Holidays Can Be Murder: A Charlie Parker Christmas Mystery

Holidays Can Be Murder: A Charlie Parker Christmas Mystery by Connie Shelton Read Free Book Online

Book: Holidays Can Be Murder: A Charlie Parker Christmas Mystery by Connie Shelton Read Free Book Online
Authors: Connie Shelton
    “This conversation between you and Judy is not evidence. Not yet, anyway. Just wait to find out what he finds at the . . . the . . .”
    “Crime scene,” I filled in. “I can’t believe this. Our neighbors’ house has become a crime scene.”
    “Whatever. Just don’t impart this particular information to him unless it looks like it really might be relevant. And even then, be very careful what you say.”
    “Chocolate’s ready,” Catherine chirped from the doorway. She hipped the swinging door open, her hands loaded with a large tray and three steaming mugs. Drake gave my hand a squeeze, then shoved magazines aside to make space on the coffee table.
    We drank our hot chocolate and speculated as to what might be happening next door, with Drake periodically peeking out the front windows to report as various vehicles left. We’d fallen into an almost sleepy silence again when the knock came at the front door at two-thirty. Kent Taylor’s appearance and the gust of wintry air he ushered in brought the rest of us around again.
“Do I smell chocolate?” he asked before he’d slipped off his overcoat.
Catherine immediately offered to get him a cup and the rest of us decided we’d take refills too.
He flipped to a new page in his spiral. “Okay, what does anybody know about the friction between the family next door?”
Nothing like getting straight to the point. I glanced at Drake, a move that I’m sure made it look like I had something to hide.
“Wilbur and Judy appear to get along just great,” Drake offered. “Haven’t noticed any problems there.”
    “Well, I’m kind of looking more for information on who might have not been getting along with the victim, Paula Candelaria.” Taylor’s voice was only a tad short of sarcastic.
    “Kent,” I began, “I’m not sure there was actually anyone who did get along with her.” I wrapped my chilly hands around the mug Catherine handed me. “I don’t mean to speak ill of the dead,” I added hastily, “but Paula was rather—shall we say, abrasive. The kind of person who just rubbed most people the wrong way.”
    “I’m kind of getting that impression,” he admitted. “Okay, I understand there was some kind of altercation over eggnog at some ‘do’ down at the Country Club?”
    I tried to remember back to the cookie swap. It had been a busy week. “Well, there was an incident where Paula broke a glass cup and Chuck Ciacarelli yelled at her. But he’s such a grouch, even on a good day. He’d probably yell at Santa for leaving footprints on the roof.”
    “I heard the exchange went a little beyond that. Ciacarelli carried it on outside and got into quite an argument with the victim and her son after they left the party.”
    Drake and I looked at each other. “I sure didn’t hear anything about that,” I offered. “They left before we did, but I never heard any more than what went on in the party room.”
    Catherine and Drake nodded in agreement.
    “Any other incidents you know of?” Taylor asked. “Fights between family members, raised voices, things like that?”
    I had a hard time imagining the mild-mannered Wilbur or long-suffering Judy ever having a screaming match with anyone. I shook my head. Judy’s complaints about her mother-in-law’s behavior were all second hand; I’d never witnessed a nasty exchange between them.
    “Who do you think would have a reason to kill Paula?” I asked Kent. “She didn’t know anyone here.”
    “My question exactly. Woman comes to town to visit relatives. Meets a few neighbors. Hard to find someone with motive.”
    “Was there a break-in? Judy had mentioned that she and Wilbur were invited to a dinner party last night. Did it happen while they were gone?”
“Yeah—they were gone when she died. Supposedly. I’m checking alibis.”
An uneasy tremor went through me.
“And what was the cause of death?” Drake asked.
    “Looks like a single blow with a fireplace poker. It was lying

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