I stepped out of my Jeep and paused to admire the bright blue Pacific Ocean with its crashing waves and rocky cliffs off the northern coast of California. I smiled. As the newly hired manager of Redwood Cove Bed and Breakfast, I was fortunate to see the stunning view numerous times a day.
I turned and joined the crowd streaming into the grassy area where the annual school fund raiser, with its colorful banners snapping in the wind, was being held. Tables covered with handmade items and a wide assortment of food were lined up on the lawn. I scanned the area looking for the inn’s assistant, Helen Rogers, and her ten–year-old son, Tommy.
Tommy spied me first. He looked like he was doing jumping jacks as he frantically waved to get my attention. I joined them as a tall, thin woman with wavy gray hair falling to her waist and a perky yellow daisy tucked behind her ear approached. Soft hues swirled together on her long, flowing skirt, and she wore an embroidered vest over a peasant blouse.
Helen introduced us, and I learned the woman’s name was Amy Winters, but everyone called her by her nickname, Summer. The woman’s gaze was as warm as the season she was named after. She asked Helen if she’d seen Mary Rutledge. Helen gave her directions, and Summer walked off.
I followed Helen and Tommy to his school’s booth, then made my way through the crowd to where Mary was located. I found her as well as Gertie Plumber with a display of baked goods covering their table. The two were part of a group of crime-solving seniors known as the Silver Sentinels of which I was an honorary member since I didn’t qualify in the age category. They, along with the other Sentinels, the Professor and the Doblinsky brothers, had become dear to my heart in the short time I’d been in Redwood Cove.
Mary had a purse on the chair next to her. I quickly found out it was a dog carrier as the head of a tiny brown Chihuahua popped into view. The dog’s jeweled collar twinkled in the sunlight. I learned she was a retired hearing-assistance dog.
Mary announced she’d be relieving Summer for a short while from her duties helping a Greek fortune teller. She explained that the woman, known as Auntie, read coffee grounds in an ancient practice known as tasseography. Intrigued, I decided I’d sign up for a reading.
I found the fortune teller’s table off by itself, some distance away from the crowd. Summer and a pale man were sitting across from a woman dressed in black robes and a black scarf. Summer suddenly stood and I heard her shout, “No!” She grabbed the arm of the man and headed in my direction. As they passed, I heard him call her Mom and reassure her he had no dark secrets from the past that would be revealed and no one was going to die.
People dying? What had seemed like a fun adventure now took on an ominous tone. I started to leave, but Mary came bubbling up beside me and the next thing I knew I was having my fortune told. Auntie inspected the coffee grounds she’d prepared and nodded slowly.
Not that I believed in someone being able to predict the future, nevertheless I still flinched each time she frowned, fidgeted when she stared fiercely into the cup and muttered, and cringed when she shouted “ha” a few times. Finally, she sat back. Her dark brown eyes looked at me from their creased folds and her face transformed as a smile spread across it. All was well.
I wandered through the tables and eventually back to Mary and Gertie. Summer arrived with a now wilted flower dangling from her ear. She said she needed the help of the Silver Sentinels and pleaded for a meeting with them as soon as possible.
We met that afternoon and started a search for people from Summer’s long-ago past. Little did I know that when we assembled a couple of days later to discuss what we’d learned, we’d find Mary with tears streaming down her cheeks. She told us why she was crying.
The fortune teller had predicted someone would die.
And it had come to pass.
You can read more about Kelly in Murder at the Fortune Teller’s Table, the third book in the “Kelly Jackson” mystery series.
Poisons, prophecies—and a peculiar past . . .
When a local woman begins searching for a couple she hasn’t seen since the 1960s, Redwood Cove Bed and Breakfast manager Kelly Jackson and the crime-solving group, the “Silver Sentinels,” are quick to help out. They’re also quick to guess that they’re in over their heads after the woman is found dead beside the body of a Greek fortune teller—and a fellow Sentinel gets attacked. As Kelly juggles work and her responsibilities at a food and wine festival in town, she and her sleuthing posse must confront a killer obsessed with old secrets . . . and solve a murder mystery more than fifty years in the making . . .
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About the author
Janet Finsilver is the USA TODAY best-selling author of the Kelly Jackson mystery series. She majored in English, earned a Master’s Degree in Education, and taught at the secondary level for many years. She loves animals and has two dogs—Kylie and Ellie. Janet has ridden western style since she was a child and was a member of the National Ski Patrol. One of the highlights of her life was touching whales in the San Ignacio Lagoon. Murder at the Fortune Teller’s Table is the third book in the series. Murder at the Mushroom Festival will be available April 2018. Janet and her husband reside in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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