PRAISE FOR GRAND OPENINGS CAN BE MURDER:"With as many unpredictable twists and turns as the hurricane approaching Galveston, Grand Openings Can Be Murder is an intriguing cozy mystery set in a new chocolate shop along the island’s historic Strand. Readers will love learning about the bean-to-bar chocolate-making process while the store’s owner, Felicity, pursues truth, justice, and the perfect chocolate bar."
—Diane Kelly, Award-winning author of the Death & Taxes, Paw Enforcement, House Flipper, and Busted mystery series.
Excerpt from GRAND OPENINGS CAN BE MURDER
with introduction by author Amber Royer
Grand Openings Can Be Murder is the first book in the Bean to Bar Mystery series. In it, Felicity is a craft chocolate maker who becomes a sleuth after her employee dies at her shop/factory’s grand opening party. I wanted to use this idea of grand openings and new beginnings as a metaphor for Felicity starting her character arc in this first book. She’s been dealing with grief and being stuck in the past, and I want the mysteries she solves to force her to move forward.
As this is the first book, she has no background in any of the techniques sleuths use, and she’s trying the best she can to figure it all out–sometimes to comic effect. This scene is her first ever attempt to tail someone. She is joined here by Autumn, who has been her best friend since eighth grade. Autumn used to be a mystery writer, but her knowledge of sleuthing techniques is all theoretical. The person they are tailing is Carmen, Felicity’s surviving assistant–and the first obvious suspect in the case. Knightley is Felicity’s lop-eared bunny, who is pictured on the chocolate bars Felicity makes.
Like Rufus said in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure: They get better.
“Look!” Autumn is pointing ahead of us.
Carmen is running up the cement steps, her hair wet, wearing a rash guard, but she’s got on sneakers and is holding her cell phone. She hops into her car and takes off. If she had a surfboard with her, she’s left it on the sand. What could have created that kind of panic?
I pull out into traffic, following Carmen’s car. I feel ridiculous. Really, how hard is it for someone to realize they’re being followed by a catering truck? But Carmen doesn’t seem to be trying to lose us. She’s driving in a clear path along the Seawall, and though she’s speeding – which means we’re speeding, which I rarely do – she signals her turn towards the center of the island well in advance.
“Where do you think she’s going?” Autumn asks.
“Maybe the hospital?” I guess. That’s the direction we’re headed. “If she got concentrated caffeine from her roommate, maybe her roommate figured out what she did with it and threatened her.”
“Mmmmm,” Autumn says appreciatively. “Maybe you should have been a writer. That’s a good plot twist.”
I laugh, even though the situation is serious. If Carmen is a killer, we could be stumbling into blackmail, a second murder in progress . . . all sorts of things I’m not prepared to handle.
“Here comes the hospital,” I say, but Carmen hasn’t put on her signal or her brakes.
We overshoot the building, and I’m less sure we’re right about Carmen. Which makes me feel even more ridiculous about chasing her. Autumn and I exchange a look, equally puzzled.
Carmen pulls up short at a squat white brick building. The sign has a stylized picture of a dog, a cat and a bird. She tries to get out of the car, but she hasn’t taken her seatbelt off. She takes a few seconds, struggling with it the way someone does when they’re in a panic. She looks up and notices us.
Autumn waves at her.
“I guess I have to park,” I say, heat in my face, despite the dropping temperatures.
What are we doing at an animal hospital? More importantly, what are we going to tell Carmen we’re doing here? We can’t exactly admit that we think she’s a murderer.
Carmen manages to get herself out of her car, realizes she’s forgotten to lock it. We catch up to her in the time it takes her to fumble out her keys. She doesn’t even ask why we’re here, without even having Knightley in tow.
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