Murder in Mariposa Beach by @Teresam0410 is a Cozy Mystery Event pick #cozymystery #cozy #freebie
Title: Murder in Mariposa Beach
Author: Teresa Michael
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Libby Marshall has one rule. She doesn’t date lawyers or cops.
A former prosecutor, Libby was once married to a lawyer, which about got her killed. . . literally. Self-imposed Witness Protection provided her with a new life, a new home, and a new career as a café owner in Southwest Florida. Instead of focusing on her espresso machine and scones, however, Libby finds herself in the middle of yet another investigation and involved with super-hot detective Jack Seiler. Will Jack make her consider breaking her rule a second time, and if she does, will she live through the consequences?
The detective looked up from his notes. His shirt was a light blue with the cuffs turned up against the warm night. He wore dark trousers, and the fingers of latex gloves stuck out of his left pants pocket. His badge was attached to the right side of his belt next to his gun. His black hair fell over his forehead.
“Miss Marshall, I’m Detective Jack Seiler. I need to ask you a few questions.”
“Hello.” She shook his offered hand with professional firmness.
“I understand you discovered the scene,” he began. “How do you know Pilar Montoya?”
“She’s my friend and also our computer rep. I’m part owner of the Mariposa Café, and we bought new equipment and upgraded our wireless internet service.” Libby looked closely at the detective. “You look familiar. Have you been in the café?”
“Yes. Good scones.” He raised his eyes from his notebook. “Do you know Richard Chen?”
“Is he the dead guy?”
“According to his driver’s license.”
“He’s probably Pilar’s boyfriend. I knew she had one, but I’ve never met him.”
“Why did you come here tonight?” he asked.
“We…Pilar and I…were supposed to have dinner at The Jetty. She didn’t show up and after about forty-five minutes, I got worried.”
“Are you sure it wasn’t just a mix-up in times?”
“She’s the one who set up the dinner. It was a business meeting, and Pilar’s never late.”
“Walk me through what you did when you got here.”
Libby explained the chain of events that ended with her pounding on Pilar’s front door. She motioned for him to follow as she went to the back of the house to continue her story.
“Was the screen door locked?” He asked when they reached the lanai. He removed the latex gloves from his pocket and pulled them on.
An officer appeared and handed them paper booties to put over their shoes.
“No, it wasn’t.” She slipped on the booties.
“How’d you get inside from here?” He asked as he pulled on his booties.
“I tried the bedroom sliders and the French doors, but they were locked, so I looked around for a spare key and found one under a pot in the back of the garden,” she said. “I used the key and left it in the door.”
“What prompted you to go inside?”
“I saw what I thought might be blood on the lower right-hand corner of the sliding glass doors.” She pointed to the dark smudge on the door. “I was worried that Pilar might be hurt or worse.”
“Blood, huh?” His dark eyes narrowed.
She tucked a stray hair behind her ears and met his gaze. “Yes, and the blinds looked bent like someone had grabbed or pulled on them. See?” She pointed to the bent vertical blind without touching the glass.
“She’s right,” said another detective. “Crime scene guys are here.” To Libby, he said, “I’m Detective Stacey.”
Before she could respond, Detective Seiler asked, “What did you do when you went inside?”
“First I found the light switch. I noticed the phone on the counter, and then I went to the bedroom,” Libby followed Detective Stacey inside.
“Have you been in the house before tonight?” Seiler asked, following her through the French doors.
“Yes, that’s how I knew it was her bedroom.”
“When was that?”
“A few weeks ago. Pilar asked me to stop by and pick up some papers for the installation at the shop.”
Detective Seiler turned to Detective Stacey. “Miss Marshall owns the Mariposa Café.”
“I’ve been there,” he said. “Great cheesecake.”
“So, we should expect to find your fingerprints in the house?” Detective Seiler asked.
“She gave me the obligatory tour. I was in every room that day.”
“The crime scene guys are going to want your fingerprints for exclusions,” Detective Stacey said. “Before you went into the master bedroom, did you go into any of the other rooms?”
“No, I saw the bedroom door was ajar, so that’s where I went.”
“Did you go into the front bedroom?” He asked.
“Her office? No, I didn’t.” With the lights on, Libby could see the full extent of the vandalism. “What a mess!”
Computer monitors lay screen-down on the floor. The desk and file cabinet drawers were open with paper strewn about the room. Disconnected computer cables dangled across the work tables.
“So, you didn’t see this room when you came in?” Detective Stacey asked.
“No, it was dark. I noticed the pictures on the bookshelves were knocked over, the broken one on the floor, and a few papers strewn about, but not this room.”
Seiler and Stacey exchanged a look. Do they think I did this, Libby wondered?
“All right, Miss Marshall. Did you go into the master bedroom?” Stacey asked.
“Yes, when I saw the body.”
“Did you touch the body?” Seiler asked.
“No, I didn’t want to contaminate the crime scene any more than I already had.”
“How very considerate of you,” he said, directing her back to the master bedroom.
The ceiling light, as well as both nightstand lamps, were now on, making the dark blood on the light walls even more striking.
Libby took a deep breath. “With all the blood on the wall and the bedcovers, I knew something bad happened in this room.”
“Yes, ma’am, I’m sure that was a shocking sight,” said Stacey.
“The arterial spray must have been phenomenal. It looks like the victim must have been standing when his throat was slit from behind,” Libby continued, caught up in the moment, reverting to old habits.
“Are you one of those CSI groupies?” Seiler asked.
“Just observant,” she replied, getting a little carried away, falling into an old routine, a time when she was a valued member of a team.
“Miss Marshall, perhaps you should go back outside and wait,” Seiler said.
“Detectives, I do have another question,” Libby said.
“You sure have a lot of questions,” Seiler said. “What now?”
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
Murder in Mariposa Beach is the first book in the Mariposa Café Mystery Series. It is a fun, easy read that features a spunky heroine with a mysterious backstory, a handsome detective, and quirky characters set against the tropical paradise of South Florida and the Florida Keys. There’s murder, kidnapping, money laundering, vandalism, computer crimes, a bit of romance, and musical theater thrown in for good measure.
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Teresa Michael is the award-winning author of the Mariposa Café Mystery Series and enjoys reading, writing, great food and wine, and traveling with friends and family. She has visited 49 states and many foreign countries. She is a member of Florida Writers Association, Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, Women Fiction Writers Association, and the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of Sisters in Crime. Teresa lives in Sarasota, FL with her husband and two cats and hopes to someday make it to that 50th state.
Social Media Links:
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/teresamichaelauthor
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18633273.Teresa_Michael