Murder With Strings Attached by Mark Reutlinger Genre: Humorous Mystery
Sometimes even the most carefully conceived burglary can take an unexpected turn. Florence Palmer has her eye on concert violinist Aaron Levy's priceless violin. Unfortunately, she finds it's already been stolen. Her surprise doubles when the virtuoso she'd planned to burgle offers to hire her to help him steal it back. But they're not the only ones looking for the missing violin. When Flo inadvertently becomes the prime suspect in a case of murder, she and Aaron need to clear her name. Will they find the real killer and get the violin back to its rightful owner without anyone else, especially themselves, being killed?
I silently exhaled and opened the door of the closet a bit. I peeked out, and finding the coast indeed to be clear, stepped out.
The hunt was on.
From Janice’s description, the violin should have been in the closet, but I had been in the closet for quite a while, and so far as I could tell, I had not been accompanied in there by a violin. But it had been hard to search carefully without light and the risk of making noise, so now I opened the closet door again and checked more carefully, using my flashlight.
I looked around the room, which was almost as dark as the closet. Although it was a bright day, the real maid had closed the heavy red-and-gold tapestry drapes that were covering the full-wall windows, letting in almost no light. I didn’t want to risk turning on the lamps or the chandelier, casting light that might be noticed under the door from the hallway, so I still had to rely on my small flashlight to make my inspection of the premises. Waving it around to get my bearings, I could see that the fancy chandelier that hung from the ceiling was comparable in elegance to those hanging in the lobby, but on a smaller scale. Even in the limited light, its crystal bangles twinkled and sparkled expensively. Unfortunately, it was too big to take away with me.
The rest of the room’s décor was similarly opulent. The coffee table, either antique French provincial or a good imitation thereof, was painted in a light cream color, as was the large credenza against the far wall, probably filled with complimentary drinks and snacks. Two overstuffed chairs were upholstered in the same pattern as the drapes. The walls were covered in an old-fashioned floral-patterned wallpaper, with the carved-wood moldings painted to match the furnishings. I aimed my flashlight on all the room’s surfaces, looking for my prize.
Alas, no violin.
I tried the doors on the far wall. The bathroom provided no place for a violin to hide. Behind another door was a bedroom, in which a four-poster bed resided. It was covered by an elegant canopy of red and gold tapestry that matched the drapes and chairs. A highboy and a vanity table completed the bedroom furnishings. I saw nothing interesting in plain sight, so I checked the bedroom closet and then lay flat on the carpet and peeked under the bed.
Still no violin.
I was beginning to think that Aaron Levy had deliberately thwarted me by taking his violin with him or putting it in the safe—an ungentlemanly thing for him to do, given all the time and effort I was putting into finding it. I returned to the front room and was about to check the last remaining door—probably a connection to the neighboring suite—when I almost tripped over something sticking out from under the sofa. I reached down to shove it back out of the way.
How could someone treat an instrument so valuable in such a cavalier manner, I wondered. More and more it seemed as if Mr. Aaron Levy was entirely too careless and had to be relieved of this heavy responsibility before someone…well…stole the damn thing!
And I was just the woman to do it. I opened the case and lifted up my trophy, held my flashlight close to it, and with great satisfaction, began to examine it lovingly.
And that’s when the lights came on.
Mark Reutlinger is the author of the novels "Made in China," "Murder with Strings Attached," and the "Mrs. Kaplan" cozy mystery series, as well as "Sister-in-Law" under the pen name M. R. Morgan. He is a professor of law emeritus at Seattle University. Born in San Francisco, Mark graduated from UC Berkeley and now lives with his wife, Analee, in University Place, Washington. When not reading or writing, Mark enjoys tennis, biking, playing the clarinet (in the Tacoma Concert Band), sports cars, and various arts and crafts. He doesn't know where he finds time for it all.