Sunday, May 9, 2010
A Crafty Kind of Murder (Conclusion)
"A Crafty Kind of Murder" Part VII: Conclusion to the Murder of Carolina Pettijohn, submitted by Kiki Lowenstein, Gerry Porter, Betsy Devonshire, Kendra Ballantyne, Rocky Winchester, April Buchert and Molly Pink.
Previously in "A Crafty Kind of Murder:"
Seven online friends—Kiki Lowenstein, Gerry Porter, Betsy Devonshire, Kendra Ballantyne, Rocky Winchester, April Buchert and Molly Pink— are all visiting the Craft and Hobby Extravaganza in St. Louis when the event organizer Jane Kuhn asks them to solve the murder of her celebrity guest, Carolina Pettijohn. Since all of the crafters/hobbyists are also amateur sleuths, they hope to put their heads together and solve the crime quickly or the Craft and Hobby Extravaganza will be shut down! Kiki Lowenstein explains that Carolina Pettijohn's creative assistant Rosie Jackson was taking money from vendors wanting Carolina to spotlight their products. So Kiki thinks Rosie might have been the killer. Gerry Porter has another suspect in mind. She saw an angry fan named Sondra Echols approach and threaten Carolina. Betsy Devonshire explains the situation is even more complicated than the seven crafters thought. With a little prodding from Betsy, Jane Kuhn reluctantly admits that she might lose an important contract with the Embroiderer's Guild of America if her financial problems with Carolina aren't resolved. Kendra Ballantyne agrees with Betsy. As an attorney, Kendra believes Jane Kuhn's problems with Carolina's expense reports are the best motive for murder so far. Just when the situation couldn't get any more confusing, Rocky Winchester admits she, too, had acrimonious dealings with the craft diva. In fact, Rocky's so upset she asks her future sister-in-law April to share her observations with the group. Now Jane is begging the seven crafters to help her solve the murder. Fortunately, Molly Pink has been paying close attention. With her observations and help from the other six, the crime will now be solved!
“So, that's it?” said Jane. “That's your big revelation?”
“Not entirely,” said Molly. Jane was being very rude, but that was to be expected. The first ever Craft and Hobby Extravaganza was about to be the last ever Craft and Hobby Extravaganza. Craft diva Carolina Pettijohn's body was lying behind a curtain. The police would have to be called. They would close the event down. Jane would lose all her investment in the affair, and even if she was exonerated, she'd lose her chance at running the upcoming Embroiderer's Guild of America show as well.
“I have more, but first, there's one thing we haven't done. We haven't really examined the scene of the crime.”
“Do you think we can do that without contaminating the evidence?” asked Kiki Lowenstein. “I mean, we're not getting anywhere. I think it's time to call my friend, Detective Detweiler. He'll listen to us, and at least we'll have one law enforcement official on our side.”
Of course, what she meant was we'd have one law enforcement official who might not immediately throw Rocky or Jane in jail. But none of us said that. Instead, we stood up and walked over to Carolina's corpse.
“Anyone have a better source of light?” asked Betsy.
“You might as well go ahead and call your friend,” said Molly. “We should have all the information he’ll need in a few minutes.”
“I don't know how you can be so sure about this,” said Jane as she scurried to grab a lamp from the other side of the green room and bring it over. She handed it to Kiki.
“I have this,” said Gerry Porter, as she withdrew a magnifying glass from a pocket. “It might help.”
Betsy took the magnifying glass and leaned carefully over the corpse. “Anyone have an ink pen?”
Jane pulled one from the pocket of her apron. Betsy used the pen to carefully move Carolina's hair to one side. “Could you shine that light on her ear? I hope none of you get sick at the sight of blood.”
Kiki maneuvered the lamp. “My gosh. I see it. Something silver sticking out!”
Kendra bent over, took a look, and nodded. “That's right. Someone must have jammed a long knitting needle into Carolina's ear. That would have taken quite a bit of strength.”
“Not too much,” said Betsy. “It's a pretty slender needle.”
Rocky sighed and turned her hands palms up. “That let's me out. I'm strictly a rubber stamp type of girl.”
“The knitting needle in the ear explains her black eyes. They are common with a skull injury,” said Kiki. “Unfortunately, I know that from personal experience.”
Molly nodded. “Gerry, you have the evidence in your pocket, don't you?”
“I think so.” Gerry showed us a small crumpled piece of gold. “This is Sondra Echols’ pin, isn't it? The one she lost?”
“That's right,” said Kiki. “I’ve seen her wear it!”
Betsy nodded. “Godwin and I saw on her, too. We even talked about tracking down the manufacturer and selling them at the store.”
“Is that all you have?” asked Jane.
“No,” said Molly. “Sondra told us she spent the afternoon doing the collage, remember?”
Kendra and Kiki nodded. Kiki added, “But she didn't have any glue on her hands. Have Rocky and April, have either of you ever done collage and not gotten glue on you? Or ink? I haven't.”
“Hey, wait a minute.” Kendra ran over to where Kiki had set her shoulder bag in the corner. “Do you mind?” she asked the scrapbooker.
“Of course not,” said Kiki.
Kendra took a baggy for picking up dog poop out of her pocket. Using it as a glove, she pulled out the copy of A Diva's Guide to Crafting that Kiki had retrieved from the trash. “Look,” said the attorney as she pointed to a crimson stain on the pages. “I bet that's Carolina's blood. Maybe Sondra used it to smack Carolina up the side of the head and knock her out first. That's why Sondra was so eager to dump this in the trash.”
With that, Kiki excused herself and made another call, back to her store where her friend Clancy was working late. “Clancy, could you go to our customer files? Look up Sondra Echols, please. What's her address?”
By the time Detective Chad Detweiler walked through the door, we had all the facts down for him and on paper. While the detective and Kiki acted like they were just friends, one glance told us all that the man was totally in love with the scrapbooker. As for Kiki, well, her face took on a special glow the minute the detective arrived. The seven of us stood in a tight clump and explained who killed Carolina and why. “You can't leave, you know,” said the hunky detective. “Not until my team is done here.”
“We weren't leaving the convention center,” said Kiki. “We just wanted to get some dinner. My daughter just texted me that she and Maddie—that's Gerry's granddaughter—already ate. My mother-in-law is on her way to pick them up and take them to a movie, like Gerry and I planned. You will let us go to the bar, won't you, Detweiler? I am so hungry!”
“As long as you don't leave the premises, that's fine by me. It'll take a while for the crime scene techs to finish here. One of the patrol cars is on its way to Mrs. Echols' house right now.” Then Detective Detweiler grinned at us. His green eyes flashed with humor. “You don't suppose I could impose on you ladies and ask you to get me a hot dog? Better yet, how about a bratwurst?”
“We'll do that,” said Kendra, gathering Lexie's leash in one hand. “As long as your police department buys. As legal representative for this crew, I think that's the least you can manage.”
“Sold,” said Detective Detweiler. “I'll get these guys started with the crime scene analysis and come join you.”
We were eating our hotdogs when the long-legged detective pulled up a chair next to Kiki and joined our table. “Ladies, that was a fine piece of crime investigation. I put a call into my boss. Seeing as how most of you are from out-of-town, he suggested I thank you with a little St. Louis hospitality. You saved us hours of police work.”
“What on earth might that be?” asked Betsy Devonshire, patting her hair into place. We'd picked up Godwin and Dinah along the way. All of us were enjoying our food.
The tall detective said, “I figure you've been here all day. That means you haven't seen much of our city.”
“No,” said Gerry. “And I haven't even had the chance to buy any souvenirs.”
“Well, that's just not right,” said Detective Detweiler. “Especially when you put in such a good day's work. I can't take the time to show you the sights, but I can introduce you to a few specialities of the town.” With that, he motioned to a waitress, “Miss? Please bring four platters of toasted ravioli and a round of Budweiser for my friends!”
“You know,” said Rocky with a grin on her face. “This amateur sleuth business suddenly got a lot more promising!”
Note: Special thanks to Gus Castellanos for his help with the medical aspects of this story.
~ Meet Our Sleuths ~
Kiki Lowenstein’s comfortable world turned upside when her husband was found dead in a hotel room. After taking a job at a scrapbook store in St. Louis, the young mom discovered talents she never knew she had, including an uncanny ability to get involved with murder. With the help of her woman friends and the hunky Detective Chad Detweiler, Kiki’s life is now picture-perfect…um, not!
Photo, Snap, Shot is the newest book in the series.
Now that Geraldine Porter is retired, she’s got more time to devote to her lifelong hobby: dollhouses and miniatures. You’d think the world of shoe-box-size scenes and mini Victorians would be trouble free, but when murders hit her small California town, Gerry and her ten-year-old granddaughter, Maddie, are on the case, sniffing out clues and dealing justice.
After an angry divorce, Betsy flees from San Diego to the little town of Excelsior, Minnesota, to live with her sister Margot. Thinking she has found a refuge, she is shocked when her sister is found murdered in her needlework shop, Crewel World. Because she is broke and has nowhere else to go, Betsy decides to try to keep the shop open. She becomes convinced the murder was not a burglary gone wrong, and manages to prove it was a premeditated killing. This is the start of a new part-time career as an amateur sleuth. The current, thirteenth, book in this series is Blackwork, but look for Buttons and Bones in December.
After being wrongly accused of an ethics violation, Kendra Ballantyne, formerly a high-powered Los Angeles attorney, began pet-sitting to feed herself and her dog Lexie, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, until her innocence was proved. Kendra enjoyed pet-sitting so much that she has continued it while starting a new law career. Only problem is that she has also become a murder magnet. How many times can she and her friends be accused of committing murders? Lots, it seems. Kendra’s next adventure is Feline Fatale, coming in July 2010.
April Buchert returned to her hometown of Aldenville, PA, broke and friendless. Through her best friend, Deana, she found the Stamping Sisters group. What she didn't count on was finding a skull. That skull has sent her on the path of more bodies and mysteries to solve. In the latest installment, False Impressions, another old murder comes home to roost.
After recovering from the death of her husband, Molly Pink has started a new chapter in her life. She’s gotten a job as event coordinator at a Tarzana, California, bookstore and joined the local crochet group, the Tarzana Hookers. Much to Molly’s surprise, she finds that along with putting on author events and perfecting her stitch work, she keeps getting in the middle of murders—much to the chagrin of her homicide detective boyfriend.
All of our books are available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Borders and of course, your local independent bookseller!
Remember: The Killer Hobbies Blog Sisters blog every day (except Sunday, which is the day for news and appearance notices) at http://www.KillerHobbies.blogspot.com
~Toasted Ravioli—A St. Louis Treat!~
Sure, you can fry these, but Kiki’s recipe is much healthier! Try these with a variety of sauces for a change of pace. They make a great appetizer.
1 package (16 oz.) frozen beef ravioli
¼ C. reduced fat Italian salad dressing
¾ C. Italian seasoned bread crumbs
½ C. Parmesan cheese, grated
1 bottle low fat spaghetti sauce
Pam or cooking spray
1. Cook the ravioli according to the directions on the package. Drain. Cool for 10 minutes. (Be careful to separate the little pillows so you don’t wind up with one BIG ravioli.)
2. Mix the cheese and bread crumbs together. Put the mixture on a plate. Dip the ravioli into the Italian salad dressing, then into the bread crumb/cheese mixture to coat.
3. Place the ravioli on a non-stick baking pan. Give a light spray of Pam. Bake at 400º for 4 minutes, turn them over, give them a mist of Pam, and bake for 4 more minutes or until brown.
4. Serve with spaghetti sauce for dipping.
Copyright 2010 by Joanna Campbell Slan, Camille Minichino, Mary Kuhfeld, Linda O. Johnston, Terri Thayer, and Betty Hechtman. For information, contact the authors at firstname.lastname@example.org