Kylie Logan The Legend of Sleepy Harlow

ISBN 13 : 9781410480880

The Legend of Sleepy Harlow

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9781410480880: The Legend of Sleepy Harlow
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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  1  

I wish I could say that the worst thing that happened that fall was Jerry Garcia peeing on Marianne Littlejohn’s manuscript.

Jerry Garcia? He’s the cat next door, the one whose bathroom habits have always been questionable and whose attention is perpetually trained on the potted flowers on my front porch.

Until that afternoon, that is.

That day, Jerry bypassed the flowers and went straight for the wicker couch on the porch, the one where, until the phone rang inside the B and B, I’d been reading Marianne’s manuscript because she wanted one more set of eyes to take a look before she sent it off to a small academic press that specializes in local history. Yeah, that was the couch where I’d left the pages neatly stacked and—this is vital to the telling of the story—completely dry and odor-free.

Jerry, see, had motive, means, and opportunity.

Jerry had mayhem in his kitty cat heart, and at the risk of sounding just the teeniest bit paranoid, I was pretty sure Jerry had it out for me, too.

It was the perfect storm of circumstance and timing, and the results were so predictable, I shouldn’t have walked back out onto the porch, taken one look at the puddle quickly soaking through Marianne’s tidy manuscript pages, and stood, pikestaffed, with my mouth hanging open.

Jerry, it should be pointed out, could not have cared less. In fact, I think he enjoyed watching my jaw flap in the breeze that blew from Lake Erie across the street. But then, Jerry’s that kind of cat. He leapt onto the porch railing, paused to give one paw a lick, and looked over his shoulder at me with what I would call disdain if I weren’t convinced it was more devious than that.

A second later, he bounded into the yard and disappeared, leaving me to watch in horror as the liquid disaster spread. From the manuscript to the purple and turquoise floral print cushions. From the cushions to the wicker couch. From the couch to the porch floor.

Oh yes, at the time, it did seem like the worst of all possible disasters.

But then, that was my first October on South Bass Island and I had yet to hear about the legend.

Or the ghost.

And there was no way I could have imagined the murder.

*   *   *

“Visit from Jerry?”

I didn’t realize Luella Zak had walked up the steps and onto the porch until I heard her behind me. I shrieked and spun around just in time to see her eye the smelly disaster.

“I was only gone two minutes,” I wailed. “I swear. It was only two minutes.”

“And Jerry managed to stop by.” Luella is captain of a fishing charter service that works out of Put-in-Bay, the one and only town on South Bass Island. She’s short, wiry, and as crusty an old thing (don’t tell her I said that about the old) as any sailor who plied any of the Great Lakes, but when she stepped nearer to have a look at the mess, she wrinkled her nose.

“I hope those papers were nothing you planned on keeping,” Luella said.

The reality of the situation dawned with all the subtlety of a dump truck bumpety-bumping over railroad tracks, and I shook out of my daze and darted to the couch. Before I even thought about what it would do to my green sweatshirt and my jeans, I scooped up the pile of yellow-stained pages and shook them out.

“It’s Marianne’s manuscript,” I groaned. “Marianne asked me to look for typos and—”

Luella didn’t say a word. In fact, she ducked into the house, and a minute later, she was back with a garbage bag in hand.

“We can’t.” Cat pee dripped off my hands and rained onto my sneakers, but still, I refused to relinquish the soggy manuscript. “We can’t throw it away. I promised Marianne—”

Careful to keep it from dripping on her Carhartt bib overalls, Luella snatched the bundle away from me and deposited it in the bag. “Marianne can reprint it.”

“But if I tell her to do that, I’ll have to explain—”

“So what, you’re going to take this back to her?” Luella hefted the garbage bag. “And you think she won’t notice the stains? Or the smell?”

My shoulders drooped. “I think I need to find a way to tell her I’m really, really sorry.”

“I think . . .” Luella thought about clapping a hand to my shoulder and I could tell when she changed her mind because she made a face and backed away. But then, I was standing downwind. “I hate to tell you this, Bea, but I think that you smell really bad.”

I didn’t doubt it for a minute, but really, there were more important things to consider. “Poor Marianne. All that work and all that paper and now she’ll need do it all over again. Printing out an entire book takes a lot of time.”

“Marianne wrote a book?” The instant I looked her way, Luella was contrite. “Oh, it’s not like I’m doubting how smart she is or anything. She’s a good librarian. But Marianne doesn’t exactly strike me as the type who’d have enough imagination to write a book.”

“It’s history. Island history. I didn’t get more than a couple pages into it, but I know it’s about some old-timer, Charles Harlow.”

“Sleepy!” Luella laughed. “Well, that explains it. Word is that Marianne’s family is distantly related. I’d bet a dime to a donut she devotes at least one chapter to trying to disprove that. Sleepy has quite a reputation around here, and it’s not exactly politically correct for the wife of the town magistrate to be related to an old-time gangster and bootlegger.”

“I dunno.” My shoulders rose and fell. “I mean about the gangster part. I never got that far. I’d just started reading and then the phone rang and then—”

“Jerry.” Luella shook her head. “Chandra really needs to do something about that cat.”

“I’ve been saying that for nearly a year.”

“We’ll talk to Chandra,” Luella promised. “Next Monday at book discussion group. And as far as Marianne, maybe if you just explain what Jerry did—”

I dreaded the thought. “She’s so proud of her book. You should have seen her when she brought the manuscript over here. She was just about bursting at the seams.” My stomach swooped. “She asked for one little favor and I messed up.”

“Not the end of the world. She’ll reprint, you’ll reread—”

“Inside the house.”

“Inside the house. And then—”

And then three black SUVs slowed in front of the house and, one by one, turned into my driveway.

“You’ve got guests coming in today?” Luella asked.

I did, a full house, and what with the manuscript disaster and fantasizing about the ingenious (and completely untraceable) demise of a certain feline neighbor, I’d forgotten all about them.

“Go!” Luella shooed me into the house. “You go change. And a quick shower wouldn’t hurt, either. I’ll let your guests in and get them settled and tell them you’ll be with them pronto.”

OK, so it wasn’t exactly pronto, but I did manage what I hoped was a less smelly transformation in record time. When I was done, curly, dark hair damp and in a clean pair of jeans and a yellow long-sleeved top (dang, I didn’t even make the Jerry Garcia and yellow connection until it was too late!), I lifted my chin, pasted a smile on my face, and strode into my parlor.

Straight into what looked like the staging for D-day.

Two women, two guys. Another . . . I glanced out the window and counted the men on my front porch. Another four out there. Each one of them carried at least two duffel bags or a suitcase or a camera of some sort, and each one of those was plastered with bumper sticker–variety labels. Black, emblazoned with icy blue letters: EGG.

“Welcome!” I tried for my best innkeeper smile and thanked whatever lucky stars had made it possible for Luella to take a few moments and swab down the front porch; through the window, I saw that the floral cushions were missing from the couch, and the water she’d splashed on the porch floor gleamed in the autumn afternoon sunshine. “I’m Bea, your hostess. You must be—”

“EGG.” The woman closest to where I stood in the doorway was at least a half dozen years older than my thirty-five, and taller than me by six inches. She was square-jawed, dark-haired, pear-shaped, and more than equipped for whatever situation might present itself. The pockets of her camouflage pants bulged, and the vest she wore over a black EGG T-shirt was one of those that fishermen sometimes sport. It had a dozen little pockets, and I saw batteries, flash drives, and other assorted gear peeking out of each one.

“Noreen Turner. I’m lead investigator for EGG, the Elkhart Ghost Getters.” When Noreen pumped my hand, it felt as if my fingers had been gripped by a vise. Her dark gaze stayed steady on mine in a firm—and sort of disquieting—way. “I’m the leader of this jolly little band, and—” She must have had first-class peripheral vision, because though I hadn’t even noticed the activity going on over in the direction of the fireplace, Noreen didn’t miss a thing.

She whirled toward a young, redheaded woman, and a muscle jumped at the base of her jaw.

“Thermal camera, full spectrum camera, Mel meter, IR light.” Noreen’s laser gaze flashed from the redhead to the cases of equipment she was busy stacking. “Really, Fiona? Really?”

Fiona’s cheeks shot through with color. She chewed her lower lip. “I thought—”

“Exactly your problem.” Noreen marched over, unstacked the equipment, and, fists on hips, gave it all a careful look. “Thermal camera on the bottom,” she said, setting that case down on the floor first. “Then the Mel meter on top of that.” The case with the thermal camera in it was larger than the one that contained the Mel meter, and she set the second case on top of the first, adjusting and readjusting so that the second case was exactly in the center. “Then full spectrum, then IR light.” She positioned those cases until they were just right, too, and, finished, she turned her full attention on Fiona, who held her breath and looked as if she was about to burst into tears. “You see what I’m getting at here, don’t you?”

Fiona didn’t answer fast enough, and Noreen lifted her chin and took a step toward her. “Don’t you? Top to bottom, kid. Top to bottom. IR on top, then full spectrum, then Mel, then—”

The oldest of the men in the room (I’d learn later that his name was Rick) was maybe fifty, a reed-thin guy with a receding hairline and a gold stud in his right earlobe. He stood closest to Fiona and he leaned in like he wanted to share a confidence, but since he didn’t lower his voice, whatever he had to say wasn’t much of a secret. “She wants it alphabetical,” he rasped. “She always has to have equipment stacked alphabetically.”

“So it’s easy to find what we need,” Noreen snapped.

“Whatever.” The man waved a hand and turned his back on us to look out the window.

“Well, it makes sense. And it’s the right way to do things. You can see that, can’t you?” She swiveled her gaze to me. “You’re a businesswoman. You can see the sense of it.”

Fortunately, I didn’t have a chance to answer. One of the men who’d been on the front porch came into the house pushing a two-wheeler with a big rectangular box on it. He parked the two-wheeler in the hallway before he joined us in the parlor. The man was about my age, with black, wavy hair and the kind of face generally reserved for statues of Greek gods. Dimpled chin, straight nose, high cheekbones. A picture flashed through my mind: Mediterranean island, whitewashed cottage, aquamarine water. A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and—

“I didn’t ask you to bring that in.”

Noreen’s growl yanked me back to reality, and I found her glaring at Mr. Greek God. “We’re not ready for it,” she said, and pointed toward the box, which was maybe three feet high and another couple feet wide. Like the rest of the gear, it was plastered with EGG stickers. “I told you to leave it in the truck, Dimitri. That means . . . well, duh, I dunno. I guess it means you should have left it in the truck.”

“You said you wanted it in your room with you,” the man sucked in a breath and shot back. “And that means—”

“What it means is that you’re not listening. When I’m ready for it, that’s when I’ll tell you to bring it in.”

“In like, what, ten minutes?” Dimitri ran a hand through his mane of glorious hair. “I’ll tell you what, Noreen, you want it back in the truck, you take it back to the truck. I’m not moving it another inch. Not now, not ten minutes from now. I’m not stacking anything alphabetically, either, or measuring stuff to make sure it’s precisely two inches apart. You want to waste your time with your crazy organizing—”

“It’s not a waste of time, it’s a system.” Noreen held her arms close to her sides, her fingers curled into fists. “And so far, it’s worked pretty well, hasn’t it? If it wasn’t for me—”

Was that a collective groan I heard?

From everyone but Fiona, who was so ashen I had no doubt she wanted to fade into the woodwork.

And Noreen, of course. With a look, Noreen dared them all to say another word.

We’d been introduced like three minutes earlier and already I knew Noreen wasn’t the type of person who backed down from anyone. Or anything.

Fine by me. I wasn’t, either.

And it was about time I proved it.

“I’ve got all your rooms set and your room keys ready,” I said, deftly sidestepping their bickering. I darted into the hallway and grabbed the keys I’d left on a table at the bottom of the stairs. “Each one’s marked,” I said, handing them around. “All the rooms are on the second floor.”

I’d received room instructions along with the group’s reservations and I knew that the only two guys bunking together were Ben and Eddie. Since I had six guest rooms, that meant Noreen and Dimitri each had their own room as well as the other three men, who, according to their reservations forms, were Liam McCarthy, David Ashton, and Rick Hopkins.

“I know. That leaves me with no room.” Fiona Blake watched as the others stacked their equipment cases (alphabetically, I presumed) and headed upstairs. She scraped her palms against her jeans. “Noreen”—her gaze darted across the room to where Noreen was doing another once-over of the equipment and checking off a list on a clipboard—“Noreen told me I wouldn’t be staying here. That there aren’t enough rooms. You don’t have to apologize.”

“I wasn’t going to.” I softened the statement with a smile and would have gotten one back if Fiona’s gaze didn’t shoot Noreen’s way again.

“It’s not like I didn’t know you were coming,” I told the kid. “Ms. Turner told me you’d need a room. I’ve got everything arranged.”

Fiona squinched up her nose in a way that told me that whatever I was going to say, she had heard it all before. “I know, some little no-tell motel on the other side of the island. That’s fine, really. I’m used to it. It’s not always possible for me to stay with the rest of the crew. I get it.” Her gaze landed on Noreen, who was so busy restacking the equipment the others had just stacked, she didn’t notice. “I just joined the group and I’m only the intern and I don’t rate the same perks the rest of the crew gets.”

“Which doesn’t mea...

Présentation de l'éditeur :

It takes more than a lurid legend to scare off the League of Literary Ladies…
 
For Halloween, the Literary Ladies have chosen to read Washington Irving’s spooky classic, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, with its infamous headless horseman. But South Bass Island has its own headless legend—of a Prohibition bootlegger named Charlie “Sleepy” Harlow. Decapitated by rival rumrunners, Harlow appears once a year in spectral form to search for his noggin.
 
This October, the Elkhart Ghost Getters (EGG) have returned to the island. The group claims that they have film footage of Harlow’s ghost, and are determined to get more. They’re staying at Bea Cartwright’s B and B, but it’s Kate Wilder who isn’t happy to see them after they trashed her winery last year. When the EGG leader turns up dead, Kate becomes the prime suspect, and the other League members need to scramble to crack the case.

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Description du livre Wheeler Publishing Large Print, United States, 2015. Paperback. État : New. large type edition. 218 x 137 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. It takes more than a lurid legend to scare off the League of Literary Ladies. For Halloween, the Literary Ladies have chosen to read Washington Irving s spooky classic, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, with its infamous headless horseman. But South Bass Island has its own headless legend--of a Prohibition bootlegger named Charlie Sleepy Harlow. Decapitated by rival rumrunners, Harlow appears once a year in spectral form to search for his noggin. This October, the Elkhart Ghost Getters (EGG) have returned to the island. The group claims that they have film footage of Harlow s ghost, and are determined to get more. They re staying at Bea Cartwright s B and B, but it s Kate Wilder who isn t happy to see them after they trashed her winery last year. When the EGG leader turns up dead, Kate becomes the prime suspect, and the other League members need to scramble to crack the case. N° de réf. du libraire AAS9781410480880

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Description du livre Wheeler Publishing Large Print, United States, 2015. Paperback. État : New. large type edition. 218 x 137 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. It takes more than a lurid legend to scare off the League of Literary Ladies. For Halloween, the Literary Ladies have chosen to read Washington Irving s spooky classic, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, with its infamous headless horseman. But South Bass Island has its own headless legend--of a Prohibition bootlegger named Charlie Sleepy Harlow. Decapitated by rival rumrunners, Harlow appears once a year in spectral form to search for his noggin. This October, the Elkhart Ghost Getters (EGG) have returned to the island. The group claims that they have film footage of Harlow s ghost, and are determined to get more. They re staying at Bea Cartwright s B and B, but it s Kate Wilder who isn t happy to see them after they trashed her winery last year. When the EGG leader turns up dead, Kate becomes the prime suspect, and the other League members need to scramble to crack the case. N° de réf. du libraire AAS9781410480880

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