By Sally Grimes, from the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries by Leslie Budewitz
That snooty Erin Murphy thinks I only love Halloween because my shop, Puddle Jumpers Clothing and Toys, sells costumes for kids. And I admit, it’s a profitable time of year—did you know Americans spend more than 9 billion dollars on Halloween? That’s billion, with a b. I don’t mind getting my share, and neither does she, selling bags of Montana-grown popcorn with recipes for caramel corn and popcorn balls. And her her pumpkin spice blend—I sneak a bit into my coffee this time of year.
She thinks I’m a grumpy old woman who can’t stand to see anyone have fun. Not true.
Not true at all.
And besides, I’m younger than her mother, and she would never call Fresca old.
In fact, Halloween is what got me designing and sewing kids’ clothing. When my Sage was a toddler, I made her the most adorable butterfly costume with folding wings so she could wear them and sit. Other mothers started asking me to make costumes, and before you know it, I opened my own shop. Butterflies, fairies, princes, Superheroes—you name it, I’ve made it. Trends come and go. Zombies this year, pirates the next. Witches are perennial favorites. For the tiny ones, pumpkins and ghosts are popular. I thought my Mr. Potato Head design a hoot, but no one bought it. The strawberry costume made grandparents smile, but the kids thought it was dumb. Watching the children trick or treat through the village shops on Halloween afternoon is one of the highlights of the year for me. I know they only come to my shop for the candy – I always hand out full-sized Snickers bars -- but I don’t even mind.
Now Sage has her own little one, Olivia. Wait until you see the costume I made for her. Come on down to the village and join the fun.
And we’ll just see what that Erin Murphy does when my shop is more popular than hers.
What do you love most about Halloween?
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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