Nine Lives (Lily Dale Mystery Series #1)

Nine Lives (Lily Dale Mystery Series #1)

by Wendy Corsi Staub

Hardcover

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Overview

Praise for Nine Lives :

“[A] charming series launch…[Staub] introduces a host of warmly appealing characters and throws in a touch of the otherworldly. Recommend for readers who enjoy the TV show Charmed.”
Library Journal

"Best-selling author Staub takes readers...on a spooky journey into the unknown while lightening the mood by weaving in sweet, heartfelt, hopeful moments."
Booklist

"Staub doesn’t overplay the quirkiness of the guesthouse residents for color, nor does she rely on ghosts and psychics to solve the murder, opting instead to pull the heartstrings of readers."
Publishers Weekly

“No spirits were bruised in the writing of this tale.”
Kirkus Reviews

"A tantalizing tale mixed with small-town politics and secrets, while also capturing the authentic feel of a woman struggling through desperate times...This is a terrific start to what is hopefully going to be a series featuring Bella Jordan and her son."
RT Book Reviews

"Wendy Corsi Staub’s writing sparkles and the book fairly crackles with suspense. Her characterizations are spot on and you are sucked in from page one...If you’re looking for a different type of cozy, then this one’s for you!"
Night Owl Reviews , Top Pick

"A good cozy by a good writer telling of a town that is its own character, just as much as the people that reside there"
Suspense Magazine

"'Nine Lives' achieves just the right balance of charming and quirky, with Staub offering up a loveable cast of characters who will hopefully be haunting readers for years to come."
Hartford Books Examiner

"NINE LIVES is not just a mystery, but a story of a mother’s determination to provide a life for her young son...I definitely recommend it to mystery and nonmystery fans alike. It’s just that good a read."
Long and Short Reviews

"The strength of this new series, written by award-winning suspense author Wendy Corsi Staub, is how her heroine very realistically transitions between states of vulnerability, anger, strength, and overwhelming sadness...Lily Dale extends a warm welcome to readers, who will find themselves charmed by its superstitious population of believers and practitioners."
Kings River Life Magazine

“…a charming novel. The characters…are all distinct and memorable—and perhaps as importantly, likeable. Staub lays a good groundwork for future installments, reassuring any reader who likes a bit of supernatural served up in a cozy mystery that there will be more delights to come.”
Reviewing the Evidence

"...this is a whodunit lover’s whodunit, packed with everything you expect in a mystery and a little more. 'Nine Lives' is a curl-up-and-read kind of book..."
The Bookworm

" Nine Lives has everything...Wendy Corsi Staub has done it again."
New York Times bestselling author Charles Todd

"Wendy Corsi Staub's Nine Lives hooked me from page one. In fact I didn't want to put it down: with warm characters, an intriguing setting and just a touch of the unexplainable it's a thoroughly satisfying read.
—Rhys Bowen, New York Times bestselling author of the Molly Murphy and Royal Spyness mysteries

“I loved visiting Corsi Staub's magical world, cover to cover, and can't wait for the next in the series.”
—Juliet Blackwell, New York Times bestselling author of Give Up the Ghost

“Wendy Corsi Staub weaves a spectacular tale of suspense ... Lily Dale would definitely be on my must visit list. It’s an appropriately quirky town with an even quirkier cast of characters – and a cat, Chance, who’s adept at pulling Houdini acts. Who could ask for anything more? Definitely a must read.”
—T. C. LoTempio, national bestselling author of the Nick and Nora Mysteries

Praise for New York Times and USA Today bestseller Wendy Corsi Staub:

"If you like Mary Higgins Clark, you'll love Wendy Corsi Staub."
New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jackson

"Once Staub's brilliant characterizations and top-notch narrative skills grab hold, they don't let go."
Publishers Weekly

"An entertaining tale...Succeeds as an engrossing, suspenseful thriller."
Booklist

"As always, Staub leaves us wanting more."
RT Book Reviews

"When it comes to mysteries of the home and hearth, Wendy Corsi Staub is unrivaled. Just when you think you've figured her out...think again!"
—John Valeri, Hartford Books Examiner

"Taut, tense and incredibly suspenseful. This chillingly creepy psychological thriller is the perfect page-turner - Staub’s powerful and timely story-telling is captivating!”
—Hank Phillippi Ryan, Agatha, Anthony, Macavity, and Mary Higgins Clark Award winning author of The Good Sister

"Solid gold suspense ... this one is a wild ride."
—#1 New York Times bestselling author Lee Child on Live to Tell

“Intense! Wendy Corsi Staub once again delivers a masterful psychological mystery that is both chilling and thrilling.”
New York Times bestselling author Allison Brennan on The Good Sister

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781629532486
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication date: 10/27/2015
Series: Lily Dale Mystery Series , #1
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

New York Times and USA Today bestseller Wendy Corsi Staub is the award-winning author of more than eighty novels and has twice been nominated for the Mary Higgins Clark Award. She lives in the New York City suburbs with her husband, their two sons, and a rescued stray cat named Chance.

Read an Excerpt

PROLOGUE
June 18 Lily Dale, New York

Less than two weeks from now, when Lily Dale’s official summer season is under way, Leona Gatto’s guesthouse will be teeming with overnight visitors. But on this cool and gusty June night, she and Chance the Cat have the place all to themselves.

The mackerel tabby is lounging on the bay window seat down­stairs in the front parlor, watching the world go by on Cottage Row. At this time of year, the world mainly consists of fireflies and the occasional flitting moth, though tonight, the breeze has sent all sorts of fascinating things—to a cat, anyway—skittering past the window.

Soon, however, the annual human parade will begin. Lily Dale might be the tiniest of tiny towns, but as the birthplace of the Spiritualist religion well over a century ago, it remains populated almost entirely by psychic mediums. A handful, including Leona, are in residence year-round. Most prefer to spend the rigorous west­ern New York winter elsewhere. They return just ahead of the throng of summer visitors who find their way to the Dale because they’re seeking something: a connection to a lost loved one, psychic counsel­ing, physical or spiritual healing . . .

No exception, Leona arrived fifteen years ago, middle-aged and newly widowed, paralyzed by grief and hoping somebody here could connect her to her late husband.

Inevitably, somebody did. Her husband’s message: that she should stay for a while instead of hurrying back home to Wyoming.

“Are you sure Edgar said that?” Leona asked the medium in sur­prise. They’d built a wonderful life together out west, and she couldn’t imagine that he’d want her to abandon it. “Maybe it’s not him.”

“He’s wearing a black cowboy hat and he’s very insistent,” Patsy Metcalf said with a smile. “He wants me to tell you that it’s about time you’ve come to your senses and put on a practical pair of shoes.”

“That’s Edgar! He was always yelling at me for wearing heels when I travel. But I can’t believe he wants me to stay out east. He was born and raised on a ranch, and so was I. Wyoming will always be home.”

“Remember, my dear, I’m not here to tell you what you expect or even want to hear. I’m here to relay what your loved one wants you to know.”

Truer words were never spoken. Little did Leona realize then that she herself would eventually be capable of parting the delicate veil that separates this world from the next. She knows now that Edgar did, indeed, want her to sell their dude ranch to the hotel chain that had been sniffing around it for years. He’d always said they’d get the place over his dead body. In the end, that was what had happened—but with his blessing.

Wyoming was her old home. Lily Dale is her forever one.

This house had a long history as an inn but had been turned into a private residence when she bought it. She reclaimed its roots and transformed it into a guesthouse very much like the one she’d left behind, only with a Victorian theme instead of a Western one.

She’s always enjoyed welcoming new people into her home, get­ting to know them, and making them feel comfortable.

But that isn’t the only reason the terrible loneliness is behind her.
After years of mediumship training, she remains in touch with her late husband, along with countless other folks. Some are old friends, and some are just plain old. Centuries old. She’s grown quite accustomed to having them around. Most of the time, the spirits coexist with her just as seamlessly as Chance the Cat does.

Tonight, however, one of her regular spirit guides is as twitchy as the weather. Typically a benign presence, Nadine has been wreaking havoc around the house. At first, Leona attributed the flickering lights and random creaks and thumps to the night wind.

And she attributed her missing laptop—which she hasn’t seen since this morning—to good old-fashioned old age. But now that it’s failed to turn up in any of the usual spots where she might have misplaced it, Leona isn’t so sure Nadine is to blame. This wouldn’t be the first time Nadine or the others have played hide-and-seek with her belongings, but it should have resurfaced by now.
Then the usual drip from the upstairs sink faucet turned into a gush that overflowed onto the floor. While Leona was wiping that up, the downstairs faucet mysteriously turned on and flooded the kitchen sink and then the floor.
“That’s enough!” Leona said sharply after slipping and nearly falling.
Harmless little pranks are one thing, but she could have been hurt. And water damage in an old house is no picnic.

This just isn’t like Nadine.

The last straw was when, minutes ago, a fuse blew with a pop­ping, sizzling sound, plunging the whole house into darkness.

“Oh, for the love of . . .” Leona stood with her hands on her hips. “What’s going on? Are you trying to get rid of me? You’ll have to try a whole lot harder than that.”

After a grueling trip to the ancient fuse box in the spidery cellar, she decided that a snack would settle her nerves. But when she opened the fridge and started rooting around, she discovered that the full carton of half-and-half she bought this afternoon was some­how empty.

Nadine again. Leona hasn’t touched a drop—the carton is still sealed—and cats can’t open refrigerator doors.

Some might argue the same about Spirit. Funny how even that particular word— Spirit , as the energy is called here in the Dale—had sounded awkward to Leona’s ears when she first arrived. Funnier still to think that she, like so many newcomers, was steeped in skepticism.

If you spend enough time here, the extraordinary becomes ordinary.

Now, thanks to Nadine’s antics, she stands in the bathroom mirror trying to make herself presentable for a late-night trip to the closest store a few miles down the road. She takes her morning cof­fee with plenty of cream, and Chance the Cat, unlike most felines, isn’t exactly lactose intolerant. She laps it up, especially in her current state, which—

Hearing a creaking sound downstairs, Leona frowns at her reflection.

“Oh, Nadine, now what are you up to?” she asks, and she is startled to see the spirit guide fleetingly take filmy female form in the room behind her.

That’s unusual. Nadine rarely materializes. Like the others, she is usually merely a presence Leona can feel but not see or hear, other than inside her own head.

Framed in the doorway, the apparition holds up a transparent hand, her palm facing Leona as if to stop her from leaving the room.

Leona scowls. “Make up your mind. I thought you wanted me out of the house, thanks to your Houdini act with my half-and-half. Now you want me to stay put? I don’t . . .”

She trails off, realizing that Nadine is no merry prankster. Nadine’s shaking her head, and her glittering eyes are wide with concern.

“What is it? What’s wrong? Are you trying to warn me about something?”
But the spirit has already faded, leaving Leona alone.

The silence in the bathroom is punctuated by wind chimes tin­kling below the window. That’s not unusual. Wind chimes are as common as porches in the Dale.

But to Leona’s ear, they’ve drastically multiplied: a tintinnabula­tion as ominous as the alarm down at the old firehouse. The clanging grows to a fever pitch and is abruptly curtailed.

Silence again.

Unsettled, Leona goes back to brushing her hair.

Her strokes slow as she hears another creaking sound, this time in the hallway outside the door.

She isn’t alone after all.

She uneasily attempts to tune into the energy, wondering if one of her other guides has come to pay her a visit. But the presence doesn’t feel familiar, and it certainly isn’t Edgar, whose proximity always fills her with light and warmth. This energy is dark and oppressive.

Maybe it’s not Spirit at all.

Maybe it’s a living person: a stranger, a prowler.

Wielding the hairbrush in one hand like a weapon, she uses the other to painstakingly turn the knob and pull.

She was right about one thing. She isn’t alone. But she doesn’t find a stranger on the other side of the door.

Her eyes widen in shock at the sight of a familiar face. “What are you doing here?”

CHAPTER ONE
June 29 Bedford, New York

“If one more thing goes wrong today . . .” Bella Jordan steps over the broken vase on the floor and grabs the broom propped in a corner of her tiny kitchen. She’s been tripping over it all morning, but there’s no other spot amid the clutter, and it doesn’t make sense to store it back where it belongs: jammed into the usually overcrowded pantry cupboard that triples as a linen and broom closet.

Her goal today is to empty that closet, transferring its contents to the cardboard moving boxes she also keeps tripping over, along with the big black trash bags stuffed with household items that are, like all their furniture, destined to be tossed or given away.

Most of it is perfectly useful. She’d keep it if she only knew where she and her son Max will wind up living. But she can’t fit much into her small car, she can’t afford a moving van or storage unit, and she refuses to bor­row money from her mother-in-law, to whom she’s plenty beholden as it is. So the Salvation Army will get the lamps, books, decorative glassware . . .
Minus one vase.

With a sigh, she begins sweeping the shards of crystal into the dustpan she’d tossed onto the already crowded countertop following a previous mishap with a glass—which was how she’d then knocked over the vase.

Maybe I should go around with a dustpan hanging from my belt like some klutzy handyman. Or rather, nonhandy nonman.

She’s never been the most graceful gal in town, but the move-out process has produced more mishaps than usual. Earlier, she’d chipped a plate and broken the handle off a coffee mug. Neither had value, sentimental or otherwise. But this latest casualty was an expensive one.

Not as expensive, by any stretch of the imagination, as the col­lection of vintage Carnival glass pieces she’d inherited from her god­mother and sold off over the past few desperate months to pay the rent and bills.

There may not be hordes of antique dealers lining up to buy a fancy vase like the one she’d just broken, but it had been a wedding present from . . .

Who was it? A friend? One of her coworkers? Sam’s late great-aunt Doris?

Funny how easy it is to forget things you probably should remem­ber and remember things you’d rather forget.

Oh, Sam . . .

Bella doesn’t want to forget him. Just the illness that had stolen him away late last year after long, dark months of suffering.

As if mustered by the mere thought of Sam, a breeze slips through the screen. It’s slightly cool, fragranced by the blooming mock orange shrubs her husband always loved and silvery with tin­kling wind chimes he gave her for her last birthday.

She was charmed by the strings of pretty stained-glass angels cascading from delicate chains, but he kept apologizing.

“I wanted to get you something more, but . . .” But he was sick, and money was growing tighter by the day.

“I don’t want anything more. I don’t need anything but these.” And you. I need you, Sam ...

“Your Christmas present is going to be great,” he promised her. “I already know what I’m getting for you, so don’t worry.”

She did worry. Not about Christmas presents. About Sam.

Customer Reviews

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Nine Lives 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A fun good book with humor and suspense! Cant wait to read the next one
Marla-Bradeen More than 1 year ago
NINE LIVES is an entertaining and touching paranormal mystery. I enjoyed the characters and the small-town setting, and the heroine is someone you'll root for from the very beginning. There are enough paranormal aspects to be intriguing, but not so many as to turn off readers who might prefer more traditional mysteries. Cozy mystery fans, especially those who like cats, will enjoy this book. Disclosure: I won a free copy of this book in a giveaway.
Mama_Cat More than 1 year ago
Oh, how I miss having young Max and his mom, Bella, in my car! These delightful characters of Wendy Corsi Staub’s, in the first novel of the Lily Dale mystery series, have been windshield companions by way of audio CD’s in recent days. As one who loves cozy mysteries, I was excited to listen to the first of the author’s cozy series. It is so much better than I could have imagined! Bella, a young widow and mother to little Max, was recently laid off from her teaching position. With no other place to go, they were driving from New York to Chicago where they would live with her stern mother-in-law. Searching for a campground that nobody has heard of led Bella and Max off the freeway, along with a very pregnant cat sitting across their lane, forcing them to stop and pick her up. They went from a local vet who read the microchip data, to the address of the owner in Lily Dale. They learned from a neighbor that Leona, the owner of the cat (that Max named Chance the Cat), died unexpectedly and mysteriously merely days earlier. What began as a one-night stay in the guesthouse that Leona owned turned into a few more days. Bella helped with guests while waiting for her car to be repaired. Lily Dale was having its annual event with psychic mediums and seminars, and the inn was fully booked. Some positive things occur; Max finds a young friend to play with. The vet paid a house call to see how Chance the Cat is and befriends the family of two plus cat. His help is invaluable with the kittens, especially with the tiny one who needs dropper feeding. But the unusual things begin, such as the visions Bella have of herself in the mirror. Chance disappearing from a locked room and turning up somewhere else. Max’s friend Jiffy talking about going for treasure in the lake after seeing someone drop what looked like a chest into it late one night. And it only gets worse. I really, really like Bella and Max. The narrator brings to life to their delightful and loving dialog, as does the author with these endearing characters. Others who live in and near Lily Dale are likable while a bit eccentric. The vet, the mechanic who works on Bella’s car, and the person who inherits the guesthouse are welcome people in Bella’s life, at least for the short time she plans to be in this little town. This mother-son family is appealing, and I want better for them than Bella’s mother-in-law, whose home seemed so…sterile! The plot is infused with twists and turns that begin with the initial sightings of Chance the Cat before they even reach Lily Dale. While some surprises can be filed away in the back of one’s mind for later reference, some change the landscape of the entire mystery. Bella begins to ponder whether Leona died as the result of an accident or from something more sinister, even otherworldly…even though she didn’t believe in paranormal activity. The ultimate terrifying crisis and explosively stunning denouement resolves the events in Lily Dale. The culprit was someone totally off my radar, someone I had not considered. I highly recommend Nine Lives to fans of Wendy Corsi Staub, well-written cozy mysteries, and a protagonist who didn’t intend on being a sleuth. I am now looking forward to reading the third in series, Dead of Winter, when it is released later this year. From a thankful heart: I received the audio CD of this novel from the author through a Writerspace contest; no review was requested.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought the psychic aspect would be hokey, but it worked. Great story!
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
This was my first book by this author and it won't be my last. And this was a great choice for the month of October. Apparently Lily Dale is a town of Psychics and Mediums and what have you. Due to circumstances beyond her control, recently widowed Bella ends up there. And every time she thinks "this is her last day", something else happens to keep her there. I thought this was a great little cozy mystery with lots of suspects and lots of nice neighborly people. There are several secrets going on besides the recent death of Leona the Manor House owner. I think it all came at a great time for Bella. Otherwise, she was going to have to go live with her mother-in-law. (I'm shivering to think that would have to happen.) Read the book and you would shiver too. It was definitely a fun read which I found captivating and pleasant. Thanks Crooked Lane Books and Net Galley for the free e-galley in exchange for an honest review. You have turned me on to another new author!
Ron More than 1 year ago
I read Wendy's In the Blink of an Eye. Then the 4 book series Awakening, Believing, Connecting and Discovering about Lily Dale and Calla's extraordinary experiences at Lily Dale. I just could not wait for another one of Wendy's books about Lily Dale. When I received Nine Lives I read the book cover to cover-I just could not put it down. Nine Lives is the start of another suspense series about Lily Dale and it is going to be as good or better. These books peek into the inner lives and lifestyles of an entire village of mediums and healers, all spiritualists. Fun to read, with humor and suspense. I highly recommend this book for anyone and all ages....