The Pajama Murder
Local businessman Buford Fontleroy Deale III is found shot dead in front of Harriet’s Books in downtown Sinful. A blood-soaked pajama top is tied around his chest. And he’s wearing only one shoe.
The sheriff wants to talk to Harriet. Sinful’s beloved bookseller was one of the last people to see Deale alive. Fortune, Ida Belle, Gertie, and Mary-Alice need to get to Harriet before the sheriff does. They want to clear Harriet’s name, and stop whoever was behind the bizarre murder.
Except no one can find Harriet…
Mary-Alice loved Harriet’s Books, with its stale potpourri smell and its Local Author section featuring Gertie’s racy romances. Late in life Gertie had discovered writing as a creative outlet. She now published romances featuring mature protagonists, a genre she dubbed “seniorotica.” Mary-Alice’s humorless cousin Celia Arceneaux had tried to get Gertie’s books banned from Sinful, which only got them flying off the shelves.
“Tea?” Harriet offered, but her smile faded as she read her friends’ faces. “What is it?”
“We’ve just gone to see Buford Fontleroy Deale, Miss Harriet.” Mary-Alice spoke, as it was she who knew Harriet best. “He claims you’re defrauding him and is planning to gather evidence to prove it.”
“That can’t be right,” Harriet exclaimed. “Defrauding? How can that be? I pay my rent early every month, and I take excellent care of the property. That’s crazy.”
“What’s going on?” Ida Belle demanded. “Why would your landlord want to do this to you?”
Harriet sighed, motioned them into her office, and invited them to sit around the cluttered round table where she reconciled her sales each evening.
“Mr. Deale was here yesterday afternoon,” Harriet said.
“After book club?” Mary-Alice asked. Harriet nodded.
“He made a rather ungentlemanly proposition. I believe he’d been drinking.”
“Well I expect you turned him down,” Mary-Alice exclaimed.
Harriet nodded, her eyes fixed on the stack of computer printouts in front of her.
“He didn’t take the rejection well.”
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This story is a licensed work in Jana DeLeon’s Miss Fortune world.