TREBLE AT THE JAM FEST
Beyond the Page (March 2021; originally published by Midnight Ink, June 2017)
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Available in audio through all your usual sources.
From the cover:
Erin Murphy, manager of Murphy’s Mercantile (aka the Merc), is tuning up for Jewel Bay’s annual Jazz Festival. Between keeping the Merc’s shelves stocked with Montana’s tastiest local fare and hosting the festival’s kick-off concert, Erin has her hands full.
Discord erupts when jazz guitarist Gerry Martin is found dead on the rocks above the Jewel River. The one-time international sensation had fallen out of sync with festival organizers, students, and performers. Was his death an accident―or did someone even the score?
Despite the warning signs to not get involved, Erin investigates. And when the killer attacks, she orchestrates her efforts into one last crescendo, hoping to avoid a deadly finale.
Includes delicious recipes!
Praise for TREBLE AT THE JAM FEST
“A delicious mystery as richly constructed as the layers of a buttery pastry. Wine, enchiladas, and song make for a gourmet treat in the coziest town in Montana!”
―Krista Davis, New York Times bestselling author of the Domestic Diva Mysteries.
“Leslie is a fellow foodie who loves a good mystery and it shows in this delightful tale!” — Cleo Coyle, New York Times bestselling author of The Coffeehouse Mysteries
“Music, food, scenery and a cast of appealing characters weave together in perfect harmony in Leslie Budewitz’s latest book.” —Sheila Connolly, author of The Orchard Mysteries and The County Cork Mysteries
“Murder is bad for business in a Montana town that depends on the tourist trade. … The fourth entry in Budewitz’s series is a pleasing read with a thoughtful heroine, a plethora of red herrings, and some foodie tips.” —Kirkus Book Reviews
“Erin’s love of Montana and her family will have readers hungry for another chance to visit beautiful Jewel Bay.” —Kings River Life
“A lighthearted and amusing story with the added bonus of several yummy recipes”—Mystery Scene Magazine
““Treble at the Jam Fest” has all the necessary elements to satisfy cozy mystery lovers: likeable, believable characters, a fast-moving plot, and a logical ending. Great fun!” —Suspense Magazine
“Side stories continue from previous adventures, and quirky characters about as the author unveils more [Murphy] family history. But thanks to skillful storytelling, first-time readers won’t have to backtrack to enjoy this one. … Bring on number five, Leslie!” — Montana State of the Arts, Fall 2017
Blame it on the rhubarb. That’s as logical a start to the story as jazz, or love—or greed, jealousy, or any of the thousand other notes the human heart can play.
Nothing says “slow down, girl” like letting a jar of strawberry-rhubarb jam slip through your fingers and smash on your shop’s wood floor. Worse—the jam splashed a customer. A customer wearing white ankle skimmers.
“Not my pants!” she said, stepping back nimbly
“I am soooo sorry. Stay right there.” My palms covered in pinky-red goo, I grabbed a damp rag, and sped back to the scene of my crime.
The customer stuck out her leg and we both leaned in for inspection. She took the rag and dabbed at one gold-sandaled foot, the jam nearly the same tint as her nail polish. “Just that one speck.”
Thank God for small favors.
The floor, on the other hand, looked like a finger-painting gone wrong. Tracy, my sales clerk, appeared with a bucket and mop, and began the clean-up. I swiped a bit of jam off my shin, glad that my flouncy blue skirt had been spared.
I plucked another jar off the display, careful to get a good grip, and held it out. “Courtesy of the Merc, with my apologies.”
“That’s generous. Thank you.” The woman took the jar in one manicured hand, a diamond the size of my first apartment catching the morning light. “Strawberry-rhubarb. My husband will love it.” She slipped the jar in to her matte black leather bag, a designer logo plainly visible. Genuine, or a knock-off? Around here, you never know. Especially as tourist season kicks in. Some of Jewel Bay’s wealthiest residents and visitors dress like they haven’t updated their closets since 1965, while others flash designer labels more suited to Manhattan than Montana.
She tucked a highlighted golden strand behind one ear, exposing a diamond stud. “I’m Ann Drake, by the way. We’re part of the festival crowd.”
“Erin Murphy, proprietor.” I held my damp hand palm up, in a gesture that said “pardon me for not shaking.”
“Mom, what about this pottery? You said you wanted rustic-but-classic.” A bright-eyed young woman stepped into view, maybe ten years younger than me in her early ‘20s. She peered at the bottom of a large, hand-thrown bowl, her shiny black hair swinging. “R R inside an almond?”
“Not an almond—a football,” I said. “Reg Robbins. Long-time NFL All-star. Took up throwing pots for stress relief and found a new career.” I dried my fingers, realizing why the girl looked familiar. Hers was one of half a dozen tiny photos on the poster advertising tonight’s pre-festival concert. “You must be Gabrielle Drake. Your picture’s in our window. And the earrings give you away.”
Ann took the bowl and her daughter reached up reflexively to finger one earring, a red, white, and blue guitar pick on a wire. “Call me Gabby. And yes, I’m playing with Gerry Martin tonight—can you believe the luck?”
“It’s hard work, darling, not luck. You’ve earned this opportunity. And the shot at a tour.” Ann returned the bowl to the display, a brittle edge to her words. “I’ll lend you a pair of good earrings for tonight.”
Daughter ignored mother. “I’m hoping for a recording session, too,” she told me. “He’s building his own studio.”
“That’s great. The courtyard where you’ll be playing should be ready—let’s take a peek.” I led the women through the back hall, first tossing the rag over the stainless steel counter that divides the Merc’s commercial kitchen from the retail shop floor. The rag landed in the sink with a soft thud. Bingo.
“Oh.” Gabby Drake clapped her hands together a minute later. “It’s magical.”
“It will be,” I said, “when the lights are twinkling in the trees and the wine is flowing.”
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