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Killer Soufflés & Clichés: A Cruise Ship Cozy Mystery Series, #2

Killer Soufflés & Clichés: A Cruise Ship Cozy Mystery Series, #2

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Killer Soufflés & Clichés: A Cruise Ship Cozy Mystery Series, #2

184 pagine
2 ore
Jan 23, 2021


Another cruise is off to a deadly start…

Ruth Shores—cruise ship pastry chef extraordinaire—is busy creating her scrumptious desserts for an upcoming class reunion. The party includes an appearance by the famed alumnus and world-renowned author, Vincent Von Hemmingsly.

Understaffed, Ruth must work alongside her best friend, Loretta Moran, to meet an unrealistic deadline for the party. But there is a shining hope: newly hired John Anderson, a recent graduate of an esteemed culinary arts academy. However, instead of being an asset to their team, it's soon discovered that he's clumsy and prone to causing calamity in the kitchen.

But Ruth's fumbling new team member is the least of their worries. The reunion party ends as tragically as one of Von Hemmingsly's novels, and Ruth and Loretta find themselves in the middle of another mystery. When it is discovered that the victim was poisoned by Loretta's chocolate soufflé, Loretta is deemed the prime suspect.

Will Ruth help her best friend prove her innocence? Or will their futures be as beyond repair as the dozens of cupcakes splattered on the kitchen floor?

Shenanigans. Madcap fun. And murder. All wrapped up in this fun and quirky cozy mystery!

Killer Soufflés & Clichés is the second book in this nutty, lighthearted Cruise Ship Cozy Mystery Series. So, get nestled in a cozy chair, pour your favorite beverage, and get ready for an exciting Bahamas escapade aboard the Splendor of the Seas!

For lovers of books by Molly Fitz, A.R. Winters, Hope Callaghan, JA Whiting, HY Hanna, and Shelly West.

Jan 23, 2021

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Killer Soufflés & Clichés - Mel McCoy


Chapter 1

H e’s dead, Detective Dunsten.

Dunsten let out a heavy breath, flipping her dark hair behind her ear. She glanced at the medical examiner, who was crouched down over the body of a man that lay sprawled on a Victorian rug. How long has the victim been dead?

The medical examiner tugged the tips of her gloves, removing them. Rigor mortis hasn’t set in yet. This is pretty recent.


It’s likely. We’ll test for it in the lab.

Dunsten turned to her partner, Detective Ambler, who slowly shook his head in disappointment.

Okay. Ambler got to his feet. Let’s dust the place for fingerprints and find out who had contact with the victim in the last twenty-four hours.

What about the dog? Dunsten asked.


Dunsten pointed to a dog bowl that held several bits of kibble, and next to it was a half-filled water dish. The name of the pet was printed on the front of both bowls in bold letters.

Good catch, Detective. Ambler scanned the room. People were bustling around the victim’s apartment. And let’s see if we can find our victim’s dog, Sir Sniffers! he called out. He glanced down again at the victim, his voice now grave and dramatic. We will find Sir Sniffers. And I will not rest until we find out who did this and bring you justice!

Ominous music followed as the title of the show, Crime and Justice, popped up on the twelve-inch TV screen before the commercial break.

Well, how do you like that? Loretta’s eyes were still glued to the screen as she continued to wipe the same spot on the counter in front of her. She and Ruth were in the kitchen of the Mermaid’s Dinner Room of the Splendor of the Seas luxury cruise ship, waiting for their next assignment. Finally, she turned to Ruth. "A dead body and a dognapping! This show just keeps getting better and better."

Sure does, Ruth said in agreement. Though, she was privy to the discrepancies of the show. But, without them, Ruth understood it would be a rather dull story, and no one would watch.

Crime and Justice was a show that Ruth’s granddaughter, Emma, had gotten her addicted to last year. Now, she had pulled her co-worker and friend, Loretta, into the program as well. If it wasn’t for their own crazy murder story, Ruth and Loretta wouldn’t be as close as they were now, but the show drew them even closer. So, whenever they had downtime, they would flip to Channel 9, where they ran marathons of the show during the afternoon, while everyone was at work and in school. It was better than the judge shows and soap operas, in Ruth’s opinion.

I wonder who the murderer is, Loretta said. Who do you think did it?

Ruth scratched her head. In these stories, you never know. Probably the person you’d least expect.

Yeah, like the dog.

The dog?

Yeah, Sir Sniffers. He’s the least likely suspect. A dog can commit crimes, too, you know.

But it’s very unlikely, Loretta.


Ruth tilted her head, quizzically. What’s the dog’s motive, then?

Maybe he didn’t like the food.

Ruth let out a soft chuckle. That doesn’t make much sense, because now Sir Sniffers has no one to feed him.

Maybe that’s why he’s not there. He went off to find a new owner with better food.

I’m sure it’s not the dog. But the writers of the show do like to withhold information to keep you engaged and wondering. In real life, it’s usually the spouse. The simplest explanation is usually the answer.

The ominous theme music for Crime and Justice sounded from the TV, signaling the end of the commercial break.

Loretta perked up. Oh, look, Ruth! It’s back on! She leaned into the counter, watching.

A man’s low voice emanated from the television speakers: Detective Ambler, I think we found something, said a man in suspenders. He and the detective were in an office. Telephones were ringing on desks, and people were chattering in the background while the man in suspenders handed Ambler a file.

Ambler opened it, scanning the pages. He looked up from the folder. A secret affair?

Exactly. My theory is that the wife found these letters and poisoned his drink.

Ambler furrowed his eyebrows. That’s a great theory, Officer Finkleberry, but my intuition says we are missing something. It’s right in front of our eyes, yet we are not seeing it. Keep searching!

See, Ruth said, glancing over at Loretta, in real life, that would be it, case closed. But it’s a show, so it’s got to be something much more dramatic.

Shh. Loretta flapped her hands.

Onscreen, another man strolled into the office, a Border Collie in tow. Sir, we found the dog!

Ambler’s eyebrows rose. Great job, Gooseman!

Should I put him in the interrogation room, sir?

Wait! Hold that thought. Ambler knelt down next to the dog, inspecting its black fur. What is that white stuff?

Gooseman joined Ambler next to the dog. He touched the white powder, rubbing his fingers together. Scrunching up his face in confusion, he brought his fingers up to his nose and sniffed before daring to taste it. It’s poison, sir!

Loretta whipped around to Ruth. I told you it was Sir Sniffers!

Ruth rolled her eyes as the door burst open. Janice Hassley’s confident footsteps rhythmically made their way into the baking section. Okay, everyone, can I get your attention? Janice did a double-take at the TV that was still running the program. The last thing Ruth saw was Gooseman lying on a hospital bed while the entire department surrounded him. Janice shut the television off, and the screen went black, revealing only their blank faces staring back at them.

Janice raised her clipboard. We have a few things to go over. We’ve hired a new baker for the team. She paused, looking around, then shouted, Mr. Anderson!

A gangly kid of average height shuffled timidly into the baking section. His baker’s jacket hugged him loosely, and his hat was a tad too big for his head.

Janice motioned to the young man. This is John Anderson. He’s our new pastry chef.

Our new pastry chef? Loretta asked, brows furrowed. He looks like he was plucked straight off of a playground. She quickly regarded the poor guy. No offense…

John put up both hands. Uh, none taken.

Then Loretta faced Janice. With all due respect, Chef Hassley, we lost three bakers in the past several weeks. How are we going to function with only one of them being replaced?

Janice folded her arms, clipboard still in hand. He graduated from the Preston Academy of Culinary Arts—one of the best culinary schools in the country. And he graduated in the top ten of his class. So, I’m going to pretend you didn’t say any of that. She unfolded her arms and glanced at her clipboard again. As I was saying, John Anderson will be helping you from now on, and that’s good news, since we will be tasked with our first private party. A high school reunion.

A high school reunion? Ruth asked.

Janice glanced up at the ceiling. I swear there’s an echo in here or something. Then she directed her words toward Ruth. Yes, they bought out the Mermaid’s Dinner Room for the week. Apparently, there’s a popular author who is an alumnus to the high school. Janice shrugged, reading from her clipboard, A Vincent Von Hemmingsly, author of—

"Dark Reckoning in Cape Town, Loretta filled in, her eyes wide in disbelief. You mean the Vincent Von Hemmingsly will be here? Before anyone could answer, she added, That book was a huge hit! I heard they are going to make it into a movie!"

"Huh, I guess he is a famous author, then. I don’t have time to read. You’ve read it?"

No, I’ve been trying to get it at our library, but they haven’t been able to get it in yet.

I haven’t read it either, Ruth said. I didn’t know they were going to turn it into a movie.

Janice scoffed. They are turning everything into a movie these days. Anyway, it’s Arden Heights High School Class of ’76, and I’ll need you to take charge of it.

Ruth’s mouth dropped. What? The whole thing?

Yes. Janice checked her watch. And I’ll need it to be done by this afternoon. Party starts at 2 p.m.

What!? both Ruth and Loretta shouted. Ruth continued, What ever happened to dinnertime?

It’s not going to be dinner. They want a quick meet-up for the first day with hors d’oeuvres, desserts, and drinks. Sort of like a cocktail hour, only it will be several hours of socializing.

But that’s in only a few hours! Why are we only learning about this now? Ruth asked.

Well, the party was supposed to be at another venue on the ship, but the woman who is running it wasn’t happy with it. She said it was too small, so they decided to move it here—not to mention, she planned everything last minute, Janice added with a huff. Because of that, you will have to decide what to serve today that you think everyone will like.

That doesn’t leave us very much time.

Listen, Ruth, we are all busy. Because of this switch, another unexpected party has fallen on the Blue Dolphin restaurant. It’s crazy. So, I suggest you’d better get started. Janice took a step forward. Well then, make sure to show John the ropes, and I’ll leave you all to it. And with that, Janice was out the door.

What do we do now? Loretta asked.

Don’t worry, guys, John said. I’ll do whatever it takes to help. Just tell me what to do, and I’ll do it.

Ruth was impressed. The boy certainly had spirit and was eager to please. She liked that. Thank you, John, and I’m sure you’re going to make a great addition to our team.

John beamed.

Now we just need to figure out what we are going to do, Ruth said.

Loretta’s eyebrows rose. Wait! What about the cupcakes we did this morning? The ones you were showing me how you create those buttercream flowers. You know, the peonies?

Oh, why didn’t I think of that? Ruth placed her hands on either side of her face, elated. They had spent most of the early morning whipping up cupcakes to practice on while Ruth worked on her piping technique, creating delicate two-tone petals of the humongous flower for each small cake. That was before their favorite show had come on, of course.

Ruth hurried over to the case where they’d stored the tray of cupcakes with the big, soft-pink flowers. They were elegant and had the potential to make a perfect centerpiece for a party.

Sauntering over, John peered through the glass door. Wow! They look like real peonies!

A grin spread across Ruth’s face. She took great pride in her work, and these cupcakes were no exception. She loved peonies, and it took her quite a while to master the craft of not only designing them but also making them as realistic as possible. Thank you, John, she said, unlatching the door to the case. Now, let’s bring them out so we can count them. She bent over, grasping either side of the tray.

Let me help you, Ruth, John said. It’s an awfully big tray.

Ruth pushed the tray back in slightly, so the cupcakes wouldn’t fall. That would be the worst possible thing that could happen. That is very kind of you, John.

Switching places with her, John grabbed both sides of the tray, his long, slender arms seemingly built for the task. Once the tray of cupcakes was out of the case, John asked, Where do you want them?

Ruth motioned to an empty counter. Over there’s fine.

John nodded, heading toward the counter. Your wish is my comm—

Suddenly, John lost his balance, and his face scrunched up as if he’d just injured himself. Perhaps he stubbed his toe? Ruth glanced down and saw that the young man had inadvertently tripped himself, his left foot slightly in front of the right. But how he was falling was only one of her concerns.

As the cupcakes slid toward the edge of the tray, Ruth’s heart sank. The cupcakes she’d spent all morning creating, and her only hope at fulfilling this reunion request, would soon be a sloppy mess

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