Written by main character, Olivia Greyson
in COOKIE DOUGH OR DIE, the first in Virginia Lowell’s new Cookie Cutter Shop Mystery series. Olivia’s next adventure, A COOKIE BEFORE DYING, will be available December 6, 2011.
My name is Olivia Greyson, but everyone calls me Livie. When I left Baltimore and moved back to my little hometown, Chatterley Heights, I was hoping for a fresh start, preferably a peaceful one. After a failed marriage, I craved the comforting presence of family and old friends. I’d been gone for more than a decade, long enough to forget how complicated small town life can be. You know what it’s like. Everyone remembers me as a gawky teenager, and they think nothing of asking why I divorced a handsome, successful surgeon. And then, there’s murder. It happens in small towns, too.
Overall, though, I was glad to be back with my intuitive, yoga-addicted mother; my businessman stepfather; and my younger brother, who still calls me Olive Oyl. It was great to reconnect with my best friend since age ten, Maddie Briggs.
Since I have a business degree, I thought maybe I’d open a little store specializing in cookie cutters, vintage and new, and in all things cookie. Maddie joined in the fun as my business partner/baker extraordinaire. We both love cookies. After all, what heals and mellows the heart more than a decorated cookie? Be honest, now.
So I used my divorce settlement, took out a terrifying loan, and bought a sweet little Queen Anne cottage with a view of the town square. I live upstairs with my little rescue Yorkshire terrier, Spunky. The Gingerbread House occupies the ground floor. I love to head downstairs each morning, open the door of The Gingerbread House, and smell a luscious aroma wafting from the store kitchen—buttery, with perhaps a hint of lemon? Which means that Maddie is ensconced in the kitchen doing what she loves—creating another batch of wildly decorated cutout cookies for a store event or private party. Maddie is full of energy, enthusiasm, and creativity. I have a pretty good head for business. We make a great team.
Then there is the Chatterley Heights Sheriff, Del Jenkins. I am definitely not ready for a new relationship, no matter what my mother says, but if I were…. Murder threw us together for all the wrong reasons. Del can be over-protective. That could be a problem.
I wouldn’t be here without Maddie, but it was my friend and mentor, Clarisse Chamberlain, who convinced me to go for it and open my own store. Clarisse was one smart, clear-headed businesswoman. When she died suddenly, the sheriff said it looked like either an accidental overdose or suicide. No way. Not Clarisse.
Things got complicated after Clarisse’s will was read. She’d left me a chunk of money and, bless her heart, her entire collection of vintage cookie cutters. Which shoved me into the suspect category. At internet speed, I found myself demonized in The Weekly Chatter, the only newspaper in Chatterley Heights. I like to think that Sheriff Del didn’t believe I could have murdered Clarisse, but I’m not one to sit by and let myself be accused of a crime I didn’t commit. Besides there were plenty of other suspects, all of whom had better motives than I did. I missed Clarisse. I was determined to find her killer.
Clarisse and I had shared a fascination with cookie cutters. We both believed that cookie cutters can do more than form shapes out of rolled dough. Cutters talk to me, as they did to Clarisse. I remember the day she introduced me to her extensive collection. Each cutter had a story, not always with a happy ending. As I dug deeper into the circumstances of Clarisse’s death, I began to suspect that cookie cutters would lead me to the truth. If only I could cajole them into whispering their secrets to me….
You can read more about this series at http://www.virginialowell.com/