In case we haven’t met, I’m Olivia Greyson, but everyone calls me Livie. . . except my brother, Jason, who calls me Olive Oyl. . . though only in public.
I must admit, I was expecting more peace and quiet when I moved back from Baltimore to my little hometown, Chatterley Heights, a few years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I love my life here. I opened a store, The Gingerbread House, devoted to anything and everything cookie. My business partner, Maddie Briggs, is also my best friend since age ten, as well as a decorated-cookie artist and computer whiz. My feisty little rescue Yorkie, Spunky, and I live right above The Gingerbread House in the upper story of a sweet Queen Anne for which I owe a bundle to the Chatterley Heights bank.
Workdays can be hectic, fun, and sometimes frustrating. I’m surrounded by shiny cookie cutters, sparkling sugars, fancy stand mixers, cookbooks. . . Customers can hang out in the cookbook nook with a cup of Italian roast and a decorated cookie. Out on the sales floor, Spunky receives forbidden treats from visitors as he holds court from his antique chair.
Life is peaceful and comfortable, except for a few infuriating townsfolk and the occasional murder.
Each morning, when I open The Gingerbread House, I hope for a quiet, humdrum day. I rarely get my wish. Resentments can run deep in a small town, and we do seem to have our share of murders in Chatterley Heights. Somehow Maddie and I find ourselves involved in the investigations. Even with a business to run, it’s hard to stay on the sidelines when crime affects people you care about.
Right now, for example. . . My mom has been busy renovating an old Depression-era boarding house so she can open an arts and crafts school. We were just over there helping her set up a brand-new kitchen, and we found… well, I promised the Chatterley Heights sheriff, Del Jenkins—who also happens to be my “special friend,” as my mom would say—that I wouldn’t broadcast the details. But just between you and me, human remains were involved. They’d been hidden away for some time, too.
But was the death due to murder, or wasn’t it? Hard to tell before the forensic folks take a look, but who knows when that will happen. Del is tied up with more active cases at the moment. This is a cold case, he said, so it goes on the back burner. I suggested the case might warm up once it’s been on that back burner for a while. Del just sighed and urged me not to investigate.
Nevertheless, Maddie and I thought we’d poke around a bit—you know, for my mom’s sake. She is desperate to get her arts and crafts school up and running. She hasn’t been her perky, centered self since her yoga instructor moved back to Baltimore. Besides, if the trail is so cold, what harm could it do to investigate on our own?
You can read more about Livie in Dead Men Don’t Eat Cookies, the sixth book in the “Cookie Cutter Shop” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first book in the series is Cookie Dough or Die.
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