A Murder in Christmas Village (Christmas Village Mysteries Book 0)

A Murder in Christmas Village (Christmas Village Mysteries Book 0) by Alex Colwell

Book: A Murder in Christmas Village (Christmas Village Mysteries Book 0) by Alex Colwell Read Free Book Online
Authors: Alex Colwell
 
    A
    MURDER
    IN
    CHRISTMAS VILLAGE
     
    It should be cooled enough by now ,Maribel thought as she cautiously retrieved the pie pan from the window sill. Through the open kitchen window she noticed the warm shadows of dusk pushing through the pines and falling across the cottages of Christmas Village.
    “Your timing is impeccable, Maribel,” called a voice from the street. “I’ve lived an honest life all of these 53 years, but another moment or two and that pie would have made a thief out of me. Nothing like peaches and sugar and – if my nose hasn’t failed me! - just a pinch of cinnamon.”
                Maribel recognized the voice as belonging to Frank Carmody, her neighborhood lamplighter. She tip-toed up and over her sink to catch sight of him setting fire to the rustic gas lamp that illuminated the corner nearest her house. “Your nose is every bit as sharp as you are, Mr. Carmody, and twice as honest,” she called out, her words punctuated by a deep, joyful laugh. “Don’t think I’ve forgotten the last time I let you talk me out of a piece of pie. Mrs. Carmody was none too pleased. Ha ha! Not-at-all pleased, no sir. I love your Barbara dearly, but that’s a conversation I don’t intend to have twice.”
    “Blasted diets,” mumbled Frank, striking flame to the lamp with his wick stick. “I swear the missus is trying to starve me, though for what purpose she ain’t tellin’ and I ain’t askin’. To keep more of my money to herself, you suppose? No, sir. No more diets for me.”
    “Perhaps it’s you she wants more of, Mr. Carmody, and she’s set her sights on keeping you around a spell longer.” She touched a finger to her nose and smiled.
    Carmody removed his oil-stained cap and bowed as though before royalty. “You’re the jewel of the village, Mrs. Claus. A true jewel.”
    Maribel’s cell phone exploded on the cabinet next to her and she jumped. “Oh my, I’ll never get used to this gadget.” It was Angela, her niece.
    She excused herself from Mr. Carmody and swiped at the screen a few times before the call connected. “Hello, dear. How is the show?”
    “So much for ‘the show must go on’,” said the phone in Angela’s voice.
    “What do you mean, dear?”
    “There’s not going to be a show. The star went and got himself murdered.”
    “Mur…are you sure?” Maribel whispered, holding the phone close as though she were protecting a secret.
    “Unless Wild Willy managed to cut his own throat with just the tip of his finger, then yeah, I’d say murder’s a safe bet.”
    “Is the sheriff there? Have they captured the culprit?”
    “Sheriff’s here. They think they have the guy. Scratch that, the sheriff knows he has the guy. Problem is, I’m not so sure he’s right.”
    Maribel wasn’t conscious of the fact that her ears had visibly perked up. “Oh? And why is that?”
    “I don’t know. I mean, it all adds up, I’ll give the sheriff that. But I was there when they confronted the man and he seemed as shocked as anyone. Maybe he’s a great actor, but he reacted the same way I imagine I would if I were told someone I knew had been murdered. His reaction just seemed so natural.”
    “Is that the only reason you think he’s innocent?”
    “The case against him is good and that’s what’s niggling at me. It’s too good. If this guy did it, then he’s as bad at killing as he is good at acting. He all but left a signed confession at the scene. That’s why I’m calling you.”
    Maribel laughed. Angela was used to this and held the phone away from her ear for the duration. “Me? What could I possibly do?”
    “Oh, come on, Auntie. You know that Sheriff Fell hits every tree trying to get to the forest. He only sees the obvious. I’m sure the only reason I haven’t been kicked out of the building is my press pass and because I happened to be on the scene covering the show for the Gazette. He won’t listen to me, but he’d have to listen to you.

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