The second page-turning instalment in the acclaimed mystery series featuring striking, sarcastic antique dealer Molly Doyle, set in picturesque Carmel, California.
Molly Doyle crossed a continent to escape trouble, but it's becoming increasingly dangerous to be in the antique business in her small adopted corner of California. The murder of a friend and fellow antiques dealer has shaken Molly to the core. And matters aren't helped any by the arrival of her deceitful, long-estranged sister-who sticks around only long enough to dump Molly's twelve-year-old niece before vanishing to parts unknown. Actually, young Emma is a bright spot in these dark days, since she's clever, endearing, and shows a natural aptitude for antiques work.
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September 28, 2004
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Excerpt from Tagged for Murder by Elaine Flinn
The woman's screams could be heard all over the exhibit hall. Short, staccato bursts, like an annoying car alarm, silenced those still wandering the aisles of the Carmel Antiques Show.
It was Sunday, the last day of the show, near closing time. Savvy bargain hunters hoping to haggle with the weary dealers lingered in the aisles. They knew one less item to pack was worth discounting a few bucks.
Molly Doyle nearly dropped the pair of Anglo-Irish cut-glass candlesticks when she heard the screams. Molly and a woman offering a hundred dollars less for the candlesticks ran into the aisle. "Hang onto these. I'll see what happened," Molly said as she shoved the candlesticks into the woman's hands.
Running up the aisle, she saw the screaming woman standing in front of Trudy Collins's space. Her heart stopped when she saw Trudy facedown on the Louis IV repro desk she used for sales. Quickly at her side, Molly touched her shoulder and called out, "Trudy! What's wrong?" Not getting a response, she gently jostled her shoulder. "Trudy?" Her hands turned clammy, and she turned to the screaming woman, who was now hyperventilating. "Get some help! I think she's -- oh, God! I don't know -- just get some help!"
When the woman didn't move, and a small crowd began to gather, Molly searched the faces and was relieved to see the young man who was there to help her pack up after the show. "Robbie! Call 911 and find Randall! He's probably in the cafeteria with Lucero!"
Molly tried once again to rouse Trudy. Gently lifting her off the desk, she nearly fainted when she saw Trudy's face, the cheeks and mouth badly cut and seeping blood.
"Oh, my God!"
Ignoring the startled gasps from the aisle, Molly grabbed Trudy's wrist to check for a pulse. Her hands began to shake when she realized Trudy was dead.
Trying to stay calm, she gently picked up Trudy's dangling arms and was about to place them on the desk when she saw what had caused the cuts on her face. Broken shards of porcelain, as sharp as glass, lay on the desk. When Trudy's head fell forward, she'd apparently fallen on a group of Sevres porcelain figurines. Scattered among them were what appeared to be oversized sales tags, with magazine cutouts of baroque furniture, porcelain figurines, marble statues, and exotic jewelry. A hole had been punched in the corner of each tag, with a red string attached. More bizarre, a red circle was drawn around each photo, with a red slash across the price.
Carmel's chief of police, Kenneth Randall, had little problem making his way through the crowd gathered in the aisle. Well over six feet, his presence was usually felt before it was noticed. On his heels was Dan Lucero, the district attorney for Monterey County. Returning from a fund-raising banquet for handicapped children, they'd promised to stop by the show to say hello to Molly.