- N. N. Light
Murder by Numbers: A Shell Isle Mystery by @TonyaWrites is a Beach Reads Event pick #beachread #cozy
Title: Murder by Numbers: A Shell Isle Mystery
Author: Tonya Penrose
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Our two zany sleuths, Page and Betsy, return in Book 3, landing another twisty murder case. The two cousins stop by The Perk Coffee Shop for pumpkin lattes to celebrate the first day of fall. An ever-observant Page notices Shell Isle's High School math teacher sitting nearby. His odd actions awaken her curiosity. Hunched over the newspaper's classified section, the teacher is frantically circling numbers and mumbling to himself. More troubling, the sleuth witnesses a bruiser of a guy joining him. With a quick exchange of laptops and heated words, the thug disappears out the door, leaving the teacher rattled. Immediately, Page gets one of her inklings, signaling there's more than coffee brewing at The Perk. The story's twisty plot will keep readers guessing until the last chapter. Splashes of light romance, plenty of shenanigans, and a few unexpected surprises await. BONUS: Betsy's recipes are included. Calling them a 'bonus' may be a stretch. She's a lousy cook.
A smile dressed Page’s face as she held The Perk Coffee Shop’s door open for her cousin, Betsy. “What’s got you all sappy, happy and crooning some unrecognizable tune?”
Betsy spun around. “Well, for starters, I feel sappy happy because we’ve made it through the rest of the summer without you snagging another murder mystery for us to solve. Plus, we’ve been able to focus on growing our new business venture at Honey Bees. My life has actually felt normal the last couple of months, not chasing after baddies. And don’t you do anything to change it.” Betsy tugged the brightly-flowered Mumu over her generous hips and, with a wink, sauntered inside.
Page followed her to the coffee bar. “Duly noted, Bets, but when I get an inkling, you know—”
“For once, ignore any more of those trouble-making inklings. We’re all about living the good life at Shell Isle with plenty of beach time.” Betsy’s flushed face complemented her auburn wavy hair. Once upon a time called willowy, her figure now testified to her enjoyment of their Honey Bees Shop’s many baked delectables.
“Is there more to this sharing?” Page tucked her sunglasses into her handbag.
“Of course. I’m a cornucopia of words. Nice image for the harvest season, huh?” Betsy did a mock preening.
“The best. No finer. Pray continue. The barista is waiting for our order. I fear we’ll be standing here until the cows come home.”
“What does that mean?” Betsy cocked an eyebrow. “Oh, funny. You’re being sarcastic, referring to having to wait. Continuing, fall is in the air, which means it’s time for Honey Bees to embrace baking everything pumpkin. Yes, ma’am, envision pumpkin donuts, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin—”
Amusement found Page’s eyes as she reached for Betsy’s arm. “Stifle your pumpkin-loving self. Honey Bees is more than a bakery. You’re ignoring that we’ve added all the lovely honey body products to our inventory. Honestly, your world revolves around sweets. Besides, not everyone likes pumpkin.”
Betsy pulled a face and turned to the barista. “I want a large frozen pumpkin latte with extra whipped cream. Make that two. I’m treating Ms. Pumpkin Humbug.”
“No whipped cream on mine. And I am not a humbug.” Page scrunched her freckled nose at Betsy and moved her petite frame toward their two-favorite wing-back chairs tucked in the corner. The Perk had an interesting vibe with its eclectic décor that suited their patrons’ tastes. Page glanced around the coffee shop. Shell Isle’s quilters sat exclaiming over colorful squares of material displayed on the antique oak table. A young couple cuddled on a brocade loveseat, whispering and smiling into each other’s eyes.
Page noted a somewhat familiar-faced middle-aged man sitting alone at a nearby table. She couldn’t place him, but they’d interacted before, maybe at Honey Bees. Something in the classified section of the newspaper kept his pen moving and his mouth mumbling. She watched as his bushy brows created a furrow deeper than the Grand Canyon. A wise-guy type with a sinister glare joined him. Page guessed the navy parka on an eighty-degree day probably meant he was carrying. He exuded a ‘bust your chops’ kind of air. Page felt uneasy when his beady dark eyes darted around The Perk and landed on her. She grabbed a magazine and pretended interest in a story. Hearing muffled heated words flying back and forth across the table, Page stole a peek.
The wise guy stood and did something Page found peculiar. With an abrupt exchange of laptops, the wise guy stormed past Page toward the exit. Within seconds a new inkling came with the realization that more than coffee was brewing at The Perk. Betsy’s approach interrupted her further eavesdropping.
“Here you go. One pumpkin latte sans cream. Ya know, the joint looks pretty empty this morning.” Betsy’s eyes took in the few people seated nearby.
“Thanks for the coffee. Yep, guess Monday’s off to a quiet start.” Page’s gaze returned to the man now scanning the newspaper again. His pen went to work marking the classified ads. Maybe he’s job-hunting, surmised Page. Her cousin’s voice cut off more musings. As for the inkling, she’d ignore it…for the moment.
What makes your featured book a must-read?
"Amateur sleuths Page and Betsy are delightful characters - Page with her "inklings" and Betsy with her unusual culinary creations, make The Shell Isle Mysteries come to life.”
Recipes are included by not antacids.
Enter to win a $25 Amazon US or Amazon Canada gift card
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Runs July 18 – July 26, 2022.
Winner will be drawn on July 27, 2022.
As an author, Tonya’s moved by the effect humor and narratives have on readers. That observation illuminates why her stories often convey messages inviting personal exploration. She is enthusiastic about crafting stories with beguiling characters, adding dashes of snappy humor, and engaging dialogue that leaves her fingerprint on each page.
When Tonya relocated to the mountains, she found fresh writing ideas waiting. From her favorite porch chair gazing at a tranquil lake, the nudge to scribe her first novel came calling. From her beach chair, the idea for a cozy series, Shell Isle Mysteries presented. Tonya confesses new respect for a chair’s ability to motivate writers. She chases her writing joy from the mountains to the seashore.
Her fiction and non-fiction stories are published in numerous anthologies, e-magazines, local press, and literary magazines. She’s a member of Poets and Writers. Tonya Penrose is her fiction genre pen name.
The Shell Isle Mystery Series offers three novels: Baubles to Die For, and Red, White, and Boom, and Murder by Numbers. The characters of Page and Betsy keep chattering to Tonya, so expect future stories in this collection.
Other books: Old Mountain Cassie: The Three Lessons, A Secret Gift, and Welcome to Charm.
If you enjoy Tonya Penrose’s novels, tell others. Book reviews are cherished.
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