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Murder In the Buff
2012 Ariana Ebook Cover Finalist
Murder in the Buff
A Novel by Maggie Toussaint
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Editor: B.L. Wilson
Line editor: Greta Gunselman
Cover Designer: Nika Dixon
With her marriage in the toilet and her reporter job dangling by a slim thread, conservative Molly Darter can’t refuse her latest assignment, that of collecting the family-placed obituary of a dead nudist. To her chagrin, she discovers she knew the dead woman, Barbara Jean McAllister, as the nice lady at the Marshview organic produce stand.
The head nudist insists Barbara Jean’s death was murder, but Molly has no intention of writing more than that obit. Her mind changes when revealing photos of her father and other community leaders consorting with Barbara Jean come her way. To protect her father and save her job, she delves into the dead woman’s life.
Things heat up when her estranged husband’s undercover drug ring collides with Molly’s dead nudist investigation. Will Molly find the woman’s killer, or will the killer find Molly?
“Ted has a dick,” Mama Leon said. “I wanted a woman. And I like the features you write.”
I’d been brought up using euphemisms for body parts. His forthright speech made heat rise to my face. I needed to move this along. I tapped my pen on the slim notebook resting on my jeaned thighs. “In that case, let’s get started.”
With a twitch of her hips, Kim set down a tray containing two tall tumblers of amber liquid on the glass-topped table between us.
Mama gestured for me to take a glass.
My throat tightened. What was in that glass? “No, thank you.”
He waggled a finger at me. “Mama doesn’t like it when you refuse his hospitality. It’s safe. I’ll show you.” He drank from both glasses. Like that was supposed to reassure me. How did I know he hadn’t spit in my glass? No way was I drinking after him.
I shifted in my seat. “I really need to get that obituary. Perhaps we could start on it now.”
“We’ll get to that. Important stuff comes first. I’m offering you my hospitality. You refusing it?”
My wants and needs kept getting trampled. I was tired of it. Like this Friday afternoon assignment. I didn’t want to come here today, but Ted had made it a condition of my continued employment. The entire universe of men thought they could push me around. Why did they think I was such a pushover? Was there a sign on my forehead?
I took a few breaths to calm myself. I shouldn’t lash out at Mama Leon because I was spitting mad at my soon-to-be ex-husband. Mama’s offer of hospitality was a business gesture, a prerequisite to us developing a professional relationship.
I squirmed under his scrutiny. Then something inside me snapped. Living in fear wasn’t the way to go. I sipped from the glass and sputtered immediately at the strong alcohol taste.
“What is this?”
“It’s writin’ juice.” He nodded his approval. “I want you to write down every word I say.”
I smacked the tumbler down on the glass-top table. The liquid burned from my throat to my empty stomach. I shuddered convulsively. That had to be the most rotgut whiskey I’d ever tasted. I wasn’t drinking another sip, no matter what. “We charge by the inch for family-placed obituaries.”
“It ain’t the obituary we’re gonna work on. It’s something else. Folks in this county needs to know the truth. That’s why you’re here.”
Alarm bells clanged in my head. “And what truth would that be?”
Mama Leon crushed out his cigarette in his empty glass. “What I’m about to tell you cannot be repeated.”
This oversexed lunatic must be hyped up on a conspiracy plot left over from the Nixon era. I didn’t care about his personal, religious, or political beliefs. “I’m leaving.” I started to rise.
He grabbed my wrist and tugged. “Sit.”
I glared at him. “I need to get home to my son. If you don’t have information for the paper, you’re wasting my valuable time.”
Mama Leon released my arm. “What if I told you something so big, so gripping, that it could turn this county inside out? What if I told you it was a guaranteed best seller idea for a book?”
My heart sunk. Odds were, he was conning me. But what if, out of some bizarre stretch of imagination, he was telling the truth? I couldn’t afford to pass up the story of a lifetime. “Talk.”
“Me and the girls are sitting on a gold mine in real estate.” Mama Leon stroked his angular chin. “The powers that be want us o-u-t out, but we’re not taking our sorry asses anywhere.”
“Some new muckety-muck carpetbagger’s been coming around here, trying to take our land away. There’s a deluxe shopping complex going in out by the highway, and our land backs up to that. They want to knock down these beautiful trees and pave over the whole countryside. These live oaks are over two hundred years old.”
“No biggie. Don’t sell.”
“It’s not that easy. This guy has an insider working the system. Our property taxes have doubled every year for the last four years. Now they tell us we have to pay to hook up to city water and sewer, and we’re nowhere near the city.”
“Sounds like a cash-flow problem. Everyone in the county faces these same issues. Sell them a few acres near the shopping complex.”
“Not a chance in hell. That’s the most sacred acreage on our property. That’s where we’re gonna scatter Barbara Jean’s ashes.”
Enough of going in circles. “I don’t get it. You’re getting squeezed by the big money players, but that type of squeeze play isn’t front page news. Frankly, I don’t see a blockbuster idea in your misfortune. The world isn’t out to get you.”
“You’re wrong.” He glanced around the screened-in pool area and lowered his voice. “Because not only have they got my balls in a vise, they’ve taken their tactics to the next level.”
The next level?
This sounded like page one material, something above the fold. I wanted to cover it. A story like this would keep my job secure for weeks. I hung suspended in breathless silence.
When he didn’t continue, I leaned forward to prompt him. “And what level would that be?”
His chin quivered. “Murder. They murdered my Barbara Jean.”
MURDER IN THE BUFF is one laugh-out-loud, terrific read. - 5 STAR Amazon Review
M. Toussaint kept me reading, laughing, and biting my nails until I finished MURDER IN THE BUFF. I highly recommend it. - 5 STAR Amazon Review
I found 'Murder in the Buff' a highly entertaining read, written in a flowing style. I shall be looking out for more of Maggie Toussaint's work. - 5 STAR Amazon Review
MURDER IN THE BUFF is a terrific cozy mystery. Maggie Toussaint is a gifted author whose clever wit shines through to provide a fast-paced, hilarious read. The only point in which I disagreed with the plot was that Molly didn’t listen to Hadley’s explanation about Clarice. I won’t belabor that because this was such a great read with surprising twists and turns guaranteed to provide suspense, laughter, and a smile at the perfect ending. I’d give a 5 out of 5 rating to MURDER IN THE BUFF and recommend it highly!-5star review by Caroline Clemmons, Kevin's Corner
About the Author:
Formerly an aquatic toxicologist contracted to the U.S. Army and currently a freelance reporter, author Maggie Toussaint loves to explore new worlds. She’s published in mystery and romance. Her mysteries include In For A Penny (Five Star, 2008), On the Nickel (Five Star, March 2011), and Death, Island Style (Five Star, 2012). Her romantic suspense titles include House of Lies (The Wild Rose Press, 2007), No Second Chance (The Wild Rose Press, 2007), Muddy Waters (The Wild Rose Press, 2010), and Seeing Red (Muddle House Publishing, 2011). Her debut release, House of Lies, won Best Romantic Suspense in the 2007 National Readers Choice Awards. Maggie’s an active member of Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. She’s a frequent presenter at conferences and recently co-chaired a Writer’s Retreat for Southeastern Mystery Writers of America.
In Stock: 99
Customer Reviews:riweber (Monday, 21 January 2013)
EParzefall (Friday, 15 June 2012)
Ashantay1 (Wednesday, 06 June 2012)
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