Die Laughing

Romance, Mystery & Thrillers, General Fiction

By Arlene Kay

Publisher : Mainly Murder Press

ABOUT Arlene Kay

Arlene  Kay



There’s nothing funny about murder. When a vicious murder shatters the peaceful Cape Cod town of Goodhaven, graduate student Nicole Nelson vows to find the culprit. She’s pitted against a cast of quirky local characters with buried secrets and motives aplenty. Did the victim know too much, or did someone covet her fabulous collection of high-end comics? Nicole joins forces with a snobbish lawyer and a gorgeous stranger to avenge her friend and find the murderer.

SYNOPSIS Nicole Nelson has only one passion: completing her PhD. Then her career would be launched and her professional and personal life could finally begin. She tackles the challenge head-on by moving to the lower Cape Cod town of Goodhaven, armed with ambition, her laptop, and a fierce determination to succeed. When Shelby Whitholm, retired librarian and town curmudgeon befriends the young student, Nik is elated. Shelby becomes a mentor and landlady, providing her with sage counsel and a dash of mothering. Her neighbors consider Shelby a harmless crank preoccupied with the animal shelter and town government. No one expects her to be brutally murdered in her own home one bright April morning. Nicole’s shock is compounded when she learns that she and Shelby’s nephew Jarrod Whitholm have inherited a surprisingly robust estate. Shelby the frugal librarian had amassed a collection of classic comics worth millions. Comic book impresario Dr. Alejandro Lee yearns for both the collection and Nik’s heart. She instinctively distrusts the gorgeous stranger despite his claims of a prior business arrangement with Shelby. He’s too polished, too perfect to care for an impoverished student. In her experience, men with lustrous eyes and taut bodies seduce you, scoop out your insides and leave you for bait. Jarrod Whitholm, a Yale grad with a bad attitude is no comfort either. He considers any non-Ivy Leaguer a lesser species, especially anyone female. Nicole often heard his bitter arguments with his aunt over every issue from politics to pets. His financial and personal motives sharpen her suspicion about Jarrod’s role in the murder. Differences aside, this unlikely trio bands together to find the truth and avenge the death of the complex woman they thought they knew. The police link Shelby’s death to her comic collection. But as Nicole unravels a skein of deception she finds that motives other than greed are also in play. Shelby had an Old Testament approach to sin. After uncovering her neighbors’ secrets, she’d acted as both judge and jury assigning guilt and devising suitable punishments for offenders. Several of Goodhaven’s luminaries were ensnared: Mayor Morgan Haas concealed a hit and run accident; Professor Harris Goldman a pet hating octogenarian, lost his wife and academic post to scandal. Even Nik’s pal Jett Hall hid his woes behind a wall of debt. Shelby wasn’t a blackmailer, just a control freak who believed in atonement. Nicole theorizes that the motive for murder might lie in everyday sins instead of exotic comics. Shelby owned the ‘Holy Grail’ of comics, an Ashcan worth almost five million dollars! When the comic surfaces, Nik and Alex bait a clever trap for the thief. They ensnare Jett Hall and Jarrod’s fiancée who swear that they stole from but did not murder Shelby. Jett produces a cast-iron alibi that sets him free and Nicole returns to her original hypothesis: someone in Goodhaven has a secret worth killing for. Alex begs Nik to back off and let the police take over. He’s fallen in love with her and wants to focus on their future. Nicole’s no quitter. She has unfinished business with the past to resolve before she can confront the present. It seems innocent enough. Nik accompanies Jett to Harris Goldman’s house, unaware of the danger she’ll soon face. To her horror, Goldman glibly confesses to murder. Shelby’s snooping had led her straight to his garden where the corpse of Mrs. Goldman nestled among the rhododendrons. With Jett’s help, the Professor eliminated Shelby Whitholm and the threat that she posed. Jett received money; Goldman got peace of mind. Absent a miracle, the same fate now awaits Nicole. She suspends the rescue fantasies and acts before the Professor digs another garden grave. After loosening her bonds, she clobbers Jett and bolts for freedom. Unfortunately, Harris Goldman awaits her armed with a clam rake and a sick smile. Bullets ring out as the Sheriff, Alex and Jarrod break down the door. Nicole’s miracle has finally arrived. In the aftermath, Alex and Nicole plan a future that allows them both to achieve their goals: she will complete her education; he will snag the comics and her heart. Shelby Whitholm would be pleased.

Once again, Arlene Kay proves she is Queen of the Cozy.  Her lively characters, charming Cape Cod setting and keen grasp of the elements of both mystery and romance are sure to delight all lovers of a rollicking good story.

- C.E. Lawrence (Carole Bugge), author of the Lee Campbell thrillers, Silent Screams, Silent Victim, Silent Kills, and Silent Slaughter