Becklaw's Murder Mystery Tour (Jo Anderson Series)

Becklaw's Murder Mystery Tour (Jo Anderson Series) by Dane McCaslin Read Free Book Online

Book: Becklaw's Murder Mystery Tour (Jo Anderson Series) by Dane McCaslin Read Free Book Online
Authors: Dane McCaslin
about that same distance around. His belly stuck out alarmingly from behind a dirty apron, and the rolls that formed his waist jiggled and bounced with the effort of movement. I found I was holding my breath while watching him teeter toward us, wiping his hands on the apron, a broad smile on an equally broad face.
    ‘Welcome to Manchester, folks,’ Skinny Joe announced in a voice that was surprisingly musical and mellow. I guess I expected something rough and gravelly, or high and flighty; that’s usually the range for bigger men, I’ve noticed. ‘The young ’uns are on their way, so sit tight. Could I offer you a drink on the house?’
    Derek and LJ perked right up, but Miss Bea stepped in and declined, saying that we’d just had breakfast. ‘But a nice pot of coffee would be a right treat,’ she added, looking around for confirmation. Leslie and I nodded in agreement, while the boys just looked irked.
    Skinny Joe rolled back in the direction of the bar, and soon the aroma of freshly brewing coffee filled the air. We settled alongside a table, segregating ourselves, boys on one side, girls on the other. Isn’t it funny how even adults still do this? Leslie and I chatted a bit, discussing the various ideas for our roles that we had come up with on the ride up to Manchester from Copper. Derek and LJ sat with their heads on their hands, looking vaguely bored. I guess they thought they needed that drink on the house in order to perk up a bit.
    Miss Bea sat silently, gently kneading the meaty part of one hand while her eyes stared at something in the distance. She did this when she was deep in thought, I had noticed. I wondered what she was thinking about then.
    Joe came bustling back into the dining room, balancing a large metal tray with six coffee mugs – it was break time for him as well, I guessed – a sugar bowl, a little pitcher of cream, and a carafe of coffee. With a groan, he set the tray in the middle of the table, then heaved his bulk onto the bench beside Leslie.
    Someone had forgotten to tell him about the segregation thing.

Chapter Six
    The coffee was smooth, and I could tell that the beans were of a higher quality than I usually purchased for myself. The cream was really cream, complete with a bit of foam on top, and the sugar was really sugar. No imposter ingredients for Skinny Joe. That was at odds with my overview of the town itself, but I could have been wrong about that anyway.
    We sat and sipped in silence, the aroma of the coffee wafting above our heads as gently as a spring breeze. From somewhere outside, I heard a car door slam, then another. Voices could be heard, and Joe got up to greet the three young men who came noisily into the restaurant.
    ‘Miss Bea, this here’s Andy Grimes, Bert Landy, and Julian Sweet. They deal cards at the local casino, so they’re perfect for what you’ve got in mind.’ Joe patted the arm of the one called Andy. ‘Andy’s my brother’s kid and I know he’ll do right by you. I’ve known these other two for as long as I can remember. Boys, say howdy to Miss Bea.’
    If I didn’t know better, I would have thought that even Skinny Joe was trying to get ‘into character’, as Miss Bea might say. But the three ‘boys’ didn’t seem to notice anything out of the ordinary, so maybe I was wrong about Skinny Joe as well.
    ‘It’s nice to meet you, ma’am,’ Andy stuck out his hand and pumped Miss Bea’s plump one vigorously. Bert and Julian did the same, and I was fearful that Miss Bea’s hair would come tumbling down around her ears with the motion. I didn’t carry any hairpins with me, and I was certain that she had already used her entire collection today in her hairdo.
    Miss Bea looked them over, a pleased expression on her chubby face. I thought for a minute that she was going to walk around them much like a farmer at a cattle show, but thankfully she restricted herself to a quick look up and down. Probably sizing them up for a costume, I

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