by Leslie Budewitz
I love a picnic. At the lake, at the park, in the Orchard where I grew up – you name it. Spread a red-and-white checked cloth, bring out the food, and I’m there. Crack a bottle of champagne and dish up potato salad – any version will do, as long as it’s got potatoes – and I may never leave. Not until the bubbly’s gone, anyway.
And I love to share the fun. At the Merc, the local foods market I manage in my family’s hundred-year-old grocery, in the heart of the Village of Jewel Bay, we created Lakeside Picnic Baskets to go (“Just Add Water”). Pick a basket and we’ll load it up with cheese, bread or crackers, salami, basket back for refills all summer – try new things, or change the produce with the season, as the strawberries give way to cherries and plums. We’ll even add the plastic wine glasses. (Sounds funny, doesn’t it? But “wine plastics” doesn’t have much of a ring.)
If you’re headed into town for a concert at the Jewel Bay Jazz Festival, swing by for your picnic and pop down early to visit with your friends and neighbors. That guitarist you’ve admired since you first tried to learn to play? The trumpet player you saw in Seattle and still rave about? You never know who’ll wander through.
Because in Jewel Bay, Montana – the Food Lovers’ Village – you just never know what will happen.
Erin Murphy, manager of Murphy’s Mercantile (aka the Merc), is tuning up for Jewel Bay’s annual Jazz Festival. Between keeping the Merc’s shelves stocked with Montana’s tastiest local fare and hosting the festival’s kick-off concert, Erin has her hands full.
Discord erupts when jazz guitarist Gerry Martin is found dead on the rocks above the Jewel River. The one-time international sensation had fallen out of sync with festival organizers, students, and performers. Was his death an accident?or did someone even the score?
Despite the warning signs to not get involved, Erin investigates. And when the killer attacks, she orchestrates her efforts into one last crescendo, hoping to avoid a deadly finale.
Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. The past president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.
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