Bear Witness to Murder
A Teddy Bear Mystery #2
by Meg Macy
Genre: Cozy Mystery
As autumn air settles into the quaint small town of Silver Hollow, there’s nothing more popular than Sasha’s teddy bears—and murder in cold blood . . .
Silver Bear Shop and Factory manager Sasha Silverman is cozying up to the fall season by hosting Silver Hollow’s Cranbeary Tea Party, the opening event of the village’s Oktobear Fest—a too-cute celebration themed around teddy bears. She barely has a moment to agonize over the return of her former high school rival, Holly Parker, whose new toy and bookstore in town could spell big trouble for the Silver Bear Shop and her cousin’s small bookstore . . .
But when Sasha discovers Holly’s shop assistant dead with a knife plunged in her body, the unpleasant woman suddenly looks like a real backstabber. So does Sasha’s ex-husband, rumored to have rekindled the fiery extramarital affair he once had with the victim. Now, before a gruesome homicide case takes the fun out of both the Fest and her personal life, Sasha must identify the true culprit from a daunting suspect list—or risk becoming as lifeless as one of her stuffed bears . . .
Praise For Bearly Departed
“You’ll fall in love with this delightful debut mystery.” —Victoria Thompson, bestselling author of Murder in Morningside Heights
“The first in a new series features a complex plot awash in red herrings, a perky heroine . . . and everything you ever wanted to know about teddy bears.”--Kirkus Reviews
“The appealing, impulsive amateur sleuth, dedicated to the family business, will appeal to fans of character-driven cozies.” --Library Journal
“Entertaining . . . inhabited by quirky, fully developed characters and good dogs and cats.” --Publishers Weekly
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My uncle cussed a blue streak if any speck of dirt marred the leather seats, and he routinely checked the polished fenders for any scratches or nicks.
I caught sight of his grizzled beard and cap through the window. Mayor Bloom sat with him at the counter. Dad and Gil Thompson usually joined them for coffee and the café’s popular French toast, but they hadn’t yet returned from up north.
Past the half-hidden brick library, I cut through a stretch of blacktop to Church Street. It wasn’t easy navigating in the denser fog. Rosie nosed her way through the narrow alley between Abby Pozniak’s antique shop and Blake’s Pharmacy until we emerged into the mist-covered graveled parking lot.
Shadowy forms that loomed in our path turned out to be parked cars, a Dumpster, and a mailbox. I stepped cautiously over the stones.
“Ouch!” I’d hit my shoulder on a lamppost that appeared beside me. I peered at each parked car in the uneven lot. At last I found mine and unlocked the door. Rosie’s whining suddenly turned into loud barks. That meant trouble.
“What is it, girl?” She wouldn’t budge, so I followed the leash hand over hand.
I found Rosie guarding an inert form on the ground, right beside a blue MINI Cooper. Was it Holly Parker? My heart jumped into my throat. The jacket’s hood covered her head. I stood gaping, frozen in place. My brain couldn’t register for several minutes. Letters sparkled in the dim light on the hoodie’s pale pink fabric. THINK, that was clear enough to read, but PINK was darkened by a mottled brown stain.
So was the knife hilt embedded in her back.
A Teddy Bear Mystery #1
The Silver Bear Shop and Factory might be the cutest place around, but there’s nothing warm and fuzzy about murder . . .
As manager of the family teddy bear shop and factory, thirty-one-year-old Sasha Silverman leads a charmed life. Well, except for the part about being a single divorcée with a ticking biological clock in small-town Silver Hollow. And that’s just kid’s stuff compared to Will Taylor, the sales rep who’s set on making drastic changes to the business her parents built from scratch—with or without Sasha’s approval . . .
But before Will digs his claws in, someone pulls the stuffing out of his plan . . . and leaves his dead body inside the factory. Reeling from shock, Sasha’s hit with more bad news—police suspect her hot-tempered Uncle Ross may have murdered him. Sasha knows her uncle would never do such a thing, and she’s launching her own little investigation to expose the truth. As she tracks Will’s biggest rivals and enemies for clues, Sasha can’t get too comfy—or she’ll become the next plaything for a killer . . .
“A twisty mystery tale with a likable protagonist and a colorful supporting cast. Sure to be a very enjoyable series!”—Livia J. Washburn, bestselling author of Black and Blueberry Die
“Cute and cuddly on the outside, murder and mayhem on the inside—I love this book!!! Totally adorable.”—Duffy Brown, bestselling author of Braking for Bodies
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Lively music rose when two couples emerged, and then faded when the door slammed shut behind them. We turned left onto Kermit and passed Church Street, opposite the imposing First Presbyterian edifice with its towering steeple. We stopped at the light.
“We should have caught a movie tomorrow night instead.”
“Like that matters. I’m planning to sleep in until noon on Saturday,” Maddie said, “so you can cover the shop. When I’m ready, I’ll do the afternoon shift.”
“When it slows down, right.” I didn’t mind, though. I’d rather be busy. “Did you make reservations for our annual trip up north? I love seeing the fall colors.”
“You bet. Sisters weekend, Mackinac Island!” Maddie turned onto Theodore Lane, dark as usual with so many trees. We both saw a car in our lot beside the house, the parking lights aglow. “Wonder whose car that is?”
I saw two cars, actually. Will’s Camry sat beneath the light at the factory’s door. The other car’s headlamps flashed bright, right into our eyes. I squinted, holding a hand up, and heard tires squeal past us toward the street. Followed by a crash—I blinked fast, my eyes adjusting slowly. Maddie yelled in my ear.
“Hey, they hit our mailbox!”
We both jumped out of the car and ran to assess the damage. The banged-up mailbox remained attached to the broken wooden post, lying on the blacktop. For the second time this year, we’d have to replace the whole thing.
“Teens and their stupid pranks,” I grumbled aloud. “I told you we should have let Uncle Ross build a brick post around the whole mailbox.”
“Okay, you were right.” Maddie pointed toward the other car. “So who’s still here? And why? What were they doing this late?”
“That’s Will Taylor’s car, and I have no idea.”
I yawned again, couldn’t help it. Slowly the usual night sounds returned: the chirp of crickets, a dog’s loud barking in the distance, a train’s warning whistle that faded. I marched over to the Camry while I groped in my purse. Definitely his car, since my narrow penlight confirmed the vanity license plate. Too bad I didn’t have any mud right now. Oh well. I didn’t like the idea of him having a key and snooping around this late at almost midnight. What could he be doing? And why. That was more important.
Maddie followed me to the door. When I turned the handle, she grabbed my arm. “Wait. Maybe we should call the cops.”
“He’s gotta be inside.” I listened for a minute. Nothing. No voices inside or footsteps. That was odd. “Hey, Will! Are you in there?”
“I’m calling 9-1-1, Sasha.” Maddie punched the numbers into her cell. “We don’t know who was driving that other car, and they sure left in a hurry. . . . Yes, we’d like a patrol car. We think there may have been a robbery.”
A robbery? I wasn’t sure about that. Curious, I opened the door wider. Creak. Uncle Ross hadn’t oiled that hinge yet. No shadows danced beyond the light I switched on. I tiptoed farther inside. When Maddie touched my shoulder, I jumped.
“Gaah!” I clutched my chest, heart hammering beneath my fingers, my ears filled with a rat-a-tat pounding. “You scared me to death.”
“The dispatcher said to wait in the parking lot.”
“Looks like no one’s here. Maybe Will couldn’t start his car and left it here.”
“Sasha, don’t go looking around,” Maddie hissed, but I ignored her.
Creeping past the first few stations, the sewing machines, and the supply shelves, we both tiptoed toward the looming hulk of the cutting press. A dim light streamed from the high window above, not enough to clearly see. Maddie found the switch on the wall.
“Hello? Will, are you in here? Will Taylor?”
Long shadows stretched to the corners beyond. My foot kicked a soft object. I groped around until I found a teddy bear—with a seam ripped open. That was odd. None of our workers had ever mentioned losing track of an unfinished toy. The fiber machine tube had bits of fluff clinging to it.
“Hey. Doesn’t Uncle Ross clean this up before he leaves?”
Maddie nodded. “Look at all the fluff on the floor.”
I’d missed noticing the drifts of white. We both knew the floor was always swept clean at the end of the day. A faint whine of sirens grew louder. Maddie grabbed my arm and pointed behind the stuffing machine. I rushed around it and knelt beside Will Taylor, stretched full length on his back. He didn’t move. My stomach knotted at the sight of his staring eyes. His skin looked gray in the factory’s dim light.
Worse, his cheeks and throat bulged with white fiber.
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