The quaint fishing village of Salmon Cove, Maine, seems like the ideal location for a girls’ weekend with Hayley’s gal pals, Liddy and Mona. Liddy’s on the rebound from a breakup, but when she meets a handsome tourist, it looks like a little romance might liven things up.
Unfortunately, Liddy’s new sweetheart is found dead on the beach the next morning at the town’s Lobster Bake, next to an overturned cooking pot. The liberated lobsters may be scrambling back to the sea, but Hayley’s not about to let a murderer escape so easily. To crack the case, she’ll need to blow the lid off some serious undercover activity—or risk becoming ensnared in a killer’s trap...
Includes seven delectable recipes from Hayley’s kitchen!
Praise for Death of a Bacon Heiress
“[A] fun mystery that will have readers enraptured.” —Kings River Life magazine
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Death of a Lobster Lover
By LEE HOLLIS
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2017 Rick Copp and Holly Simason
All rights reserved.
Crunch, crunch, crunch.
"Mona Barnes, please tell me you are not eating food in my car!" Liddy barked, eyeing her suspiciously through the rearview mirror of her brand-spanking-new black Mercedes E-Class Sedan.
"Nope," Mona said from the backseat, waiting for Liddy to avert her eyes back to the road before shoving her hand into a crinkled bag of Lay's Cheddar & Sour Cream potato chips again that was sitting in her lap, and shoveling out a generous handful of chips.
She quickly stuffed them into her mouth.
Crunch, crunch, crunch.
"What?" Mona sighed, swallowing and then licking her greasy fingertips.
"You just lied to my face!"
"No, I didn't! I lied to the back of your head."
"It's a figure of speech! The point is you lied! You are clearly snacking back there and probably getting crumbs all over my new leather upholstery!"
"Hey, you were the one who insisted we drive in your fancy new car," Mona said, crumpling the now-empty bag of chips and tossing the trash in the empty seat next to her.
"That's because Hayley's car wouldn't have made the two-hour trip and the only other alternative was for all of us to squeeze into the front of your dilapidated old wreck of a truck!"
Hayley, who was wearing earbuds and listening to an audiobook version of a Jo Nesbø crime thriller on her smartphone, yanked the buds out of her ears and swiveled around in the passenger's seat to address her BFFs. "What kind of girls' weekend are we going to have if you two are fighting the whole time?"
"I had one request, just one request before agreeing to drive us, and that was no eating in my new car. So what does Mona do? She scarfs down a bag of chips even before we've crossed the Trenton Bridge and left the island!"
"Well, you were the one who said we couldn't stop at McDonald's on the way. I was afraid I'd starve!" Mona growled.
"I said no fast food. I'm totally open to lunch at a quaint, tasteful little side-of-the-road restaurant," Liddy huffed.
"There are no quaint, tasteful little side-of-the-road restaurants on the way to Calais, Liddy," Hayley said, smiling.
"I rest my case," Mona said before reaching into the pocket of her gray sweatshirt and pulling out a Snickers bar, which she noisily unwrapped.
Liddy's blood boiled as she whipped her head around to glare at Mona, whose lips were smudged with chocolate as she chewed on a generous hunk of the candy bar.
"Liddy!" Hayley yelled. "Watch out!"
The Mercedes swerved back across the yellow line as Liddy jerked the wheel to the right, narrowly missing a blue Ford truck approaching fast from the opposite direction.
The driver pressed angrily on the horn.
"Can you please pay attention? I'd like to live long enough to at least see Salmon Cove," Hayley said, exhaling a sigh of relief now that the car was back to moving in a forward straight line.
Salmon Cove, Maine, was a small remote fishing village located in the farthest reaches of Down East Maine near the town of Calais. When the three of them had initially discussed going on a weekend getaway during Bar Harbor's busiest time of year, in mid-July, the last place on their minds was Salmon Cove. Liddy pushed hard for them to go to Martha's Vineyard, but that was a bit pricey for her more frugal friends. Hayley's suggestion of going on a simple shopping trip to Portland was met with bored yawns. They had already done that two times this year alone.
Finally, it was Mona who came up with Salmon Cove. She had gone there practically every summer when she was a kid. Her family owned a cabin in the woods near the scenic waterfront. The family would go fishing and swimming and play games for two whole weeks. Mona even learned her lobstering skills from a local boy whose family had a boat and a small business nearby. By the time she graduated from high school, Mona was already ready to set up her own shop in Bar Harbor.
Mona's uncle Cecil still owned the cabin to this day. Mona's father had sold it to his younger brother after suffering a stroke. Traveling to Salmon Cove just wasn't as easy as it had been for the family so they were happy to get rid of it. Mona hadn't been back since.
Mona had recently heard through relatives that her uncle Cecil was currently visiting an old Army buddy in Arizona, and so the place was just sitting there empty. She e-mailed Cecil, and he quickly wrote back and told her that he would be happy to offer his cabin to Mona and her friends for a few days. Hayley honestly loved the idea of not having to split a hotel room. That would leave an ample amount of spending money for decadent seafood banquets and plenty of strong cocktails at the local watering hole.
Liddy wasn't sold on the idea of a weekend in the boonies, and even tried to bow out of the trip altogether at one point, but then circumstances changed.
She split up with her boyfriend, Sonny Rivers, a local attorney.
Or they were just taking a break.
That actually was the official story from Liddy.
But according to Sonny, it was definitely over.
He was done.
And Liddy had yet to accept that cold hard fact.
But suddenly the idea of getting out of town had much more appeal to her and she jumped on board at the last minute, insisting on driving them all to Salmon Cove in her new Mercedes that she had recently purchased in Bangor, which many in town believed was her way of trying to cheer herself up.
Hayley had pulled Mona aside before they left and made her promise not to mention the breakup during their vacation and Mona, who loved toying with and relentlessly teasing Liddy, begrudgingly agreed.
That lasted about twenty minutes into the trip.
"What you need, Liddy, is to find a new boyfriend so he can help you get that big ole stick out of your butt," Mona said from the backseat.
"I don't need a new boyfriend because Sonny and I have not broken up. Like I've said over and over again, we're just taking a break."
"You can say it until you're blue in the face, but nobody's going to believe you," Mona said, popping the remainder of the candy bar in her mouth, and then scrunching the wrapper into her fist before stuffing it in the seat pocket in front of her. "Why do you think he dumped you? Was it the age difference?"
Hayley wanted to fling open the car door and jump out.
Liddy cringed. "No, Mona. Age had nothing to do with our decision to take a break!"
"Come on! It's like Maggie Smith dating the kid who played Harry Potter!" Mona howled.
Liddy gripped the wheel, her knuckles white, gritting her teeth, ready to burst a blood vessel.
"Can we please change the subject?" Hayley begged.
Mona shrugged, and wiped the chocolate off her face with the arm of her sweatshirt.
"Go ahead and eat all the snacks you smuggled into my car, Mona. I have no problem with that."
"Seriously? Okay! What suddenly changed your mind?" Mona asked, curious.
"I'm hoping even you have enough good manners not to talk with your mouth full," Liddy sniffed.
"Don't bet on it," Hayley said, turning to see Mona tearing open a package of beef jerky.
Luckily, by the time they reached Machais on Coastal Route 1, Mona had passed out and was snoring loud enough that Liddy felt the need to crank up the volume on her radio and blast '90s classics the rest of the way to Calais.
Hayley and Liddy bopped up and down in their seats, singing along to their favorite Spice Girls song crooning to their imaginary boyfriends to just tell them what they want, what they really, really want!
The cabin was just fifteen minutes outside of Calais, and when they reached the town they had to wake Mona up from her peaceful slumber to guide them the rest of the way. Mona was grumpy and groggy, but she managed to get them there, with the help of Liddy's Waze app on her phone, and when they finally pulled up to the cabin that was at the end of a gravel road and tucked into a secluded wooded area, Hayley's and Liddy's mouths dropped open in shock.
It was a dump.
The whole structure tilted to one side as if it was ready to collapse.
A tarp had been hastily thrown over the entire roof, undoubtedly to cover up some holes where rainfall or snow might leak inside.
There were empty beer cans littering the property.
A rusted-out Volkswagen bus with no tires in the back.
A pitiful pile of wood stacked up against the side of a wall.
"We're here!" Mona said, jumping out of the car. "Pop open the trunk, Liddy, and I'll take our bags inside."
Hayley turned to Liddy, who sat frozen in the driver's seat of her Mercedes, unable to move. "I know it's not the Ritz-Carlton. But it's not so bad. It has a certain charm."
Liddy didn't respond.
She just stared at the cabin, mouth agape.
Mona, bogged down with her duffel bag and one of Liddy's Louis Vuitton carryons, trudged over to the front door and tried pushing her way through, but it was obviously jammed.
After a few tries banging into it with her shoulder, it gave way and creaked open, and she disappeared inside with the bags.
"Maybe it looks completely different on the inside," Hayley said brightly, trying her best to be encouraging.
She persuaded Liddy to get out of the car and reserve judgment, at least until they had a chance to go inside and see what they were up against.
They joined Mona in the cabin.
Liddy looked around. "You're right, Hayley. It is completely different ... it's worse!"
In all honesty, it wasn't that bad.
The whole place had been recently swept and there was a full bed with clean sheets in one corner and bunk beds in another corner. The tiny kitchen at least appeared clean. No dirty dishes in the sink. And there was a small refrigerator where they could store food.
But it was small.
And calling the place no-frills was being generous.
There would be no five-star reviews on TripAdvisor.
"This sure brings back a lot of happy memories," Mona said, beaming.
Liddy, in a rare show of restraint, refrained from commenting.
She just kept walking around, taking it all in, and sizing it up.
She suddenly stopped and turned to Mona. "Where's the bathroom?"
"There isn't one," Mona said casually.
"What do you mean there isn't a bathroom?" Liddy asked, aghast.
"I mean there isn't one. There's an outhouse out back!"
That's when Liddy completely lost it.
She grabbed her Louis Vuitton carry-on that Mona had deposited next to the door and stormed out. "I did not sign up for a Little House on the Prairie weekend! We are not Laura Ingalls Wilder and her two dirt-poor sisters!"
"Not you, that's for sure. You're more like that spoiled brat Nellie Oleson!" Mona bellowed as Liddy slammed out the door and marched back to her Mercedes.
"Hurry up! Let's go! We're checking into a hotel!" Liddy screamed from outside.
Hayley didn't want to side with Liddy and hurt Mona's feelings, but she too couldn't imagine actually using a creaky old smelly outhouse.
And she definitely couldn't imagine in that moment that using an outhouse for four days would soon be the least of their troubles.CHAPTER 2
"Fully booked? You can't be serious!" Liddy gasped, eyes blinking.
The hotel's roly-poly desk clerk, surprised by this rather pint-size force of nature questioning his command of the hotel's reservation system, struck a defensive posture, but couldn't help but glance back down at his computer screen to double-check his assertion. After a quick scroll down, he regained his confidence and raised his weary eyes back up to meet Liddy's.
"Yes, I'm afraid so. Fully booked."
"Who on earth would intentionally come to this backwater town and actually want to stay here?" Liddy remarked, her face a mix of disgust and wonder. "I mean, I would understand if someone's GPS got all screwed up and they drove here by mistake, but to actually plan a trip here? I don't think so!"
"We did," Mona barked.
"Yes, but that's because I've never set foot here until today so I didn't know any better," Liddy said, before turning back to the clerk behind the desk. "I doubt you have a lot of repeat business."
"As a matter of fact, we have many visitors who adore Salmon Cove and return here every summer for their vacation," the clerk sniffed, his jowly cheeks swinging like a basset hound's, as his rotund body tensed and the few strands of hair on top of his head seemed to stand on end. He pushed them back with his hand.
"Well, we're from Bar Harbor so you can understand why we're not impressed with Salmon Cove," Liddy said, every last word dripping with disdain.
The desk clerk had pretty much had enough. He cleared his throat and summoned up as much indignation as his portly frame could manage. "Well, we may not be as glamorous as Bar Harbor or boast a national park, or have anything as majestic as Cadillac Mountain or Thunder Hole to behold, but Salmon Cove does have its charms."
"I think it's a beautiful little town," Hayley offered weakly, trying to tamp down the situation as she noticed the red-faced desk clerk curling his pudgy fingers into a hammy fist, spoiling for a fight.
"And no, you won't spot anyone as famous as the Obamas showing up at a local ice cream shop or Martha Stewart walking her dogs along Sand Beach, but we do have our share of famous visitors every year," the desk clerk blurted out, determined to defend his beloved hometown.
"Like who?" Liddy asked, folding her arms.
The desk clerk froze for a moment, not expecting anyone to actually challenge him by asking for a specific celebrity. He foolishly thought that this odious harpy, who had ruined his afternoon by bursting through the door and throwing around an abundance of attitude, would just trust him and let it go.
She stood there, arms folded, waiting.
"Tracey Gold," the desk clerk stammered.
"Who?" Mona asked, dumbfounded.
"Tracey Gold," the desk clerk said again, feeling smaller and smaller by the moment.
"Who the hell is that?" Mona demanded to know.
"The actress from Growing Pains," Hayley said softly.
"That show from the eighties with Kirk something or other, who used to be cute but is now creepy and weird and judging everybody because they're not as religious as he is?" Mona asked, struggling to remember.
"Yes," Hayley said, nodding.
"So Tracey Silver played the mother? I thought that was Jody Lighthouse or something," Mona said, scratching her head.
"You're thinking of the mother. The mother was played by Judith Light," the desk clerk jumped in, unable to restrain himself any longer.
"No, she wasn't! Judith Light was in Who's the Boss?, the one with Tony Danza!" Hayley quietly offered.
The affronted desk clerk glared at her, bemused by the fact she was joining her friends in ganging up on him.
"Then who played the mother on Growing Pains?" Mona asked.
"I don't know!" the desk clerk sputtered. "But I do know Tracey Gold played the sister!"
"Oh, yeah. Now I remember. Didn't she get sick or something?" Mona asked, as the desk clerk sighed, having thought the discussion was finally coming to a merciful end.
"She battled bulimia," Liddy said, finally chiming in and adding her two cents. "I read about it in People magazine a while back."
"She was here and she had Ebola?" Mona gasped, spinning her head around, eyes bulging as if she would suddenly be able to spot some insidious airborne virus.
"Not Ebola, Mona! Bulimia!" Hayley cried. "It doesn't matter! The man was just trying to make a point."
"Well, he didn't exactly do a bang-up job of it now, did he?" Liddy laughed. "Comparing some washed-up eighties sitcom actress to Martha Stewart to impress us? It's sad, really."
The desk clerk appeared as if he was going to hurl his massive bulk over the counter and strangle Liddy, but he held himself, and repeated one last time to the three women, with more than a hint of relief, "Like I said, we're fully booked."
At that moment, as if a gift from the heavens, a family of four arrived to check in and the desk clerk was finally freed from his torturous interaction with Liddy and her pals, who huddled in a corner to debate their next move.
"I say we suck it up and go back to the cabin and spend the night, and then we can drive back in the morning," Hayley suggested, tired from the long drive and anxious for a plan.
"I have absolutely no intention of spending one night in that rat-infested hovel. Do you hear me? I say we drive back tonight," Liddy insisted.
"I didn't haul butt all the way down here to stay just one night! I want to enjoy the whole long weekend! Like we planned!" Mona wailed.
"Well, we came in my car and my car is leaving in two minutes!" Liddy hollered, turning for support to Hayley, who labored to stay neutral.
"How will I get home?" Mona barked.
Excerpted from Death of a Lobster Lover by LEE HOLLIS. Copyright © 2017 Rick Copp and Holly Simason. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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