Hearse and GardensI wake earlier than usual and step from my bedroom onto the juliet balcony that offers a panoramic view of the easternmost tip of Long Island. The light atop the Montauk Point Lighthouse goes off and a weak October sun pushes up from the Atlantic to brighten the dawn sky. I’m so excited about the day’s plans, I almost forget about my pending court case and the possibility I might lose Little Grey forever. Little Grey is my newly purchased nineteenth-century oceanfront cottage that I plan to bring back to its old glory.

I stick to my morning routine. A cup of french roast on my screened porch, a short meditation on the beach, and a barefoot stroll (even in October!) toward the lighthouse where I see a quote by Keats written in the sand in front of reclusive author Patrick Seaton’s cottage. I climb the twenty-six steps up to my rental and go inside. It’s only seven-thirty. After a quick shower, I put in my hearing aids and call Elle, my best friend and vintage treasure-hunting cohort, to confirm the day’s plans.

“Yes, we are still going to loot one of Uncle Harry’s vintage bungalows. Yes, he said we can keep anything we find inside. No, I don’t think we’ll find a hidden Pollock or Warhol. Sorry, there’s no way I can pick you up earlier than planned, I’m painting an apothecary cabinet to go in the White Room. The Hamptons International Film Festival minions will soon descend and they’re some of Mabel and Elle’s Curiosities’ best customers. And no, I didn’t forget to put your box of antique books in the back of the pickup for your current Cottages by the Sea design project. Don’t get your granny panties in a twist. I’ll see you at ten.”

Will I ever live down the granny panties incident?

I pace the main floor of my four-room rental cottage, two rooms upstairs, two rooms down. Not a lot of room to pace, so I sink into the down cushions of the sofa and reach for the postcard on the repurposed milk crate/end table. The card’s edges are worn from numerous readings. The shiny photo on the front of the postcard shows a dog on a beach, bounding over frothy waves. The dog looks like Tripod, only this dog has four legs, not three. I read the caption under the photo, G’DAY MATE, FROM AUSTRALIA! I don’t need to turn the card over, I’ve memorized his words. Took longer than planned. Tons of rough weather. Yacht arrived safely. We miss you. C. That is it. The postcard arrived three weeks ago. Not a word since.

I deliberately change my focus to what Elle and I will find at Elle’s great-uncle’s estate, Sandringham, in Montauk. Elle’s ninety-two year old great-uncle, Harrison Falks, is a multi-multimillionaire (yes, double multis) and one of the most revered art brokers of the twentieth century.

It’s still an hour until Elle’s planned arrival. I open my laptop and search Google for Hamptons top landscape architect, Byron Hughes. There are numerous photos of him on Dave’s Hamptons, the who’s who tattletale newspaper website. Every shot shows Byron’s arm entwined with a gorgeous celebrity or wannabe. I’d booked him months ago to draw up plans for my garden at Little Grey. I might not be allowed inside my cottage until the court rules, but I can set up plans for a glorious garden. There is still hope things will turn out as I planned.

Or maybe not. . .

Hearse and Gardens is the second book in the Hamptons Home and Garden mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime, May 2016.

A Hamptons interior designer deals with skeletons in the closet in the new mystery from the national bestselling author of Better Homes and Corpses.

To keep her mind off the legal battle over the oceanfront cottage she’s trying to buy, Meg agrees to help her friend inventory and clear out furniture from the massive Montauk estate of wealthy art broker Harrison Falks. But the job takes a terrifying turn when Meg discovers a skeleton in a hidden room in one of the estate’s many bungalows. The remains turn out to be those of Harrison’s son, who went missing nearly twenty years ago—along with one of his father’s Warhol paintings.

As Meg delves into the Hamptons’ pop art past, she gets drawn into the sketchy goings-on and family drama at the estate. But when Meg makes no bones about solving the crime, she just might become the subject of the killer’s next installation.

Includes recipes and decorating tips

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About the author
Kathleen Bridge, national bestselling author of Better Homes and Corpses, started her writing career working at the Michigan State University News in East Lansing, Michigan. She is the author and photographer of an antiques reference guide, Lithographed Paper Toys, Books, and Games. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and has taught creative writing classes at Bryant Library in Roslyn, New York. Kathleen is also an antiques and vintage dealer in Long Island, New York, and has contributed to Country Living magazine.

Connect with Kathleen at kathleenbridge.com, on Facebook and on @kathleenbridge.

Giveaway: Leave comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Hearse and Gardens. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end May 11, 2016 at 12 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

All comments are welcomed.

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