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The Ghost of Murders Past: Darcy Sweet Mystery, #23

The Ghost of Murders Past: Darcy Sweet Mystery, #23

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The Ghost of Murders Past: Darcy Sweet Mystery, #23

4.5/5 (3 ratings)
195 pages
3 hours
Jun 27, 2018


A murder brings the past back into focus for Darcy Sweet...

While Misty Hollow is gearing up for the fourth of July, Darcy and Jon are expecting visitors from out of town for a small dinner party.

Things don't go exactly as planned when someone from their past turns up dead.

And it's definitely murder!

It's not clear what the motive is. The victim was not a popular person and anyone from town could be the killer.

As much as Darcy does not want to, she must once again cross over to the other side. Only there will she find the ghost of the victim and the information she seeks.

Will Darcy and Jon be able to solve the mystery and put the ghost of the past to rest?

The Ghost of Murders Past is the twenty-third book in the Darcy Sweet Cozy Mystery series. If you love cozy mysteries with paranormal, and a touch of romance you'll love the Darcy Sweet Cozy Mystery series.

Pick up The Ghost of Murders Past to read Darcy's latest adventure today!

Jun 27, 2018

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The Ghost of Murders Past - K.J. Emrick

Chapter 1

Fourth of July was kind of a big deal in Misty Hollow.

When your town depended on tourism dollars, you made sure that every holiday was an event, not just a day on the calendar. The streets had been adorned with red, white, and blue banners hanging from every utility pole. Flags hung in the storefront windows. The speaker system at the top of the Town Hall was playing patriotic marches twelve hours a day. The mood was festive, and people were happy. Even the weather was cooperating. A warm breeze blew through the trees. Fluffy white clouds made their way gently along a deep blue sky. Birds chirped as they soared overhead. Everywhere, people were smiling.

Personally, Darcy could have done without the music from the Town Hall. From inside her bookstore it was only muted background noise, but every time a customer opened the door to go in or out, it got louder again. As much as she appreciated the music of John Philip Sousa and Glenn Miller’s orchestra, there was only so many times in one day that a person could hear The Stars and Stripes Forever and still be expected to stay sane.

She was definitely going to talk to the mayor about the song list. There were plenty of other songs they could add for variety. Neil Diamond’s America, for instance. Or Lee Greenwood’s Proud to Be an American. Yes. A little Country music to celebrate the birth of their country. That had a nice sort of symmetry to it.

As annoyed as she was with the music, she couldn’t argue with the results. The Sweet Read Bookstore was having a great week. She and her business partner Izzy had restocked the romance novels twice now. The books about the local towns and points of interest had also been selling really well. Especially, she noticed, the ones about the supposedly haunted places in and around Misty Hollow.

There was a special kind of irony in that. Darcy knew all about the ghosts of Misty Hollow. She knew that most of the stories in those books were bogus, or at the very least based on a few shreds of truth that had been blown out of proportion. She knew, because she could see ghosts.

Next to her, where she was organizing the self-help section, three heavy books on the topic of Mindfulness slid their way off and fell to the floor, thud, thud, thud.

Speaking of ghosts…

I agree, Aunt Millie. I never cared for those either. She picked them up and put them back, because it wasn’t for her to judge how other people lived their lives. We’re just going to leave these right here this time, okay?

One of the books slid forward an inch.

Millie… Darcy warned.

The book slid back.

Thank you. She looked around, but no one was close enough to hear her. Listen, I don’t mind you watching over me, but remember this is my bookstore now. You weren’t thrilled about me adding audiobooks to our inventory either but those have been a big hit. Right?

There was no answer from her dearly departed Great Aunt Millie this time. Millie’s ghost had been with her ever since she had died when Darcy was just twenty-one years old. She’d had chances to move on and leave the world of the living behind, but she had chosen to stay and watch Darcy’s family grow instead. Sometimes she was here, and sometimes she wasn’t. Darcy had learned to cherish the time they had.

Oh. Speaking of time.

She checked her My Little Pony wristwatch and saw that yes, it was just a little after three o’clock. She’d promised to pick up the milk and bread for dinner tonight. Her husband Jon had a day off and so he was making the meal, but as usual he needed his wife to save him. She smirked at that thought. She and Jon had saved each other, a dozen times over, from the very first day that they’d met.

It was fitting, in a lot of ways, that she and Jon had come together over a murder mystery. That first one had been very personal. Her life would be so different without Jon in it. She couldn’t even imagine. Or perhaps it would be better to say that she didn’t want to imagine. After all, she’d had a little taste of what that might be like when, years ago, Jon had gone missing and had died on that river bank just for a few moments. She didn’t want to repeat that experience anytime soon.

Her little cartoon watch ticked away the seconds. It had been a gift, years ago, from her neighbor’s daughter. She didn’t usually wear it because it was such a childish thing, but the one she usually wore had decided to quit on her. This one had been at the back of a drawer and it was working just fine. Besides. It was cute.

The ring on Darcy’s right hand was a pretty thing, too. She spun it around her finger, like she did sometimes, feeling the detail in the intricate designs running all the way around it. It was an antique, and it used to belong to Great Aunt Millie just like this bookstore had. She rarely took it off. The pattern along its otherwise smooth surface reminded her of… better times, and worse times too.

Giving the shelves one last critical look, Darcy hurried around to the checkout counter. Izzy McIntosh was ringing up three paperback novels for a couple of twenty-something women in shorts and t-shirts that were just a bit too tight, in Darcy’s opinion. Maybe if they were still teenagers, but at their age… well, you just had to grow up sometime.

Darcy had come to that realization late in life herself. She used to be totally at home in jeans and tank tops, maybe a flirty choker or some clunky bracelets. Now that she was in her—ahem—early forties, she’d learned to dress her age. At work it was black slacks and cute tops like this nice purple one with the puffy sleeves. She might still wear jeans at home, but her days of short tops and shorter skirts were over. So were the days of wearing her raven’s-black hair down past her shoulders. These days she kept it short around her heart-shaped face. A ten-year-old daughter and a one-and-a-half-year-old son had made that change necessary. Grasping hands and long hair were two things that did not go together.

Darcy loved being a mother. Grasping hands and all. She liked her life just the way it was, and she wouldn’t change a thing.

Bringing herself back to the present moment, she watched as Izzy finished ringing up the sale. She had taken to the work at the bookstore right away. Making her a business partner was one of the best decisions Darcy could have made. She smiled back at Darcy and pushed her feathered honey-blonde hair back over her ear on one side. She was in work clothes herself, a pair of khakis and a short-sleeved white blouse with an open neck, because of how warm it was outside. Izzy didn’t like the heat, and today was one of the warmest they’d had in a while. Eighty-four degrees Fahrenheit, and tomorrow was scheduled to be even hotter.

The two women left, and a man came up in a rush with a cookbook, money already in his hand. Izzy couldn’t stop to talk to Darcy. The customers came first, and Darcy understood that. She pantomimed to her watch, and then to the door, to tell Izzy she was leaving.

Izzy was used to it by now. It wasn’t the first time Darcy had left her on her own to mind the store, and no doubt it wouldn’t be the last.

Darcy stopped outside for a moment to breathe in the fresh air and take a glance around this town that she loved so much. Misty Hollow had grown bigger over the years. The big box store had been doing good business out on Coldspring Road. There were new houses being built on Washington, and the street had been expanded to accommodate the proposed apartment building. Hard to believe there were enough people living here now to justify another apartment complex, but there were. It was kind of nice to have so many new neighbors in town. There were still all the old faces, too, but new people meant that Misty Hollow would continue forever.

Even so, most things were within walking distance here in the downtown section. From her bookstore she could just walk home. Of course, that took longer than biking, and thanks to her wonderful husband Jon Tinker, she had a great ten-speed bicycle to ride.

She had a car thanks to her husband, too. A white Honda Civic, a Christmas present from Jon a few years ago. It wasn’t new anymore, but it was sleek and fuel efficient and she loved it. Currently, however, it was sitting at home in her driveway. It was much too nice a day to drive. Her bicycle tires whirred along the pavement and had her where she wanted to be in no time.

The little convenience store that had opened last year, up on the corner of Main Street and Gaffigan Avenue, sold a slim selection of soups and boxed cereals and paper towels. They also had a cooler of milk and soda, and a shelf of admittedly overpriced bread. It beat driving over to the nearest grocery store in the next town, twenty-five minutes away.

Alex Hanson was the owner and operator of the Shop and Go, and he always had a smile to share and a tune to be hummed. He was a guy who just loved life. His white apron stretched over a portly belly, and his hair had receded in a horseshoe pattern, and somehow, he just filled up the small space of the corner store with joy and delight.

Hiya, Darcy! he boomed from behind the counter. Get you something special today?

Just a loaf of bread and some milk, Alex. Thanks. She moved to the back of the store where the coolers were, still talking to him as she went. I have to get back home for a dinner we’re hosting tonight.

That so? Very nice, very nice. Just got in a selection of pound cakes, if you’re in the mood.

Hmm. That sounds good. This is company from out of town, so it might be nice to go all out.

Oh? From out of town, you say. Anyone we know?

Um, maybe. She took out a gallon of whole milk. Do you remember Mayor Steve Nelson?

Alex’s eyes grew wider. Do I? You mean the same Steve Nelson who killed Anna Louis? The same Steve Nelson who went to prison? That Steve Nelson?

Darcy felt a twinge of sadness for the loss of her friend. Steve Nelson had taken away a good woman when he killed Anna Louis. This had all been many years ago, of course, but even now Darcy felt the pain of it. Yes, that Steve Nelson. Ex-husband of Helen, our current mayor. All around bad man. That’s the one.

You aren’t hosting him for dinner, are you? Alex’s voice was full of disbelief.

No. I would definitely not have that man at my dinner table. Anger shaded Darcy’s voice. For a moment she was lost in her memories, before she could shake them off. Steve’s still in prison. Where he belongs.

It hadn’t just been Anna who had been murdered by Steve Nelson. Darcy’s first husband, Jeff Thomas, had been killed by him too. Granted, Jeff had been a mistake and she hadn’t even liked him, particularly, on the day he was found dead. They’d been fighting, and she was mad at him… but still. Steve Nelson would never, ever, step a foot inside her house.

She put her milk and loaf of bread down on the counter, along with a chocolate pound cake with dribbled white icing that looked absolutely delicious. She took out the money she had folded and ready in her pocket to pay for it all.

Alex did the math in his head, tax and all. He always did. So, if you aren’t having a dinner for that devil Steve Nelson, why bring him up?

Well, our dinner’s actually with his sister.

Sister? he grunted, bagging her groceries into a paper sack. I didn’t know he had a sister.

She never lived here, Darcy explained. Their parents divorced when they were younger, and his sister went to live with their father out west while Steve moved here with his mother. I only got to know her after Steve’s trial. She started writing to me, apologizing for her brother. There’s not a whole lot of love lost between them.

I can guess why.

Well, sure. When your brother’s a murdering psychopath you tend to distance yourself from him. But she and I have been pen pals ever since. Christmas cards, birthdays, that sort of thing. The occasional long e-mail. Anyway, they’re on their way to Maine, and we told them to stop by for dinner. You should come over some day, too, Alex. We’d love to have you and Katrina.

Maybe next week? Katrina’s a little busy with her mother right now. The Alzheimer’s, you know. It takes up a lot of our time.

Oh, Alex. I’m so sorry. Can we do anything?

He handed her the bag, and when he did his smile came back. Just be who you are, Darcy Sweet. Whole town comes together whenever you’re around. Receipt’s in the bag. Enjoy your dinner, and you come back if you need anything, you hear?

How late are you open?

Here till seven tonight. With all the tourists in town it’s a good time to be a business in Misty Hollow!

Darcy laughed. I noticed that, too. I’ll have to compliment Helen for organizing all of this. Right after I ask her to change the music on the speakers every once in a while.

Yes, she’s twice the mayor Steve Nelson ever was.

I definitely agree with that, Darcy told him.

Then Alex frowned. How’s she feel about you being friends with her ex-husband’s sister? Have you told her about it?

Darcy understood why he was asking. Helen Turner had been married to Steve Nelson back when he was murdering people in town. She’d divorced him as soon as he was arrested, and moved on. She had since remarried, and she was happy, and as far as Darcy knew she never even thought about Steve anymore.

She knows all about it, Darcy explained. When she divorced Steve, she got rid of him, not the rest of his family. She has nothing against Steve’s sister. In fact, she’s going to be there for dinner tonight, too.

Good, good. Well, that settles it then. You have a good night.

You too, Alex.

Out on the sidewalk Darcy put her groceries in her backpack and got back on her bicycle. She found herself humming the same song that Alex had been.

As she pointed her bike toward home, she knew that nothing could spoil her day.

Colby Sweet was a bundle of energy. Seriously, if they could bottle the kind of power that ten-year-old had inside

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