Of course everyone is expecting a “dead” body at the dress rehearsal…but this one isn’t acting! It turns out the main suspect is the late actor’s conniving girlfriend Sherry…who also happens to be the ex-wife of Jill’s main squeeze. Sherry is definitely a master manipulator…but is she a killer? Jill may discover the truth only when the curtain comes up on the final act…and by then, it may be far too late.
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Dressed to Kill
A Tourist Trap Mystery
By LYNN CAHOON
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2015 Lynn Cahoon
All rights reserved.
Sometimes what you see is not what you get. The small building had its doors flung open, looking more like a gaping mouth posed to devour us than the entrance into South Cove's newest and only clothing business, Vintage Duds. Pots of flowers lined the sidewalk, giving the store what should have been a homey look. My aunt nudged me, and I took one halting step closer. I, Jill Gardner, owner of Coffee, Books, and More and South Cove's business community liaison to the city council, knew a trap when I saw it. And this tastefully decorated store selling upscale designer clothing at a ridiculous price for used threads was definitely a snare.
"What is wrong with you?" Aunt Jackie snapped. "Just because Greg was married to the woman doesn't mean the two of you have to be sworn enemies."
Yep, the new store owner was my boy toy's ex. Small towns are alike. You have to learn to forgive and forget because the person you fight with—or divorce—just doesn't move away. It's more than likely you'll run into them at the grocery, or the diner, or even at a meeting you're running. Life is messy that way. I turned away from the door, ready to sprint back to my shop down the street. "Maybe I don't have to attend every Business-to-Business meeting. You could say I was sick."
Jackie gently turned me around, linking her arm in mine. "You can do this. It's just a two-hour meeting. You can do anything for two hours."
As soon as we entered the store, I knew my aunt was dead wrong.
A hostess greeted us and gave us a swag bag. Aunt Jackie cooed and opened the silk ties. "A scarf, bubble bath beads, a coupon for a free glass of wine at Darla's winery, and"—she pulled out one last item—"jewelry."
The high school student grinned. "Keep digging. There's a little something from every store in South Cove."
"Except ours. Total waste of marketing money. You're preaching to the choir with this group," I muttered. Aunt Jackie quickly closed her bag and grabbed mine, as well, tucking them both into her purse.
"We'll save those for later." She smiled at our greeter and led me deeper into the store. Two chair-massage technicians had their area set up against the wall next to an eight-foot-square portrait of Marilyn Monroe. People lined up for their turn.
Bill Sullivan, our meeting chair, waved us over to where he waited in line. Bill was a member of the city council along with running South Cove Bed-and-Breakfast with his wife, Mary. "Great meeting, don't you think? Sherry went all-out."
"Is this a meeting or a party?" I waved away another high school student who had a plate of black caviar on crackers.
"Relax, Jill. We have plenty of time to get through the agenda." He glanced at the now empty chair. "Looks like it's my turn. You should get in line. You could use a massage."
"What's that supposed to mean?" I started to follow him, but again, I felt my aunt's hand on my arm.
"Leave it alone. There are enough rumors going on about you and Sherry. Can't you just pretend to enjoy yourself for a few hours?" my aunt asked, her voice low.
I took a deep breath. Jackie was right. No use getting upset. Sherry had been nice enough to volunteer to host this month's Business-to-Business meeting. Of course, when she'd offered, I'd expected her to serve cookies and coffee and for a freaking meeting to actually happen instead of this cocktail party. Apparently, I'd been delusional.
"I'm so glad to see you. I was beginning to think I was at the wrong place." Sadie Michaels came up on my right side and gave me a hug. She'd opened Pies on the Fly a few years ago, renovating her garage into a small bakery. Between Diamond Lille's and the coffee shop business, Sadie made a good income for the part-time-at-home venture. She was also one of my best friends.
I glanced around the room. Sherry had taken the entire clothing inventory out of the main showroom for our meeting. Two tables sat in the middle of the room, apparently for our use once we got done with our massages and caviar. White lights lined the room, giving the entire room a festive glow. A short runway in the center of the showroom featured models wearing designer gowns sold in the shop. If Sherry wasn't the owner, I would be enthralled with her collection. I saw some classic Chanel as well as a good dose of Michael Kors, the early years. Even though you couldn't tell it from a survey of my wardrobe, I loved watching designer trends. Just not buying them.
I focused on the conversation.
"So, I may be a little short on the pie order tomorrow, but you'll be caught up on Wednesday." Sadie smiled like she'd just solved a third world problem. "I'm going to grab some coffee."
"I don't understand. What happened to the pie order?" I called after Sadie, but my words were lost in the din. Or, more likely, she was ignoring me. I looked for my aunt but she'd stepped away. Scanning the room, I found her drinking a flute of champagne and talking to Kent Paine. Kent was dressed in a tailored black suit and looked more like a financial mogul than a small branch manager. His too-white teeth and salt-and-pepper hair added to his almost-perfect actor looks. He and Sherry had been dating for a few months now and gossip was they were made for each other. Both shallow and petty to the core.
Sherry floated into the conversation, took Kent by the arm, and moved him over to the side of the room. Aunt Jackie returned to our group. "You get dumped?" I teased.
She polished off the champagne and traded it with a full glass off the tray of a waiter she'd motioned over as she approached. I waved the guy off. I didn't need alcohol in my system this early in the day. "Just mingling. Kent's such a charismatic person, I don't understand what he sees in Sherry."
Raised voices from the side of the room had us turning to watch Sherry and Kent. "... keep it in your pants for an hour?"
"I was just being nice ..." Kent grabbed Sherry's arm and they disappeared into a doorway, away from the crowd and blocking their next words.
"Looks like there's trouble in paradise." I nudged my aunt.
"Maybe you have a shot?"
Her face turned beet red and she took a sip of her champagne. "Stop teasing. I feel bad for the guy, that's all."
"Looking for a new dancing partner?" Sadie rejoined the group, sipping a cup of coffee. "I thought you and Josh were almost exclusive."
Hearing his name, Josh lumbered toward the group in his normal attire, black suit, white dress shirt. He owned Antiques by Thomas and was Jackie's new beau. Josh looked as confused at the meeting events as I felt. He didn't say a word as he took a protective stand next to my aunt.
"Anyway, back to this week's order. Sherry came in with a last-minute order for the meeting. I just couldn't turn her down." Sadie led me toward the runway area, looking back at my aunt and Josh. "I almost put my foot in my mouth back there. I didn't know he was so close."
"When Jackie's around, Josh is never too far away. The man's besotted." I frowned, mentally calculating what Pies on the Fly product we had left at the shop. "I hope we don't get a tour bus stop, we'll be wiped out."
"Stop stressing. You'll have your order, just not tomorrow."
"I just can't win today," I muttered, allowing myself to be swept into the crowd. After a ten-minute show, Sherry walked out on stage to the thunderous applause of the group. She even bowed, as if she'd created each and every dress instead of the famous designers she stocked.
"I'm so blessed you all have opened your arms to welcome me and my little store into your community. When Greg told me how happy he was here in South Cove, I knew I was destined to become part of this amazing town." She paused, glancing through the crowd until she found me. Her smile widened. Instead of a woman, I saw a barracuda getting ready to attack her prey. "And now, I'm sure Bill wants to start the meeting. I've had coffee and pie set up at the main table. You'll find a place card with your name. Sue me, I love party planning."
The crowd laughed with her, turned, and found their way to their seats at the table. Typically I get maybe ten of the invited businesses to attend. Sherry's count seemed to be at least thirty. I didn't think I had thirty people on my invite fax list. My list of reasons why I hated Greg's ex-wife was growing by the minute.
When I sat down in front of my nameplate, I added two more reasons. Sherry had sat me on a corner of the table, next to Josh and Lille. Josh sighed when he saw me. I put on a council business smile and greeted the two. "Good morning."
I turned toward my left and Lille was scowling at me. She wore catlike frames today, making her eyes look larger than normal. "Figures I'd get stuck at the loser table."
Lille owned the other food establishment in town, a diner called Diamond Lille's. She also had been dating the town bad boy and thought I'd had a role in sending him up the river. Or whatever they called prison life these days. I guess she didn't think his dealings with the local motorcycle gang and being an accessory to the last murder in town actually should count against him. I squared my shoulders and made my smile even bigger, then lied. "I asked Sherry to seat us together. I think it's long past time to mend fences, don't you?"
Lille's eyes widened and she looked like she was going to tell me what I could do with my fence work when Bill Sullivan called the meeting to order.
"Quiet down, people, this is a meeting after all." Bill took a sip of champagne and waited for everyone to settle.
"Could have fooled me," I uttered a little too loud. Everyone turned their attention from Bill to me, then swiveled to see Sherry's reaction. Shut up, shut up, shut up. Aunt Jackie shook her head, warning me, again.
Kent Paine stepped up, blocking the icy stares between Sherry and me. "I'd love to stay for your little meeting, but the auditors are coming in and they'll be upset if I'm not there to welcome them." He glanced around the table. "Although if I'd known how much fun you have at these meetings, I would have come before."
Not like I hadn't personally asked him several times to attend or at least send a representative. I'd even brought cookies three times to tempt him. I guess all I'd had to do was put on a circus clown costume and promise him a good time.
I watched him exit the building, and then saw a woman follow him out. Probably one of the servers. No, most definitely one of the models, tall with long dark hair, the woman was gorgeous. I heard the tap of a gavel. The meeting was starting.
"Jill's right." Bill tried to smooth the waters. "It's more than time to get started. First up, a report from my Mary on the results of the Christmas Festival." He smiled down at his other half.
Mary Sullivan had rounded up the troops to pull together the decorations at the last minute for a true South Cove Christmas after the mayor's wife had dumped the project. Then she'd run the entire festival, scheduling carolers, school visits, and setting up a Santa's workshop on the lawn of City Hall. The woman was amazing in my eyes.
Mary stood, her warm smile enveloping me. She seemed to know exactly how I felt. "Repeating the brief I gave last month, we had a terrific festival. Every business owner I talked to saw an increase in profits over last year this time. I know our bed-and-breakfast is still working bookings we got during December." She passed out a stack of folders. "This is the final report for the festival numbers and accounting. At the end, there's a questionnaire for you to complete with ideas for our next festival. Please be honest. Many hands make light work."
When I got my folder and opened it, my eyes widened. Not only did she have an executive summary I could forward to the council, daily revenues were listed along with a description of the festival activities so we could see what brought in the visitors. At first glance, the Santa visits were high-profit days. Mary needed to be doing this analysis full-time rather than serving breakfast muffins to her guests.
"This is amazing." Holding the book open to one of the pages for the table to see, I pointed. "Mary's broken our store traffic down to events and times. We can use this to make staffing decisions next year rather than just guessing."
Bill beamed at his wife. "Mary used to be in market research before we moved here."
I didn't know that. Why didn't I know that? I thumbed through a few more pages. "We should do this for all of our festivals. We could get a grant from the city to pay for her time. This insight is promotion gold."
Mary's cheeks turned a bright pink when I gave her my usuallyreserved-for- chocolate grin.
"My store isn't listed in the book." Sherry slammed her copy of the report back on the table. She looked toward Bill. "She didn't include Vintage Duds."
I didn't wait for him or Mary to speak. Have mouth, insert leg is my motto. "That's because your store hadn't opened yet. She's not a mind reader, Sherry."
Tension flowed down the table as Sherry turned toward me. If the girl had any supernatural power, I'd be stone now, holding purses or necklaces, forever stuck in this three ring circus she called a shop. Instead, I got the evil eye. Compared to the glares I got from my aunt at times, Sherry's scowl had no power on me.
Bill must have been concerned we would jump on the table and give the group a version of a catfight from the women's prison. He coughed, then continued like Sherry and I hadn't even spoken. "Mary, do you want to respond to Jill's suggestion?"
The woman's eyes got as big as two saucers. "What suggestion?"
"That you could do this for the business community. Maybe you and Jill should talk after the meeting and iron out a proposal. Then we'll vote on it here and take it to the council." He patted his wife's hand. "Next order of business"—he glanced down at the paper—"Josh Thomas would like to discuss the amount of trash floating around the streets." Bill waved his hand toward Josh and he took it for his cue to stand.
Josh Thomas moved his antique business, Antiques by Thomas, to South Cove last year. Since joining the Business-to-Business group, all he'd done was complain. Okay, he did call the police and save my life last year, but typically, getting involved was not his forte.
He passed out pages of blown-up pictures of trash, flyers, and mostly cups, including a few with Coffee, Books, and More's logo, on the streets of South Cove. Unfortunately for me, the amount of trash also showed my customer base compared to Lille's. Her cups outnumbered mine at least two to one. More drinks equaled more revenue, and the hope to make my store profitable on the long term.
"That's my car," an artist who ran his own minigallery sat up straighter. Conner McBride was his name, but his Irish ancestry was in doubt, as his accent only came out for the paying customers. "You took a picture of the inside of my car."
Josh shrugged. "It was disgustingly dirty. You are leaking this trash all over South Cove every time you drive that rattrap."
"Uncool, man. Way uncool." The artist shook his head sadly then leaned back, his large sunglasses covering his eyes. If the meeting had been back at the shop, I would have bet money that the guy was asleep behind the sunglasses. Power-napping through the day. It's a good model. And there's plenty of mentors in our little town.
Bill's shoulders were coming close to squeezing his ears off his head. The meeting wasn't going well, even with the relaxing massage and wine. "Look, Josh. Let's not start a fight over a little thing like trash. We're all in the same lifeboat and we can't be having people punching holes in the bottom of it."
"He started it." Josh pointed at Conner.
The young man popped up out of his chair. "I can finish it."
A hand gently pushed him back in his seat. "So can I."
Greg King, South Cove police detective and my hunky boy toy, stood behind Conner. He caught my eye and winked. Then he went back to saving Josh's life.
"Man, I wasn't going to hurt the dude. I'm not that type of guy." Conner glowered at Josh. "He needs to stop putting his nose into things where it doesn't belong."
"If you can't calm down, you'll have to leave." Greg's voice was calm, but his words hard.
Excerpted from Dressed to Kill by LYNN CAHOON. Copyright © 2015 Lynn Cahoon. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
another great installment in this series. I think one of my favorite things about this series is that it is set in a small town on the CA coast near the ocean. What a great place to live! I like that there are a good set of regular characters but a few new ones are introduced with each book (otherwise how could there be a killer?!) As with the others I did not guess who the killer was until it was revealed. I don't think I even had any idea and while I wanted to pin it on a few characters, sadly they weren't to blame..this time! I like seeing Greg and Jill's relationship continues to grow as they get to know each other and date more. I also like seeing the personal relationships of others also continue to grow...or tolerate each other.
Jill has almost the perfect job. As owner of a small coffee/book store in California, she has also been cast in the town play as a flapper. Before the dress rehersal even gets started a body is found onstage. The murdered man, Kent is the boy friend of Sherry. Sherry is the ex-wife of Jill's boy friend, Greg. Sherry is the main suspect and even though she is a mean, hateful controlling person, could she have done anything so awful. Her best friend Pat feels that Sherry couldn't have done it and begged Jill to help prove Sherry's innocence. This is the 4th book in Lynn Cahoon's Tourist Trap Mysteries, with the 5th coming out later this year. 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.
Live the small town setting and interesting plots. Getting kinda tired of the Jill/Greg relationship though. For a cop, he's just too dumb and her antics are getting to be a bit too far out there. Stephanie Clanahan
Lynn Cahoo always delivers exactly what I am looking for in a cozy mystery novel. Jill is a wonderful character that I have enjoyed getting to know. South Cove is a community that I would love to visit except for the many murders that have taken place there over the last year. I can't wait to read more and for the next book to be published in August!
This is my first time reading a mystery by Lynn Cahoon and I can't wait to read the previous stories. Reminds me a lot of the Rita Mae Brown mysteries, where the reader is still getting to know the characters. Funny, I never figured out who the murderer was until I read it. Great read. I received a free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Great Cozy Series! This is a great series; this is the fourth book in A Tourist Trap Mystery series by Lynn Cahoon. Jill Gardner is the owner of Coffee, Books, and More located in the small town of South Cove, California. Jill is playing a twenties flapper for the murder mystery dinner that is raising money for charity. What she doesn’t expect to find is an actual murder mystery with a real dead body. The number one suspect is Jill’s boyfriends conniving ex-wife. Somehow she is convinced to put her sleuthing skills to the test to find the real killer. If you are looking for a great cozy mystery, with great characters then you need to read this book. This book will keep you guessing until the end. I can’t wait until the next book in this series comes 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.
Dressed to Kill by Lynn Cahoon is the fourth book in the A Tourist Trap Mystery series. Jill Gardner is the owner of Coffee, Books, and More. Jill is also the community liaison to the city council and dating Greg King. Greg is a police detective with the South Cove Police Department. The latest community business meeting is being held at Vintage Duds. Unfortunately, Vintage Duds is owned by Greg’s ex-wife, Sherry. Sherry is currently dating Kent Paine who is the bank branch manager. Sherry keeps making digs at Jill and does her best to see Greg as often as possible (Sherry is the one who cheated on Greg). Jill gets through the meeting without doing bodily harm to Sherry and looks forward to time with Greg. Jill and Greg have volunteered to help with “Dying for Trouble” mystery dinner theater at the South Cove Winery. Just as rehearsals are starting a scream rings out! Kent Paine is dead on the stage. The suspect list is quite long since Kent was a known womanizer. There is also some speculation that he was helping himself to bank funds. Greg is off to investigate with a reminder to Jill to keep out of it. Jill has not listened to Greg before and she will not listen to him this time. Jill is off investigating leads and sticking her nose into other people’s business. Who killed Kent Paine? Why did they want him dead? Do you think Greg will ever get used to Jill investigating? You will have to read Dressed to Kill to find out! Though this is the fourth book in the series, it can easily be read without having read any of the other books in the series. I give Dressed to Kill 4 out of 5 stars. It has a lovely setting, characters that are relatable and likeable, but the mystery was very easy to solve! I am looking forward to reading the next book in The Tourist Trap Mystery series. I received a complimentary copy of Dressed to Kill from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The review and opinions expressed are my own.
When you read a series, part of the charm is the continuing story of the central characters. I found them to be much of the same. Some lines are repeated over and over " like how many times I've read this menu" and the word "treat". 2 minor characters, the owners of the B & B, had surname "Simmons" in books 1-3, and now in book 4 their surname changes to "Sullivan". Weird,
Title: Dressed To Kill - Tourist Trap Mystery Book 4 Author: Lynn Cahoon Published: 6-23-2015 Publisher: Kensington Books/Lyrical Press Pages: 216 Genre: Mystery, Thrillers & Suspense Sub Genre: Amateur Sleuths, Cozy Mystery, Women Sleuths ISBN: 13: 9781601834157 ASIN: B00ONTR7KK Reviewer: DelAnne Reviewed For: NetGalley Rating: 4.25 Stars I received a copy of "Dressed to Kill" from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review. Description From the Publisher: Jill Gardner—owner of Coffee, Books, and More in the tucked-away town of South Cove, California—is not particularly thrilled to be portraying a twenties flapper for the dinner theater murder mystery. Though it is for charity… Of course everyone is expecting a “dead” body at the dress rehearsal…but this one isn't acting! It turns out the main suspect is the late actor's conniving girlfriend Sherry…who also happens to be the ex-wife of Jill's main squeeze. Sherry is definitely a master manipulator…but is she a killer? Jill may discover the truth only when the curtain comes up on the final act…and by then, it may be far too late. My Review: I always enjoy a return trip to South Cove in Sunny California. As typical in any cozy someone who is not very well liked dies and the nosy protagonist can not help but butt in on the investigation and find the killer. Sounds boring right? Wrong! It is authors like Lynn Cahoon who have made this sub-genre so popular. Ms. Cahoon has managed to take a basic formula and build a town where I can imagine myself walking down the streets and shops I would enjoy indulging in and people I would like to visit with and like most towns a few residents you want to avoid like the plague. Stop by South Cove and make some new friends. The characters are multidimensional and fun to interact with and scenes so real you will soon feel you have walked those streets yourself. Take a few hours out of your day to get to know the people in the Tourist Trap series and make a couple of new friends you won't be sorry. My rating of "Dressed to Kill" is 4.25 out of 5 stars.
I enjoyed this book as I do the whole series. The love the characters, people that I would love to hang around. Greg's ex is back in town and her new boyfriend ends up dead, and Sherry is the main suspect. There seems to have been more to him than expected as his death is investigated, which takes you on twists and turns as to who did it. My only drawback with this story was Greg was getting on my nerves with his constantly telling Jill to butt out. To me he knows what she's like so why try and change her? This was a minor irritation, because I really do love the relationship between them both, the teasing and joking, frustration and understanding, they keep it real. I did not figure this one out and loved how the ending played out, I had a few laughs, I do love Jill's humor. I will definitely continue on with this series, I love revisiting with these characters.
4-1/2 Stars! Love this series!
I love this series and the interaction with Jill and her boyfriend.
Love the latest addition/escapades to Jill and the crew. Have already pre-ordered Killer Run and hope this series continues.
Jill Gardner is once again pulled by curiosity into a murder investigation, much to the dismay of her boy-friend Detective Greg King. Greg’s ex-wife, Sherry is a main suspect due to her public fights with her now murdered boy-friend. Sherry’s BFF does her best to enlist Jill’s help in finding the killer. Needless to say all of this causes much havoc, which is always a great read!
Dollycas’s Thoughts These Tourist Trap Mysteries are so much fun to read. All the characters I have grown to love are back. Jill, Aunt Jackie, town detective/Jill’s boyfriend, Greg King, Officer Toby/barista, and more. Greg’s ex, Sherry, has come to town and is opening her own shop, Village Duds, and Jill is not happy about that. Sasha has been hired full time at Coffee, Books, and More after completing her internship. This frees up Jill for more time reading and investigating too. Jill has roped Greg into taking part in the “Dying for Trouble” dinner theater murder mystery that is being held to raise money for the local woman’s shelter. That turns out to be a good thing because a dead body is found before the first dress rehearsal barely begins. Jill quickly realizes she knows who it is, it’s the man from the bank that was getting up close and personal with Sherry at the last Business to Business meeting. Could she have killed him? The author threw plenty of red herrings into this one and that’s what has made it my favorite book in the series so far. Jill doesn’t give up and she really wants to share what she is finding with Greg but is afraid to because he will tell her to back off. He knows she is asking questions of those she suspects and he worries she is going to push someone too far. Cahoon has written a story with dialogue that is easy flowing and realistic. The plot is tight with a few very interesting subplots. One involving Aunt Jackie just cracked me up. The characters to continue to evolve and the romance level is just right. I recommend you read these books in order but this 4th installment can be easily read as a stand alone.
There are many series I really get excited about when a new book is due to be released, and the Tourist Trap Mystery series is for sure one of those series. Each book gets better and better, and this is certainly true with book 4, DRESSED TO KILL. Author Lynn Cahoon has really added layers to the characters in this series, and it’s been a joy being a part of watching it grow. Once again protagonist Jill Gardner, owner of one of my favorite fictional shops, Coffee, Books and More, finds herself in the middle of a homicide investigation after being pulled into it by a friend. DRESSED TO KILL was a first rate mystery that moved at a perfect past making it a quick and extremely entertaining read. It was intriguing and well thought out and kept me guessing through the entire story. As always, author Cahoon fooled me with the reveal. I feel like I should have seen it coming, but I simply got outsmarted. If you haven’t read the Tourist Trap series, give yourself a gift and get the first for now because book 5, KILLER RUN will be out in August!
Didnt really hold my interest
I have read all the books in the series and have enjoyed them all! Aside from the cast of characters, each book is different, with an interesting murder to solve. Am looking forward to the next one.
Kind of getting tired of this series.