Hi, I’m Callie Reed, brand new proprietor of a music box shop, and I can assure you I’m a bundle of emotions and nerves as I reach to lift the shade for the first time at House of Melody.

I’ve only recently inherited the shop from my Aunt Melodie, totally unexpectedly. What do I know about running a business? I do know a few things about music boxes because my Grandfather Reed had collected them. His collection formed the foundation of Aunt Mel’s shop, though she’d added many, many more over the years.

But she never offered one particular music box for sale, the one I remembered most fondly from my childhood. It’s the one Grandpa Reed would wind up for me to play The Skater’s Waltz, and eight-year-old me would pretend to skate to the tune. Aunt Mel held on to that special one, and she promised to leave it to me, in time.

Imagine my shock when “in time” turned out to be the day after my visit. That’s when I found Aunt Mel dead in the early morning at the shop. The next shock came when I learned she’d left me not just one music box but her entire shop of music boxes and the fairy tale cottage behind it to live in!

So, here I am, ready to raise the shade for my first day as owner and operator of House of Melody with feelings of grief, gratitude, and a smattering of optimism. That last came from knowing I wouldn’t be setting off on this new phase alone. Aunt Mel’s part-time helper was going to be a major support, though her “creative” (some might say “startling”) outfits while doing so will take some getting used to.

Then there are the shopkeepers of Keepsake Cove itself, an amazing section of town that offers all things collectible, from my music box shop to Christmas collectibles, vintage toys, glass figurines and more. You name it, and if it’s collectible, Keepsake Cove has it.

Delia, who lives next door and had been Aunt Mel’s best friend, owns Shake It Up! which sells collectible salt and pepper shakers. Delia has been a wonder of support for me after Aunt Mel’s death. The police have pronounced it an accident. But I’ve been struggling with that. And I’m not the only one. Tabitha has her doubts, too, although she happens to be highly influenced by the readings of her Tarot cards.

But there’s also the unnerving incidents that have to do with Grandpa Reed’s music box. It’s played—all by itself—at times that seemed to be comments of approval, or sometimes warnings. Definitely unsettling, although Tabitha is convinced it’s Aunt Mel sending me messages through her favorite music box. I’m not so sure, but neither can I totally explain what’s happening.

But I do know that I’m going to work hard at finding the truth of what happened to Aunt Mel. If Grandpa Reed’s music box helps guide me to it, then fine. Will it, on the other hand, keep me out of trouble? That I don’t know. But first of all, I need to lift the shade and open my door to this new phase of my life. Is it going to be a positive one? I’ll have to wait and see.


You can read more about Callie in A Fatal Collection, the first book in the NEW “Keepsake Cove” mystery series.

Callie Reed makes a long overdue visit to her aunt Melodie, who lives in a fairy-tale cottage in quaint Keepsake Cove, home to a bevy of unique collectible shops on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Just as they’re beginning to reconnect, Callie discovers her aunt’s body on the floor of her music box shop. Grief-stricken, Callie finds she can’t accept Melodie’s death being called accidental. How could her strong and healthy aunt take such a fatal fall? And why was she there in the middle of the night?

As Callie searches for the truth, signs seem to come from her late aunt through a favorite music box, urging Callie on. Or are they warnings? If Callie isn’t careful, she could meet a similar deadly fate amid Melodie’s collection.

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About the author
Mary Ellen Hughes is the bestselling author of the Pickled and Preserved Mysteries, the Craft Corner Mysteries, and the Maggie Olenski Mysteries, along with several short stories. A Fatal Collection is the first in her new Keepsake Cove mystery series.

A Wisconsin native, she has lived most of her adult life in Maryland, where she’s set many of her stories, raised two children, and a few cats and vegetables. She credits her husband with being her greatest inspiration as well as top supporter. You can visit her at maryellenhughes.com.

All comments are welcomed.

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