The Suburbs Have Secrets
by Barbara Wallace
A Sadie McIntyre Mystery
Publication Date: September 11, 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
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When Sadie McIntyre gives a drunken Marylou Paretsky a ride home on a rainy night, little does she realize it’s the last time anyone will see Marylou alive.
Tragic accident? Or Murder?
The following morning, Marylou is found dead at the bottom of her staircase. What first appears to be a drunken tumble becomes far more complicated as Sadie discovers Marylou wasn’t as sweet and timid as everyone thought. Turns out Marylou spent her spare time digging up dirt on her neighbors and left behind a list of their secrets. Much to her horror, Sadie’s name is right on top.
Eager to keep her past buried, Sadie, with the help of her best friend Rob and Dan Bartlett, the town’s sexy new chief of detectives, sets out to who on the list was desperate enough to kill. Will she discover the answer before the truth gets out?
Or will the killer find Sadie first?
About Barbara Wallace:
Bestselling, award-winning author Barbara Wallace specializes in sassy, smart novels known for their emotional depth. Since her debut in 2009, she’s gone on to publish nearly 20 titles with Harlequin Romance and Entangled Publishing to world-wide popularity. A life-long Yankee, Barbara lives in New England with her husband, their son, two very spoiled self-centered cats (as if there could be any other kind) and a very catered-to rescue pup.
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By the next morning, the whole town knew about Marylou’s death. As the six of us gathered around our usual tables, Marylou’s table remained conspicuously empty. Whether by coincidence or some silent mutual agreement, none of the other customers moved to sit there.
“I feel horrible,” Andrea said, sniffing loudly.
I believed it. Unkempt wasn’t something posse members did, and she looked a mess. Her eyes were watery, and the skin under her nose was red and raw. Generally speaking, I thought her the most approachable of the posse, a fact I attributed to her being quiet and not being blonde. Brunette solidarity, and all that. Although her hair was far more shiny and bouncy than mine. That is, normally it was. Today it hung in a limp ponytail.
“Why’d you drag your germs here in the first place?” Erin asked. She slid a napkin across the table, which Andrea grabbed to wipe her nose. “You look like death warmed over.”
Talk about a bad choice of words. I waited to see if she would realize what she said, but she kept sipping her pumpkin spice latte without batting an eye. The woman was as mellow as I had ever seen her.
“I know I do, but I wanted to know more about Marylou,” Andrea said. “Does anyone know what happened? How she fell?”
Erin shrugged. “Probably tripped over her cat. She seems the type.”
“To trip or to own a cat?” I asked.
“Both. She wasn’t exactly the picture of grace.”
Remembering her four-legged crawl across the street Sunday night, I had to agree.
“And doesn’t she seem like a ‘cat person’ to you?”
She’d directed her question to the other members of the posse, but it was Rob who answered. After sitting a little stiffer in his chair. “Exactly what kind of person is a cat person?” he asked.
“You know. Lonely. Odd.”
“Don’t worry,” I leaned over and whispered before Rob could retort. Now wasn’t the time or place to argue cat owner demographics. “You wouldn’t count anyway. We both know Eliot is a human in a tiny fur suit.”
“Damn right, he is,” Rob whispered. “Trip a person on purpose, he would. It’s why I always use the hallway light.”
“My neighbor lets her cat sleep on the top step of her stairway,” Jennifer said, flicking her ponytail, which, in contrast to Andrea’s, looked freshly washed and curled. “Whenever Brandon goes over for playgroup, I’m terrified he’ll trip over it. You’d think the other mother would pay closer attention to hazards.”
“Oh for goodness sakes. It’s only a cat. Just tell Brandon to step over the darn thing.”
And there it was, the proclamation to end the discussion. Uttered by none other than Lindsay, she of yesterday’s nail emergency. If the yoga posse reminded me of the high school popular girls, then Lindsay was the queen bee. The prom queen, head cheerleader, class president, most-likely-to-succeed queen bee. The kind of woman people claimed to dislike when really, they secretly longed to be her best friend. She and her dot com CEO husband moved to Woodbridge three years ago and immediately established themselves as town royalty—as only rich, pretty people can do. As a result, Lindsay was the major player on most parent committees, chair of the Night Walk Committee, and of course, de facto leader of the yoga posse.
Using her re-useable water bottle—Lindsay didn’t drink caffeine—she pointed to Jenn’s cell phone. “Are you going to get that? It’s been buzzing all morning.”
Jenn glanced at the call screen, before flipping the phone face over. “It’s Nick,” she said, rolling her eyes. “Undoubtedly calling to complain because I sicced my lawyer on him again. According to him, it’s my fault he won’t make his payments.”
“How late is he this time?” Erin asked.
“A month. I got two checks before he started crying poor again. News flash.” She grabbed her coffee. “Try spending less on the skanky girlfriends.”
“Too bad he didn’t fall down a flight of stairs like Marylou.”
Wow, Erin was on target with the tasteless comments today, wasn’t she?
“Never happen,” Jenn said. “He doesn’t own a cat.”
“Why is everyone blaming the blooming cat?”
I patted Rob’s hand and tried to pull the conversation back on track. Call it my guilty conscience, but I was feeling Marylou’s absence. “I know she was only around since this winter, but it’s going to feel weird not having Marylou joining us. I’m going to miss her.”
I expected more of an acknowledgement. Okay, acknowledgement period. Instead, only Rob nodded in agreement while the other four reached for their coffees.
“Does anyone know when the wake is going to be?” Rob asked. “We should pay our respects.”
“End of the week,” I guessed. “Unless she’s got family traveling from out of town.”
“Where was her home town anyway?” He looked over at the other table where all four shook their heads before looking at me. “Do you know?”
I copied the posse. “No clue. Subject never came up.”
“Hopefully the wake won’t be this week. Carlos has us going to so many dinners. Everyone and their brother in the Greater Boston area want him to invest in their company. My calendar’s a nightmare.”
Lindsay pressed her fingers to her temple as though to ward off a stress headache. “How am I supposed to fit another event in my schedule?”
“I’m sure Carlos would understand you needing to beg off a dinner for a wake.” My tone might have been more irritable than necessary. Honestly though, she was acting as though Marylou toppled down the stairs to purposely jam her schedule.
“Don’t forget we also have the Night Walk meeting next Sunday,” Jenn so helpfully noted.
“That’s right. And there’s no way we can reschedule either. Not with the event right around the corner.” Again, her fingers went to her temple. This time it was both hands. “What a nightmare.”
“What’s the big deal? We’ll skip on the wake if there’s a conflict. It’s not like any of us want to go in the first place.”
“Erin!” My eyes nearly bugged out of my head. The woman had been insensitive all morning, but this comment took the cake.
“Well, I don’t,” she replied, meeting my stare.
“What Erin means, Sadie…” Jenn gave me a condescending smile, although not before she shot Erin a glare with eyes so narrow, her lashes looked like tiny black daggers. “…is that no one likes going to wakes. I think we all wish we had an excuse to get us out. Isn’t that right, Erin?”
But was that really what she meant? She and Jenn were having an entire conversation with their eyes.
Once again, it amazed me how little the four women had been affected by Marylou’s death, especially Jenn and Erin who’d had dinner with the woman just the other night. I’d always assumed the posse had more depth than their shallow behavior implied. Apparently I’d given them too much credit.
Meanwhile, I felt kicked in the stomach every time I looked at her empty chair.
If only I’d stuck around on Sunday night.
The bell over Cuppa’s front door jingled. “Hel–loo,” I heard Rob say under his breath.
A strange tickling sensation tiptoed along my spine. Hello indeed. Swiveling in my chair, I looked to the front door to see what had caused the disturbance in the atmosphere.
Detective Dan Bartlett stood in the doorway.
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