Maggie Dove's Detective Agency: A Mystery

Maggie Dove's Detective Agency: A Mystery

by Susan Breen

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As Susan Breen’s compelling cozy mystery series continues, Maggie Dove’s budding detective agency has given her a new lease on life. Only one thing stands in the way of success: her clients—or lack of them.
After catching the killer who shook her small Hudson River town, former Sunday School teacher Maggie Dove stumbled onto an exciting new career and found a way to take her mind off her own tragic past. Now, despite her best efforts to promote the agency, Maggie can’t seem to land any new cases—until Racine Stern, one of the village’s wealthiest residents, offers her a thousand dollars to convince her “evil” sister, Domino, to stay out of town.
While Maggie’s business partner thinks she’s crazy for turning down a potential client, she doesn’t want her agency to get a reputation for accommodating bizarre requests. However, Maggie is soon caught up in the family drama anyway. Racine may fear for her life—and her inheritance—but it’s Domino who takes the fall when she plunges to her death from a tower at Stern Manor. Was it an accident or something more sinister? Maggie’s investigation will test her faith—and her ability to survive.

Praise for Maggie Dove's Detective Agency

“What a joy! Cozy readers will instantly fall in love with the charmingly endearing Maggie Dove. A wonderfully solid and compelling mystery wrapped in an irresistible package. Susan Breen is a unique treasure—and Maggie is, too.”—Hank Phillippi Ryan, Mary Higgins Clark award-winning author of Say No More

Maggie Dove’s Detective Agency is a delightful mix of mystery, heart-felt drama, and crazy antics. Maggie uses her skills as both a Sunday school teacher and PI to solve the case—a quirky combination from author [Susan] Breen that works perfectly!”—Marty Wingate, author of The Rhyme of the Magpie
“I love stories where I feel like I’m part of the action and [Maggie Dove’s Detective Agency], the second book in the [Maggie Dove] series, did just that. The narrative pulled me in and I couldn’t help but react to the various scenes that resonated with me. The author presented a well-crafted story with a wonderful, yet quirky, cast of characters and an engaging mystery that had me quickly turning the pages as I had to know how this would all play out. This was a good read and I look forward to the next book in this pleasantly appealing series.”—Dru’s Book Musings

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399594908
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/08/2016
Series: Maggie Dove , #2
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 231
Sales rank: 476,785
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Susan Breen is the author of Maggie Dove and The Fiction Class, her debut novel that won the Washington Irving Book Award. Her stories and articles have appeared in many magazines, among them The Best American Nonrequired Reading, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Compose, Writer’s Digest, and The Writer. She teaches at Gotham Writers in Manhattan; is on the faculty of the New York Pitch Conference, South Carolina Writers Workshop, and the Women’s National Book Association; and is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters-in-Crime. Breen lives in a small village on the Hudson River with her husband, two dogs, and one cat. Her three children are flourishing elsewhere.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Maggie Dove loved her new detective agency. At an age when so many of her friends were grappling with downsizing and gum disease, she felt blessed to have tumbled into an exciting new career. She had a badge. She had an office. She had two partners. She had stationery. The only problem she could see on the horizon was that she had no clients.

Not a one.

Occasionally one of the patients from the dentist’s office next door meandered into Maggie Dove’s detective agency and asked questions, but she suspected they were just killing time until the numbness passed. Cassie Fletcher wanted to hire Maggie to find her driver’s license, but it was in her wallet, so Maggie couldn’t see charging her. Though she did make up a folder. Old Henry Stample wanted her to do genealogical research for him. That seemed promising, but then he died.

Maggie’s business partner, Agnes Jorgenson, was hoping to drum up marital-domestic investigation work. This, Agnes claimed, would be a perfect niche for them. To that end, Agnes had put up some discrete flyers at the Darby-on-Hudson Bar & Grill, but so far nothing had come of those. Agnes herself had met a woman at the bar though, and that seemed to be going well.

Under other circumstances, Maggie would have prayed. She was a Sunday School teacher and prayed a lot, but she couldn’t see asking God to bring her business. Detectives thrived on misery: on people whose spouses were cheating or had employees who were stealing or family members who were lost. She couldn’t bring herself to pray for misery when she’d spent a good portion of her 62 years trying to avoid it.

So Maggie threw herself into marketing. She sponsored a girl’s football team. She sponsored a boy’s football team. She gave a class at the library. She gave a talk at one of the bank’s Thursday evening soirees. On career day at the elementary school, she talked to Edgar Blake’s first grade class. Edgar was the son of the third partner of the detective agency, and he bounced with excitement at having Maggie visit, though the class was devastated she didn’t have a gun. In vain did she try to explain that she felt reading The Brothers Karamazov was as useful to being a detective as owning a firearm. They didn’t buy it, and Edgar wept that night, until she let him look through one of Agnes’s many catalogs of private detective equipment. He found a teddy bear with a hidden video system. She didn’t know when they’d ever use it, but she bought it anyway. She supposed it fit in with the female-centric vibe of their agency. Still, she paid for it out of her own money.

Now it was the first Monday in October and Maggie was sitting in her office, beginning to feel the prickles of anxiety she associated with waiting rooms. It was four months since they had opened. They couldn’t stay in business indefinitely without an income. Agnes was bankrolling their agency, and she had a lot of money, but she also had the attention span of a gnat. Maggie suspected that soon enough Agnes would want to convert their office space into a sculpture gallery, or a donut shop, or whatever caught Agnes’s fancy next. Maggie would then have to return to her house and the staid, somewhat melancholy life she’d been living before all these adventures started. She didn’t want to go backward. She feared being sucked into the past, into the grief of losing her daughter that had paralyzed her for two decades. She felt fidgety.

It was a cool blue Technicolor day that reminded Maggie of the movies of her youth. The sky vibrated blue. The leaves, just starting to turn, were so bright as to seem artificial. She could imagine the people in her village suddenly breaking into song and tap-dancing up and down Main Street.

Maggie had a panoramic view of Main Street from her office window. She could see all the goings on: who went in and out of the police office, or D’Amici’s deli, or the library. She could see who was rushing to reach the train station and who was meandering by with a cup of coffee, on his way to walk along the Hudson River trails. She noticed the piano teacher Mr. Cavanaugh walking by with his little dog, Fidelio. The Garden Club was out deadheading the chrysanthemums in the flower boxes. The recreation department crew was cutting up rolls of butcher paper and taping them to the storefront windows; later they would be used for the village Halloween poster contest.

Maggie noticed Racine Stern plowing down the hill, her eyes on the ground. It was always easy to spot Racine because she wore a red beret. Never took it off, as far as Maggie knew. She’d gone to France as a young woman and the experience had stayed with her. She and her mother, the elderly Madame Simone, were the richest people in Darby-on-Hudson. They lived in the vast Stern Manor in Belvedere Park. And while they sat three rows in front of Maggie at church, they never shook hands during the passing of the peace. They spoke only to the minister. And God, she supposed. They even brought their own communion cup, apparently not wishing to use the silver that was good enough for everyone else.

Now she watched as Racine banged right into Joe Mangione, strolling along with his coffee. She didn’t stop. Didn’t apologize. Just kept moving forward. Maggie wondered where she was going in such a rush. Not the dentist, Maggie felt sure of that. It was a matter of pride for Racine and her mother that they only went to doctors in New York City. Perhaps the train station, then. She was dressed carefully in a black skirt, a black blouse and a black sweater—but then, Racine always wore those clothes. People who didn’t know her thought she was a nun. She had a sort of Mrs. Danvers vibe, Maggie thought.

Racine kept barreling down the hill until suddenly, to Maggie’s amazement, she stopped right outside the detective agency. Racine paused for a moment, eyeing the door, giving Maggie just enough time to check herself out in the mirror that Agnes had hung in the corner. All part of her bid for the women’s market in private detection. She’d also had business cards made up in pink. Do you have trust issues? Hire us!

And then Racine was there, in Maggie’s office.

“You don’t have a secretary?” Racine asked.

“Not yet. Agnes is looking for one,” Maggie Dove replied, which was true enough. Agnes seemed to be looking for all sorts of women, but best not to go into that now. Too late, Maggie realized she hadn’t stowed away The Brothers Karamazov. She didn’t want to give the impression she’d been sitting around reading. Granted, she had been, albeit with a purpose, but as smoothly as possible, she set the book down by her feet and kicked it under her chair.

Fortunately Racine was still scanning the office with disfavor and seemed not to notice.

“Who does your secretarial work?”

“I do,” Maggie said.

“Then how do you have time to be a detective?”

“So far it hasn’t been a problem,” Maggie said, in perfect honesty.

She beckoned to Racine to sit down at the table, which occupied a large space in the office. Agnes had thought it would make more sense to have one big table than three small desks, so she’d bought a huge slab of cherrywood, which was propped up by four sturdy legs—sturdy meaning that come the next Flood, this table was not going to move. It was more opulent than Maggie would have chosen, and yet she loved it. Turned out the world was full of surprises, if you could just allow yourself to see them. The chairs were best of all. They cushioned you. They embraced your back as you sank into them. Even Racine had nothing negative to say, Maggie noticed, as she settled her slim body into one.

“How can I help you?” Maggie asked.

She drew out a pad of paper and wrote down the date. She wrote down Racine’s name and the time, for good measure.

Racine licked her lips. They looked chapped and Maggie noticed her wrists were flaked with dry skin.

“I want to hire you,” she said.

“Fabulous.” Maggie wrote down “hire” and underlined the word three times. She knew there were official New Business Sheets in one of the file cabinets, but she didn’t want to interrupt the momentum. She could fill one out later.

“What do you want us to do?”

“I want you to stop my sister from coming home,” Racine said.

“Domino’s coming home?”

Racine’s sister had been away for almost 40 years. She’d left Darby when she was just a girl, gone out to Hollywood to be in movies, married a rock star, and they’d managed to stay together all this time. Domino’s picture had been in People magazine. Her husband’s antics were often reported on the gossip sites. Once he’d peed over a balcony, right onto the heads of his fans. Another time he’d thrown his TV out a hotel window and given a man a concussion.

“She’s coming home for my mother’s birthday,” Racine said.

“That doesn’t sound like a bad thing,” Maggie replied. “Won’t your mother be glad to see her?”

Racine compressed her lips into a tight line. All of Racine was compressed, it seemed to Maggie. She looked worn down—but then, Maggie supposed that wasn’t a surprise. While her sister had been off gallivanting around, Racine had devoted the last four decades to taking care of her mother. It was an old story. One sister the caretaker, the other one free of care.

“I am going to tell you something I believe only you will understand, Maggie Dove, because you are a Sunday School teacher.”


“My sister is evil,” Racine said. “You believe in evil, don’t you?”

Maggie remembered a night last April when evil had come close to taking her life. She could still smell the honeysuckle. Cold prying eyes that sought to destroy her. “Yes,” she said. “I believe in evil, but I don’t know that I’m equipped to deal with it. Can you tell me what scares you?”

“Oh, I’m not scared,” Racine said. She ran her finger across her lips. No manicure. “Domino can’t hurt me with those witch’s tricks of hers. I don’t believe in that. But she’ll scare my mother, and I don’t want my mother upset. She’s had enough sorrow in her life, having to leave her country behind, and then being widowed and having her daughter leave her. She does not deserve any more heartache.”

She rustled about in her pocketbook and pulled out a small piece of paper. “I have Domino’s phone number,” she said, setting the plain white paper on the cherrywood table.

“I’ll pay you a thousand dollars. Just talk to her and persuade her not to come.”

Maggie looked at the piece of paper.

“I assume you’ve already told her not to come.”

“She won’t listen to me. She knows I hate her. But I hope she’ll listen to you.”

“Racine, I know you think your mother doesn’t want to see her, but I suspect that she does. After all, Domino is her daughter and your mother is getting on in years. She might not get this chance again. You would feel badly if your mother died with regrets.”

Maggie thought of her own daughter, Juliet. Imagined how joyful she’d be if she found out she was returning after having been away for 40 years. Maggie’d always felt a special tenderness for the father in the parable of the prodigal son. The old man asked no questions of his fallen son. He didn’t blame him or criticize him for burning through all his money and living a dissolute life. Instead he ran to him and kissed him and threw him a wonderful party. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. It always made her tear up.
“So you won’t help me,” Racine said.

“I’d be very happy to help you,” Maggie said. “I just feel like, no matter how hard it may be, in the end you will be glad if you welcome your sister home.”

Racine stood up and glared at Maggie. She tugged her black sweater more tightly around her. “You have disappointed me,” she said, and then left without another word.

Maggie looked down at the sheet of paper on the table, the one with Domino’s phone number. She felt her eyes swim. As she looked at it, the numbers seemed to change into claw marks. For a moment she felt dizzy, and then she crumpled up the paper and threw it away.

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Maggie Dove's Detective Agency: A Mystery 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
InspirationalAngel531 More than 1 year ago
Title: Maggie Dove's Detective Agency - A mystery Author: Susan Breen Published: 11-8-2016 Publisher: Random House Publishing Group - Alibi Pages: 235 Genre: Mystery, Thrillers & Suspense Sub Genre: Amateur Sleuth; Cozy Mystery; Women Sleuth ISBN: 13: 9780399594908 ASIN: B01AERZS0A Reviewer: DelAnne Reviewed For: NetGalley Rating: 4 Stars I received a copy of "Maggie Dove's Detective Agency" from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review. Description From the Publisher: As Susan Breen’s compelling cozy mystery series continues, Maggie Dove’s budding detective agency has given her a new lease on life. Only one thing stands in the way of success: her clients—or lack of them. After catching the killer who shook her small Hudson River town, former Sunday School teacher Maggie Dove stumbled onto an exciting new career and found a way to take her mind off her own tragic past. Now, despite her best efforts to promote the agency, Maggie can’t seem to land any new cases—until Racine Stern, one of the village’s wealthiest residents, offers her a thousand dollars to convince her “evil” sister, Domino, to stay out of town. While Maggie’s business partner thinks she’s crazy for turning down a potential client, she doesn’t want her agency to get a reputation for accommodating bizarre requests. However, Maggie is soon caught up in the family drama anyway. Racine may fear for her life—and her inheritance—but it’s Domino who takes the fall when she plunges to her death from a tower at Stern Manor. Was it an accident or something more sinister? Maggie’s investigation will test her faith—and her ability to survive. My Review: Maggie Dove is a strong woman of faith, she is intelligent, friendly and driven to build her detective agency. She decline a case as being too off the wall, but when her friend is accused of murder Maggie is drawn into the lives of the two sisters anyway. Maggie and the other characters are well developed and fleshed out. They could be actual people we might meet out in the real world. The plot is well planned and laid out so that it flows quickly and smoothly. The reader can enjoy the scenic streets and residents of Darby. Although the second book in the series, "Maggie Dove's Detective Agency" can easily be read as a stand alone book. My rating is 4 out of 5 stars.
dibbylodd More than 1 year ago
An interesting mystery with psychedelics, wiccans, black magic users, Sunday school teachers, and more. It's interesting to watch Maggie stretch after years of hiding away in misery. She is coming into her own and finding out how much she can do. I found two things a bit bothersome-- 1-Too much is made of her age (62) as if that is ancient 2-The extent of her reaction to her husband's and then daughter's death 20 years ago seems extreme. No one would have intervened to get her help?
KrisAnderson_TAR More than 1 year ago
Maggie Dove’s Detective Agency by Susan Breen is the second book in the Maggie Dove series. Maggie Dove is a Sunday school teacher turned detective in Darby, New York. Maggie is learning to be a detective by watching Detective Grudge videos with Helen Blake’s son, Edgar. Helen is the third partner in the detective agency along with Agnes (the financial backer). One day Racine Stern (from the wealthiest family in town) comes into the agency and asks Maggie to convince her sister, Domino (and her rock star husband, Lucifer) to not come home for a visit. Racine will give Maggie $1,000 to complete the task. Maggie turns down the offer much to Agnes’ dismay. Domino arrives in town and Racine is not seen for two weeks. Maggie goes to check on her, and Racine admits that Domino tried to killer her. Racine fears for her life as well as that of her mother, Madame Simone. Domino wants money (of course) and she refuses to leave until she gets it. Racine wants Maggie to convince Domino to leave town (and is willing to pay a large sum of money). Soon Racine starts acting strangely, and Maggie does not know what Domino has done to her. Then Maggie hears that a big Halloween party is being thrown at the Stern mansion (the home no one else in town has ever been allowed in). During the party Domino calls everyone’s attention to her at the top of the tower. Then the guests see Domino plunging to her death. Racine was near Domino before she fell (Domino pulled her up there). Was it an accident or did Racine push her? Maggie has her first real case. She needs to find out what happened to Domino (because the town has decided that Racine is guilty). Did a person push Domino to her death or was it something far more sinister? Maggie Dove’s Detective Agency is a Christian cozy mystery. The story is basically about good versus evil. I found the book to have a slow pace, unoriginal mystery and uninteresting (and unlikeable) characters. Racine and her mother are rude (I would not want to help her) and Agnes comes across as bipolar with her mood swings. Maggie is not a warm main character. The loss of her daughter has kept her from enjoying life for the last twenty years. I had a hard time finishing this story. Maggie Dove’s Detective Agency is a book of normal length, but it felt like it went on forever (and I just wanted it to end). While Maggie Dove’s Detective Agency is the second book in the series, it can be read alone (we are given the needed information from the first novel and on the main characters). I did find information repeated in the book especially about Maggie’s deceased daughter, Juliet (who died twenty years prior), Maggie’s profession as a Sunday school teacher and her age. I give Maggie Dove’s Detective Agency 2.5 out of 5 stars (just not for me). I think Maggie became a detective just to play with all the spy toys she finds in catalogs and online (purchasing with Agnes’ money). The first book in the series is Maggie Dove: A Mystery.
JerseyGirlBookReviews More than 1 year ago
In Maggie Dove's Detective Agency, the second book in the Maggie Dove Mystery Series, author Susan Breen weaves an entertaining and fast-paced cozy mystery set in the small village of Darby-on-Hudson, in Westchester County, NY, that follows the latest investigative adventures of former Sunday School teacher turned private detective Maggie Dove. Maggie is trying to promote her new detective agency, but she's having a hard time securing clients until wealthy resident Racine Stern wants to use Maggie's detective services for complex family matters, and while Maggie is reluctant to get involved in family drama, she ends up investigating the murder of Racine's "evil" sister Domino, after she plunges to her death from a tower at Stern Manor. Maggie is determined to investigate the murder and find the killer, even when danger lurks around the corner. Maggie Dove's Detective Agency is a well written story that has enough quirky characters, intrigue, suspense, humor, and drama that easily draws the reader into Maggie's latest investigative adventures. This intriguing story will keep the reader interested and guessing the identity of the real killer until the surprising conclusion. You can't help but love Maggie and cheer her on as she tries to promote her new detective agency business. This spunky church lady turned detective, is determined to solve the murder mystery even when mayhem ensues, and she takes the reader along for the ride. I look forward to reading the next installment of Maggie Dove's investigative adventures! I really enjoyed the author's usage of her hometown to provide the reader with a rich description of the scenic Hudson River Valley setting in Westchester County, NY, it definitely makes me want to visit the area the next time I go to NYC. I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much I enjoyed the wonderful description of the Victorian Stern Manor. Maggie Dove's Detective Agency is a delightfully eccentric whodunit tale that cozy mystery fans will want to add to their reading list! Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review.
weluvdopey More than 1 year ago
This is a great book; this is the second book in the Maggie Dove series written by Susan Breen. This is a great book with a wonderful story and well developed characters. This book will keep you reading long into the night. If you are looking for a great book, then you need to read this book. I am looking forward to reading the next book by this great author. I voluntarily reviewed an advanced reader’s copy of this book. The free book held no determination on my personal review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Maggie, Helen and Agnes now share a detective agency. Of course, Maggie handles most of the actual detective work; at least she will when they have a case! Or she will when she accepts, or isn't fired off the case! Good cozy mystery read; not as well written as the first book. Maggie is developing more confidence and dealing better with her grief. Still a good read. 3 1/2 stars. Book free for honest review from Netgalley and publisher.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dud nit grab me in first 60 pages so stopped reading