don't you leave us for now."
"What? But it's my inn."
"And it's my case. So thank you."
Reluctantly, Antonia wandered into the kitchen feeling like her inner-snoop was wounded. The immaculate kitchen was quiet. It was still too early for the staff to have arrived to prep dinner, and Soyla had taken a break after the breakfast service. Antonia opened the refrigerator for what she liked to think was inspiration but was possibly just a snack, and scanned the contents.
Earlier, when they were waiting for Jesse to arrive, Antonia had been able to press Sergeant Flanagan into giving her more information, insisting that it might jog her memory for anything related to the case. They both knew that was a load of hooey, but for some reason the sergeant relented and filled her in (perhaps it's because she also overheard him on the cell confirming with a colleague that the families had been notified). He gave her a brief rundown.
The police had received a 911 call from a woman in distress, who said that she had been a guest at a house on Bull Path and when she returned from using the powder room she found that the two men she was with had been stabbed in the hot tub. She wasn't sure if they were dead because she had fled the house and was running in the woods, scared that the killer would pursue her. She didn't give her name and the call ended abruptly. And in answer to Antonia's follow-up questions, the sergeant informed her that the phone the woman had used was owned by Shane Boskin, which is why they couldn't "just trace the call." It had not yet been retrieved and the woman had not yet come forward and they were searching for her. No, they couldn't be sure she wasn't the killer but that's why they needed to locate her. Yes, it was a violent crime, the police officer confirmed which prompted Antonia to muse that all crimes were violent in their own way, weren't they? After that comment, the sergeant clammed up, perhaps regretting that he had even given Antonia a little window into the investigation.
Antonia was offended that her sleuthing skills were rejected, but the truth was, she had other things to worry about. Time to let the police do their jobs.
"This is a good thing. I need to stay away from murder," said Antonia out loud to the empty kitchen.
"Excuse me?" a male voiced queried.
Antonia turned around abruptly, like a naughty child who had been caught stealing cookies. She slammed the refrigerator door shut, and stared at the man who had come through the back door.
"I'm back, baby."CHAPTER 2
She felt suddenly shy.
Antonia had not seen Nick Darrow since ... well, since he had embraced her a few weeks earlier on what had become the best day of her life. And now he stood in her kitchen, this famous tall, dark, and handsome movie star clad in a dark blue button-down and khakis, with his hair just a bit too long around the ears, smiling at her. And she could only feel a rush of random discombobulated thoughts: that his front incisor slightly overlapped the tooth next to it but the flaw only added to his charm; that it was the wisdom behind his eyes — the knowledge, the experience, the wariness — that made them more penetrating; that he was here, in her kitchen. He was here, in her kitchen!
"When did you get back?" she croaked.
"Last night," he said, not moving.
She swallowed, attempting to be casual but embarrassed. "So, um, how long are you in town for?"
His smile grew larger. "Aren't you going to kiss me hello?"(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Death on Bull Path"
Copyright © 2018 Carrie Doyle.
Excerpted by permission of Dunemere Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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