Everything swells during summer in the Hamptons: the farmstands with their bountiful produce; the ocean’s long reaching tides; the thickening privet hedges; and fortunately or unfortunately, the population.
For Antonia Bingham, the innkeeper and owner of the Windmill Inn on Main Street in East Hampton, the crowds that flocked to the East End of Long Island each summer were a plus. Owning an inn and a restaurant in a town with only a three-month “season” means it’s crucial to be at capacity during the peak. The only challenge is that when things swell, they are bound to burst. And sometimes that can be fatal.
On a sun-drenched Friday morning in mid-August, Antonia was standing at the front desk of the hundred-year-old inn anxiously awaiting her new arrivals with her manager Jonathan. She had risen hours before to start breakfast preparation—freshly baked muffins and scones, peaches and blueberries with mint, a fluffy frittata with local cheddar and broccoli—before heading to Georgica Beach for her early morning walk. This would be the only moment of quiet and exercise that she could steal all day before long hours were spent in the kitchen or trouble-shooting (mishaps were inevitable even in an inn of this caliber and special requests were to be expected from guests who were paying top dollar for top tier service).
This weekend was unique in that one person had booked the entire inn: a mysterious British multi-millionaire who called himself Mr. Jeffrey. Antonia and Jonathan had not been sure whether Jeffrey was his first name or last name, but they were told by his lawyer (who made the bookings) to ask no questions. In fact, his lawyer had arrived in person with several pages of instructions and demands. Normally Antonia would have demurred, seeing as August was the most requested month and she could afford to be picky, but when the lawyer said he would be paying triple for the discretion of the inn’s staff, she eagerly acquiesced.
Now, the little bell over the front door tinkled and the first guest entered.
“Hello, welcome to the Windmill Inn,” said Antonia with her trademark enthusiasm.
“Let me take your bag,” said Jonathan, extending his hand.
The guest, a woman in her late forties with shoulder-length dusty blond hair and an equally long face, bristled. She clutched her bag to her chest as if a gang of thieves was attacking her.
“I prefer to keep it,” she said, in an unidentifiable European accent.
“Very well then,” said Jonathan.
“May I have your name please?” asked Antonia with keen interest. She was already studying the woman intently. Although the woman’s persona was severe—everything from her conservative clothing to her chilly demeanor—she also appeared skittish. Antonia traced the woman’s eyes as they flitted all over the antiques in the front hall, then up the staircase, toward the parlor and into the library. Her anxiety was palpable.
The woman leaned in with a whisper. “I’ve been told to call myself Miss K.”
“Oh yes, I see it here. You will be on the second floor,” said Antonia scanning the registry. “And yes, your host did ask that you only be identified with letters.”
“I suppose that’s the plan,” said Miss K. She spoke off-handedly, but Antonia didn’t miss the look of fear that flitted across her features.
“I’m sure it’s all in good fun,” said Antonia, trying to keep things light.
The woman scoffed. “Either that, or we all end up dead.”
Antonia and Jonathan exchanged nervous glances.
“I should hope not,” said Jonathan, trying to lighten the tone. “We try to avoid that here.”
“Oh really?” asked the woman in a taunting tone. “I thought the Windmill Inn was known for murder. You can be sure that’s why he selected it,” and she stalked off toward the stairs, with Jonathan trotting along behind her.
As they left, Antonia felt an intense sense of dread settle upon her. What did the woman mean?
Yes, it was true that since Antonia had purchased the inn two and a half years earlier, she had come across a fair number of dead bodies. But most of them had been found ‘off campus,’ so to speak. The only person who’d actually been killed at the inn was the previous innkeeper. It wasn’t like the guests had been at risk! And it had been her fault that these murders had even come to light at all. No one would have thought anything suspicious was afoot if she hadn’t gone digging.
Antonia was starting to rationalize murder.
Was her little side hobby as an amateur sleuth beginning to catch up with her? Perhaps it was time to retire her inner Miss Marple and focus exclusively on her inn and restaurant.
And yet. . .maybe a little death was good for business.
Maybe murder did pay.
You can read more about Antonia in Death on West End Road, the third book in the “Hamptons Murder” mystery series.
Like a basket of warm cinnamon buns, an unsolved crime is something that Hamptons innkeeper and sleuth Antonia Bingham just can’t resist. Despite a busy high-season schedule and an inn booked to capacity, Antonia has agreed to investigate a cold case in her beloved adopted hometown, East Hampton, NY: the killing of Susie Whitaker, whose brutal 1990 slaying on a tennis court in the poshest part of town was never solved. And the person who has hired Antonia? Prime suspect Pauline Framingham, a manipulative pharmaceutical heiress from a powerful family. The crime scene is compromised, the circumstances are complicated, and former witnesses are cagey, haunted and very reluctant to revisit what happened on that sun-splashed afternoon decades earlier. As Antonia attempts to unravel the mysteries of the past she unearths even darker secrets and ultimately wonders if it would have been best to let sleeping dogs lie. To make matters worse, past acquaintances and love interests reappear in the Hamptons, disrupting Antonia’s world and causing her to scurry to the fridge for comfort.
Death on West End Road is the third book in the Hamptons Murder Mystery Series. Along with a colorful cast of supporting characters, the beating heart of the book is Antonia Bingham, restaurateur, gourmand, and nosy carb-lover.
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Meet the author
Carrie Doyle is the author of eight books, including national bestsellers The Right Address and Wolves In Chic Clothing, co-written with Odd Mom Out star Jill Kargman. A native New Yorker, Doyle resides in Manhattan and East Hampton with her husband and two sons. She is a Contributing Editor of Hamptons Magazine. Death on West End Road, the third book of The Hamptons Murder Mystery Series was released in June. Find out more at carriedoylekarasyov.com.
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