She is sharing a passage from the book where I decorate Pans 'N Pancakes for the holidays:
I hated feeling helpless, but I’d done all I could, so I might as well decorate. Having busy hands sometimes let puzzle-solving thoughts into my brain, too. And if ever there was a puzzle that needed to be solved, it was the question of who really killed Erica Berry Shermer. Because I knew as sure as I was a Californian that Phil didn’t. I called and left him a message on his cell, asked him to call me back. I almost said more, but disconnected. We’d talk later.
Wincing at the sight of the plywood, I dragged over the stepladder and looped the first string of lights over the front door. I’d asked at the store if I could order new glass today, but they’d said Don, the owner, had to do the ordering and he didn’t come in on Sundays.
I plugged another string into the first one and stretched it between the windows and on top of the window frames, adding more strings as I went, until I reached the end of the front wall. I knew Phil hadn’t killed Erica—didn’t I? I was as sure as I could be. He was a gentle, generous, fun-loving soul. So who was the real murderer? Erica and Tiffany had argued, but it wouldn’t make sense for Tiffany to kill someone she’d accused of stealing, not if she wanted to get her jewelry back.
I started stringing lights on the other side of the door until I got to the cookware area. That part would have to wait to be decorated until the evidence people were done with it. Max had seemed angry with Erica for taking Paula’s side. Surely not mad enough to kill her, though. Maybe the murderer was somebody in Erica’s past. Or someone who’d followed her here from Chicago. I’d ask Jim tonight if he knew anyone in Erica and Jon’s group of friends or business associates. I couldn’t remember what Jim had said his brother did for work, if he even had. Jim had spoken only once to me about his brother’s suicide. He’d said losing his twin was like losing a chunk of himself, and that he’d had no idea Jon was that despondent. Or why he would be.
I inserted the last plug for the lights into a wireless device and plugged the device into the wall. I stepped back and flipped on the switch. The sight of all the little white lights did, in fact, cheer me. I turned to the kitchen area and hung green garlands under the counter and over the door to the walk-in, adding a red bow here and there to brighten them. All I needed was a model train set running around an oval in the front window, with tiny snow covered houses and a miniature Pans ’N Pancakes in the center of town.
I wasn’t particularly religious, but I loved the Christmas season, especially here in the Midwest where the days were short and the temperatures chilly. Christmas in Santa Barbara, where I’d grown up, was a different experience altogether. Mom and I had usually taken a Christmas brunch picnic to the beach and soaked up some cool sunshine while we celebrated. Once, when I was eight, we’d come to Indiana to spend Christmas with Adele. It had snowed on Christmas Eve, and I couldn’t believe I was seeing the winter wonderland I'd only read about in books. At home the winter air smelled of orange blossoms and sea breezes. Out here? The crisp taste of apples and the sharp smell of snow were more the order of the day.
Maddie also says to tell you she's been immersed in our lives on her solo retreat. She's been writing book six in the series, Strangled Eggs and Ham, and she's loving spending time with me, my aunt Adele, Officer Buck Bird, and the rest of the South Lick regulars!
Macavity- and Agatha-nominated Edith Maxwell writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries, the Local Foods Mysteries, and award-winning short crime fiction. As Maddie Day she creates the Country Store Mysteries and the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries.
Maxwell is President of Sisters in Crime New England. She lives north of Boston with her beau and two cats, and blogs here, with the other Wicked Cozy Authors, and with the Midnight Ink Writers. You can find her on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, and at her web site, edithmaxwell.com.