Saturday, October 04, 2014

An Excerpt from Death by Donut, a Ruby Wisdom Mystery by J.M. Edwards

Omnimystery News: An Excerpt courtesy of J.M. Edwards
Death by Donut
by J.M. Edwards

We are delighted to welcome author J.M. Edwards to Omnimystery News today.

J.M.'s second mystery to feature Ruby Wisdom is Death by Donut (September 2014 ebook formats), a cozy loaded with humor, romance, memorable characters and a sleuth who knows her way around baked goods and sweet treats as well as crime scenes and tricky investigations.

We are pleased to introduce you to this book with an excerpt from the ninth chapter.

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Death by Donut by J.M. Edwards

THE MORNING CROWD AT KING TUT'S Donut Hut had come and gone by the time I arrived. A paunchy guy wearing faded blue coveralls was leaning against the glass display case, studying the sweet options. Benny was behind the counter, patiently answering questions.
  "Those got nuts?" Mr. Coveralls pointed at a tray filled with bear claws. "The ones with the icing?"
  "Almond paste," Benny answered. "It's similar to marzipan."
  The guy pressed his nose against the glass. "That made from nuts?"
  "Well, an almond is technically the seed of the fruit of the almond tree," Benny explained. "It's what we call a 'drupe,' which is a one-seeded type of fruit that has a rigid inner layer, a fleshy middle layer and a thin outer layer that's either flexible or leathery." The man in the coveralls stood up and glared at Benny. "For example, a cherry is a drupe with a flexible outer layer, and a leathery — "
  "I just want some donuts," the big man grunted. "Not a science lecture."
  "My apology, sir." Benny smiled and bowed slightly, although the customer had shifted his gaze back to the selection of gooey treats inside the glass case. "So?" Benny's tone was warm and gentle even though his cheeks were red as a raging inferno. "Would you like a bear claw?"
  The guy scrunched up his face. "I don't know," he said. "Those got nuts?"
  Svetlana had been observing the transaction from the sidelines. When she realized that her husband and the customer seemed trapped in an infinite loop of indecision and bewilderment, she swept in to save the day.
  "I think you would love these right over here," she said, guiding the man's bloodshot eyes to the glazed donuts. "Absolutely no nuts." She shot a quick look at Benny. "And absolutely no marzipan or drupes. You can understand them without any scientific drivel."
  The man in the coveralls grinned at Svetlana like a blissful toddler. "Gimme a dozen of them," he said. "As long as you're sure they ain't got no nuts."
  While the patient Ukrainian bride and the babyish Neanderthal discussed the ingredients of a glazed donut, I asked Benny if he had a moment to talk.
  "You want a coffee?" he asked once we were in the kitchen. "Something to eat?"
  "No, thanks. I just wanted to ask a few questions."
  He nodded. "This about your dead friend?"
  "Excuse me?"
  "The dead guy Svetlana found in the alley," Benny explained. "We heard that he had your name and number in his pocket."
  I nodded. "He did," I said. "But he wasn't my friend."
  Benny frowned. "Oh, so you two had a falling out or something?"
  I felt my heart spin in my chest and a surge of adrenalin rocket up my spine. "I didn't even know him," I said. "He just happened to die with my telephone number in his possession."
  "Seems kind of spooky, doesn't it?" asked Benny.
  "In what way?"
  "I don't know," he said. "I guess in a 'dead guy has your name in his pocket' kind of way."
  "Sure," I said, figuring it would move the conversation along. "If you describe it in those terms, it was spooky."
  Benny smiled triumphantly. "Thought so," he said. "It'd spook me if some guy got his brains bashed all over the alley with my name and number in his pocket. I mean, you should've seen it, Ruby. There was blood and bits of bone and this squishy stuff that — "
  I held up my hand. "I was here yesterday," I told Benny. "I saw it all. The blood, the bone, the squishy stuff."
  "Were you coming to meet him or something?"
  I shook my head. "The guy never called me. I don't even know how he got my number."
  "Probably the Google," Benny said.
  "That's possible. Maybe he was searching for private investigators in the area."
  "Or women named for precious stones," Benny suggested.
  I gave him a look.
  He shrugged. "Just trying to lighten the mood, okay? I mean, the guy was killed right outside our door. Svetlana found him just a few inches away from where I make the donuts."
  "That's what I heard from Cletus Winslow," I said. "Svetlana went outside to — what? Empty the trash?"
  "She heard a noise," Benny said. "I've always told her that if she hears anything suspicious in the back, she should come get me immediately. But we were swamped right then and I was working the counter."
  "And she went outside, found the dead guy and screamed at the top of her lungs?"
  Benny frowned. "No, that's not how it happened," he said, wrinkling his brow in confusion. "Well, it's how part of it happened. But Svetlana never screams when she's frightened. If she's angry, she screams like nobody's business. But when she's afraid, there's no yelling at all. She goes mute, just absolutely silent." He waited for me to respond, but I motioned for him to continue. "There was no screaming at the top of her anything," Benny added. "She saw the dead guy. She saw somebody else standing over him. She raced inside. And she yanked my arm so hard I thought it was going to come out of the socket."
  As he described what happened next — calling 911, waiting for the police, frosting two dozen éclairs in an attempt to calm his nerves — I remembered Lana Krenshaw's comments from the previous morning. She said a guy named Roger Ackroyd claimed he heard Svetlana screaming in the alley as he walked in front of the donut shop. He also said he saw the victim drinking alone at Morton's Tap Room the previous night. I'd never met the man who claimed to be Roger Ackroyd. But, for more than one reason, I was beginning to suspect that his aptitude for honesty was potentially problematic.

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J.M. Edwards
Photo provided courtesy of
J.M. Edwards

J.M. Edwards loves crime. But only when it's fictional. A lifelong fan of mystery novels, police procedurals and thrillers, J.M. has worked as a copywriter, bartender, dog walker and newspaper reporter. When it comes to reading, she has a few favorites (Robert B. Parker, Sue Grafton, Dashiell Hammett, Robert B. Parker, Lee Child), but always enjoys learning about new authors to add to the TBR pile. In addition to writing the new Ruby Wisdom cozy mystery series, J.M. spends time gardening, traveling, spoiling a small herd of cats and dogs, doing volunteer work and taking the occasional nap.

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Death by Donut by J.M. Edwards

Death by Donut
J.M. Edwards
A Ruby Wisdom Mystery

When Ruby Wisdom learns that she's linked to an unidentified corpse found in the alley behind King Tut's Donut Hut, she sets off to identify the victim and track down the killer. The mission takes her on a zigzag tour through the small town of Wormwood, New York.

Along the way, she encounters the title character from an Agatha Christie classic, a helpful bus company clerk named Moonflower, an abstract artist obsessed with keisters and a tight-lipped shop clerk who unwittingly supplies the intrepid PI with an essential clue to help solve the crime. Print/Kindle Format(s) Print/Nook Format(s)


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