DEATH WITH AN OCEAN VIEW

DEATH WITH AN OCEAN VIEW

by Noreen Wald

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781943390854
Publisher: Henery Press
Publication date: 03/08/2016
Pages: 226
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)

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Death with an Ocean View

A Kate Kennedy Mystery


By Noreen Wald

Henery Press

Copyright © 2016 Noreen Wald
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-943390-88-5


CHAPTER 1

"Charlie, what the hell am I doing in paradise?" Kate glanced up at a cotton ball cloud bouncing along in a cornflower blue sky, not expecting an answer. Charlie Kennedy, her husband, had dropped dead six months ago, still clutching the pen he'd used to close on their beachfront condo.

Ballou tugged on his leash. Knowing the Westie missed Charlie too, she picked up speed, splashing surf over her bare feet and sending sand flying.

Another perfect day in South Florida. A cliché Kate considered pure propaganda, perpetuated by snow birds and retirees who'd left behind change of seasons, grandchildren, and decent public transportation, and now felt obliged to rave about the weather on a daily basis.

She was more than fed up with sunshine. Palmetto Beach's six straight days of clear skies and mid-eighty-degree weather, tempered by an ocean breeze, had seriously deepened her depression.

It was raining in New York City. And according to Al Roker, unseasonably cold for October. The frost on the pumpkin. God, how she wished she were up there.

But she couldn't go home. Charlie and she had sold her beloved house in Rockville Centre. Strangers lived there now. A mouthy financial planner, his rotund wife who favored Lycra leggings and peasant blouses, and two teenagers with multiple pierced body parts and wicked overbites. The new owners had painted the brick Tudor's front door and shutters a shocking pink. Kate's former neighbors probably would never speak to her again.

Her current home — a third-floor beachfront apartment in the high-rise condo that had been Charlie's retirement choice, certainly not Kate's — was in danger of becoming a parking garage.

Exiting the Atlantic, a slim woman shouted, "Kate!"

Stella Sajak, president of the Ocean Vista Condominium's Board of Directors, always sounded as if a crisis were coming and only she could stem its tide.

"Good morning, Stella." Kate, on the other hand, sounded priggish even to herself. A widow's voice? An invisible shield? A "don't you dare cross the line and feel sorry for me" voice?

"I hope we can count on you to support us at Town Hall this afternoon." Stella hopped on her left foot, tilted her head to the side, shook it, then pulled on her left ear. "Feels like half the ocean is in there. Damn, I should have worn a bathing cap. But they're so old lady-like, aren't they?"

Kate smiled, as one incipient old lady to another, but Stella missed — or ignored — the silent communication.

Ballou investigated a dead crab, then kicked it onto Kate's big toe.

"There's strength in numbers," Stella said. "We can't let that Sea Breeze bunch hoodwink the mayor and bamboozle our much too easily influenced city council. I'm telling you, those developers won't stop until they raze Ocean Vista and leave us all homeless."

Then, giving her ear a final yank, she added, "It's your civic duty, Kate."

The wiry Stella, with blunt-cut steel gray hair, eyes of almost the same shade, and a nose that commanded notice, looked better in a bathing suit than most of Ocean Vista's residents. A daily dipper, she owned dozens of them. Today's choice, a crisp white eyelet with sunny yellow daisies, had a halter top and a jaunty skirt

Kate, seedy in sweatpants and one of Charlie's old t-shirts, knew that her silver hair needed a shampoo and her legs hadn't been shaved in — she shuddered — since Charlie died. God, could that be possible?

Just to get away, she said, "I'll be there, Stella. Two. Right?"

Stella narrowed her eyes, then coolly appraised Kate from top to bottom, and sniffed. "Right. I'll drive. Be in the lobby at one thirty."

Outwitted, Kate veered south, pulling the indignant Ballou behind her, and headed back to the condo.


Nestled between fast-track Fort Lauderdale and nouveau riche Boca Raton, the once sleepy village of Palmetto Beach had been plagued by progress. A glitzy resort complex, complete with an ice rink, would replace the old fishing pier and its weather-beaten restaurant and sand-strewn stores. Sea Breeze Inc., the resort's management company, had petitioned the city council to exercise the right of eminent domain and, for the public good and Palmetto Beach's development, tear down Ocean Vista and build a parking garage.

According to Stella, no one understood why the mayor and council had sold the prime oceanfront property to Sea Breeze, especially since two other Broward County towns had spurned the company's offer, but only after accusations of attempted bribery.

Kate didn't give a damn what happened to Palmetto Beach. And if she did, she'd probably root for the development company. Then Ocean Vista would be razed, and she'd be forced to relocate. But where would she go?

Not to live with either of her sons, that was for sure. She couldn't picture Kevin's wife or Peter's partner gleefully racing around redecorating a guest room in anticipation of her arrival. And much as she loved the boys, that would never be an option.

Her own guest room in the stark white-on-white condo — Peter's partner, Edmund, a plastic surgeon by profession but an interior designer by passion, had decorated it — was crammed with Charlie's stuff. Box after box of memories she couldn't bear to open.

Still annoyed that Stella Sajak had coerced her, Kate blew-dry her hair, shaved her legs, and dressed in tan slacks and a white cotton shirt. Looking at Charlie's picture on her art deco dressing table, she smiled. "Okay, I hear you. I'll put on lipstick too." Then she said goodbye to a dejected Ballou.


Kate stepped out of the elevator and waved at Stella, dressed in a gray linen suit and pacing around a bronze urn filled with fake lilies.

The sea foam lobby was furnished with two overstuffed darker green chenille sofas and several cozy groupings of rattan tables and chairs. Potted plastic plants abounded. Dead center stood a life-size imitation alabaster statue of the Greek goddess Aphrodite, surrounded by a bevy of winged Cupids, mixing Greek and Roman myths in a no doubt unintended but nevertheless real, salute to multiculturalism.

Stella strode over and nudged Kate with her briefcase. "We're taking Marlene's car. She's double-parked with the engine running, so hurry up."

The front desk, backed by a wall of one hundred and fifty pigeonholes — one for each apartment — was manned by the miserable Miss Mitford, who treated the residents as if they were in sixth grade and slow learners. She'd been hired thirty-four years ago, when Ocean Vista opened and the realtors started bringing in potential buyers. In addition to being the keeper of the keys, rumor had it that Mitford was the keeper of the condo owners' secrets. And her inside information about their private lives had assured lifetime job security.

She nodded curtly as Stella and Kate passed by.

The circular driveway, edged with royal palms and sweet-smelling hibiscus, led to State Road A1A, known in Palmetto Beach as Ocean Boulevard. Marlene Friedman's vintage white Caddy convertible blocked its north lane. Horns blared and curses and threats filled the air, as drivers swerved to get around her, only to be thwarted by the southbound traffic.

Marlene stuck her head, topped with a platinum blond wiglet teased into sausage curls, out the driver's window, and yelled, "Get over it, fellow."

The object of her attention, who'd been pressing his palm on the horn of his silver SUV, navigated around Marlene's left rear fin, only to go hood-to-hood with a yellow Rabbit heading south toward Fort Lauderdale.

Stella yanked open Marlene's front passenger door. "Get in, Kate. I'll ride in the back."

Before Kate could fasten her seat belt, Marlene pumped the gas pedal and they lurched forward. "Take it easy, Marlene. That guy's closing in behind us."

"Exactly why we're moving at eighty miles per. Can't you see that SOB in the SUV is dangerous? And my horoscope said death would visit today."

Stella groaned. "It's Halloween. The eve of All Souls' Day. Death, masquerading as costumed children, visits every Halloween. Of course, I never answer the door. That Key West fortune-teller certainly saw you coming. Fifty bucks thrown away."

"Madame X is an astrologer, not a fortune-teller, Stella. And your moon is in Taurus. So you'd better beware." Marlene made a sharp left onto Neptune Boulevard, heading for the bridge.

Marlene Friedman had been Kate Kennedy's best friend for almost sixty years, including a brief stint during the early seventies in which she had also been Kate's sister-in-law. Marlene described her second marriage to Charlie's brother, Kevin, which had lasted less than six weeks, as a long date.

Twelve years ago, Marlene had buried her third husband, moved from Summit, New Jersey to Palmetto Beach, and begun lobbying her former in-laws to "come on down."

After Charlie had retired from the force, he and Kate visited Marlene often. He loved beautiful beaches and challenging golf courses and Palmetto Beach had both.

Then six months ago, after debating for a decade about where to spend the rest of their lives, they finally moved. The rest of Charlie's life turned out to be less than twenty-four hours.

Not unexpectedly, the Neptune Boulevard drawbridge was rising. Kate couldn't recall ever having crossed over to the mainland without waiting.

In the backseat, Stella squirmed. "Damn, we'll be late." But today, Kate, who usually ignored Palmetto Beach's considerable charm, welcomed the delay, savoring the beauty of the dark blue water shimmering under the bright sunshine, and watching as a huge sloop and several powerboats, flanked by the mansions on both shores, lined up to sail under the bridge.

A thump on the Caddy's rear bumper startled Kate. She turned and spotted the silver SUV just as Stella, adjusting her glasses, peered out the back window, and said, "My God, David Fry is driving that gas guzzler."

"Who's David Fry?"

"Sea Breeze's CEO." Stella spun around and stared at Kate. "I can't believe you're so cavalier about Ocean View's future. Scandal and deception are the hallmarks of David Fry and his company. I believe that man bribed someone on the city council. He's the reason we're fighting Town Hall."

A tiny ghoul, maybe ten years old, appeared out of nowhere, holding a small Neiman Marcus shopping bag and tapping on the front passenger window. Kate rolled it down.

"Happy Halloween." The sweet voice belonged to a girl, though the ghastly death mask and ghoul costume completely hid her gender. "My mother says taking candy from strangers is dangerous and I'm on a low-fat diet anyway, so money will be fine."

Marlene laughed, her deep, rumbling, straight-from-the-belly laugh that Kate knew so well, and said, "Only in South Florida."

The kid opened her shopping bag, filled to the brim with dollar bills, and stuck out her hand. "Trick or treat."

CHAPTER 2

"Over my dead body!" Stella Sajak's shout silenced the rowdy standing-room-only crowd at Palmetto Beach's Town Hall, a feat that the mayor and her gavel had not been able to accomplish. Kate, leaning against the faux cherry wood wall, wedged between Stella and Marlene and directly across the auditorium from David Fry, jumped as she caught the handsome, white-haired Sea Breeze CEO glaring at the condo president. If looks could kill, Stella would be a goner.

Yet Kate said nothing.

She used to be a Chatty Cathy, except no one needed a string to get her started. When she graduated from grade school, she'd been voted "Most Talkative," and for the next half-century she'd never had trouble finding her voice ...until last spring when Charlie died and suddenly she had nothing to say, except for conversations with a dead man.

Marlene had been eyeing Fry ever since they'd arrived. Let her tell Stella.

The meeting had started out mean and was moving rapidly toward mob mentality. David Fry, at first cool and calm, had presented Sea Breeze's eminent domain case, but the boos and shouts from the audience quickly drove him into a corner.

The mayor, an attractive blonde, somewhere in her sixties and dressed in an Armani suit — just how high a salary was Palmetto Beach paying Brenda Walters? — had tried to restore order, but her seemingly conciliatory tone toward Sea Breeze's request had triggered Stella's angry response.

Kate felt a poke in her ribs as Marlene whispered, "Fry's an attorney, you know. And a bachelor to boot. Beaucoup bucks. That yellow mansion right across the Intercoastal from Houston's is his. Lives there all alone. A real hunk, isn't he?"

Marlene, who knew the stats on every available South Florida male between sixty and death, must have missed Fry's killer look. And apparently, she hadn't noticed the unruly constituency.

The fattest of the three councilmen called for order, but the crowd shouted him down.

With mayhem moments away, the mayor banged the gavel and adjoined the meeting, assuring all that she'd reschedule another before the council voted.

As Kate, Marlene, and Stella made their way out, a breathless Mayor Walters dashed up to them, extending her hand to Stella. "We have a difference of opinion, but I promise you a fair hearing. And if you'd like, we can meet privately tomorrow morning."

Stanley Ferris, another of the condo owners, a retired dentist and practicing philanderer, wizened and weather-beaten, squeezed in between Marlene and Stella, draping a skinny arm around each of them.

"You ought to take our lovely mayor up on that invite, Stella."

Scowling, Stella shoved Stanley's elbow off her shoulder, just as an unruffled David Fry emerged from the crowd. A now visibly rattled Stella stumbled over her words while introducing the mayor as "Be — Brenda" to Marlene, Stanley, and Kate. Fry, standing off to the side, appeared amused, almost smirking. Then, much to Kate's surprise, Stella, regaining her composure, smiled brightly at the mayor and said, "A condo president lives in hope of negotiation. I'll be in your office at eight."

The mayor laughed. A charming tinkle. "I'll be there at ten."


On their way home, Stella sounded almost optimistic. "The mayor's first term is up next year. Says she won't run again, but they all say that; she's campaigning already. And after today's fiasco, you can bet that Brenda Walters has to be rethinking Sea Breeze's offer."

Marlene groaned. "Enough. If the bad guys win and David Fry buys us out, I'm heading north. You meet a better class of crooks in Palm Beach."

The giggle that rose in Kate's throat escaped like an uncontrollable hiccup, startling her.

Marlene managed to check on a crack in her bright orange acrylic thumbnail while making a left turn. "Let's talk about something fun — like tonight's party." She glanced over her shoulder and met Kate's eyes. "I'm going as Britney Spears, but I just happen to have a serving wench's costume in storage. If we turned up the hem, made a few nips and tucks, and bought a well-padded push-up bra, you could wear it."

Feeling her face flush, Kate pulled away from Marlene's gaze and stared out the window.

"For God's sake, Marlene," Stella said. "Forget your nails, shut up about Halloween, and watch the road."

Marlene smirked, but faced forward. She slowed down as she approached the Intercoastal, and the drawbridge, as if on cue, went up.

This time Kate laughed out loud.

Once on the island, Marlene stopped to buy a Sun-Sentinel from one of the newsboys — men, actually, and mostly homeless — stationed on the corner of Neptune Boulevard and A1A. This one they knew by name. Timmy. Every day, he stood in the blazing sun from seven until four. And early mornings were tough for Timmy — he'd told Marlene that he had trouble getting started. He wore a bright pink t-shirt with the newspaper's logo spread across its front, dirty cutoffs, and a tan that had turned muddy decades ago. Thanking Marlene for the dollar mid the "keep the change," he smiled, exuding a raffish charm. But today, Timmy's right front tooth was missing. Kate felt a pang and feared unbidden tears would flow.

These "newsboys" sporting Sun-Sentinel pink or Miami Herald blue t-shirts crisscrossed all the main intersections of Broward County. Kate thought of them as the walking wounded, and if Charlie hadn't gone and died on her, she would have volunteered at a homeless shelter.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Death with an Ocean View by Noreen Wald. Copyright © 2016 Noreen Wald. Excerpted by permission of Henery Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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DEATH WITH AN OCEAN VIEW 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
GratefulGrandma More than 1 year ago
The Kate Kennedy Mystery Series is a reissue of the series written in 2004 under the name Nora Charles. I really enjoyed the first book in this series and hope they reissue the rest of them. Kate Kennedy lost her husband as they moved to the small Florida town of Palmetto. She had not wanted to move, she agreed because her husband loved it and she loved her husband. She is a lost soul as the story begins and does not yet feel at home in the condo they purchased. She and her dog go for walks throughout the day and her only friend is her ex-sister-in-law, Marlene. Recently, a developer is trying to get the town council to force the sale of Ocean Vista so he can raze it for a parking lot. Kate reluctantly goes to the townhall meeting and witnesses various disagreements, one involing Stella, the condo board president. When Stella is found murdered, Kate and her friends decide to do some snooping on their own to solve the case. If you are looking for a great mystery then you need to read this book. I can’t wait until the next book is out. The characters are well developed and described in a way that you can picture these seniors. They made me chuckle at various time in the book. The relationship between Kate and Marlene is strong. They have been friends since gradeschool and they put up with one another's foibles and mistakes. The mystery kept me guessing almost until the end as there were several suspects and red herrings thrown in for good measure. A fun mystery. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.
TessT More than 1 year ago
This is another fun book, even though it is a topic I had never thought would be so funny. No death is not funny, but the antics that Noreen"s characters share with us certainly are. Noreen gives them life and they seem to keep her readers on their toes. This series is being re-released and there are 4 more after this one. FTC Full Disclosure - A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
weluvdopey More than 1 year ago
This is a great book; this is the first book in the A Kate Kennedy Mystery series by Noreen Wald. Kate Kennedy lost her husband as soon as they moved to the small Florida town of Palmetto. She has lost herself and hasn’t felt at home since her husband died. The condos where she lives called Ocean Vista is in an uproar ever since they heard that developers plan to raze the property and put up a glitzy resort in its place. Stella is the condo board president is in an uproar over this. When Stella is found murdered, Kate and her friends decide to do some snooping on their own to solve the case. If you are looking for a great mystery then you need to read this book. I can’t wait until the next book is out. A Review copy was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review. The free book held no determination on my personal review.
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
This was an okay cozy for me. There were good premises and bad premises. Sometimes it was a little hard for me to follow. As I know this series was written years ago and since then, I've read the author's newer stuff, I just count this as her learning period. Thanks Henery Press for approving my request and to Net Galley for providing a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.