It was Christmas night and it was snowing. Not unusual for Salem, Massachusetts, but for me it was special. I’d spent the past ten Christmases in Florida, with lighted boat parades, lawn flamingos wearing Santa hats, and decorated palm trees, so it’s no wonder that sitting close to the window watching big flakes swirling in bright halos around streetlamps, and tree lights casting colorful dots onto wind-sculpted drifts was a real treat for me.
I’m Lee Barrett, thirty-one, red-haired, Salem born. I was orphaned early, married once and widowed young. Since I’d returned to Salem I’d been sharing the fine old family home on Winter Street with my aunt, Isobel Russell who’d raised me after my parents died.
So there I was, along with our big yellow cat O’Ryan, snoozing at my feet, enjoying the Christmas card scenery, complete with the muffled sound of church bells ringing in the distance, and expecting the arrival any minute of the special man in my life, police detective Pete Mondello. I was warm, my tummy full of holiday goodies, my dear Aunt Ibby nearby and looking forward to an interesting new job due to start on New Year’s day.
I’d been invited to teach a course in Television Performance and Production at the Tabitha Trumbull Academy of the Arts. I’d worked in television, one way or another, ever since college. I’d been a weather girl, a host on a home shopping show and even a phone-in psychic. (That psychic gig, on Salem’s cable channel WICH-TV hadn’t worked out well. I’d been hired to replace the previous late show host, a practicing witch named Ariel Constellation. Unfortunately, I was the one who’d found Ariel’s dead body floating in Salem Harbor, but that’s another story.) Anyway, the “Tabby” as everyone called it, was housed in the old Trumbull’s Department Store building which had been closed since the 1960s and I was full of excited anticipation about teaching there.
So what could go wrong with this idyllic picture?
Pete arrived as expected, but almost immediately got a call from police headquarters. Something bad was going on at the Tabby. Aunt Ibby, O’Ryan and I wound up on a wild and slippery ride through the storm—with me driving—to the old store. Let me tell you, a closed up department store can be one creepy place. Ever see a stack of old mannequins piled up like body parts? How about lights flickering on an off and a piano playing in the middle of the night? A ghost woman in white floating past the top floor windows? And worst of all, the Tabby’s handy man, Bill Sullivan, going down the stairs to the store’s basement and never coming back up. Bill was gone. He’d simply disappeared.
It was a Christmas night to remember, and not in a good way!
You can read more about Lee in Tails, You Lose, the second book in the “Witch City” mystery series, published by Kensington. The first book in the series is Caught Dead Handed.
WATCH the trailer for “Tails, You Lose.
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About the author
Carol was born in Salem, Massachusetts, known worldwide as the Witch City. It’s no coincidence then, that all of the action in Tails, You Lose, the second in Carol’s Witch City Mystery series, takes place in her famous home town.
Carol and her husband Dan live in Florida with a black lab and a cat. She is the author of several young adult novels and also writes articles for magazines and newspapers. When she lived in Massachusetts Carol worked for many years as the advertising manager for a large, old Main Street department store. That experience provided the background for Lee Barrett’s adventures in Tails, You Lose.
For more information, visit Carol’s website