Do you believe in aromatherapy and nontraditional medicine? In Snuffed Out, the murder victim is given a lotion for migraines. Curious, right? Read more about a brand new mystery from The Magic Candle Shop Mystery Series!
About Snuffed Out
Snuffed Out (Magic Candle Shop Mystery)
Paranormal Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Savannah, GA
Crooked Lane Books (January 10, 2023)
Twin sisters Tabby and Sage co-own a candle shop, but will it all go up in flames in Valona Jones’ series debut, perfect for fans of Amanda Flower and Bailey Cates.
30-year-old fraternal twins Tabby and Sage Winslow own The Book and Candle Shop in Savannah. Sage is hot-headed and impulsive while Tabby is calm and collected, making them the perfect partnership. When one of their customers is found murdered, from a blow to the head, that partnership is put to the test.
Blithe McAdam had been seen in a heated argument with shop clerk Gerard, which immediately makes him suspect number one. The twins are convinced of Gerard’s innocence and start digging into Blithe’s past. But no one is cooperating. The neighbor who found the body isn’t talking, medical examiner Quig won’t give any details about the autopsy, and nasty rumors begin surfacing about the drowning of Blithe’s father years earlier—evidence that could seal Gerard’s fate.
Tabby and Sage dig desperately for the truth. But it’s not only their friend who’s in peril. With the clock ticking, the twins find themselves in the grip of an unseen and deadly energy that has seeped into their midst—and in the sights of a ruthless killer.
Read an Excerpt from Snuffed Out
After each round of customers, I straightened stock, aligned our eclectic collection of books related to Savannah, pinched off brown fronds on our front-window fern pots, which were interspersed with fanciful sculptures of dragons, pirates, and more. The cats stayed closer than usual today, which suggested a brewing storm. To ward off trouble, I tinkled our special wind chimes, pleased with the harmonic notes.
Foot traffic through the shop slowed at about one thirty, and by three, I was counting the moments until five, when I could lock up. Or I was until two cops breezed through my front door.
Detectives Sharmila Belfor and Chase Nowry were a salt-and-pepper pair, him the iodized white salt and her the spicy black pepper. A few years ago the city and county had conjoined their police forces, but recently they’d become separate entities again. No official reason was given, but I suspected there’d been too many cooks in the kitchen. That never worked out.
I’d met the city detectives last month when they dropped by in relation to a burglary at the wine shop down the street. That situation resolved quickly, and I hoped for the same outcome to their Bristol Street visit today. “Good afternoon, Detectives,” I said. “How may I help you?”
“We’re investigating a homicide, ma’am,” Detective Nowry said, easing onto the padded stool by the counter, his expression grim. His deeply lined face attested to his years of service as a law enforcement officer.
His words shook me, and my fevered imagination took flight, imagining a horrific end to someone I knew. I braced my arms on the sales counter and made myself ask, “Who died?”
Buzzing sounded in my ears, as if I’d landed in a beehive. Blithe. She wasn’t a nice person, but I wouldn’t wish homicide on anyone.
“Ms. Winslow,” Detective Nowry asked, “what can you tell us about this woman?”
“I knew her. She bought candles here from time to time.”
Detective Belfor leaned in. “And hand cream?”
“Uh. Yes. The lotion. Um. My sister gave her the lotion on Thursday.”
His head cocked to the side, parrot-wise. “She didn’t purchase it?”
“Well, no.” I didn’t like the way he studied me, as if I were a bug in his private insect collection. Harley left his cozy basket on the floor and jumped onto the stool behind the counter, startling me. Feeling like I was under a magnifying glass, I scooped the cat in my arms, to use as my shield.
“Ms. Winslow, is there something you’re not saying?”
Harley’s contented purr steadied me. “Blithe McAdam suffered from severe headaches. When she couldn’t find pain relief in the traditional medical community, she tried our aromatherapy candles. She bought sets of candles every week for several weeks, but this week she said our candles didn’t help. Sage gave her a full refund and the lotion.”
“Any heated words exchanged?”
I gave them my best shopkeeper smile. “The customer is always right. We addressed her concerns, and she left. That was the end of our conversation.”
“Come now, Ms. Winslow,” Detective Belfor said. “The victim was a disagreeable woman. I’m sure there’s more to the story.”
“We want our customers to be happy, Detectives. She arrived upset, and we eased her concern. She departed in a better frame of mind. What more can I say?”
“Did you see her after Thursday?”
“No, I did not.”
“Did your coworkers see her?”
“Not that I know of. If you don’t believe me, check our security footage.” I pointed to the camera behind the counter. From long usage, I knew the lens captured the sales counter and the front door.
They observed me with their laser-focused cop vision, and I was delighted to have Harley to help me through this. My turn to pose a question. “How’d she die?”
“A blow to the head,” Detective Belfor said. “You know anyone who had a beef with her? Someone who hated her enough to kill her?”
Blithe was a difficult person, but it was one thing to dislike her and quite another to end her life. “No.”
“Are you certain?” Detective Nowry asked. “Perhaps someone who despised her. Are you protecting someone? A coworker, perhaps?”
My chin rose with my indignation. “No one I know would do such a thing.”
“What about her friends or family?”
“She’s a customer. We aren’t best friends with our customers. Shopkeepers are friendly for business reasons.”
“Interesting,” Nowry said, “but you didn’t answer my question.”
About Valona Jones
Valona Jones writes paranormal cozy mysteries set in Southern locales. Her work blends mystery and the unexplained, along with a sprinkle of romance. A former scientist, she’s drawn to the study of personal energy. She sharpened her people-watching skills as a lifelong introvert and thankfully had a bank vault full of personal observations when she began to write fiction. Her forthcoming release, Snuffed Out, A Magic Candle Shop Mystery, is slated for January 10, 2023, release. She’s a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. She lives in coastal Georgia, where time and tide wait for no one. Visit her at https://valonajones.com
(Valona is not on twitter, Instagram, TikTok, nor Pinterest)
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