Have you ever lived in a haunted house? I have. One house when I was growing up and another in an old rectory I was sharing with other students while at college. I didn’t enjoy living in either of them. Ghosts can be such nags, which is what happens today in Laid Out to Rest. This ghost, along with being a nag is also pretty funny!
About the Book
Next time you rent a house, make sure you’re the only occupant.
If it wasn’t for a flamboyant, self-absorbed ghost occupying Katie Aubrey’s rental house, the thirtysomething former business tech turned charcuterie chef would be able to concentrate on her new sandwich shop and catering business. But as luck would have it, former food critic and septuagenarian Edith Ellory, will not let go. Not until she convinces Katie to find out who killed her.
In spite of a coroner’s report stating Edith had died peacefully in her sleep, her apparition insists she was murdered. Not only that but she’s convinced she knows who did the dastardly deed. Vowing not to give Katie, or her laidback beagle a moment’s peace, Edith takes them on a wild goose chase through all the restaurants that received scalding reviews from her.
If Katie ever expects to have her new charcuterie business up and running, she’ll have to do more than arrange cured meats and cheeses. The real killer is closer than she thinks and no amount of culinary design sense will prevent her from the same fate as Edith’s.
I thanked Maddie, gave her a hug, and promised to connect with her during the week. “If I’m still vertical by the end of the week, let’s get together. Toggling two jobs is worse than I pictured and today was only day one. Good thing Lilly-Ann and Matt know what they’re doing. As far as Chan-Tech is concerned, I can do that on overdrive.” “Yeah,” Maddie laughed. “What’s the worst they can do? Fire you?” I made sure to check the deadbolt twice when Maddie left the house. Chances are she and my landlord were right about the boas but what if someone still thought Edith was alive and well and they wanted to, to…I shuddered, trying not to say it out loud. “Come on, Speedbump. It’s late and I need to make up for last night’s horrible attempt at sleep. Tomorrow I’ll call a locksmith.” The dog followed me into the bedroom and jumped on the bed. Yep. Another decade of this for sure. “I need a good night’s sleep,” I said to the dog. “In fact, I’m too tired to do any channel surfing and too unfocused to read. Lights out it is. We’ll be up with the roosters again.” My body sank into the mattress, same as it did the night before, and I blotted out the hum of the air conditioner and the whirl of the overhead fan. It was absolute oblivion. Until it wasn’t. A rustling sound woke me at a little past three according to my alarm clock. It was only Speedbump re-positioning himself in the bed. I turned over and started to drift off when I heard his low growl again. The bluish haze had returned to the room only it wasn’t as nebulous as it was the prior two nights. In fact, it appeared to form the silhouette of a woman. A silhouette that hovered over the bed. Convinced I was in a dream state, I pulled the cover over my head and faced the opposite direction. That’s when Speedbump’s growl intensified and the raspy woman’s voice I heard the night before cut through the stillness in the room. “You’re not going back into La-La Land, are you? I need you to do something for me.” “Huh? What?” I rubbed my eyes and watched as the silhouette’s form became sharper. It was a woman all right with a headful of curls and a floral top. “I’m just dreaming,” I mumbled. “Go away.” “Not until you help me.” At that instant, Speedbump barked and I sat bolt upright. If I had been asleep, I wasn’t anymore. The woman’s form moved closer to the bed and she sat down at its foot. Speedbump immediately jumped off and stood at attention. “At least you didn’t put my boas in the garbage like you did with my slippers,” she said. “Is that what this is about? Your boas?” “Don’t be ridiculous. I need you to find out who killed me.” Okay. I’m dreaming for sure. It just feels like I’m awake, but I’m dreaming. I squinted and took a closer look at the apparition or silhouette or whatever she was. The details got clearer. Older woman. Well put together. For a specter. Stylish ensemble but perhaps a bit bold for my liking. Especially those dangling earrings. What the heck was I saying? The apparition of a dead woman was having a conversation with me at the foot of my bed as if we were enjoying a latte in a coffee shop somewhere. “Who are you?” “Oh, cut it out. You know very well who I am. I’m Edith Ellory. You’re living in my house, sleeping in my bedroom, and picking up where I left off as far as feeding that stray dog is concerned. He showed up right before my unfortunate demise. Frankly, I’ve always been more of a cat person but my last cat, Lulu Fondoola, passed away a few months before I did.” “I’m sorry to hear―Oh good grief. None of this is real. I’m dreaming.” Just then, the overhead fan picked up speed and my bedside lamp flickered on and off. “Want to see what else I can do?” Edith asked. “I’m still learning.” “All right. All right. I get it. You’ve got some unfinished business and can’t move on. Classic textbook ghost.” “So now you’re an expert on departed spirits?” “That’s not what I said.” Meanwhile, Speedbump moved to the small throw rug by my dresser and curled up. I figured he didn’t think Edith’s appearance was much of a threat. “Like I mentioned earlier, you need to find out who was responsible for putting me in an early grave.” “You’re buried around here?” I tried to wrap my head around the bizarre conversation. “That was a figure of speech. I was cremated for your information. Easier for the rat-scallion who did me in to cover the evidence.” “Um, listen, as much as I’d like to help you, I’m starting a new business in the area and that’s going to require hours of work. Hours! Do you have any idea how many new businesses fail in their first year? Especially in the food industry.” “Oh honey, I’m more than familiar with the food industry. Whining never helps.” “Can’t you wait it out a bit until your murderer winds up where you are and then you can deal with it? You know, confront them in the netherworld or wherever you are.” “It doesn’t work like that. It’s not as if I’m at Sandals, sipping on a Mai-Tai waiting to chat with one of the guests. Besides, I don’t know who killed me.” “Um, uh, I don’t want to insult you, but are you sure you were killed? Everyone said you died peacefully in your sleep as a result of old age.” “Old age? Old age? I died at the age of seventy-seven. Since when is that old age? I could understand it, maybe, if I passed away in my late nineties, but seventy-seven? I was in the epitome of life. So, yes or no? Are you going to help me or do I have to resort to nagging?” Nagging, huh? Take a number and join my mother. “You think it over,” she said. “We’ll talk more tomorrow. The food business you said? What kind of food business?” “A charcuterie catering service and sandwich shop. I bought the Cave Creek Sandwich Shop and it will be my home base.” “We may be able to work out a deal. I’m quite accomplished at creating charcuterie boards.” “So far all I’ve seen you do is get a fan to blow and a light to flicker.” “I suppose you’d tell Monet all he could do was wash paint brushes.” “Now that’s not fair. In fact―” I never got to finish because in that instant, the specter vanished, Speedbump returned to the foot of the bed and the fan slowed down. To be on the safe side once again, I spit three times before going back to sleep.
Ann I. Goldfarb New York native Ann I. Goldfarb spent most of her life in education, first as a classroom teacher and later as a middle school principal and professional staff developer. Writing as J. C. Eaton, along with her husband, James Clapp, they have authored the Sophie Kimball Mysteries (Kensington), The Wine Trail Mysteries (Kensington Lyrical Underground), and the Marcie Rayner Mysteries (Camel). In addition, Ann has nine published YA time travel mysteries under her own name.
James E. Clapp
When James E. Clapp retired as the tasting room manager for a large upstate New York winery, he never imagined he’d be co-authoring cozy mysteries with his wife, Ann I. Goldfarb. Non-fiction in the form of informational brochures and workshop materials treating the winery industry were his forte along with an extensive background and experience in construction that started with his service in the U.S. Navy and included vocational school classroom teaching.