by Laurel Richards
Cassie Wynn Mystery Book Three
Cassie and Mitch are newly engaged, and it’s time to meet the in-laws.
When environmentalist Herb Flores turns up dead beneath a sand castle, though, they have to balance investigative work with family obligations.
With suspects like a board president, a female bodybuilder, and the Chief of Police, identifying Herb’s killer is a risky business. Throw in their families, a high-maintenance cat, and sand sculptures, and the town of Fatmire, Florida, just got more interesting.
Genre: Romantic MysteryPurchase link(s): Amazon ARe BAM iTunes Kobo B&N
Content/Theme(s): Humor, Woman Sleuth, Cozy, Romance, Small Town
Release Date: July 1, 2016
Excerpt & More
“Great job,” Cassie remarked as she studied the mound of tightly packed sand.
Beside her, her parents hummed in agreement.
Fatmire, Florida’s first official Sand Castle Competition had only just begun, but she was already amazed by the talent. And this was the amateur portion of the event. She couldn’t imagine what the advanced and master-level builders had in store for them.
The young woman she had complimented glanced up with a furrowed brow, which showed how hard she was concentrating on her work. Not wanting to disrupt the creative flow, Cassie admired the sand castle for another moment before moving on. It was, to her mind, a very accurate representation of a sea cucumber. The woman had a good shot at winning.
Cassie wandered past mermaids, sea turtles, and far more abstract pieces of sand art before she spotted the handsome man waiting up ahead. He stood alone between sculptures of an adobe hut and a half-built cathedral. His light-brown hair was highlighted by the sunshine, and a stranger might have assumed by his casual shorts and T-shirt that he was relaxed. Even if she hadn’t seen the shrewd gleam in his blue eyes, she wouldn’t have been fooled. Mitchell Chase was like the heroes in her mystery novels, always alert and ready for action.
“Is that him?” her mother asked. “I can see why you fell in love with him. Look at the way he’s squinting in the afternoon sun. He looks like a gunslinger.”
“Even better,” Cassie told her mom. “Mitch doesn’t need a gun. He has excellent aim with rocks and fishing lures, and his most lethal weapon is his mind. That’s what makes him a super sleuth.”
In fact, Mitch was this small town’s only private eye. When Cassie wasn’t writing a new mystery novel, she worked as his partner at Chase Investigations. She had also become his fiancée this past winter, which was why her parents were here for a visit.
“What did you say happened to Lenny, the old PI, again?” It was her father who asked, since he liked to stay current on local events.
“Lenny got in a car accident while tailing a suspected adulterer,” she explained. “After that, he decided the job was too stressful and closed up shop. I heard from Detective Waters that he’s now working as an air traffic controller in Orlando.”
“When one door closes, another opens,” her mom said.
Having completed his scan of the area, Mitch finally glanced their way. His smile made her giddy, and she would have skipped across the beach if she hadn’t worried about kicking sand at the nearby entrants. One competitor was currently shoring up the side of his mansion, and she knew home ownership required constant maintenance. She walked over to her future husband.
A cool spring breeze ruffled her ponytail as she kissed her man hello and stepped back to make introductions. “Mom and Dad, this is Mitch. Mitch, this is my father, Virgil Wynn, and my mother, Jenna.”
“It’s nice to meet you.” Her fiancé’s suave manners took over as he shook her father’s hand and maneuvered beneath her mom’s wide-brimmed hat to kiss her cheek.
Her mother beamed in approval. “It’s nice to meet you, too. My daughter has told us so much about you. At first, I thought maybe you were the hero of a new novel she was working on, but then I was ecstatic when I found out you were real.”
“Thanks.” Mitch sounded a bit choked up, no doubt uncomfortable with the praise.
Someone wailed, and Cassie turned in time to see a sandman’s head roll off and explode on impact. The competition was getting brutal.
“I’m also looking forward to meeting your family,” her mother said. “What time are your parents due to arrive?”
“They should be here by tomorrow afternoon,” Mitch assured her. “They’re returning from a driving tour of the country’s roadside attractions. I’ve talked them into staying the two weeks you’re here so we can all get to know one another.”
Her mother clapped her hands. “Wonderful.”
Cassie was equally excited. She had met Samuel Chase, who was a retired police detective, but she had only heard about her future mother-in-law. Tracy Chase probably had some good tips about handling alpha men like her husband and son.
“You’ll also get to meet Pops,” she told her parents. “His real name is Owen Ashwood, but he said I could call him that. Mitch lives with his grandfather in the retirement village.”
“We thought about moving into the retirement village,” her dad said. “We didn’t like the turnoff from the road, though. It’s too easy to get sideswiped. They really need to add a turn lane at the entrance.”
Mitch grinned. “Pops has mentioned the same thing.”
“That’s nice that you’re staying with your grandfather,” her mother told him. “I know it’s popular for young people to live together before marriage these days, but if you ask me, the two of you are doing this the right way.” Her mom started walking to look at the rest of the sand castles. “It’s like that story I saw on the news about the aardvarks.”
“I thought they were armadillos,” Cassie’s dad said.
Her mom waved that away. “You know the ones? Here they were living apart in adjoining pens, never together, and what do you know, the female turns up pregnant. They hailed it as an immaculate aardvark conception.”
“The male armadillo got to her right through the fence,” her dad explained.
“It just goes to show you.”
Cassie nodded at this sage advice, and she could see by Mitch’s scrunched face that he was giving it deep thought.
“It goes to show what?” her fiancé asked.
Cassie took his hand. “Two things. One, no contraceptive is a hundred percent guaranteed. And two, keeping a little distance between them built their excitement until they overcame all obstacles just to be together.”
“Much more romantic than throwing them in the same pen from the get-go,” her mom said.
Mitch looked at her mother with obvious respect. “I can see where your daughter gets her unique perspective on life.”
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Be on the lookout for Laurel Richards' future release(s): In Her Element coming September 2016, Dragon Tears coming October 2016, and Passion Fire coming November 2016
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