Book Title: CHRISTMAS IS MURDER
Author: Carolyn Arnold
Series: McKinley Mysteries, Book 7!
Published by: Hibbert & Stiles Publishing Inc.
ISBN (e-book): 978-1-988064-59-8
ISBN (paperback 4 x 6): 978-1-988064-78-9
ISBN (paperback 5 x 8): 978-1-988064-51-2
Mistletoe and mischief…
Albany’s the perfect image of a winter wonderland, and Sean and Sara’s friend Jimmy is going to be Santa Claus for the upcoming Christmas parade. The trees and decorations have been selected and the gifts have been purchased. The season has truly cast its magical spell--until Sean and Sara’s neighbors die in a horrible house fire.
While the fire department ruled holiday-related hazards as the cause, Sara suspects there’s more to it. Her determination to find the truth has her and Sean toeing the line between what’s legal and what’s not.
As they sort out fact from fiction, the McKinleys make the final decision about whether or not they should open a private investigation firm.
’Tis the season for good cheer, and a snowy wonderland paints the perfect backdrop for the holiday…until Sean and Sara’s neighbors die in a house fire.
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What to expect from the McKinley Mysteries:
Romance. Humor. Murder. Are you looking for a murder mystery without all the graphic violence and foul language? Something that you can enjoy in an afternoon and walk away feeling good about afterward? How about a dash of humor and romance? If so, meet former detectives Sean and Sara McKinley. When a billionaire leaves them all his money, they no longer have to work, but they find themselves sticking to what they’re good at—solving murders. Undercover, off the books, and around the world, they’ll get to the bottom of things…and romance it up along the way.
This is the perfect book series for fans of Hart to Hart, Castle, Colombo, Monk, Rockford Files, Psych, and Magnum PI.
Read in any order or follow the series from the beginning.
Excerpt from chapter 4 of Christmas is Murder (McKinley Mysteries)
“O CHRISTMAS TREE”
THEY ENTERED THE FIRE STATION and a fireman, dressed in uniform, came over to them.
“Can I help you?”
“We’re looking to speak with Chief Fox,” Sean said.
The man assessed them, his eyes staying on Sara a little longer than Sean would have liked, but he was getting somewhat used to men ogling her. At least he took pride in the fact she was his alone. He put his arm around her and she glanced up at him. Between her eyes and the slight curve of her lips, she read his underlying jealousy.
“Sure, I can see if he’s available.”
“Tell him it’s rather urgent.”
“Okay.” The fireman dragged out the single word and gave one final glance to Sara before turning to head into the offices.
He led Sean and Sara to a desk where a large woman sat. A brass plate announced her as Bernice. She was typing on a computer and looked up over her glasses at them. She slid her gaze to the fireman, silently demanding an explanation.
“They want to speak with the chief.”
Bernice held a glint in her eyes when her attention was drawn back to Sean—she found him attractive. It was his turn to be ogled.
“My name is Sean and this is my lovely wife, Sara. We would like to—”
“The McKinleys? What are you doing here?” The chief came in from behind them, holding a mug.
“We want to talk to you about the fire at the Wilsons’ house.” Sara jutted her chin, likely only enough that Sean picked up on it.
She was taking this situation extremely seriously. Her intuitive instinct had her suspecting the Wilsons’ deaths could have been prevented. For a woman who had gone through a couple investigations that touched close to home for her, it should have surprised him that she was even thinking in this manner. But he knew his Sara. If there was a truth to be uncovered, she would dig until it was exposed. His job was to back her up and be an equal partner. Truth was, what good was having money if all one did was lie around doing nothing? They had the means and the experience to make a real difference.
“Bernice, hold my calls for the next while,” Fox said.
“Sure thing.” She smiled at Sean and he noticed how it transformed into a grimace as her gaze drifted to Sara.
The chief sat at his desk and gestured to the two chairs across from him. “I won’t beat around the bush. There has been a ruling on the fire.”
“Already? And?” Sara leaned forward and Sean put his hand on her back.
“And, it was for the reason I had suspected.”
“Related to the Christmas lights?”
“Ones on the tree, specifically.” Harold leaned back in his chair, cradling his mug as if he were enjoying a leisurely conversation with friends. “One of the lighted ornaments shorted out or overheated.”
“Lighted ornaments? I’m guessing the kind that plug into light strands.” Sara’s face paled. “Does that happen?”
“I wouldn’t say it’s common, but it’s not impossible. In this case, I don’t think there’s any more to it than that.” Harold looked at Sean.
His instinct told him Fox was aware of more than he was letting on. Something was lurking in the man’s eyes.
“I know that you like to solve crimes, but I don’t think any has taken place here. Just a matter of unfortunate circumstance.”
Sean’s suspicion was confirmed. “How do you know who we are?”
A smirk lifted the chief’s lips. “I knew who you were the moment I saw you yesterday.”
“But you asked us our names,” Sara said.
“I was affording you privacy.”
“That was kind of you, but not necessary.” Sara held her purse to her chest.
“I would think you two should be more surprised when someone doesn’t know you. You’re basically celebrities.” Harold was beaming as if he was in the presence of royalty. His grin took over his face and had him resembling a caricature of the Cheshire cat.
This was taking a weird turn and had Sean’s gut swirling. Harold was almost starting to sound and appear like a groupie—almost. They had to stay on point with the information they wanted or they’d end up taking a detour leading to their own story.
“There’s one other thing we’d like to know, Chief,” Sean began.
“Please, simply, Harold. I feel like I already know you.”
They needed out of this office as soon as possible. His background as a cop had all of Sean’s senses tingling. To be a policeman it was necessary to pass a psychological evaluation, he assumed the same applied to being a fireman, let alone one in a management position. He should feel secure around the man, but the wacky reflection in his eyes had Sean questioning the chief’s—Harold’s—sanity.
“Chief, there’s one other thing you could help us with.” It was one thing for Sean to think of the chief by first name, but, now, another to verbalize it.
His mouth twitched as if he were insulted that Sean didn’t take him up on the friendly offer. “Certainly.”
“We’d like to know who their daughter is.”
“No can do.”
“Why?” Sara crossed her leg toward Sean, leaning her frame in the direction of the desk, and Harold. “Could you do us this one,” she pinched her fingers to near touching, “tiny, little favor?”
Sean tried to hold back a smile.
“I’ve probably already given you enough information that could get me fired. I’m sorry. There was a holdup, but she’s being informed right about now actually. Until that’s all confirmed…”
“We understand. Darling?” Sean was already to his feet, his hand extended to help Sara up.
She put her hand in his but scanned his eyes. He hoped that she could read what he was trying to communicate. He needed to get away from the man.
CAROLYN ARNOLD is an international bestselling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has four continuing fiction series—Detective Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher FBI, McKinley Mysteries, and Matthew Connor Adventures—and has written nearly thirty books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from cozy to hard-boiled mysteries, and thrillers to action adventures.
Both her female detective and FBI profiler series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining, leading her to adopt the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.
Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower.
She currently lives just west of Toronto with her husband and beagle and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada and Sisters in Crime.
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