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'Tis the season for trimming the tree, caroling, baking cookies, and curling up by the Vfire waiting for Santa to drop down the chimney. But in this festive collection of holiday whodunits, murder is also paying a visit. "Candy Cane Murder" by JOANNE FLUKE Bakery owner Hannah Swensen feels a little stuffed in her elf costume-,but it's too late to count calories. Lake Eden's annual Christmas gala is upon her and eager children are waiting. Wayne Bergstrom, owner of Bergstrom's Department Store, happily ho-ho-hos his way through the festivities in his Santa suit. But when a trail of candy canes leads to his corpse in a snow bank, Hannah must find Kris Kringle's killer. "The Dangers of Candy Canes" by LAURA LEVINE When a wealthy suburbanite takes a lethal tumble off his roof while installing a giant candy cane, the roofing contractor being held responsible for murder asks freelance writer Jaine Austen to investigate. But solving this untimely holiday death means delving into the cutthroat Christmas decorating wars among scheming neighbors with dirty secrets in their stocking. It takes a fruitcake hiding a weapon and a stunning confrontation to expose the mastermind of this holiday murder. "Candy Canes of Christmas Past" by LESLIE MEIER Twenty-some years ago, Lucy Stone arrived in Tinker's Cove, Maine, and discovered her knack for solving mysteries when she met Miss Tilley, the town librarian, whose mother took a fatal fall down the basement stairs one Christmas Eve. The "accident" left a cloud of suspicion on Miss Tilley's father and a slew of other suspects. The only clue was a glass candy cane found crushed to bits by the victim's body. Now Lucy will learn the mystery of the glass candy cane as she unlocks the doors of Christmas past, exposing secrets, scandal, and a killer who got away with murder.
Freelance writer Jaine Austen has never been able to resist the siren call of an Eskimo Pie, just like she can't resist renewing her romance with Andrew, An old crush. With her bank account hitting new lows, she's also just agreed to write jokes for Dorcas, a stand-up comic who throws her pantyhose into the audience as a punch line. Not only is Dorcas's act a bomb, she is heckled by Vic, a gorgeous fellow comic. Naturally when Vic is murdered with Dorcas's pantyhose and that same Dorcas is standing over his dead body, The police arrest. . . Dorcas. They figure it's an open-and-shut case, although Jaine figures no killer can be that dumb. But when Jaine sets out to find the real culprit, she is distracted by one dating disaster after another with Andrew--and she may not see the dark side of comedy until she faces the business end of a gun and a cold, deadly grin. . . "Fun. . . Jaine's dogged sleuthing and screwball antics will entertain fans of this fizzy series. " --Publishers Weekly
Halloween is just around the corner, and between cauldrons of candy and a deliciously cute new neighbor, Jaine Austen is struggling to resist her sweet tooth. But this year, her once humdrum neighborhood seems to be handing out more tricks than treats. . . When her faithful feline Prozac unwittingly scares to death a parakeet belonging to the neighborhood's resident curmudgeon, Jaine finds herself knee-deep in toil and trouble. The cantankerous Hollywood has-been once played the part of Cryptessa Muldoon, television's fourth most famous monster mom. Now a bitter, paranoid old dame, Cryptessa spends her days making enemies with everyone on the street, and accidental bird killer Jaine is no exception. So when the ornery D-lister is murdered with her own Do Not Trespass sign on Halloween night, the neighborhood fills with relief--and possible culprits. With a killer on the loose, Jaine hardly has time to fall under the spell of her yummy new neighbor Peter. As the prime suspect, she summons her sleuthing skills to clear her name and soon discovers that everyone has a few skeletons in their closets--and the motives for murder are endless. Could it have been Cryptessa's next door neighbors, the barracuda husband and wife realtors whose landscaping Cryptessa had bulldozed? Or the seemingly sweet old lady whose beloved dog was the object of Cryptessa's wrath? Or perhaps the crotchety actress was done in by her own nephew in a desperate attempt to get his hands on her money? As the masks come off, Jaine's search for sweet justice turns up more questions than answers. And just when she thought nothing could be scarier than her run-in with a tortuous Tummy Tamer, she closes in on the killer and learns the true meaning of grave danger. . . "I'm crazy about Laura Levine's mystery series. Her books are so outrageously funny, they always make me laugh out loud. " --Joanne Fluke
Without a job or a date in sight, freelance writer Jaine Austen is equally out of luck in finance and romance. So when her friend Lance offers to treat her to brunch at the Four Seasons, Jaine leaps at the invite. They've barely made it through the menu when Lance spots his friend Bunny, who is the new trophy wife of mattress maven Marvin Cooper. When Bunny generously offers Jaine a gig writing Marv's new advertising campaign, Jaine accepts the job, and an invitation to her upcoming soir e. But at the party Bunny cruelly rules the Cooper mansion and before the evening is over, someone poisons Bunny. The police arrest Lance, but Jaine knows his murderous urges end at her closet door. Setting out to clear his name, she soon discovers a list of suspects longer than Bunny's credit card bill. . . "Zany. . . series fans will find Jaine as funny as ever. " -Publishers Weekly"If you love a good mystery, this book is for you. " -New York Journal of Books
Joanne Fluke Christmas Bundle: Sugar Cookie Murder, Candy Cane Murder, Plum Pudding Murder, & Gingerbread Cookie Murderby Joanne Fluke Laura Levine Leslie Meier
The holidays are the icing on the cake for bakery owner Hannah Swensen. Surrounded by her loved ones, she has all the ingredients for a perfect Christmas--until murder is added to the mix. . . When it comes to holidays, Minnesotans rise to the occasion--and the little town of Lake Eden is baking up a storm with Hannah leading the way. The annual Christmas Buffet is the final test of the recipes Hannah has collected for the Lake Eden Holiday Buffet Cookbook. 'Tis the season for trimming the tree, caroling, baking cookies, and curling up by the Yuletide waiting for Santa to drop down the chimney. But in this festive collection of holiday whodunits, murder is also paying a visit. . . Candy Cane Murder By Joanne Fluke When a trail of candy canes leads to a corpse outfitted in a Santa suit on a snowy bank, Hannah Swensen sets out to discover who killed Kris Kringle. . . The yuletide season in Lake Eden, Minnesota, guarantees a white Christmas, delectable holiday goodies from Hannah Swensen's bakery, The Cookie Jar--and murder. As a shadow hangs over her friends' Christmas wedding, Hannah's determined to cook a killer's goose before anyone else gets burned. . . The Cookie Jar's busiest time of the year also happens to be the most wonderful time. . . for Christmas cookies, Hannah's own special plum pudding--and romance! She also gets a kick out of Lunatic Larry Jaeger's Crazy Elf Christmas Tree Lot, a kitschy carnival taking place smack-dab in the middle of the village green. But then Hannah discovers the man himself dead as a doornail in his own office. . . Nothing's better on Christmas Eve than waiting for the stroke of midnight with a cup of eggnog and a plate of warm gingerbread cookies. But in this merry collection of holiday mysteries, murder is making its own special delivery. . . Gingerbread Cookie Murder By Joanne Fluke When Hannah Swensen finds her neighbor Ernie Kusak with his head bashed in and sprawled on the floor of his condo next to an upended box of Hannah's Gingerbread Cookies, she discovers a flurry of murder suspects that's as long as her holiday shopping list.
A gal with a serious Ben & Jerry's habit can't afford to be too picky about employment opportunities. So when Beverly Hills socialite SueEllen Kingsley offers freelance writer Jaine Austen megabucks to ghost write a book of hostess tips, it's time to sharpen the No. 2s. But everything short circuits when Jaine finds SueEllen floating face down in her tub, fried by her own blow dryer. The primary suspect: Heidi, SueEllen's stepdaughter, whose account of a mysterious blonde fleeing the scene is greeted with scepticism by Beverly Hills' finest. Peroxide suspects abound, including a very private masseuse, a jealous nurse, a former game show hostess...even a closet blonde with a surprising secret. One of them is hiding a murderous heart behind pricey highlights, and Jaine's out to expose the killer's dark roots. Because blondes have enough fun without getting away with murder...
Wordsmith Jaine Austens ship has finally come in. Her new teaching gig on a fancy cruise line nabs her a free vacation--and access to a 24-hour buffet! But sooner than you can say "bon voyage," Jaines all-expenses-paid trip to the Mexican Riviera seems destined to be a wreck. . . Things are already off to a rocky start when Jaine discovers a stowaway amidst her luggage--her persnickety cat Prozac. Jaines sinking sensation grows stronger at dinner, where she meets chatty Emily Pritchard, a wealthy seventy-year-old whos traveling with her two nephews. Jaine cant help noticing the tension among them, especially when the cruises charming--and sleazy--British dancer, Graham, whisks Emily out onto the dance floor. Soon Emily is accepting Grahams invitations to every social event on the ship. Two nights later the bubbly couple announces their engagement, but the news is quickly overshadowed the next morning by the discovery of Grahams body with an ice pick protruding from his chest. . . Between hiding a furry fugitive, flirting with Emilys nephew Robbie, and baiting the hook for a clever murderer, Jaine is about to dive into her most dangerous case yet. . .
Jaine's accepted her share of lame gigs to pay the bills, but rewriting Shakespeare's got to be an all-time low. The fiasco begins with a call from Jaine's high-school nemesis, uber rich uber witch Patti Devane. It seems Patti will soon be sashaying down the aisle with another former classmate from Hermosa High, and she'd like the exchange of vows to evoke Romeo and Juliet. . . except without the "downer" of an ending. Even worse than the assignment itself is dealing with Patti as a client. At least Jaine's not alone, as nobody can stand the demanding, spoiled, and incredibly rude Bridezilla from Hell. So it isn't a complete surprise when the erstwhile Juliet plunges to her death during her balcony scene. The loosened bolts that brought down the bride were clearly an act of sabotage-what's not so obvious is whom, among Patti's numerous haters, committed this murder most foul.
"I'm crazy about Laura Levine's mystery series. Her books are so outrageously funny, they always make me laugh out loud. " --Joanne FlukeLove is in the air as freelance writer Jaine Austen begins a new job at the Dates of Joy matchmaking service--but between juggling her boss's demands, deflecting the advances of an eccentric suitor, and tracking down a calculating killer, she hardly has time to think about romance. . . When Jaine lands a job writing web copy and brochures for matchmaker Joy Amoroso, she's excited for a chance to help the lovelorn just in time for Valentine's Day--until she realizes what "Dates of Joy" is really all about. Joy is a ruthless taskmaster who screams at her employees for the smallest infractions, pads her website with pictures of professional models posing as clients, and offers up convincing but empty promises of love in exchange for inordinate sums of money. And woe betide anyone who lays a finger on her heavily guarded stash of chocolates. So it's no surprise when the chiseling cupid turns up dead at a Valentine's Day mixer. Aghast to find herself on the cops' suspect list, Jaine sets out to track down the killer. Who could it be? Joy's harried assistants, whose lives she made a living hell? Her younger lover? The handsome hunk of a client with a secret in his past? Or the furious Beverly Hills widow who forked over the last of her savings for a Prince Charming who never materialized? Joy left behind a slew of enemies struck by her deviant arrows, so finding the culprit may prove harder than spotting that elusive caramel praline in a box of chocolates--and Jaine will have to flirt with danger to get to the truth. . .
An actor heart-throb has been murdered, and nearly every woman who works at Miracle Studios is a suspect, because they've had affairs with the actor. Jaine Austen's friend Kandi is arrested, and Jaine has to clear her name.
Jaine Austen is looking forward to an indulgent spa getaway-until she learns it's more about deprivation than relaxation. Between miniscule meals and a deadly brush with fame, surviving this vacation will be no piece of cake. . . When Jaine's friend Lance surprises her with a trip to The Haven, an ber-luxe health spa on the California coast, she and her feline pal Prozac are eager to hit the road and bask in a week of pampering and pedicures. But upon their arrival, she discovers that this oasis in the hills is merely a fat farm in disguise, complete with celery-juice cocktails, humiliating weigh-ins, and a zero-tolerance position on carbs. And as she gets to know her fellow inmates, she realizes 300-calorie dinners aren't the craziest thing she'll be dealing with. Among her bulge-battling companions is Mallory Francis, a B-list movie star with a knack for making frenemies with everyone she meets. When she's found strangled during a seaweed wrap gone awry, Jaine is hard-pressed to think of anyone who couldn't have done it. Perhaps it was Kendra, Mallory's bitter sister-slash-personal assistant. Or maybe Clint, a macho former co-star whose dirtiest secret is in danger of being undressed in the drama queen's upcoming memoir. Or was it The Havens' pretty young masseuse, driven to commit a crime of passion when Mallory seduced her aerobics instructor husband Sven? With the suspects mounting faster than her hunger pangs, Jaine doesn't know who to believe. And when her search for truth, justice and contraband calories leads her straight to the cold-blooded killer, it seems murder may be on the menu once again. . .
From the Publisher On the frontlines of the battle of the bulge, otherwise known as trying on bathing suits in the communal dressing room at Loehmann's, freelance writer Jaine Austen makes a new friend-a wannabe actress named Pam-and gets a new job: sprucing up Pam's bare-bones resume. Their feeling of connection is mutual, so Pam invites Jaine to join The PMS Club-a women's support group that meets once a week over guacamole and margaritas. But joining the club proves to be more a curse than a blessing for Jaine. Though she is warned that Rochelle, the hostess, makes a guacamole to die for, Jaine never takes the warning literally. Until another PMS member, Marybeth, drops dead over a mouthful of the green stuff after confessing she is having an affair with Rochelle's husband. While Rochelle and her husband are the obvious suspects, everyone at that night's meeting is under suspicion, including Jaine. So, instead of dishing dirt with The PMS Club, Jaine has to dig up dirt on the surviving members. And soon it becomes clear: someone in this club thinks getting away with murder should be a privilege of membership.
Freelance writer Jaine Austen is not your typical Los Angelino. Shes not rich, shes not thin, and shes definitely not starstruck. She is a sarcastic, sometime-sleuth whos never met a carb she didnt like. . . or a mystery she couldnt solve. . . If clothes make the man, then what do Jaines elastic-waist pants and T-shirts make her? A fashion nightmare, according to her neighbor, Lance. She doesnt expect Lance--who works in the designer shoe department at Nieman Marcus--to understand. . . which is how she ends up visiting his favorite boutique, Passions. While the couture is definitely not for Jaine, the staffs gossip is. Tiny orange-haired clerk Becky starts complaining about her co-worker Giselle--a. k. a. "Frenchie"-- a brittle blonde who, when shes not making fun of customers behind their backs, adds extra-marital notches to her Chanel belt. Though Jaine doesnt land a new look, she does land a new job when Passions owner gives her a chance to write their new magazine ads. But when Jaine arrives the next morning to pitch her ideas, she finds Frenchie pitched over, stabbed in the neck by one of her own stilettos. Now all Jaine has to do is figure out who hated Frenchie the most, in a case of death by designer knock-off. . . "A tale of fashion run amok. . . a lively sense of humor and an ear for the absurd help Jaine overcome any number of setbacks and a host of fashion no-nos. "--Kirkus Reviews "Jaine is a treasure. "--Romantic Times
Jaine Austen has written it all--steamy personals ads, corporate brochures, and more. So when geeky Howard Murdoch shows up declaring his undying love for Stacy Lawrence, an aerobics instructor he's never actually met, Jaine takes on the challenge of writing the letter that will get Stacy's attention and Howard a date. But the love connection is broken by murder and Jaine feels compelled to freelance as a PI to help Howard. Jaine can't keep sugar from going straight to her hips, and she can't keep Stacy's hot neighbor Cameron off her mind. Written by a screenwriter, this book is a treasury of laugh-out-loud commedy with a thrilling mystery twist ending.
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