I will never, and I repeat never, move to a retirement community when I turn sixty-five. If I have to live in one of those God-awful tiny houses or a cramped apartment building with college frat boys, I’ll gladly do it rather than find myself in a place obsessed with aging. After spending a week and a half in Sun City West, Arizona, observing how my mother and her friends enjoy their “Golden Years,” it’s a wonder I can think straight. And it’s not because of the heat!
Words that barely crossed my vocabulary were suddenly part of my conversation. Words like stool softeners and compression hose. I couldn’t wait to get on the next plane back to Mankato, Minnesota, only I came out here for a reason and like all good daughters, I intended to keep the promise I had made to my mother – solve the book curse that’s killing off her friends. You heard right, a book curse.
My mother and her close-knit group of book club friends were convinced a book curse was wiping out the population and she wanted me to figure out what was going on. Granted, I worked for the accounts receivable department at the Mankato Police Department, but she figured something must’ve rubbed off on me. I hated to break it to her, but she was wrong.
Every day was a wild goose chase. A half-baked clue, a piece of gossip that needed to be tracked down or some bizarre scheme my mother came up with because she thought it would bring us closer to finding out what was really happening in her usually quiet and enjoyable community. I hated to admit it but I began to dread the mornings.
First of all, I had to sneak into the kitchen for a cup of coffee so I wouldn’t wake up Streetman, her neurotic chiweenie dog. He apparently was grouchy in the mornings and didn’t like being disturbed. (Like who does?) Then, the coffee. In an effort to be frugal, my mother managed to purchase brands of coffee that no one ever heard of. As if that wasn’t bad enough, her refrigerator consisted of cottage cheese, pineapple chunks and unrecognizable things that “were still good to eat.”
Usually, I forfeited breakfast and drove to the nearest diner for sustenance before tackling whatever obscure task she had on the docket for me that day. Today I’m off to the dog park because Cindy Dolton, the “eyes and ears” of the community, will be there at six a.m. Why the heck she couldn’t see or hear anything at a reasonable hour was beyond me. Then, I’ll make a note of anything that might be of help in my so-called investigation.
From there, I’ll grab a bite to eat at my mother’s favorite place – Bagels ‘N More, located across the road from the main entrance to her community. I’ll try to act nonchalant as I hone in on the chatter to see if anyone so much as drops a hint as to why four ladies died under mysterious circumstances.
Next, I’ll find a way to engage Herb Garrett, my mother’s snoopy neighbor, and a regular lothario, in a conversation to see what he knows. Apparently his pinochle crew can give the FBI a run for their money when it comes to information gathering.
I’ll round up the day putting the clues together and sharing them with my mother. So far, I’ve got a wall chart with information that rivals the ones they use on Criminal Minds and Castle. I only hope I can get the darned thing solved before I actually reach the age where I’ll have to live here. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy fabulous Mexican food, free local entertainment and year-round swimming. Hey, maybe retiring out here won’t be that bad after all.
Sophie (Phee) Kimball, amateur sleuth
You can read more about Sophie in Booked 4 Murder, the first book in the NEW “Sophie Kimball” mystery series.
Never judge a book by its cover. . .
Sophie “Phee” Kimball is not a cop. She’s a divorced, middle-aged mom who works as an account clerk for the police department in a small city in Minnesota. But her retired mother, Harriet Plunkett, is convinced Phee is the only one who can solve the mystery of a cursed book. According to Harriet, four members of her book club have already succumbed to the deadly curse. Harriet insists Phee catch the next plane to her retirement community in Sun City West, Arizona, to investigate.
Is her mother just bored and lonely? She does have a new pet—a long-haired chiweenie (half Chihuahua, half Dachshund)—for company and a host of pals (although that number is admittedly dwindling). Phee is certain that their book club selection isn’t cursed, but is somebody really knocking off the ladies? As Phee starts to uncover dark secrets hidden in plain sight under the blazing Arizona sun, she’ll need to read between the lines before it’s someone else’s final chapter. . .
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Meet the author
New York native Ann I. Goldfarb spent most of her life in education, first as a classroom teacher and later as a middle school principal and professional staff developer. Writing as J. C. Eaton, along with her husband, James Clapp, she has authored the Sophie Kimball Mysteries (Kensington) set for release in June 2017. In addition, Ann has nine published YA time travel mysteries under her own name. Visit the websites at: www.jceatonauthor.com and www.timetravelmysteries.com
When James E. Clapp retired as the tasting room manager for a large upstate New York winery, he never imagined he’d be co-authoring cozy mysteries with his wife, Ann I. Goldfarb. His first novel, Booked 4 Murder (Kensington) is set for release in June 2017. Non-fiction in the form of informational brochures and workshop materials treating the winery industry were his forte along with an extensive background and experience in construction that started with his service in the U.S. Navy and included vocational school classroom teaching. Visit the website at www.jceatonauthor.com
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